Friday, May 31, 2013

May 31 Birthday: Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman, writer

May 31, 1819-March 26, 1892

Walt Whitman: Words for America by Barbara Kerley, illustrated by Brian Selznick (Scholastic, 2004)

A poet and more, Whitman’s life is explored in this tribute to an American icon. offers a bio and photo of Whitman on their site as well as external links.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

May 30 Birthday: Benny Goodman

Benny Goodman, musician
May 30, 1909-June 13, 1986

Once Upon a Time in Chicago: The Story of Benny Goodman by Jonah Winter, illustrated by Jeanette Winter (Hyperion, 2000)

An accomplished clarinet player, Goodman, known as The “King of Swing,” began playing when he was in the fourth grade…and never stopped.

Click over to a biography of Goodman with audio features on the site of Jazz, a film by Ken Burns.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

May 29 Birthday: John F. Kennedy

John F. Kennedy, U.S. President

May 29, 1917-November 22, 1963

Jack's Path of Courage: The Life of John F. Kennedy by Doreen Rappaport, illustrated by Matt Tavares, Hyperion, 2010.

This portrait of the 35th President of the United States shows his zest for life, compassion for people and his personal and political challenges. Among other things, Kennedy was a huge advocate for the space program, created the Peace Corps and sought to end racial discrimination.

Go to The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum to read Kennedy’s White House Diary and take a virtual tour.

May 29 Birthday: Tenzing Norgay

Tenzing Norgay, explorer
May 29, 1914-May 9, 1986

Tigers of the Snows: Tenzing Norgay: The Boy Whose Dream Was Everest by Robert Burleigh, illustrated by Ed Young (Atheneum, 2006)

A Nepalese climber, Norgay and Sir Edmund Hillary were the first men on the summit of Mount Everest.

A profile of Norgay is posted on the Scholastic Teachers web site.

May 29 Birthday: Patrick Henry

Patrick Henry, politician
May 29, 1736-June 6, 1799

A Picture Book of Patrick Henry by David A. Adler, illustrated by John C. Wallner and Alexandra Wallner (Holiday House, 2001)

Henry, the first and sixth governor of Virginia made the “Give me liberty or give me death” speech.

Listen to Henry’s speech (scroll down the page) as interpreted by Richard Schuman and read about Henry’s life at

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

May 28 Birthday: Jim Thorpe

May 28, 1887-March 28, 1953

Bright Path: Young Jim Thorpe by Don Brown (Roaring Brook Press, 2006)

Thorpe found his calling at the Carlisle Indian School in Pennsylvania and in 1912 was a star of the Summer Olympics.

The Official Site of Jim Thorpe: World’s Greatest Athlete is a source for biography, fast facts, photos and more.

Monday, May 27, 2013

May 27 Birthday: Amelia Bloomer

Amelia Bloomer, women’s rights advocate
May 27, 1818-December 30, 1894

You Forgot Your Skirt, Amelia Bloomer by Shana Corey, illustrated by Chesley McLaren (Scholastic, 2000)

Active in the women’s rights movement, Bloomer’s name became synonymous with a new fashion piece of the time.

The National Women's Hall of Fame hosts a bio and photo of Bloomer on their site.

May 27 Birthday: Isadora Duncan

Isadora Duncan, dancer
May 27, 1877-September 14, 1927

Isadora Dances by Rachel Isadora (Puffin, 2000)

Modern dancer Isadora Duncan’s life takes the stage in this picture book biography about her.

Learn more about Duncan at the Isadora Duncan Dance Foundation.

May 27 Birthday: Rachel Carson

Rachel Carson, biologist
May 27, 1907-April 14, 1964

Amelia to Zora: Twenty-Six Women Who Changed the World by Cynthia Chin-Lee, illustrated by Megan Halsey and Sean Addy (Charlesbridge, 2005)

Back in the day, Carson’s book Silent Spring, published in 1962, had a huge impact on the environmental movement…and still does. is a “website devoted to the life and legacy of Rachel Carson."

