October 14 – It’s Hispanic Heritage Month

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About the Holiday

From September 15th through October 15th National Hispanic Heritage Month celebrates the contributions of those who come from or whose ancestors immigrated from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America, and South America. Each year the holiday adopts a particular theme. This year’s theme is “Esperanza: A Celebration of Hispanic Heritage and Hope.” From business and industry to culture, sports, and entertainment, Hispanic and Latinx Americans have made an important and indelible imprint on our country. You can learn more about the holiday and find cross-curricular resources for classrooms and homeschooling, videos, exhibitions, and much more from the Smithsonian, the Library of Congress, the National Park Service, the National Gallery of Art, the Nationla Archives and more to use not only this month but throughout the year on the official Hispanic Heritage Month website.

Without Separation: Prejudice, Segregation, and the Case of Roberto Alvarez

Written by Larry Dane Brimmer | Illustrated by Maya Gonzalez

On January 5, 1931 twelve-year-old Roberto Alvarez was happy to be going back to Lemon Grove Grammar School after the Christmas vacation. But when he got there “the principal told Roberto and the other Mexican and Mexican American children that they did not belong there.” He told them to go to the new Mexican school on Olive Street, and when they arrived, their teachers and desks were already waiting for them.

This had all come about stealthily after the school district’s board of trustees received a letter from the parent-teacher association complaining that “the Mexican children didn’t understand English,” which “held back the white students.” The letter also said that the “Mexican children were unclean and endangered the health of every other student in the school.” The board decided to construct a separate school—but without telling the Mexican parents, fearing “trouble.”

But as the Olive Street school was being built, Mexican parents understood it true purpose of segregation and instructed their children not to attend, but to come home. Most of the kids, including Roberto did as their parents told them. “That January morning the Olive Street School stood almost empty, except for two teachers, three students, and many unoccupied desks.” Roberto believed he didn’t need a different school. While his parents had come from Mexico, he had been born in California and spoke English as well as any of the white students.

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Image copyright Maya Gonzalez, 2021, text copyright Larry Dane Brimmer, 2021. Courtesy of Calkins Creek.

The Mexican parents formed the “Comité de Vecinos de Lemon Grove—the Lemon Grove Neighbors Committee”—to talk about the situation. They knew the new school had not been built to “help their students learn the English language and American customs, as the school board and newspapers claimed.” The only deciding factor of which school a child attended was the color of their skin.

The Comité de Vecinos acquired two lawyers, and on February 13, 1931 “Roberto brought the situation in Lemon Grove to the attention of the California Superior Court in San Diego” by filing a law suit against the Lemon Grove School board of trustees. His lawsuit asked that the school district stop discriminating against the Mexican students and allow them to return to the Lemon Grove School. The school board falsely stated that the students’ strike was “organized by Mexico or by groups in Mexico,” and the president told a reporter he knew that the district attorney of San Diego was on the school’s side.

In fact the San Diego district attorney represented the school board in its dealings with the court, saying that the Olive Street School was for “‘better instruction,’” a claim that was different from the minutes from the school board’s summer meetings. He then went on to say that having a school in their own neighborhood was safer since they didn’t have to cross the railroad tracks. But Roberto wanted to go to school with all of his friends—”brown and white.”

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Image copyright Maya Gonzalez, 2021, text copyright Larry Dane Brimmer, 2021. Courtesy of Calkins Creek.

The trial began on March 10, 1931 in San Diego. The lawyers for the school board insisted that the new school was to “benefit the Mexican pupils…not to separate” them. Roberto’s lawyers countered this with the minutes from the board’s summer meetings.

The trial ended the next day, and the decision was handed over to the judge. Two days later, the judge handed down his ruling. He stated that “in the eyes of the law the Lemon Grove School District had no power to set up a separate school for Mexican children.” On April 16, 1931, the judge’s ruling became official and the school board was ordered to immediately admit Roberto Alvarez and all of the other Mexican students “‘without separation or segregation.’” Roberto knew he had to stand up for what was right, and as he and the other Mexican students returned to school, “this time all were welcomed.”

An extensive Author’s Note, complete with photographs of Roberto Alvarez, his third- and fourth-grade classmates in 1928, Roberto’s mother, Lemon Grove Grammar School and its principal, and Roberto in 1999, reveals more about this historical event, the people involved, and the political and social atmosphere in the US at the time. Larry Dane Brimmer also discusses other cases of school segregation and follows up with the consequences for Lemon Grove principal Jerome Green and the successful career enjoyed by Roberto Alvarez as an entrepreneur. Resources used in researching the book are also included.

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Image copyright Maya Gonzalez, 2021, text copyright Larry Dane Brimmer, 2021. Courtesy of Calkins Creek.

Larry Dane Brimmer’s compelling history of this landmark case and biography of Roberto Alvarez and all of the students and their parents who stood up for equal access to schooling is instructive and empowering. The fact that this issue and similar others continue to roil schools, workplaces, and communities, makes Without Separation a vital resource to educate children and adults on system racism and how it spreads.

Brimmer highlights the courage, intelligence, and acceptance that children display and inspires them to lend their voices to change injustice wherever they find it. Brimmer’s clear and precise storytelling allows children to understand the actions and discussions involved in the school board meetings, neighborhood committee meetings, and the trial without losing any of the story’s emotional impact.

