Picture Book Biographies: Sports

Black Jack: The Ballad of Jack Johnson by Charles R. Smith, Jr.; illustrated by Shane W. Evans
Art and poetry combine to tell the story of boxer Jack Johnson, who became the first African-American world heavyweight boxing champion in the early part of the twentieth century.

Game, Set, Match, Champion Arthur Ashe by Crystal Hubbard; illustrated by Kevin Belford
“A biography of African American tennis champion Arthur Ashe, a pioneering minority athlete known for his character, sportsmanship, and activism in social causes such as civil rights and HIV/AIDS awareness. Includes an afterword, author’s note, and photographs”–Provided by publisher.

Henry Aaron’s Dream by Matt Tavares
Follow Hank Aaron from his boyhood watching Jackie Robinson to the early days of his professional career when he shares the field with his hero (You might recognize the name Matt Tavares from the other excellent baseball books he’s written and illustrated).

The Last Black King of the Kentucky Derby: The Story of Jimmy Winkfield by Crystal Hubbard; illustrated by Robert McGuire
“A biography of Jimmy Winkfield, who battled racism and other obstacles on the road to becoming one of horseracing’s best jockeys and, in 1902, the last African American to win the Kentucky Derby“–Provided by publisher.

A Nation’s Hope: The Story of Boxing Legend Joe Louis by Matt De La Pẽna; illustrated by Kadir Nelson
I grew up near the Joe Louis Arena, where there’s a glove in a glass case with the label “the glove that punched out Nazi Germany.”  This book (by the new Newbery Award winner Matt De La Pẽna) introduces the story of Joe Louis and the famous fight when he represented America against the German Max Schmeling.  This book has also been made into a DVD.

Perfect Timing: How Isaac Murphy Became One of the World’s Greatest Jockeys by Patsi B. Trollinger; paintings by Jerome Lagarrigue
See how one offer to ride a horse changed Isaac Murphy’s life and gave him the chance to become one of the greatest jockeys of all time.

Playing to Win: The Story of Althea Gibson by Karen Deans; illustrated by Elbrite Brown
Growing up in Harlem, Althea Gibson was heading down the wrong path until she found her calling. She went on to become the first African American woman to be ranked as the number one woman tennis player in the world.

Racing Against the Odds: The Story of Wendell Scott, Stock Car Racing‘s African-American Champion by Carole Boston Weatherford; illustrated by Eric A. Velasquez
A biography of Wendell O. Scott, who made history as the only African American driver to win a race in a NASCAR Grand National (now Sprint Cup) division.

Satchel Paige: Don’t Look Back by David A. Adler; illustrated by Terry Widener
Satchel Paige was one of the greatest pitchers in baseball.  Take a look at his life and his struggle to be accepted into major league baseball.

She Loved Baseball: The Effa Manley Story by Audrey Vernick, illustrated by Don Tate
So if she’s not a professional athlete, why was she was the first woman inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame?  Take a look at her role as a team founder and advocate for African American baseball players.

You Never Heard of Willie Mays?!  by Jonah Winter; illustrated by Terry Widener
A visual profile of the record-setting baseball star traces his Birmingham childhood, achievements in the Negro Leagues, and fame as a center fielder for the Giants.

dia_logo_ 20 percent size

Sign up now for kids’ programs

Register now for great programs throughout the month!

Boo! Ha! Ha! Club
Saturday, February 6
1:30 p.m.
Grades 2-5
Learn about the human body (you’ve had layer cake, but have you had “skin layer” cake?).

Friday, February 12
4:15 p.m.
Grades 1-3
We will be making an iStopMotion animation with LEGOs.

Crazy 8s Club
Tuesdays February 23-April 12
4:15 p.m.
Grades 3-5
Build stuff, toss beach balls, make sticky art, make a mess… it’s a totally new kid of math club!  Make a splash with Math!

Lil Bits, Bots and Bytes
Wednesday, February 25
4:15 p.m.
Grades 4-6
Get busy with circuits, robotics, coding, and other exciting tech.

Each program is scheduled to last for one hour.
Please call 630-685-4181 to register.

