Wednesday, January 30, 2013

January 30 Birthday: Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Lives of the Presidents

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, U. S. President
Jan. 30, 1882-Apr. 12, 1945

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

This president had "fireside chats" broadcast over the radio, a collection of miniature pigs and a vibrant wife, Eleanor. FDR was number 32.

Visit the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum today.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

January 29 Birthday: Oprah Winfrey

Amelia to Zora

Oprah Winfrey, talk show host
Jan. 29, 1954-

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

T.V. talk show host, book lover, actress, philanthropist and more, Ms. O, an African-American, is dedicated to making the world a better place.

One of the richest people in the world, Winfrey opened a Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa. Read an article about the school here.

Monday, January 28, 2013

January 28 Birthday: Jackson Pollock


Jackson Pollock, artist
Jan. 28, 1912-Aug. 11, 1956

Action Jackson by Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan, illustrated by Robert Andrew Parker (Frances Lincoln Publishers, 2005)

Splatter painting anyone? This is a riveting look at Lavender Mist, one of abstract expressionist Jackson Pollock’s most famous paintings and how he came to paint it.

Browse the collection of Pollock’s work at The Museum of Modern Art at

Sunday, January 27, 2013

January 27 Birthday: Wolfgang Mozart


Wolfgang Mozart, musician

Jan. 27, 1756-Dec. 5, 1791

Mozart Tonight by Julie Downing (Aladdin, paper, 1994)

Told in first person, Mozart’s life is center stage in this story of his struggles and creativity.

The Mozart Project offers a biography, compositions, selected essays, bibliography and links to all things Mozart.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

January 26 Birthday: Bessie Coleman


Bessie Coleman, aviator
Jan. 26, 1892-Apr. 30, 1926

Talkin' About Bessie: The Story of Aviator Elizabeth Coleman by Nikki Grimes, illustrated by E. B. Lewis (Orchard, 2002)

The first African-American woman airplane pilot’s story is told in approximately two-dozen fictionalized poems a.k.a. eulogies about her life.

PBS features a bio and photo of Coleman on their Fly Girls page.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

January 24 Birthday: Maria Tallchief


Maria Tallchief, ballerina

Jan. 24, 1925-

Tallchief: America’s Prima Ballerina by Maria Tallchief, with Rosemary Wells, illustrated by Gary Kelley (Viking Juvenile, 1999)

Native American ballerina Maria Tallchief tells the story of her own childhood up to her move to New York at seventeen in pursuit of a dance career.

A few images of Tallchief can be seen at The Ballerina Gallery.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

January 23 Birthday: Django Reinhardt

Django Reubgardt, musician
January 23, 1910-May 16, 1953

Django by Bonnie Christensen (Neal Porter Book/Roaring Brook, 2009)

Django’s story, told in a jazzy beat, plays to the heart. Born in poverty, this dreamer, found his home in music. And when tragedy struck, like a phoenix, he rose, relearned how to play and soared.

The Chicago Tribune reported on what would have been Django’s 100th birthday celebration with a bash.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

January 19 Birthday: Paul Cezanne


Paul Cezanne, artist
Jan. 19, 1839-Oct. 22, 1906

Paul Cezanne: A Painter's Journey by Robert Burleigh, illustrated by works from the National Gallery of Art (Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2006)

French artist Cezanne and his work are featured in this introduction to this talented Post-Impressionist painter.

The National Gallery of Art exhibit, Cezanne in Provence, offers a chronology, images and background. Visit today!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

January 17 Birthday: Mack Sennett


Mack Sennett, film pioneer

Jan. 17, 1880-Nov. 5, 1960

Mack Made Movies by Don Brown (Roaring Brook Press, 2003)

“In 1900, twenty-year-old Mack Sennett was a horse’s rear end.” Who can resist an opening line like that? Read more about the silent moviemaker of the slapstick Keystone Kops and Charlie Chaplin.

A mini-biography and a listing of Sennett's work is available on a movie database site.

January 17 Birthday: Muhammad Ali


Muhammad Ali, athlete

Jan. 17, 1942-

I Shook Up the World: The Incredible Life of Muhammad Ali by Maryum Ali, illustrated by Patrick Johnson (Beyond Words Publishing, 2004)

Three-time winner of the World Heavyweight boxing championship, an Olympic gold medal and numerous other awards, Ali was born Cassius Clay, Jr. in Louisville, Kentucky. One of his most famous quotes is “Float like a butterfly and sting like a bee.”

Visit the Kids section of Ali's Official Website that highlights the many accomplishments of this African-American super athlete.