Friday, May 24, 2013

May 24 Birthday: Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan, musician, poet

May 24, 1941-

When Bob Met Woody: The Story of the Young Bob Dylan by Gary Golio, illustrated by Marc Burckhardt (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2011)

Music has always been central to Bob Zimmerman’s aka Bob Dylan’s life. And when he heard recordings by Woody Guthrie, he knew he wanted to be like him—a singer- storyteller who made people think. Meeting his hero changed his life. Thank you, Woody. Thank you, Bob.

The official Bob Dylan website offers lyrics, sound files and tour dates.

May 24 Birthday: Victoria, Queen

Victoria, Queen
May 24, 1819-January 22, 1901

Lives of Extraordinary Women: Rulers, Rebels (and What the Neighbors Thought) by Kathleen Krull, illustrated by Kathryn Hewitt (Harcourt, 2000)

Queen of England for 64 years and the mother of nine children, the Victorian Age was named after this monarch.

Read more about Queen Victoria on The Victorian Web, literature, history and culture in the age of Victoria.

May 24 Birthday: Ynes Mexia

Ynes Mexia, botanist
May 24, 1870-July 12, 1938

How We are Smart by W. Nikola-Lisa, illustrated by Sean Qualls (Lee & Low Books, 2006)

Mexia discovered a new passion when she was 51. Botany. And thanks to her, more than 500 species of plants were discovered.

A very brief biographical sketch of Mexia is available on the Online Archive of California.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

May 21 Birthday: Henri Rousseau

Henri Rousseau, artist
May 21, 1844 – September 2, 1910

The Fantastic Jungles of Henri Rousseau by Michelle Markel, illustrated by Amanda Hall (Eerdman's, 2012)

Rousseau, a self-taught artist, began painting at forty years of age. The critics were brutal. But he painted on and on and on. When he was sixty-one years old, his talent was recognized. Now, we all marvel at the jungles and animals and distant worlds he painted. offers 154 images of Rousseau's work.

May 21 Birthday: Mary Anning

Mary Anning, paleontologist
May 21, 1799-Mar. 9, 1847

Rare Treasure: Mary Anning and Her Remarkable Discoveries by Don Brown (Houghton Mifflin, 2003)

Anning discovered the bones of an ichthyosaur as a child and from then on fossils dominated her life.

For more information, read about Anning on the UC Berkeley Museum of Paleontology site.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

May 19 Birthday: Bob Switzer

Bob Switzer, inventor
May 19, 1914-Aug. 20, 1997

The Day-Glo Brothers by Chris Barton, illustrated by Tony Persiani (Charlesbridge, 2008)

A Sibert Informational Honor book, this bio about the brothers who invented eye-popping colors shines light on an innovative and important addition to our world.

Day-Glo worms? View “A Primer on Marine Flatworms for K-12 Students” at the University of New Hampshire site and you’ll be a believer.

Friday, May 17, 2013

May 17 Birthday: Erik Satie

Erik Satie, musician
May 17, 1866-July 1, 1925

Strange Mr. Satie by M.T. Anderson, illustrated by Petra Mathers (Viking, 2003)

The eccentric French composer’s life and music is examined in this picture book biography about him.

A photo and biography of Satie can be seen here.

Monday, May 13, 2013

May 13 Birthday: Joe Louis

Joe Louis, boxer

May 13, 1914-April 12, 1981

A Nation’s Hope: The Story of Boxing Legend Joe Louis by Matt de la Pena, illustrated by Kadir Nelson (Dial, 2011)

An iconic fight between American heavyweight boxer Joe Louis and German Max Schmeling on the eve of WWII drew Americans together and came to symbolize the war. This is a stirring story of hope.

The Official Web Site of Joe Louis gives visitors photos, quotes, fast facts and a biography.

May 13 Birthday: Ritchie Valens

Ritchie Valens, musician
May 13, 1941-February 3, 1959

Shake, Rattle & Roll: The Founders of Rock & Roll by Holly George-Warren, illustrated by Laura Levine (Houghton Mifflin, 2001)

Valens was the California music sensation and singer of Donna and La Bamba. He was the first Mexican-American rock and roll star. Unfortunately he died in a small plane crash along with Buddy Holly and The Big Bopper.