Maya Gonzalez’s lovely folk-art illustrations present stylized-yet-realistic depictions of the citrus groves, the school, and the courtroom. Fashions and décor set the time period while also appearing appropriate today. Another portrayal of universality is accomplished in Gonzalez’s two-page spread of the board of trustees’ meeting, in which she pictures the members sitting at a table with only their feet and upper body showing. Not only is this group representative of the 1930 school board, but of the “faceless” masses and committees that often drive policy today. Many images of the Mexican community supporting each other shows readers what can be accomplished when people work together.

An important book that will resonate with its target audience, Without Separation: Prejudice, Segregation, and the Case of Roberto Alvarez is a must-addition to any home, classroom, school, and public library.

Ages 7 – 10 and up

Calkins Creek, 2021 | ISBN 978-1684371952

Discover more about Larry Dane Brimmer and his books on his website.

To learn more about Maya Gonzalez, her books, and her art, visit her website.

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You can find Without Separation: Prejudice, Segregation, and the Case of Roberto Alvarez at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million

To support your local independent bookstore, order from

Bookshop | IndieBound

Picture Book Review

October 12 – National Savings Day

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About the Holiday

National Savings Day was established by Capitol One to educate people on saving money and taking control of their finances in ways that empower them now and in the future. Simple steps such as opening a savings account, saving a portion of each paycheck, and setting short-term and long-term goals can help people feel more confident about their relationship with money. Teaching children the value of money through their allowance or while shopping can help them learn important lessons they will take with them into adulthood.

She’s on the Money (She Made History series)

Written by Andrea Hall | Illustrated by Li Zhang

 

If you’re looking for a fascinating and inclusive way to introduce profiles of influential women from different cultures and time periods in your classroom, homeschool, or family reading time, you’ll find lots to love in She’s on the Money. The lives, work, and impact of thirteen woman involved in politics, science, the arts, education, and activism from ancient Egypt to modern times are presented in short biographies that include interesting facts about how the women changed their country, community, or the world and why each was chosen to represent her country on its currency. The beliefs, customs, atmosphere, and conditions of the historical periods are revealed in appealing captions that are accompanied by illustrations that help readers visualize the concepts. Beautifully detailed images of each country’s currency also graces the pages.

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Image copyright Li Zhang, 2021, text copyright Andrea Hall, 2021. Courtesy of Albert Whitman & Company.

Cleopatra remains as intriguing today as she was centuries ago, so it’s fitting that she appears first in this book—just as she was the first woman to appear on currency. Why was her profile there? “Cleopatra appears on currency because she put herself on it. As ruler of Egypt, she had her own coins minted, or made.” In fact, “Unlike many women who came after them, Egyptian woman of Cleopatra’s time could buy property, divorce and remarry, and serve on juries. And like Cleopatra, they could be rulers.” Children will also learn how clever, fashionable, and “modern” Cleopatra really was. They’ll also discover facts about mummification.

Another leader represented is Queen Sālote Tupou III, the first queen of Tonga, who was the first Tongan chief to unite the 172 Pacific islands that make up the country. She appears on banknotes issued from 1967 – 1974. These intricately designed two-pa’anga bills feature Queen Tupou’s portrait on the front and an image of four women making tapa cloth on the back. Readers learn about and see an example of tapa cloth as well as information on the country’s produce and clothing.

Other politicians include Indira Gandhi, the first—and so far only—female prime minister of India, who appears on a specially minted five-rupee coin that was issued in 1985 to commemorate of her birthday on November 19; and Eva Perón, the former first lady of Argentina, whose profile appears on a colorful one-hundred-peso banknote, “unveiled on the sixtieth anniversary of her death, in July of 2012.”

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Image copyright Li Zhang, 2021, text copyright Andrea Hall, 2021. Courtesy of Albert Whitman & Company.

Kids will be inspired by entomologist Maria Sibylla Merian, who at a time when insects were believed to be “‘evil spirits’ because they came out of the ground, captured and studied insects in order to understand and draw them. She appears on the German “500-deutsche-mark banknote from October 27, 1992 to the end of 2001, when Germany began using he euro.”

Educators include Maria Montessori, who developed Montessori schools and is featured on Italy’s elaborate 1,000-lira note, and Helen Keller, who is featured on the Alabama state quarter first released on March 17, 2003 as part of the program begun in 1999 to honor each American state. Her quarter also includes her name in both English and braille.

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Image copyright Li Zhang, 2021, text copyright Andrea Hall, 2021. Courtesy of Albert Whitman & Company.

Readers also learn about the crucial role Sacagawea, a member of the Lemhi Shoshone tribe, played in the success of the Lewis and Clark’s expedition to explore and map the country from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean. Sacagawea appears on the dollar coin, which was issued in 2000. The coin is also distinctive for its gold color and smooth edge, which make it easier for visually impaired people to identify.

Seamstress and revolutionary Catherine Flon of Haiti, opera singer Jenny Lind from Sweden, and revolutionaries and sisters Patria, Minerva, and María Teresa Mirabal of the Dominican Republic as well as writers Ichiyō Higuchi from Japan and Kate Shepard from New Zealand are also profiled.

An Introduction reveals information on the beginnings of the monetary system’s coins and paper bills and the choices governments make on who will appear on them. Discussions of the changing images of Britannia and Lady Liberty follow the biographies as well as an Author’s Note and a Glossary of words found in the text.

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Image copyright Li Zhang, 2021, text copyright Andrea Hall, 2021. Courtesy of Albert Whitman & Company.

Andrea Hall’s engaging, conversational style gives readers a wealth of knowledge on their way to learning about the money we use every day. Her well-chosen details provide kids with plenty of sparks for further research about the women and their work, how money is minted and protected from counterfeiters, and pivotal periods in world history.

