Monday, September 30, 2013

September 30 Birthday: Elie Wiesel

Elie Wiesel, writer, humanitarian
Sept. 30, 1928-

Paths to Peace: People Who Changed the World by Jane Breskin Zalben (Dutton, 2006)

Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace Prize winner 1986 Wiesel is highlighted in this important collective biography about peacemakers.

Read a riveting interview with Wiesel on the Academy of Achievement-A Museum of Living History web site.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

September 29 Birthday: Walter Anderson

Walter Anderson, artist, writer, naturalist
September 29, 1903-November 30, 1965

The Secret World of Walter Anderson by Hester Bass, illustrated by E. B. Lewis (Candlewick 2009)

Walter Anderson explored and studied and painted the wildlife of the Mississippi Gulf Coast. But it wasn't until after his death that his wife discovered the glorious art he made in a cottage on Horn Island for himself. It was his secret world and soon all would marvel at its detail and depth and design.

Visit the Walter Anderson Museum for more information.

September 29 Birthday: Miguel de Cervantes

Miguel de Cervantes, writer
Sept. 29, 1547-Apr. 23, 1616

Lives of the Writers: Comedies, Tragedies (and What the Neighbors Thought) by Kathleen Krull, illustrated by Kathryn Hewitt Harcourt, 1994)

Most famous for his book Don Quixote, Cervantes takes the stage in this collective biography.

The Cervantes Project hosted by Texas A&M University offers bio info, images, bibliographies and more.

September 29 Birthday: Jerry Lee Lewis

Jerry Lee Lewis, musician
Sept. 29, 1935-

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

The ultimate showman, Lewis was raised in Louisiana and started playing the piano at age eight. In 1956 his career took off.

Lewis' Official Web site offers additional information. Or visit the Rock and Roll Fall of Fame to read more about this 1986 inductee.

Friday, September 27, 2013

September 27 Birthday: Samuel Adams

Samuel Adams, politician
Sept. 27, 1722-Oct. 2, 1803

A Picture Book of Samuel Adams by David A. Adler, Michael S. Adler, illustrated by Ronald Himler (Holiday House, 2005)

From childhood to the Boston Tea Party to signing the Declaration of Independence, Adams and the 1700s are center stage.

Read up on Adams and others associated with The American Revolution.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

September 26 Birthday: Johnny Appleseed

Johnny Appleseed aka John Chapman, ecologist
Sept. 26, 1774-Mar. 1847

Johnny Appleseed by Steven Kellogg (HarperCollins, 1988)

Kellogg blends fact with fiction in this story about an American icon. I love the illustrations—big and lush.

Note: There are many, many books published about Johnny Appleseed. This is one of my favorites.

Read an article about Chapman from Harper's New Monthly Magazine from 1871 posted on Cornell's web site.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

September 24 Birthday: Jim Henson

Jim Henson, puppeteer
September 24, 1936-May 16, 1990

Jim Henson: The Guy Who Played with Puppets by Kathleen Krull, illustrated by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher (Random House BFYR, 2011)

From his youth, Henson wanted to make people laugh. Instead of following a traditional career, he followed his passion. Eventually his puppets became Muppets. And in a magical collaboration, Sesame Street was born.

Visit Sesame Street online and meet the Muppets.

Monday, September 23, 2013

September 23 Birthday: Guest Post Carole Boston Weatherford on John Coltrane

BeforJohnWasAJazzGiant John Coltrane, musician
Sept. 23, 1926-July 17, 1967

Before and After John Coltrane Was a Jazz Giant by Carole Boston Weatherford

Jazz great John Coltrane was born on September 23, 1926 in Hamlet, North Carolina. I first heard Coltrane’s saxophone on the classic Miles Davis album, “Kind of Blue.” I later listened to ’Trane leading his own group into new musical territory on compositions such as “Naima” and “A Love Supreme.”