January 17 Birthday: Ben Franklin


Ben Franklin, founding father

Jan. 17, 1706-Apr. 17, 1790

The Life of Ben Franklin: An American Original by Yona Zeldis McDongough, illustrated by Malcah Zeldis (Holt, 2006)

Author, politician, and inventor were just a few of Franklin’s occupations. The story of his life and achievements are detailed in this biography.

Time Magazine’s Online Edition has a Special Report on Franklin, titled “The Amazing Adventures of Ben Franklin."

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

January 16 Birthday: Dian Fossey


Dian Fossey, ethologist

Jan. 16, 1932-Dec. 26, 1985

Light Shining Through the Mist: A Photobiography of Dian Fossey by Tom L. Matthews (National Geographic Children’s Books, 1998)

The Fossey name is synonymous with gorillas. Fossey studied them in their native habitat in the mountains of Rwanda and in the Congo. Photos add to this fascinating introduction of Fossey and her work.

Learn more about Fossey’s work, mountain gorillas, conservation and research at The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International site.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

January 15 Birthday: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., civil rights advocate
Jan. 15, 1929-Apr. 4, 1968

Martin's Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by Doreen Rappaport, illustrated by Bryan Collier (Jump at the Sun, 2001)

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s words live on. His most famous speech, “I Have a Dream,” stirs hearts today. The youngest man to win the Nobel Peace Prize, Dr. King, Jr., a gifted African-American political leader, minister and peacemaker is honored by a U.S. Federal holiday on his birthday.

Check out The Seattle Times for a photo gallery, timeline, quotes, and a biography of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a great American hero.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

January 12 Birthday: Jose Limon


Jose Limon, dancer
Jan. 12, 1908-Dec. 2, 1972

Jose! Born to Dance by Susanna Reich, illustrated by Raul Colon (Paula Wiseman Books, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2005)

Jose “wanted to give a gift to the world, but he didn’t know what it could be.” Until....he discovered dance. Thus began his spectacular career as a dancer, choreographer and creator of his own dance company.

Limon’s dance lives. Visit the Limon Dance Company and Foundation website to learn about upcoming performances and the heritage of the organization.

January 12 Birthday: Ira Hayes


Ira Hayes, WWII hero
Jan. 12, 1923-Jan. 24, 1955

Quiet Hero: The Ira Hayes Story by S.D. Nelson (Charlesbridge, 2006)

Ira Hayes served in the United States Marine Corps during WWII. A photographer captured a picture of Hayes and five of his buddies raising an American flag on Iwo Jima. That photo made him and the others instantly famous. This is the story of his childhood on an Indian reservation, his time in the military and the effects of war on his life.

For a photo of the U.S.M.C. War Memorial and a brief history of it, visit the National Park Service site.

January 12 Birthday: Jack London


Jack London, author

Jan. 12, 1876- Nov. 22,1916

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

London went to seek fame in the California gold rush and found it by writing about it. His most famous work: The Call of the Wild.

A bio, FAQs, photos, images, writings, resources for students and teachers can be accessed at The Jack London Online Collection hosted by Sonoma State University.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

January 9 Birthday: Richard Nixon

Lives of the Presidents

Richard Nixon, U.S. President

Jan. 9, 1913-Apr. 22, 1994

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

Nicknamed "Tricky Dick,” Nixon was the 37th president, the first to visit all 50 states, and the only one to have resigned from office.

Learn more about Nixon at his presidential library and museum.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

January 8 Birthday: Elvis Presley

Shake Rattle and Roll

Elvis Presley, musician

Jan. 8, 1935- Aug. 16, 1977

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

Rock on! The King lives on. Born in Tupelo, Mississippi, Elvis moved to Memphis as a teen and began recording after high school. Blue Suede Shoes, Hound Dog and Love Me Tender were just a few of his hits.

Have you been to Graceland? Learn about tours to Elvis’ home and other Elvis news at

Monday, January 07, 2013

January 7 Birthday: Sadako Sasaki


Sadako Sasaki, peacemaker
Jan. 7, 1943-Oct. 25, 1955

Sadako by Eleanor Coerr, illustrated by Ed Young (Putnam, 1993)

This is an adaptation of Eleanor Coerr’s classic novel, Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes. In this story, Sadako Sasaki, a young Japanese girl stricken with “atom bomb disease” holds fast to the legend that if a person who is ill folds a thousand origami paper cranes, the wish to be well again will be granted. Though Sadako fell shy of her goal, her friends and classmates rallied behind her cause and saw that she was buried with one thousand cranes. Three years after her death, a statue of this great peacemaker was erected in Hiroshima Peace Park.

