Read On!

Mrs. Farquharson’s musings about books for children and young adults

Lady Liberty

January23

Liberty Arrives!: How America’s Grandest Statue Found Her Home by Robert Byrd (Dial)

When I discover a subject good enough, I will honor that subject by building the tallest statue in the world.
Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi

In his Author’s Note, Robert Byrd states that he had never seen the Statue of Liberty before he began to work on Liberty Arrives! After visiting her, he became intrigued by the origin of the project. He learned that Liberty’s journey and installation were photographed, and he used the photos as a basis for his work. Byrd’s detailed illustrations clearly depict many aspects of the building and installation of the monument. It was Frédéric-Auguste Batholdi, the sculptor, who commissioned the photographs to document the construction of his project. The pictures were also used to promote the project and raise money for it.

Born in France, the Statue of Liberty was to be the world’s biggest birthday present to the United States on the nation’s centennial celebration in 1876. … The Statue of Liberty required creative thinking, planning, and lots of hard work. Many people helped, sometimes in unexpected ways. A sculptor designed it, and a bridge engineer figured out how to build something so huge. Countless craftsmen and workers constructed the statue and her base. …And the American people – immigrants, working folks, and even school children – came together to donate the money to pay for the mighty pedestal on which she stands. (from the Introduction)

The author chronicles Liberty from the idea of a gift to America to the installation.
• Édouard de Laboulaye, a wealthy French judge thought about sending a gift from his country to America in honor of America’s 100th birthday.
• Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi was already famous as a sculptor before he designed Liberty.
• Lady Liberty’s head was displayed at the Paris Universal Exposition in 1878.
• When the statue arrived in the United States, the American Committee needed to raise $100,000 to build the pedestal. They only had $3,000.
• When a group of American millionaires only donated $20 (yes, $20), it looked as if Liberty would never be raised in the United States.
• Newspaperman Joseph Pulitzer began a public campaign to raise money. He promised to print the name of every donor, no matter how small the amount of their donation.
• Emma Lazarus wrote her poem, “The New Colossus”, for a fundraiser.
• It was twenty-one years from the beginning of the planning of Liberty until Bartholdi unveiled her face on Bedloe’s Island, now Liberty Island.

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!
Emma Lazarus

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

January17

KingOur school celebrates Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy with a day of service. It is always a challenge to explain the events that surrounded his life and death to students of different ages. The middle school students examine the injustices in our society. Our younger children grasp that he was a great man who fought for freedom and equality for all.

cartThere was a picture book that was published in 2013 that helps to explain some of the story of Dr. King’s impact on our nation. Eve Bunting describes his importance to us all by telling the readers about his funeral in The Cart That Carried Martin (Charlesbridge). Don Tate illustrated the simple, yet powerful, story in pencil and gouache on watercolor paper.

 

The True Story of the Invention of Crayola Crayons

January9

The Crayon Man by Natascha Biebo, illustrated by Steven Salerno (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

Edwin Binney (1866-1934) was an inventor and businessman who also happened to be intrigued by color. He and his cousin, C. Harold Smith started the company, Binney and Smith. They created dustless white chalk and a carbon black that was used in inks and shoe polish. Edwin’s invention of a slate pencil was used by children, but his wife, Alice, a former schoolteacher, told him that children needed better and cheaper crayons. Previously, crayons had been invented in Europe, but they broke easily and were expensive.

In a secret lab in a Pennsylvania mill, Edwin and his team began experimenting with paraffin wax and colors made from rocks and minerals. He wanted to be sure that his crayons were nontoxic and colorful. When Edwin was finally satisfied with his crayons in various colors, he turned to Alice for help in naming it. Alice suggested combining two French words – “craie” (a stick of chalk) and “ola” (from “olegineux” or oily). Thus came a new word, CraieOla or Crayola. The first Crayola crayon boxes cost a nickel and contained red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet, brown, and black crayons.

Natascha Biebo and Steven Salerno teamed up to produce The Crayon Man, a delightful non-fiction picture book about Edwin Binney and his invention.

Be sure to check out the Crayola website for free coloring pages.

Season’s Readings

December13

A special book that celebrates the holiday season is The Carpenter’s Gift by David Rubel, illustrated by Jim LaMarche (Random House, 2011). While this picture book is a work of fiction, it is based on facts about the tree at Rockefeller Center.