Li Zhang’s textured and realistic reproductions of world currency are visually stunning, showing kids that much of the world’s coins and paper bills qualify as art in addition to their purchasing value. Her images of stamps, cultural fashions, iconic products, and more are equally beautiful, while her snapshots of insects, jewelry, flags, coats of arms, and other symbols provide readers with tangible views that set the women in their time period and further inform children’s reading.

Absorbing for anyone interested in money, history, art, and biographies, She’s on the Money is highly recommended as an addition to home, school, and public library collections.

Ages 4 – 9

Albert Whitman & Company, 2021 | ISBN 978-0807573426

Discover more about Andrea Hall and her books on her website.

To learn more about Li Zhang, her books, and her art, visit her website.

National Savings Day Activity

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Count Your Pennies! Matching Game

 

Counting pennies can be so much fun! Saving them can be even better! Collect enough pennies and you can buy something special or donate to your favorite cause! In this printable matching game, draw a line from the stack of pennies to the object they will buy.

Counting Your Pennies! Matching Game

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You can find She’s on the Money at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million

To support your local independent bookstore, order from

Bookshop | IndieBound

Picture Book Review

October 11 – National Coming Out Day

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About the Holiday

The establishment of National Coming Out Day was inspired by the October 11, 1987 March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights, which drew 500,000 people and generated momentum for the movement for four months after the march had ended. During this time, more than one hundred LGBTQ+ identifying individuals gathered outside of Washington, DC. Rob Eichberg, who founded a personal growth workshop and Jean O’Leary, the head of National Gay Rights Advocates, proposed a national day to celebrate coming out and it was decided to create a National Coming Out Day that would officially begin on the 1st anniversary of their historic march. The holiday is now celebrated around the world. The day offers support and encouragement to those who are struggling with telling someone about their sexuality while urging family members, friends, educators, and others to listen with an open, loving, and welcoming heart.

Thanks to Joan Holub for sending me a copy of This Little Rainbow for review consideration. All opinions on the book are my own. I’m thrilled to be teaming with Joan in an exciting giveaway of this book and more. See details below.

This Little Rainbow: A Love-is-Love Primer

 

Written by Joan Holub | Illustrated by Daniel Roode

 

Joan Holub’s latest book in her THIS LITTLE series introduces preschoolers to eleven influential artists, scientists, sports figures, soldiers, activists, and politicians who are or were members of the LGBTQIA+ community. From the 1400s to today, these role models have been admired for their talents, opinions, and groundbreaking success in their chosen fields. Their courage has also contributed to a more open and appreciative society for all.

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Image copyright Daniel Roode, 2021, text copyright Joan Holub, 2021. Courtesy of Little Simon, Simon & Schuster.

Each featured profile is presented on a two-page spread. On the left side a rhyming couplet describes what the person is most known for, while on the right children learn a couple of facts about them in two or three short sentences. The book leads off with one of the most prominent painters, inventors, and scientists to have ever lived—Leonardo da Vinci. Readers learn: “This little rainbow / was a genius long ago. / He was a great artist / and an engineering pro.” They then discover that “Leonardo da Vinci painted the famous Mona Lisa and The Last Supper, and could paint with his left or right hand. He was also a scientist, inventor, and architect, who designed a flying machine!”

Moving on to the Jazz Age, little ones learn about Josephine Baker, “who sang and danced onstage,” refused to perform where African Americans weren’t allowed in, and spied on Nazis during World War II. Kids also meet computer scientist and code breaker Alan Turing; Harvey Milk, the first out politician “elected to public office in California. He helped pass an early rule for fairness in housing and jobs for LGBTQIA+ people.”

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Image copyright Daniel Roode, 2021, text copyright Joan Holub, 2021. Courtesy of Little Simon, Simon & Schuster.

Children will also be introduced to Sally Ride: “This little rainbow / launched a satellite / as the first female astronaut / on a US space flight.” Kids then learn that “Sally Ride helped design a big robotic art and then used it to launch communications satellites from the Space Shuttle Challenger in 1983.” Marsha P. Johnson, a transgender woman who, with Sylvia Rivera, “created a group called STAR to help homeless trans people,”

Singer Freddie Mercury, Gilbert Baker and Daniel Quasar, who designed today’s rainbow flags; tennis pro Martina Navratilova; and Shane Ortega, who “was the first person to openly transition during active duty” and “now speaks out for fair rules for all people,” are also represented in these pages.

Following these profiles, a two-page spread provides portraits and information on fifteen other LGBTQIA+ leaders from around the world as well as a glossary of twelve “rainbow terms.”

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Image copyright Daniel Roode, 2021, text copyright Joan Holub, 2021. Courtesy of Little Simon, Simon & Schuster.

Joan Holub’s inclusive introduction to people in the LGBTQIA+ community gives parents, educators, and other caregivers a meaningful way to share the work and lives of people who reflect perhaps their own family or a member of their family, their neighbors, friends, teachers, celebrities, and others. In positive, uplifting language, Holub provides a short history on the struggles, recognition, progress, and contributions of those who identified or identify as part of the LGBTQIA+ community while instilling pride and hope in the future for today’s children.

Daniel Roode’s well-recognized illustrations for the THIS LITTLE series offer vibrant imagery of each person backed by a bold, easily identified setting that informs young readers about their work and personality. Each of the eleven featured portraits as well as the fifteen that follow give adults and children a great place to start learning more about these inspiring people.

This Little Rainbow, a Love-Is-Love Primer is a terrific addition to the THIS LITTLE series for all home, classroom, school, and public library collections.

