The Crayon Man

  • Title: The Crayon Man: The True Story of the Invention of Crayola Crayons
  • Author: Natascha Biebow
  • Illustrator: Steven Salerno
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication year: 2019
  • Brief Summary: From Houghton Mifflin-“Celebrating the inventor of the Crayola crayon! This gloriously illustrated picture book biography tells the inspiring story of Edwin Binney, the inventor of one of the world’s most beloved toys.”
  • Ideas for using this book in classroom or library –I found this lesson guide on Library Lessons With Books that uses this book as a learning tool about inventions. The activity they state to do is have children in groups and ask them to brainstorm an invention for an everyday problem.
  • Whatever additional notes you’d like to add about this book and why you liked or didn’t like it –I really liked that there is a step by step guide on how Crayola Crayons are made today, a brief biography of the real Edwin Binney, and a bibliography list.

Swan

  • Title: Swan: The Life and Dance of Anna Pavlova
  • Author: Laurel Snyder
  • Illustrator: Julie Morstad
  • Publisher: Chronicle Books
  • Publication year: 2015
  • Brief Summary: From Amazon-“One night, young Anna’s mother takes her to the ballet, and everything is changed. So begins the journey of a girl who will one day grow up to be the most famous prima ballerina of all time, inspiring legions of dancers after her: the brave, the generous, the transcendently gifted Anna Pavlova. Swan: The Life and Dance of Anna Pavlova is a heartbreakingly beautiful picture book biography perfect for aspiring ballerinas of all ages.”
  • Ideas for using this book in classroom or library – I think this could be used in a music class or a humanities class to show a glimpse of the life of his famous ballerina. Perhaps a discussion could happen after reading the book on following one’s dreams, or a lengthier discussion on the time period in which this book is set.
  • Whatever additional notes you’d like to add about this book and why you liked or didn’t like it – I liked that Snyder included an author’s note on the life of Anna Pavlova and that she also included a bibliography and quotation sources. I do think the illustrations from Morstad are stunning, almost ethereal and do a great job of showing a frail, wraith-like Pavlova dancing across the stage.

Dancing Hands

  • Title: Dancing Hands: How Teresa Carreño Played the Piano for President Lincoln
  • Author: Margarite Engle
  • Illustrator: Rafael Lopez
  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster
  • Publication year: 2019
  • Brief Summary: From Simon & Schuster-“As a little girl, Teresa Carreño loved to let her hands dance across the beautiful keys of the piano. If she felt sad, music cheered her up, and when she was happy, the piano helped her share that joy. Soon she was writing her own songs and performing in grand cathedrals. Then a revolution in Venezuela forced her family to flee to the United States. Teresa felt lonely in this unfamiliar place, where few of the people she met spoke Spanish. Worst of all, there was fighting in her new home, too—the Civil War. Still, Teresa kept playing, and soon she grew famous as the talented Piano Girl who could play anything from a folk song to a sonata. So famous, in fact, that President Abraham Lincoln wanted her to play at the White House! Yet with the country torn apart by war, could Teresa’s music bring comfort to those who needed it most?”
  • Ideas for using this book in classroom or library – Because this is a moment in the life of a real person, and the historical context is The Civil War, this could be taught in a variety of ways. Perhaps students could read about the real Teresa Carreño before or after reading this book. Perhaps students could read about Abraham Lincoln and about his life the moment Teresa met him. I found this lesson plan from Atheneum Books that has an extensive discussion guide and activities to do with students.
  • Whatever additional notes you’d like to add about this book and why you liked or didn’t like it – I was interested to read this book after the group presentation on illustrator Rafael Lopez. Like many of the books I have picked out with him as the illustrator, I am stunned by his colorful, whimsical illustrations. Particularly in this book, where as Teresa plays, the music is personified as waves of color, tropical birds and flowers soaring around her. I think that is a beautiful interpretation as many people (adults and children) imagine music in many ways.

Keep the Lights Burning, Abbie

  • Title: Keep the Lights Burning, Abbie
  • Author: Peter and Connie Roop
  • Illustrator: Peter E. Hanson
  • Publisher: Carolrhoda Books & The Lerner Group
  • Publication year: 1985
  • Brief Summary: From Lerner-“She had never had to keep the lights burning by herself. But many lives depended on the lighthouse, and Papa was depending on Abbie. This is the exciting true story of Abbie Burgess, who in 1856 single-handedly kept the lighthouse lamps lit during a tremendous storm off the coast of Maine.”
  • Ideas for using this book in classroom or library – I think that though this book was published in 1985, it still has a lot of educational merit. It can be used in a history class, or even in a class touching on geography and the weather. I found this great teacher’s guide from the United States Lighthouse Society that includes many PDFs of activities, including about lighthouses, geography of Matinicus Rock, and the life of Abbie Burgess.
  • Whatever additional notes you’d like to add about this book and why you liked or didn’t like it – I liked that there was an Author’s Note at the beginning on the life of Abbie Burgess. I also liked the way the illustrations were set up, with a black and white drawings on every other page.