I wanted to write about him because he grew up in my adopted hometown of High Point, North Carolina, where his grandfather pastored St. Stephen A.M.E. Zion Church. After studying the saxophonist’s background and listening to his recordings, I decided to focus on his musical influences rather than his biography.

In Before John Was a Jazz Giant: A Song of John Coltrane, free verse text uses repetition to evoke a jazz riff. Paintings by award-winning illustrator Sean Qualls let readers see young John soaking up the sounds around him—from the church choir and marching band to bird songs and jazz radio. Perhaps echoes from his past influenced Trane’s unique, improvisational style known as “sheets of sound.” 

Interestingly, as I researched this book, a bit of my own family history emerged. My great aunt, Terah Whitten, was Coltrane’s third grade teacher.

Trane’s virtuosity and social conscience are both evident in “Alabama,” a composition he wrote in response to the September 15, 1963 bombing of Birmingham’s Sixteenth Street Baptist Church.


Birmingham-1963_2I also wrote a book—a narrative poem--about the church bombing—Birmingham, 1963. Hear an excerpt here.          

Lesson Ideas

Before John Was a Jazz Giant: A Song of John Coltrane

Birmingham, 1963


Before John Was a Jazz Giant
Coretta Scott King Honor
Golden Kite Honor for Picture Book Text, SCBWI
Newsweek Pick of the Week

Birmingham, 1963
Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award Jefferson Cup
Virginia Library Association
Jane Addams Children’s Literature Honor
The Lion and the Unicorn Honor for Excellence in North American Poetry
Kirkus Reviews’ Editor's Choice
North Carolina Children’s Book Award Nominee  

Anneographies note: Special thanks to Carole for hosting today! For more about Birmingham, 1963, visit Carole's post this month at The Brown Bookshelf.       

September 23 Birthday: Ray Charles

Ray Charles, musician
Sept. 23, 1930-June 10, 2004

The Blues Singers: Ten Who Rocked the World by Julius Lester, illustrated by Lisa Cohen (Jump at the Sun/Hyperion, 2001)

What would we do without Georgia On My Mind? In this collective biography of ten greats, Ray Charles soars.

Ray highlights the man, the music, the legacy, the movie and more.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

September 19 Birthday: Sadie Delany

Sadie Delany, teacher and author
Sept. 19, 1889-Jan. 25, 1999

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

Sadie Delany was the first African American home ec teacher in a NYC high school. She shares the page in this collective biography with her sister Bessie Delany.These two remarkable sisters wrote the story of their lives. Their book, Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters' First 100 Years, became a best seller.

A short bio of Sadie Delany's life can be read at Columbia's site.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

September 17 Birthday: Jacob Lawrence

Jacob Lawrence, artist
Sept. 17, 1917-June 9, 2000

Story Painter: The Life of Jacob Lawrence by John Diggleby (Chronicle, 1998)

Lawrence, an accomplished African American painter who grew up in Harlem fostered his talent at a young age and by 30 was considered an incredible talent. A story of determination.

The University of Washington site has an excellent bio and links.

September 17 Birthday: Maureen Connolly

Maureen Connolly, athlete
Sept. 17, 1934-June 21, 1969

Lives of the Athletes: Thrills, Spills (and What the Neighbors Thought) by Kathleen Krull, illustrated by Kathryn Hewitt (Harcourt, 1997)

Tennis anyone? Maureen Connolly was the first woman to win the "grand slam" of tournaments: Wimbledon, French Open, Australian Open and U.S. Open.

Visit the International Tennis Hall of Fame for additional information on "Little Mo" and other tennis greats.

Monday, September 16, 2013

September 16 Birthday: Nadia Boulanger

Nadia Boulanger, composer
Sept. 16, 1887-Oct. 22, 1979

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

A composer and teacher, Boulanger's nickname was "Tender Tyrant." Among her famous pupils were Aaron Copland and Philip Glass.

Visit the Nadia Boulanger web site for more information about this influential woman.