Ages 3 – 5

Little Simon, 2021 | ISBN 978-1534475601

Discover more about Joan Holub and her books on her website.

You can connect with Daniel Roode on Instagram.

One Question with Joan Holub

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Joan Holub has authored and/or illustrated over 140 children’s books, including the Goddess Girls series, the Heroes in Training series, the New York Times bestselling picture book Mighty Dads (illustrated by James Dean), and Little Red Writing (illustrated by Melissa Sweet). She lives in North Carolina.

You can connect with Joan Holub on her Website and Twitter

Hi Joan! It’s wonderful to have this little chat with you! Your list of published books is truly incredible and inspirational for its length and breadth of topics. I can only imagine that you’ve always been an avid reader. Did you have a favorite place to read as a child? Do you still seek out a favorite comfortable place to read now?

When I was a girl, there was a willow tree in our backyard, and I loved how cozy and hidden I felt sitting beneath it, with its green canopy draped around me. It was my favorite hideout and place to read. My family had read a book called A Good Place to Hide, which featured a child hiding under a willow tree, and that fostered in me the idea of me doing the same. My favorite reading spot now is our back deck, which looks out onto trees, with a glass of iced tea beside me.

This Little Rainbow Giveaway

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To celebrate her latest book in the bestselling THIS LITTLE series, Joan Holub is offering this fantastic prize package that includes 4 board books from the series plus a rainbow apron that’s perfect for any baking or art project! Two lucky winners will receive

  • One (1) copy of This Little Rainbow
  • One (1) copy of This Little Trailblazer
  • One (1) copy of This Little Environmentalist
  • One (1) copy of This Little Artist
  • One (1) Rainbow Apron 

To Enter

This giveaway is open from October 11 to October 16 and ends at 8:00 p.m. EST.

A winner will be chosen on October 17. 

Prizing provided by Joan Holub

Giveaway open to U.S. addresses only | No Giveaway Accounts 

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You can find This Little Rainbow: A Love-is-Love Primer at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million

To support your local independent bookstore, order from 

Bookshop | IndieBound

Picture Book Review

 

October 7 – It’s National Book Month

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About the Holiday

This month-long holiday was established to get families excited about reading. As the weather turns cooler and activities turn indoors, reading together is a wonderful way to spend time laughing, learning, and making memories. Small children love being read to—and so do older kids! Sharing board books, picture books, and chapter books with younger readers opens up new worlds of imagination, feelings, and discovery. Taking the journey of a novel, graphic novel, or biography together with tweens and teens can provide inspiring, emotional, funny, and bonding moments that last a lifetime.

Thanks to Millbrook Press and Barbara Fisch at Blue Slip Media for sharing a copy of Who Is a Scientist? for review consideration. All opinions on the book are my own.

Who Is a Scientist?

By Laura Gehl

 

Do you love science and think that maybe you’d like to be a scientist when you grow up? But do you also love to dance or surf to paint or bake? Maybe you like to play soccer or ride a motorcycle or you’re considering getting a tattoo like your mom or dad and you think that none of those are things a scientist would do. Maybe you think of scientists as a little bit stuffy with their white coats and endless graphs. Well, think again!

In Who Is a Scientist? Laura Gehl introduces you to fourteen scientists who smash those ideas. And what’s more they’re involved in some pretty fascinating and life-changing sciences and projects that you may never have heard about before but that may inspire you. For example, you’ll meet Isha M. Renata López who works as a meteorologist but “also loves to dance, play volleyball, and eat chocolate.” What’s great about her job? She alerts people to changes in the weather, and when a big storm, blizzard, hurricane, or tornado is coming, she works with emergency crews, the media, and the local government to make sure everyone knows so they can stay safe.

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“Jagmeet Kanwal studies bats and zebrafish to help figure out how the human brain makes decisions.” He’s also working to discover “how our brains allow us to hear different types of sounds.” He’s hoping to be able to “help people with depression, Parkinson’s disease, and memory loss.” What else does Jagmeet like to do? He’s also a painter and nature photographer.

If you like math, you may want to become a mathematician like Mark Lewis, who studies operations research during work hours and enjoys playing basketball in his off time. This kind of science “uses math to help business make good decisions” that affect consumer, such as how long people wait in line, how much items cost, and how transportation can move faster.

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Perhaps you’re interested in health and medical research like Tishina Okegbe whose work makes sure that mothers, babies, and children in Africa and Asia “have access to high-quality health-care services. In her free time, Tishina likes “visiting new places, belly dancing, and eating pizza and ice cream.”

Whether you’re interested in food systems and farming, how the brain works, the environment, space, dinosaurs, or computers, the scientists will inspire you to enjoy all of your passions. In fact, the extracurricular activities you enjoy the most may just lead you to a career you’ll love. The definition of who and what a scientist is broad and exciting as you’ll see when you meet these men and women who are changing the world while being themselves.

Back matter includes a QR code that readers can scan to view a video in which each profiled scientist introduces themselves. There’s also a flow chart that can lead kids to the type of scientist they might want to be or at least research further based on their interests.

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Laura Gehl’s engaging and inspiring look at a variety of scientists and their disciplines will get all kids excited about the wide range of work going on around them and the people who make it happen. Her profiles of these thinkers, activists, and active members of their communities show kids that they don’t need to be defined only by their career and that scientists—who are needed now more than ever—are a diverse group and welcoming to all. Each profile is accompanied by photographs of the scientist in their lab or other work environment as well as action shots of them enjoying their off time in their favorite pursuits.