Go to the Ritchie Valens Official Web Site for information on his life, his music and his family.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

May 12 Birthday: Florence Nightingale

Florence Nightingale, nurse
May 12, 1820-Aug. 13, 1910

A Picture Book of Florence Nightingale by David A. Adler, illustrated by John Wallner and Alexandra Wallner (Holiday House, 1997)

Nurse extraordinaire, Nightingale changed her profession for the better and served with compassionate care.

Read a bio of Nightingale at the The Florence Nightingale Museum in the UK.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

May 11 Birthday: Martha Graham

Martha Graham, choreographer

May 11, 1894-April 1, 1991

Ballet for Martha: Making Appalachian Spring by Jan Greenburg and Sandra Jordan, illustrated by Brian Floca (Flash Point, 2010)

This is the story behind the story of the collaboration of three artists—a choreographer, a composer and an artist—who created the magnificent ballet, Appalachian Spring. Thank you Martha Graham, Aaron Copeland and Isamu Noguchi.

The Martha Graham Center of Contemporary Dance continues her work.

May 11 Birthday: Salvador Dali

Salvador Dali, artist
May 11, 1904-Jan. 23, 1989

Lives of the Artists: Masterpieces and Messes (and What the Neighbors Thought) by Kathleen Krull, illustrated by Kathryn Hewitt (Harcourt, 1995)

A Spanish painter known for his surrealist style is spotlighted in this collective biography.

The Salvador Dali Museum hosts a site with images from the collection.

Friday, May 10, 2013

May 10 Birthday: Fred Astaire

Fred Astaire, dancer

May 10, 1889-June 22, 1987

Footwork: The Story of Fred and Adele Astaire by Roxane Orgill, illustrated by Stephane Jorisch (Candlewick, 2007)

As young children, Adele was tapped as the “real dancer” but in time it was clear that Fred had an affinity for dancing, too. On the road with the vaudeville circuit, Fred and Adele were popular performers. After a two-year break, they returned to the stage and the act got better and better. Eventually Adele left and Fred went to Hollywood where he danced into the hearts of movie-goers everywhere. offers this tribute: Fred Astaire: 1899-1987: The Great American Flyer.

May 10 Birthday: Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin

Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin, astronomer
May 10, 1900-Dec. 7, 1979

Amelia to Zora: Twenty-Six Women Who Changed the World by Cynthia Chin-Lee, illustrated by Megan Halsey and Sean Addy (Charlesbridge, 2005)

“Stellar Atmospheres, A Contribution to the Observational Study of High Temperature in the Reversing Layers of Stars” anyone? That was the title of Payne-Gaposchkin’s dissertation, who excelled at Harvard as a student and a professor.

On a site about notable astronomers, read more about Payne-Gaposchkin.

May 10 Birthday: Quah Ah

Quah Ah aka Tonita Pena, artist
May 10, 1893-Sept. 9, 1949

Amelia to Zora: Twenty-Six Women Who Changed the World by Cynthia Chin-Lee, illustrated by Megan Halsey and Sean Addy (Charlesbridge, 2005)

A Pueblo painter, Pena’s lively work inspired other women to stretch their artistic bounds.

See a photo of Pena at the Purdue site.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

May 8 Birthday: Harry Truman

Harry Truman, U.S. President
May 8, 1884-Dec. 26, 1972

Lives of the Presidents: Fame, Shame (and What the Neighbors Thought) by Kathleen Krull, illustrated by Kathryn Hewitt (Harcourt, 1998)

The sign on Truman's desk read "The Buck Stops Here." This piano-playing 33rd president held watermelon spitting wars in the White House.

The Truman Presidential Museum & Library is the source for Truman research.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

May 7 Birthday: Eva Peron

Eva Peron, politician
May 7, 1919-July 26, 1952

Lives of Extraordinary Women: Rulers, Rebels (and What the Neighbors Thought) by Kathleen Krull, illustrated by Kathryn Hewitt (Harcourt, 2000)

The First Lady of Argentina was a powerful presence in the political arena in Latin America and the world.

