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.

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.

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.