A smart, inviting, and educational introduction to the people who are helping to make the world a better place through science and other STEM-related fields, Who Is a Scientist? is sure to inform readers on the wide-range of specialized work that falls under the umbrella of science and spark their interest in learning where they may fit in. The book is highly recommended for home bookshelves and is a must for classroom, school, and public libraries.

Ages 4 – 9

Millbrook Press, 2021 | ISBN 978-1728441085

Meet the scientists in this Who Is a Scientist? Book Trailer!

One Question with Laura Gehl

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Laura Gehl is the author of more than a dozen books for children, including One Big Pair of Underwear, Except When They Don’t, the Peep and Egg series, and the Baby Scientist and Brilliant Baby board books. In addition to being an author, Dr. Gehl has a PhD in neuroscience and is the mother of four children. She lives with her family in Maryland. 

You can connect with Laura on her Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

Hi Laura! I loved reading your book and getting to know some of the scientists working today. I also enjoyed seeing how some of their other interests are reflected in their work while others are great ways to relax and play—definitely something kids can relate to!

I was wondering if or how a previous job (or jobs) has influenced your writing and the kinds of books you write. 

I used to work in a neurobiology lab, and I also used to teach science. Both of those jobs made me want to write books about science and scientists! When I taught science, I realized that very few kids had met a real scientist or had read about any scientists more recent than Albert Einstein or Marie Curie. Flash forward twenty years and my new photo-illustrated picture book Who Is a Scientist? features fourteen real scientists working today in different fields from astronomy to entomology to paleontology. While the book talks about the fascinating work these scientists are doing, it also talks about the other things the scientists love…like dancing, soccer, junk food, watching movies, and playing with their pets. I hope this book helps kids realize that scientists are just like them—curious people with lots of different passions who like to ask and answer interesting questions.

Thanks, Laura! Through your books you’ve found a perfect way to share your love and knowledge of science with kids! I wish you all the best with Who Is a Scientist?!

You can find a Teacher’s Guide to Who Is a Scientist? and her other books on Laura Gehl’s website here.

National Book Month Activity

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Static Electricity Experiment!

 

We all know that cooler weather means shock season will soon be here. But you don’t have to wait until the fuzzy socks and fleecy blankets come out to have some fun exploring the science of static electricity. Using a blown-up balloon can be a dramatic way to show kids what’s going on with the electrons that are at the center of this phenomenon.

Babies and young children should be supervised by an adult while playing with balloons.

How does it work? Static electricity is generated when there is an excess of electrons on one object giving it an electric charge. These electrons are attracted to an object with fewer electrons and will jump to it when placed close by.

How do you produce static electricity? Just rub the blown-up balloon on your shirt, on your hair, on a blanket or other surface. Then try these experiments!

CRAZY HAIR

Generate static electricity on a blown-up balloon then hold it near your hair and watch it go a little crazy!

HANG A BALLOON

Generate static electricity on a blown-up balloon and gently place it on the wall and watch it hang all by itself.

BEND WATER

This bit of balloon magic will amaze you! Generate static electricity on a blown-up balloon. Turn on a faucet to a thin stream of water. Hold the balloon near the stream of water and watch it bend toward the balloon. 

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You can find Who Is a Scientist? at these booksellers. Due to shipping delays, preorders are now being taken.

Amazon | Books-a-Million | IndieBound

Picture Book Review

 

September 29 – It’s Intergeneration Month

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About the Holiday

Cuddle ‘round for two loving holidays—Intergeneration Month and National Attend Your Grandchild’s Birth Day—which each encourage grandparents to be present figures in their grandchildren’s lives starting from birth! Already, many grandparents across the globe play active roles in caring for children. In the US alone, 4.8 million preschoolers were under the care of grandparents in 2011. Whether you are a grandchild, parent, or grandparent, it is important to support family and spread some love. Hug someone special today to celebrate this holiday. In honor of this day, we present a story about artist Maria Povika Martinez, co-written by her great-granddaughter. Her historical account teaches the importance of love, family, and the passing down of knowledge through generations.

Thanks to Albert Whitman & Company for sharing a copy of Shaped By Her Hands with me for review consideration. All opinions on the book are my own.

Review by Dorothy Levine

Shaped By Her Hands: Potter Maria Martinez (Part of the She Made History Series)

Written by Anna Harber Freeman and Barbara Gonzales | Illustrated by Aphelandra

As a child growing up in the pueblo of San Ildefonso, New Mexico in the 1890s, Maria always loved clay. While her siblings played with straw dolls and her parents planted crops, Maria spent her time making clay pots. But, to her frustration, her pots would always crack when she set them out to dry in the sun. Maria’s aunt, or ko-ōo, Nicolasa offered to help and showed Maria “the centuries-old tradition of san-away.” Nicolasa still made clay pots using these traditional methods, even though more and more people were buying tin pots from stores. 

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Image copyright Aphelandra, 2021, text copyright Anna Harber Freeman and Barbara Gonzales, 2021. Courtesy of Albert Whitman & Company.

Nicolasa taught Maria how to coil the clay in circles and then lay the pots together on a fire to make them dry, solid, and strong. “As Maria watched Nicolasa work the clay, she thought of the many generations of potters who had come before. She wanted to make bowls as strong and beautiful as her ko-ōo’s.” Nicolasa and Maria thanked Mother Earth for the clay she shared with them. 

When Maria grew older, she continued to make pots and gained a reputation for her skilled work. One day in 1908, an archeologist named Edgar Lee Hewett came to visit Maria. He had discovered an old shard of black pottery in a dig nearby. Mr. Hewett wanted to know if Maria could recreate a pot in the similar style. She decided to take on the challenge.