Drum Dream Girl

  • Title: Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl’s Courage Changed Music
  • Author: Margarita Engle
  • Illustrator: Rafael Lopez
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing
  • Publication year: 2015
  • Brief Summary: From Houghton Mifflin-“Girls cannot be drummers. Long ago on an island filled with music, no one questioned that rule—until the drum dream girl. In her city of drumbeats, she dreamed of pounding tall congas and tapping small bongós. She had to keep quiet. She had to practice in secret. But when at last her dream-bright music was heard, everyone sang and danced and decided that both girls and boys should be free to drum and dream.”
  • Ideas for using this book in classroom or library – I found this lesson plan from Latinxs in Kid’s Literature that discusses how this book could be used in a music class, or for a public library in a music-themed library program. Another suggestion was to read this and have children research Millo Castro Zaldarriaga on whom this story is inspired by.
  • Whatever additional notes you’d like to add about this book and why you liked or didn’t like it – When one of the groups in class presented on illustrator Rafael Lopez I was intrigued to read this book. I love his bright and colorful illustrations in this book that show action through the movements of the characters.

Moses

  • Title: Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom
  • Author: Carole Boston Weatherford
  • Illustrator: Kadir Nelson
  • Publisher: Jump at the Sea, Hyperion Books for Children
  • Publication year: 2006
  • Brief Summary: From Amazon-“Born into slavery, Harriet Tubman hears these words from God one summer night and decides to leave her husband and family behind and escape. Taking with her only her faith, she must creep through woods with hounds at her feet, sleep for days in a potato hole, and trust people who could have easily turned her in. But she was never alone. In lyrical text, Carole Boston Weatherford describes Tubman’s spiritual journey as she hears the voice of God guiding her north to freedom on that very first trip to escape the brutal practice of forced servitude. Tubman would make nineteen subsequent trips back south, never being caught, but none as profound as this first one. Courageous, compassionate, and deeply religious, Harriet Tubman, with her bravery and relentless pursuit of freedom, is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit.”
  • Ideas for using this book in classroom or library –I think this would be another great picture book to add during a history class although I do not know if because this is about Harriet Tubman’s spiritual journey. I do think this would also work in a public library.
  • Whatever additional notes you’d like to add about this book and why you liked or didn’t like it –As always, I think Nelson’s illustrations are stunning. One of my favorite illustrations is of Harriet Tubman gazing up a the moon and speaking to God, the moon the only light illuminating the landscape. I also thought it was interesting that the words of God are in a different font and are separated from the text of the story.

Two Friends

  • Title: Two Friends: Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglas
  • Author: Dean Robbins
  • Illustrator: Sean Qualls & Selina Alko
  • Publisher: Orchard Books, an imprint of Scholastic Inc.
  • Publication year: 2016
  • Brief Summary: From Scholastic-“Some people had rights, while others had none. Why shouldn’t they have them, too? Two friends, Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass, get together for tea and conversation. They recount their similar stories fighting to win rights for women and African Americans. The premise of this particular exchange between the two is based on a statue in their hometown of Rochester, New York, which shows the two friends having tea”
  • Ideas for using this book in classroom or library – I think this book could be used in a history class while students are learning about both of these historical figures. While of course this picture books takes some creative license in thinking of what the two might have discussed (see the author’s note), it is interesting to know (because I did not) that they met each other.
  • Whatever additional notes you’d like to add about this book and why you liked or didn’t like it – I did like the sort of patchwork quality of the illustrations that have bits of newspaper and words intermingled within the illustrations and in the backgrounds.

Fifty Cents and a Dream

  • Title: Fifty Cents and a Dream: Young Booker T. Washington
  • Author: Jabari Asim
  • Illustrator: Bryan Collier
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company, an imprint of Hachette Book Group
  • Publication year: 2012
  • Brief Summary: From Little, Brown and Company-“Born into slavery, young Booker T. Washington could only dream of learning to read and write. After emancipation, with only fifty cents in his pocket and a dream in his soul, Booker walked five hundred miles to Hampton Institute, taking his first of many steps towards a college degree. The young slave who once waited outside of the schoolhouse would one day become a legendary educator of freedmen.”
  • Ideas for using this book in classroom or library –While in grade school, I know I learned about Booker T. Washington, but only about his political stance and not about his personal life. So, I think young and older children would learn a lot more than they would in class about Washington’s life by reading this book. This book could be introduced while children are learning about the ideologies of both Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. Dubois in class.
  • Whatever additional notes you’d like to add about this book and why you liked or didn’t like it –Like many other of Collier’s illustrative works that I’ve covered, I really enjoyed the patchwork quality of his illustrations, with all the patterns, colors, and pieces of photographs intermingled within the clothing or backgrounds.