Construction workers who were digging the foundation for the project in New York City erected the first tree in 1931. They were grateful that they had jobs during the Depression, and they wanted to show their appreciation. After pooling their money to purchase the tree, their families decorated it with garlands and handmade ornaments.

The official public viewing of the annual tree began in 1933 when visitors made special trips to see the decorated tree that the property owners erected annually. To this day, the tree at Rockefeller Center is an important New York City holiday tradition. To choose a tree for the display, those in charge travel by helicopter over New Jersey, New York, and New England. When they spot a candidate, they mark the coordinates and make a trip to view the tree from the ground. (Photo from Rockefellercenter.com)

Since 2007, the Rockefeller Center tree has been milled, and the wood is donated to Habitat for Humanity. That wood is then used as part of a house that is built by that worthy organization. What a way to celebrate the true meaning of the holiday!

The following clip features the family who donated this year’s tree.

by posted under All Ages, Christmas | No Comments »    

Mister Rogers

December6

My name is Mister Rogers.
I’m glad that you are near.
You’ve made this day a special day
By just your being here.
– From the opening song of the Canadian show Misterogers, the precursor of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood: The Poetry of Mister Rogers – Lyrics by Fred Rogers, illustrations by Luke Flowers (Quirk Books)

One needs to only say the name of Fred Rogers, and there is instant recognition. He was an icon in children’s television and his work has been lauded by many throughout the years. One of the constant themes of his show was that children are loved just for whom they are.

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood contains 75 songs/poetry from Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood and The Children’s Corner which was the first show on which Fred Rogers performed as a puppeteer. His lyrics address imagination, feelings, and everyday life for a child. Through his words, Mister Rogers always emphasized kindness and self-esteem.

Check out Mister Rogers’ authorized website to share more about this amazing man.
https://www.misterrogers.org/

by posted under Family, Poetry | No Comments »    

Non-Fiction November

November21

As I grow older, I pay less attention to what men say. I just watch what they do.

Andrew Carnegie

The Man Who Loved Libraries: The Story of Andrew Carnegie by Andrew Larsen, illustrated by Katty Maurey (Owl Kids)

When he was taking a walk one day, Andrew Larsen read a historical plaque that he noticed on the front of a public library. The wording on the plaque stated that the money used to build the library came from a Carnegie grant. This aroused Larsen’s curiosity and led him to research the life and philanthropy of Andrew Carnegie.

The Carnegies moved to Pittsburgh, PA in 1848 when Andrew was only 12 years old. His family emigrated from Dunfermline, Scotland where his father was an impoverished weaver. Once in America, Andrew went to work in the Anchor Cotton Mills as a bobbin boy to help support his family. Since he had to work, he was unable to receive any other formal education. There were no public libraries, but a local businessman, Colonel Anderson, welcomed young workers to his home to borrow books from his private collection.

While he wasn’t intimidated by hard work, Andrew moved on to make more money as a messenger boy delivering telegrams. He soon also learned to operate the telegraph equipment which eventually landed him a job as a telegraph operator with the Pennsylvania Railroad Company. Carnegie rose in the ranks and saw a future in railroads. He invested in railroads and companies producing oil, iron, and steel, and he became very wealthy.

While some of his business practices may be considered controversial, Carnegie believed in giving back to others. In 1901, Andrew Carnegie began to “pay it forward”. He remembered Colonel Anderson’s generosity in sharing his books. Thus began Carnegie’s plan to build public libraries to give others the opportunities that he experienced through borrowing books and reading. He built his first public library in Dunfermline to honor his birthplace. Between 1893 and 1929, Carnegie’s foundation donated the money to build 2,509 libraries. There were 43 Carnegie public libraries built in Massachusetts. Andrew Carnegie’s legacy continues to live on.

 

 

Non-Fiction November

November14

If Picasso Painted a Snowman by Amy Newbold, illustrated by Greg Newbold (Tilbury House)

 

 

 

 

 

 

If da Vinci Painted a Dinosaur by Amy Newbold, illustrated by Greg Newbold (Tilbury House)

It’s a pleasure to recommend two books for Non-Fiction November this week, If Picasso Painted a Snowman and If da Vinci Painted a Dinosaur. If Monet Painted a Monster is on order for the library.