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Image copyright Aphelandra, 2021, text copyright Anna Harber Freeman and Barbara Gonzales, 2021. Courtesy of Albert Whitman & Company.

After much experimentation, Maria and her husband, Julian Martinez, discovered a technique: “One afternoon, they tried smothering the fire to keep the smoke in. When they pulled out the pot, it was shiny, and black as a raven.” With this new method, Maria combined her own style with old traditions to create a new style of pottery that was marvelous. Mr. Hewitt took some of these pots Maria made. “He put one of the pots in the Museum of New Mexico, where he worked.” The others he took to shops in Santa Fe. To Maria’s surprise, they sold like crazy! Julian began to paint designs on the black shiny pots—decorations of serpents, feathers, and water—using a yucca-blade brush. 

As more and more pots sold, Maria and Julian taught the rest of her family and some friends to make the pots with them. They became so famous that many people across the country invited them to demonstrate their skills to others. When Maria’s husband died, she continued to make pots with her family. “First, her children came to paint the designs. Later, her grandchildren came to help with the painting and polishing. They made pots as a family, remembering to thank Mother Earth, and teaching new hands to form, polish, and design.” 

The story is followed by back matter that provides more information about Maria, the Tewa people, and the San Ildefonso Pueblo for readers. Both authors include a note about how they were influenced by Maria and why they believe it is important to share her story with young people today. 

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-shaped-by-her-hands-generations

Image copyright Aphelandra, 2021, text copyright Anna Harber Freeman and Barbara Gonzales, 2021. Courtesy of Albert Whitman & Company.

The story is co-written by Barbara Gonzales, the great-grandchild of Maria, and Anna Harber Freeman, whose grandmother was a member of the Osage Nation and who is a lifelong fan of Maria’s work with degrees in multicultural education and art. Their biography of Maria Martinez shines with its lyrical, straightforward telling that reveals the deep history of the Tewa people as well as the meaning and uses of the pottery that Maria and her ko-ōo Nicolasa created by hand. The importance of passing down knowledge and traditions from one generation to another is organically woven throughout the story. Many readers will recognize Maria and Julian’s distinctive pottery and be inspired by the history behind it.

Aphelandra is a descendant of the Oneida Nation, and the daughter of a crafts artist and landscaper. She writes that she grew up surrounded by natural beauty and creativity, which can be seen in her illustrations. The illustrations in Shaped by Her Hands consist largely of soft yellow, green, and red hues. In the part of the story in which Maria is sent off to boarding school, the colorful tones found throughout the book are confined to a single window, depicting the feeling of entrapment and homesickness Maria felt. Aphelandra vividly weaves in the storytelling of past generations through her use of color, shadow and circular imagery. Her painted landscapes gorgeously depict the natural San Ildefonso scenery. 

This beautifully crafted tale shares the history of Maria Povika Martinez while introducing readers to Tewa people’s values of kindness, passing on of knowledge, and respect for elders and Mother Earth. An inspiring read for all children, especially those interested in artistic and creative endeavors, Shaped By Her Hands: Potter Maria Martinez is highly recommended for home bookshelves and a must for school and public library collections.

Ages 4 – 9 

Albert Whitman & Company, 2021 | ISBN 978-0807575994

Discover more about Anna Harber Freeman and her books on her website.

To learn more about Barbara Gonzales and her pottery and to view a video with Barbara and other artists discussing an exhibition of San Ildefonso Pueblo potters at the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, visit the adobe gallery website.

You can learn more about Aphelandra, her books, and her artwork on her website.

Intergeneration Month Activity

Highlights Kids Homemade Clay figures

Photo and craft sample by Madison McClain, courtesy of Highlights Kids (highlightskids.com)

This craft comes from Highlights Homemade Clay, by Marie E. Cecchini posted on April 12, 2016. You can find the post on the Highlights kids website.

Make your own homemade clay in honor of Maria’s art form then make your own pot or creation!

What you’ll need

  • 2 cups baking soda
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 1 ¼ cups water
  • Cooking pot
  • Food coloring (optional)
  • Wiggly eyes, chenille sticks, pompoms, feathers, etc. (optional)

What to do

Note: Food coloring can be added to the water before mixing in the other ingredients or can be added to the clay after it has cooled. Adding coloring later may be a little messier, but you can divide the clay and create different batches of various colors.

  1. Combine ingredients in the pot and cook mixture over medium heat, stirring until it thickens to a consistency like mashed potatoes.
  2. Let the clay cool
  3. Knead the clay until smooth.
  4. Make creations!
  5. Leave clay pieces in the sun to dry.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-shaped-by-her-hands-cover

You can find Shaped By Her Hands: Potter Maria Martinez at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million

To support your local independent bookstore, order from

Bookshop | IndieBound

Picture Book Review

August 25 – National Park Service Day

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About the Holiday

On August 25, 1916, President Woodrow Willson signed what is now called the Organic Act, establishing the National Park Service. In the 105 years since that historic signing, 400 areas in each of the 50 states, U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia, totaling 84 million acres, have been designated as national parks. Today we honor the park rangers who conserve and preserve these natural wonders and educate visitors. This year’s theme – Park Scrapbooks – encourages park visitors to take pictures, buy postcards, and record memories for family and future generations. To discover the national parks near you and the stories behind them as well as to learn more about how you can help out all year round, visit the National Park Foundation website and the National Park Service website.