Read about Peron’s legacy at the Official Evita Peron Website.

May 7 Birthday: Johannes Brahms

Johannes Brahms, musician
May 7, 1863-Apr. 3, 1897

Lives of the Musicians: Good Times, Bad Times (and What the Neighbors Thought) by Kathleen Krull, illustrated by Kathryn Hewitt (Harcourt, 1993)

Brahms, a German composer who made a living from music from the age of 15 on is featured in this collective biography. Interestingly, he had a great friendship with musician Clara Schumann.

A bio, catalog of works, pictures, and links about Brahms can be found on a site dedicated to him.

Monday, May 06, 2013

May 6 Birthday: Willie Mays

Willie Mays, athlete
May 6, 1931-

Say Hey! A Song of Willie Mays by Peter Mandel, illustrated by Don Tate (Jump At The Sun, 2000)

This rhyming picture book about the home-run hero takes readers from his birth to the ballpark. Batter up!

Go to The National Baseball Hall of Fame for stats on Mays.

Sunday, May 05, 2013

May 5 Birthday: Nellie Bly

Nellie Bly, journalist
May 5, 1864-Jan. 27, 1922

The Daring Nellie Bly: America’s Star Reporter by Bonnie Christensen (Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2003)

Serious female reporters were a rare breed in the late 1880s. Bly not only took up the call, but succeeded brilliantly.

An article called, Nellie Bly: The Best Reporter in America is posted on the CUNY web site.

Saturday, May 04, 2013

May 4 Birthday: Audrey Hepburn

Audrey Hepburn, actor and philanthropist

May 4, 1929-Jan. 20, 1993

Just Being Audrey by Margaret Cardillo, illustrated by Julia Denos (Blazer+Bray, 2011)

A touching story of the acclaimed actress who grew up in Nazi-occupied Europe and found her greatest role in motherhood and serving others. Roman Holiday, Breakfast at Tiffany’s and other iconic films live on, as do Hepburn's charitable endeavors.

The Official Site of Audrey Hepburn spotlights her life & career and her Children’s Fund.

Friday, May 03, 2013

May 3 Birthday: James Brown

James Brown, musician
May 3, 1933-Dec. 25, 2006

Shake, Rattle & Roll: The Founders of Rock & Roll by Holly George-Warren, illustrated by Laura Levine (Houghton Mifflin, 2001)

"The Hardest Working Man in Show Business" picked cotton, shined shoes, boxed, and played baseball before making it big.

NPR offers information about the man, the message and the soul.

May 3 Birthday: Septima P. Clark

Women of Hope

Septima P. Clark, civil rights advocate
May 3, 1898-Dec. 15, 1987

Women of Hope: African Americans Who Made a Difference by Joyce Hansen (Scholastic, 1998)

A teacher, Clark fought for equality in civil rights movement. Injustices done to her with regards to her lost job were repaid.

Read about Clark on this site.

May 3 Birthday: Golda Meir

Lives of Extraordinary Women

Golda Meir, political leader
May 3, 1898-Dec. 8, 1978

Lives of Extraordinary Women: Rulers, Rebels (and What the Neighbors Thought) by Kathleen Krull, illustrated by Kathryn Hewitt (Harcourt, 2000)

One of the founders of the State of Israel as well as serving at its Prime Minister for five years, Meir made a remarkable contribution to Israel and the world.

The Jewish Virtual Library posts a bio of Meir on their site.

Thursday, May 02, 2013

May 2 Birthday: Elijah McCoy

Elijah McCoy, inventor
May 2, 1843(4?)-October 10, 1929

The Real McCoy: The Life of an African-American Inventor by Wendy Towle, illustrated by Wil Clay (Scholastic, paper, 1995)

An engineer, McCoy invented (among other things) an automatic lubricator for trains and heavy machinery. It was so much better than what was in common use that people insisted on “the real McCoy.”

A short bio on a web site hosted by Northern California Council of Black Professional Engineers highlights McCoy.