September 16 Birthday: B.B. King

B.B. King, musician
Sept. 16, 1925-

The Blues Singers: Ten Who Rocked the World by Julius Lester, illustrated by Lisa Cohen (Jump at the Sun/Hyperion, 2001)

Guitarist and songwriter B. B. King made his first hit record in 1952. And he's been recording ever since.

Visit the Official B.B. King web site for more info on B.B. King and his famous guitar named "Lucille."

Sunday, September 15, 2013

September 15 Birthday: William Howard Taft

William Howard Taft, U.S. President
Sept. 15, 1857-Mar. 8, 1930

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

Nicknamed Sleeping Beauty, this largest U.S. president learned to surf in Hawaii. Krull devotes one pithy page about number 27 in this collective biography.

Read his inaugural address, March 4, 1909 on The Avalon Project web site at Yale.

Friday, September 13, 2013

September 13 Birthday: Clara Schumann

Clara Schumann, musician
Sept. 13, 1819-May 20, 1896

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

Pianist and composer in Romantic era, her career spanned sixty years. She had a major influence on the music of Johannes Brahams and her husband, Robert Schumann.

Timelines of Schumann's childhood and youth, marriage with Robert Schumann, and her later years are available at a Rutger's site.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

September 12 Birthday: Jessie Owens

Jesse Owens, athlete
Sept. 12, 1913-Mar. 31, 1980

Lives of the Athletes: Thrills, Spills (and What the Neighbors Thought) by Kathleen Krull, illustrated by Kathryn Hewitt (Harcourt, 1997)

In poor health as a child, Jesse Owens took up running. And never stopped. This talented African American track and field star shined at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, and beyond.

Visit the Official Jesse Owens Web Site today.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

October 10: Giuseppe Verdi

Giuseppe Verdi, composer
Oct. 10, 1813-Jan. 27, 1901

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

An opera composer from Italy, Verdi was playing the organ for his village by the age of ten. Aida and La Traviata are two of his most famous works.

A Stanford University web site offers information about Verdi's operas.

September 10 Birthday: Adele Astaire

Adele Astaire, dancer
September 10, 1896-January 25, 1981

Footwork: The Story of Fred and Adele Astaire by Roxanne 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.

From PBS Broadway Musical comes an overview of the Astaires and their accomplishments.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

September 8 Birthday: Ruby Bridges

Ruby Bridges, civil rights advocate
Sept. 8, 1954-

The Story of Ruby Bridges by Robert Coles, illustrated by George C. Ford (Scholastic, 2004) paperback

Court-ordered desegregation made six-year old African American Ruby Bridges' walk into an all-white New Orleans school possible. Thank you, Ruby Bridges!

To learn more about Ruby's remarkable story, visit the Ruby Bridges Foundation.

Saturday, September 07, 2013

September 7 Birthday: Buddy Holly

Buddy Holly, musician
Sept. 7, 1936-Feb. 3, 1959

Buddy: The Story of Buddy Holly by Anne Bustard, illustrated by Kurt Cyrus (Simon& Schuster/Paula Wiseman, 2005)

In this folksy narrative, the life of 1950s rock 'n' roll pioneer Buddy Holly is celebrated. Rave on!

Visit the Buddy Holly Center in Lubbock, Texas.

September 7 Birthday: Grandma Moses

Grandma Moses, artist
Sept. 7, 1860-Dec, 13, 1961

Grandma Moses by Alexandra Wallner (Holiday House, 2004)

A recognized artist at 80, glimpses into Moses' childhood and beyond show her lifelong interest in art. An inspiring read for any age.

See some of Moses' work at the Cal State Pomona web site.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

September 3 Birthday: Bessie Delany

Bessie Delany, dentist and author
Sept. 3, 1891- Sept. 25, 1995

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

Bessie Delany, who lived to be 104, came to national attention when she and her sister and a New York Times reporter collaborated on the story of her and her sister's life: Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters' First 100 Years. Delany was the second African American woman to become a dentist in NY.

The New York Times obituary of Delany elegantly encapsulates her life.