Headstrong Hallie! The Story of Hallie Morse Daggett, the First Female “Fire Guard”

Written by Aimée Bissonette | Illustrated by David Hohn

 

Hallie Morse Daggett loved the forest near her home. She had no fear as she “hiked among the tall trees of California’s Siskiyou Mountains, listened for the calls of familiar birds, and looked for signs of wildlife.” She fished in the Salmon River and was an excellent hunter. The only thing Hallie feared about the forest was fire, especially the summer fire season. “Hallie had seen the horrible power of fire race through the trees, leaving them scorched and leafless. She had seen the animals of the forest scatter and flee from racing flames…. And she had seen those flames come dangerously close to her family’s home.”

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Image copyright David Hohn, 2021, text copyright Aimée Bissonette, 2021. Courtesy of Sleeping Bear Press.

Whenever fire did come to the forest, though, Hallie and her sister Leslie were among the first to help the US Forest Service by stamping out flames and bringing them food and supplies. But Hallie wanted to do more. She vowed to word for the Forest Service when she grew up. As soon as she finished boarding school in San Francisco, Hallie wanted to get bac to the forest she loved. She began sending letters to the US Forest Service, asking for a job. But she always received “no” for an answer.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-headstrong-hallie-fire

Image copyright David Hohn, 2021, text copyright Aimée Bissonette, 2021. Courtesy of Sleeping Bear Press.

After the devastating Great Fire of 1910, which “burned millions of acres of forest in Washington, Idaho, and Montana, Hallie was more determined than ever. But the response to her letters was always “no.” “The Forest Service didn’t hire women.” But then in 1913, when the fire lookout at the Eddy Gulch Lookout Station quit, Hallie saw her chance. She wrote a heartfelt letter and this time she got the job!

When the news spread, some of the Fire Service men thought the conditions would make her quit in a couple of days. “They didn’t know Hallie.” She loved the tiny lookout cabin and the breathtaking view. Hallie lived surrounded by wildlife—and a few animals even invited themselves in to stay. Sometimes she had visitors, and Leslie came every week to bring her supplies, letters, and newspapers.

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Image copyright David Hohn, 2021, text copyright Aimée Bissonette, 2021. Courtesy of Sleeping Bear Press.

Her days were spent searching the woods for fire or smoke through her binoculars. At night she watched for the glow of fire, “which she described as ‘red stars in the blue-black background of moonless nights.’” In her first season, Hallie’s eagle eye and quick response to forty fires kept the acres burned to less than five. In all Hallie worked for fifteen seasons—early spring to late fall—as the Eddy Gulch lookout.

In 1927, the tiny Eddy Gulch lookout cabin was replaced with a new building with wraparound windows and catwalk. But this building didn’t feel like a home to Hallie. She remained in her position for one more season and then retired, happy that she had found her place and lived her life in the way she wanted.

An Author’s Note following the text reveals more about Hallie Morse Daggett and her work as a lookout, complete with photographs.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-headstrong-hallie-cabin

Image copyright David Hohn, 2021, text copyright Aimée Bissonette, 2021. Courtesy of Sleeping Bear Press.

Aimée Bissonette’s inspiring biography of the first woman to work as a Fire Guard for the US Forest Service emphasizes the kind of grit, self-awareness, and perseverance that empowers girls and boys to stay true to themselves while pursuing the kind of life and lifestyle that is most meaningful to them. Bissonette’s straightforward storytelling is fast-paced and focused on Hallie’s unwavering self-confidence, fearlessness, and love of her job. For children who are happiest in contemplation and working alone, Hallie’s story will come as encouragement and validation for a life lived differently.

David Hohn’s color-saturated illustrations of the forest fires Hallie lived through and helped prevent crackle with the golds, reds, and flying embers of these powerful events. Contrasting these images are illustrations of the peaceful, sun-drenched mountains and woodlands that Hallie called home. While bears, bobcats, and smaller wildlife stalk nearby, Hallie, as a young girl, is shown easily traversing the rocky hills, confident and unfearful. Readers will enjoy seeing Hallie scanning the forest with her binoculars, calling for firefighters at the first sight of flames, and relaxing in the rustic cabin she lived in during the long fire season.

A well-told story about a woman determined to make a difference while living her authentic life, Headstrong Hallie! will inspire kids and is a standout choice for nature lovers and others looking for unique opportunities to put their stamp on the world.

Ages 6 – 9

Sleeping Bear Press, 2021 | ISBN 978-1534110618

Discover more about Aimée Bissonette and her books on her website.

To learn more about David Hohn, his books, and his art, visit his website.

National Park Service Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-if-I-were-a-park-ranger-mesa-verde-coloring-page

Majestic Parks Coloring Pages

 

You may not be able to visit all of these parks, but you can still enjoy their beauty with these printable coloring pages!

Mesa Verde National Park | Gates of the Arctic National Park | Hawaii Volcanoes National Park | Biscayne National Park | 

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-headstrong-hallie-cover

You can find Headstrong Hallie! The Story of Hallie Morse Daggett, the First Female “Fire Guard” at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million

To support your local independent bookstore, order from

Bookshop | IndieBound

Picture Book Review

August 19 – World Photography Day

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About the Holiday

Photography is all about providing information and emotion through images. A picture really can be worth a thousand words in capturing a moment of surprise, joy, danger, or sadness. Well-placed photographers, videographers, and cinematographers have given voice to some of society’s pivotal moments, allowing the whole world to witness change, often as it is happening. Today we celebrate the “art, craft, science, and history of photography,” as well as those photographers who often put themselves in danger to get the story and those who bring us much-needed lighter moments. To learn more visit the World Photography Day website.