Visit a special exhibit about Sakado and her life posted by the city of Hiroshima.

January 7 Birthday: Zora N. Hurston

Zora N. Hurston, author

Jan. 7, 1891-Jan. 28, 1960

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

Z is for Zora in this tribute to famous women. An African-American writer during the Harlem Renaissance, Hurston was also a folklorist and anthropologist.

A page about Zora Neale Hurston is available at the VG: Voices from the Gaps Women Artists and Writers of Color, An International Website. It offers information about Hurston’s life and times, writings, and criticism.

Saturday, January 05, 2013

January 5 Birthday: Alvin Ailey

Alvin Ailey

Alvin Ailey

Jan. 5, 1931-December 1,1989

Alvin Ailey by Andrea Davis Pinkney, illustrated by Brian Pinkney (Hyperion, paperback, 1995)

African American dancer and choreographer Alvin Ailey’s Texas childhood, his Los Angeles dance experiences, and his founding of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in New York City make for inspiring reading.

Attend an Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater performance or learn more about their programs at Alvin

Friday, January 04, 2013

January 4 Birthday: Louis Braille

Louis Braille, inventor

Jan. 4, 1809-Jan. 6, 1854

Louis Braille by John C. Wallner, illustrated by Alexandra Wallner (Holiday House, 1998)

Louis Braille, a French boy who lost his sight as a young boy, invented a reading system for the blind when he was only 15.

Learn Braille's alphabet and number system at the American Foundation for the Blind site.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

January 1 Birthday: Amelia Stewart Knight


Amelia Stewart Knight, pioneer
Jan. 1, 1817/8-unknown

Way West: Journal of a Pioneer Woman by Amelia Stewart Knight, illustrated by Michael McCurdy (Simon & Schuster Children’s, 1993)

Knight’s journey from Iowa to Oregon in 1853 was far from ordinary. In this adaptation of her journals, readers will get a glimpse into this pioneer woman’s life on the long, long trail.

The Diary of Mrs. Amelia Stewart Knight's successful journey is posted online at a site devoted to The Oregon Trail.

January 1 Birthday: Chiune Sugihara


Chiune Sugihara, diplomat
Jan. 1, 1900-July 31, 1986

Passage to Freedom: The Sugihara Story by Ken Mochizuki, illustrated by Dom Lee (Lee & Low,1997)

Sugihara, known as the “Japanese Schindler” was a diplomat serving in Lithuania during WW II when he saved thousands of Jews. This powerful narrative is written from the point of view of Sugihara’s son Hiroki.

The Jewish Virtual Library tells the compelling story of Chiune and Yukiko Sugihara’s eternal good deeds.

January 1 Birthday: W. W. Law


W.W. Law, civil rights leader
Jan. 1, 1923-July 29, 2002

Delivering Justice: W. W. Law and the Fight for Civil Rights by Jim Haskins, illustrated by Benny Andrews (Candlewick, 2005)

Westley Wallace Law made a difference. Born in Georgia, amidst poverty and segregation, this African American, who grew up to be a mail carrier, joined the NAACP as a young man, helped blacks register to vote and was instrumental in leading the Great Savannah Boycott.

This Far by Faith, a PBS program, describes W. W. Law’s life of dedication and service.

January 1 Birthday: Hank Greenberg

                                            Hank Greenberg, athlete

Jan. 1, 1911-Sept. 4, 1986

Hammerin' Hank: The Life of Hank Greenberg by Yona Zeldis McDonough, illustrated by Malcah Zeldis (Walker Books for Young Readers, 2006) 

First baseman and outfielder, Greenberg was a American Hall of Famer with an incredible slugging percentage. Born to Orthodox parents, who were not thrilled by his choice of profession, he became the first Jewish baseball star. His heritage was sometimes a source of ridicule on and off the field but as this book shows, it informed the choices he made.

The National Baseball Hall of Fame site offers highlights of Greenberg’s career.

January 1 Birthday: Betsy Ross


Betsy Ross, businesswoman and seamstress

Jan. 1, 1752-Jan. 30, 1836

Betsy Ross by Alexandra Wallner (Holiday House, 1994) In this book, Ross’ childhood, family life, and business life are showcased along with her legendary flag-making effort.

 Tour Betsy Ross’ house, view American flags, read about the history of the flag and other fascinating facts at The Betsy Ross Homepage.