Author Amy Newbold teamed up with her husband, illustrator Greg Newbold to produce these books that introduce young and not-so-young readers to the styles of famous artists. They came up with a simple premise in each of these books. What might a snowman, dinosaur, or monster look like if it were painted by…(insert an artist)? In the information about the illustrator, it states that Greg Newbold has always found it fun to paint in the styles of many of his favorite artists.

My favorite illustration in If Picasso Painted a Snowman is his illustration of snowmen painted by Salvador Dali. The illustration is from Amy Newbold’s website.

Because I’m fascinated by Henri Matisse, I thoroughly enjoyed Newbold’s depiction of the papercut dinosaurs in If da Vinci Painted a Dinosaur. This illustration is from Life Needs Art.

In the closing pages of each of the books in the series, there are short bios of the artists featured. There is also a thumbnail photo of each artist’s painting that inspired the stylized snowmen, dinosaurs, and monsters. Consider these books as art history books for the younger set or pure entertainment for the rest of us.

by posted under All Ages, Art | No Comments »    

Non-Fiction November

November8

Many libraries celebrate “Non-Fiction November” as a way to celebrate factual and informational books.

Mousetronaut by Astronaut Mark Kelly, illustrated by C.F. Payne (Simon & Schuster) isn’t non-fiction but it is based on an actual event. This picture book can certainly inform readers about space exploration and awaken a curiosity about space travel.

In the afterword, Mark Kelly describes his first flight on the space shuttle, Endeavour, in 2001. During that flight, there were eighteen mice on board to be observed. Engineers at NASA made specific considerations for the mice’s safety and comfort.

Special cages were constructed with mesh that the mice could grip with their toes. Pressurized water containers and compressed food were installed and a waste containment system were created to keep things clean…All of them, with one exception, clung to the inside of the mesh during the entire mission. One mouse, smaller than the rest, seemed to enjoy the experience and effortlessly floated around the cage.

Mark Kelly took the memory of this small mouse experiencing weightlessness when he wrote Mousetronaut. The smallest mouse is named Meteor, and in this entertaining picture book, Meteor is allowed out of the cage. Meteor becomes a hero who saves the mission by helping the astronauts.

Mark Kelly talks about going into space in this short video.

Moorseville Public Library Book Trailer

October29

The Proudest Blue: A Story of Hijab and Family by Ibtihaj Muhammad with S. K. Ali, illustrated by Hatem Aly (Little Brown)

The first day of wearing hijab is important, Mama had said.
It means being strong.

Some people won’t understand your hijab, Mama had said.
But if you understand who you are, one day they will too.

Mama: Don’t carry around the hurtful words that others say. Drop them. They are not yours to keep.
They belong only to those who said them.

In the 2016 Summer Olympics, fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad became the first Muslim American woman to wear a hijab while competing for the United States. As a member of the United States fencing team, she earned a bronze medal in the Team Sabre.

Ibtihaj collaborated with S. K. Ali to write The Proudest Blue. In their authors’ notes, the two women describe what an important occasion it was for them to wear their new hijab on the first day of school. Muhammad discusses the meaning of it for her, both physically and spiritually. She also writes of the bullying that she sometimes faced, especially in middle school. This talented athlete wrote her story to help young girls find their own strength and celebrate being a Muslim.

Frida Kahlo

October24

I never painted dreams or nightmares. I painted my own reality. – Frida Kahlo

It is important, yet challenging, to introduce Frida Kahlo to children. As one of the premier Mexican artists, her life story and body of work are inspirational. Yet, some of her paintings reveal the physical and emotional pain that she felt, and this is sometimes too complex for younger children to understand.

Monica Brown’s book, Frida Kahlo and Her Animalitos, illustrated by John Parra (North South) is the perfect picture book biography to introduce her to young children. The author focused on the many animals that Frida had as pets during her life – two monkeys, a parrot, three dogs, two turkeys, an eagle, a cat, and a fawn. Brown wrote mostly of Frida’s childhood, and she included few details of her polio and later accident that left her in constant pain. There is also little mention of her husband, Diego Rivera.

Who Was Frida Kahlo? By Sarah Fabiny, illustrated by Jerry Hoare (Grosset & Dunlop) depicts Kahlo’s life for our intermediate readers. This biography is part of the popular Who Was Series. Important facts about Kahlo’s life and times are included to explain the world in which she lived. There are pages on The Mexican Revolution, Diego Rivera, The Great Depression, and Surrealism.

« Older Entries


Skip to toolbar