Dorothea’s Eyes: Dorothea Lange Photographs the Truth

Written by Barb Rosenstock | Illustrated by Gérard DuBois

 

When Dorothea Lange opens her green eyes, she sees things others miss. In the shadows, in patterns within the grain of wooden tables, in the repeated shapes of windows on a wall, and most especially in people’s faces. “Dorothea loves faces! When Dorothea looks at faces, it’s like she’s hugging the world.”

At seven years old Dorothea contracts polio, which withered her right leg and left her with a permanent limp. Other kids tease her and make her want to hide, and although her mother encourages her Dorothea pretends to be invisible. When her father leaves his family, her mother gets a job in New York and Dorothea goes to a new school. Because she is different, she feels lonely.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-dorothea's-eyes-great-market

Image copyright Gérard DuBois, 2016, text copyright Barb Rosenstock, 2016. Courtesy of Calkins Creek.

As Dorothea waits for her mother to finish work, she looks around her, spying “into crowded tenements where fathers, home from peddling, read newspapers, and mothers wash dishes, clothes, and babies in rusty sinks—happy and sad mixed together.” She begins to skip school to wander the city, gazing at it with her curious eyes and heart.

When Dorothea grows up she decides to become a photographer. Her family is surprised because it’s not a ladylike profession. She’s determined, thought, and works any job she can find in the photography industry, learning about cameras, darkrooms, negatives, and the printing process. “Alone in the darkroom’s amber glow, she studies the wet printing paper while faces appear in black and white. Dorothea loves faces!”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-dorothea's-eyes-great-dark-room

Image copyright Gérard DuBois, 2016, text copyright Barb Rosenstock, 2016. Courtesy of Calkins Creek.

As a young woman Dorothea travels west to San Francisco. There, her money is stolen, so she stays, gets a job, and starts her own portrait studio. Her work makes her famous and the richest families in California seek her out to take their photos. She makes money, gains friends, gets married, and starts a family of her own. But she always wonders, “Am I using my eyes and my heart?”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-dorothea's-eyes-great-depression

Image copyright Gérard DuBois, 2016, text copyright Barb Rosenstock, 2016. Courtesy of Calkins Creek.

When the stock market crashes and the Great Depression sweeps the country, Dorothea focuses her camera on the desperate and the downtrodden. Her friends don’t understand, but Dorothea sees into these poor people’s hearts. She “knows all about people the world ignores.” For five years she goes out into the fields, peers into tents, documents families living in their cars, crouches in the dirt to reveal the stories of the people struggling with the devastation wrought by the Dust Bowl.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-dorothea's-eyes-kids

Image copyright Gérard DuBois, 2016, text copyright Barb Rosenstock, 2016. Courtesy of Calkins Creek.

Newspapers and magazines publish her pictures. “Her photographs help convince the government to provide parents with work, children with food, and families with safe, clean homes. “The truth, seen with love, becomes Dorothea’s art.” Dorothea’s photographs are still known today. Their subjects continue to help us see others with our hearts.

Backmatter includes six of Dorothea Lange’s most famous and recognizable photographs—ones that are still as riveting today as they were in the 1930s. Further information on her life and work is provided as well as sources where her photographs can be viewed, resources for further study, and a timeline of her life.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-dorothea's-eyes-san-francisco

Image copyright Gérard DuBois, 2016, text copyright Barb Rosenstock, 2016. Courtesy of Calkins Creek.

Barb Rosenstock brings Dorothea Lange’s vision to the page with love, honesty, and understanding in this excellent biography of a woman whose photographs defined the Great Depression and Dust Bowl era. Lange’s life-long connection to the poor and often overlooked people of the world is beautifully described and explained in a gentle, compassionate way that will resonate with children. Rosenstock’s language is lyrical with staccato sentences that echo the clicks of Lange’s shutter capturing life’s reality with her eyes and her heart.

Gérard DuBois’s illustrations are arresting and set Dorothea Lange’s story firmly in its historical and emotional landscape. Rendered in acrylic and digital imagery, they feature the muted colors and style of book illustrations from long ago. By placing the images of Dorothea, her family, and her photography subjects against white backgrounds, DuBois emphasizes Lange’s focus on the people she met and faces that inspired her. Distressed textures accentuate the troubled times and the anguish of both Dorothea and her subjects.

Ages 7 – 12

Calkins Creek, 2016 | ISBN 978-1629792088 (Hardcover, 2018) | ISBN 978-1635925630 (Paperback, 2022)

Paperback edition will be released on February 1, 2022. The book is available for preorder now.

Discover all the amazing books by Barb Rosenstock on her website!

View a portfolio of art and book illustration by Gérard DuBois on his website!

Enjoy a snapshot of Dorothea’s Eyes!

World Photography Day Activity

CPB - New Professionals Picture

News Professionals Clothespin Figures

 

Make one of these clothespin figures that honors the men and women photographers and writers who work to keep the world informed.

Supplies

Directions

  1. Draw a face and hair on the clothespin
  2. Cut out the clothes you want your journalist or photographer to wear
  3. Wrap the clothes around the clothespin. The slit in the clothespin should be on the side.
  4. Tape the clothes together
  5. Cut out the camera
  6. Tape one end of a short length of thread to the right top corner of the camera and the other end of the thread to the left corner. Now you can hang the camera around the figure’s neck.

Idea for displaying the figures

  • Attach a wire or string to the wall and pin the figure to it
  • Pin it to your bulletin board or on the rim of a desk organizer

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-dorothea's-eyes-cover

You can find Dorothea’s Eyes: Dorothea Lange Photographs the Truth at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million

To support your local independent bookstore, order from

Bookshop | IndieBound

Picture Book Review