Picture Book Biographies, round 1

Biographies aren’t always found in the biography section.  Books with information about the life of more than one person are usually with the numbered nonfiction– so here are a few you might have missed:

28 Days: Moments in Black History that Changed the World by Charles R. Smith, Jr.; illustrated by Shane W. Evans
This is even a good choice for a leap year like 2016.  Not only does it cover people and events for 28 days (from early American history to the present day), but day 29 is used to encourage readers to make future history.

Benny Goodman and Teddy Wilson: Taking the Stage as the first Black-and White Jazz Band in History by Lesa Cline-Ransome; illustrated by James E. Ransome
Celebrates the 1936 debut of the Benny Goodman quartet with Teddy Wilson in Chicago, considered to be the first widely seen integrated jazz performance. This title is also available as an e-audiobook.

Friends for Freedom: The Story of Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass by Suzanne Slade; illustrated by Nicole Tadgell
Discusses how a former slave and an outspoken woman, who came from two different worlds, shared deep-seated beliefs in equality and the need to fight for it.  This title is also available as an e-audiobook.  You might want to compare this title to the historical fiction book Chasing Freedom: The Life Journeys of Harriet Tubman and Susan B. Anthony, Inspired by Historical Facts by Nikki Grimes.

Harlem Hellfighters by J. Patrick Lewis; illustrated by Gary Kelley
“A regiment of African American soldiers from Harlem journeys across the Atlantic to fight alongside the French in World War I, inspiring a continent with their brand of jazz music”– Provided by publisher.

Martin & Mahalia: His Words, Her Song by Andrea Davis Pinkney; illustrated by Brian Pinkney
Explores the intersecting lives of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. and gospel singer Mahalia Jackson at the historic moment when their joined voices inspired landmark changes.  This title is also available as an ebook.

Our Children Can Soar: A Celebration of Rosa, Barack, and the Pioneers of Change by Michelle Cook; illustrations by Cozbi Cabrera and others
Part historical, part poetry, and entirely inspirational, this unique picture book takes the reader through the cumulative story of the U.S. Civil Rights Movement, expanding the popular slogan beyond Matin Luther King, Rosa Parks, and Barack Obama to include more key players in the struggle for equality.

Phillis Sings out Freedom: The Story of George Washington and Phillis Wheatley by Ann Malaspina; illustrated by Susan Keeter
Events in the lives of Phillis Wheatley and George Washington are told in parallel until the two stories come together when she sends him one of her poems.

Sweet Land of Liberty written by Deborah Hopkinson; illustrated by Leonard Jenkins
The story of Marian Anderson’s Easter Sunday concert in 1939 at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. (and who worked behind the scenes to make it happen).

Picture book biographies aren’t necessarily for younger readers.  Some of them have plain and simple text, while others use poetry.  Some have a happy tone as they celebrate heroes while others deal with sadder and more difficult parts of history.  They can be a good way to introduce a topic in the classroom or to grab a reader’s imagination.  You can visit the Children’s Services blog throughout the month to find more recommended picture book biographies.

dia_logo_ 20 percent size

Drop-in Storytime Saturday

7215562148_64276a439e_mPhoto by Kara Melissa Sharp

Do you love The Pigeon?  How about Elephant and Piggie?  We will be reading stories by Mo Willems when we get together in our Storytime Room on Saturday 1/30/16 at 11:00 a.m.till 11:30 a.m.

 All ages, preschoolers with an adult. Drop in until the limit of the room is reached.

Faraway Friday: India

320px-RANGOLI Image by Pon Malar
Faraway Places at Your Fingertips, an adventure for homeschoolers,  kicks off the new year with a voyage to India! The kids will hear folk tales, sing and dance, and create their very own lighted rangoli design.
Educators will be able to participate in a live videoconference with Crewton Ramone, the “Math Whisperer”. He will be sharing his math methodologies from warm and sunny Hawaii in meeting room B!
We hope to see you this Friday, January 29 from 1:30- 3pm in meeting room A!
For homeschool teachers and their K-5 students. Drop in until the room limit is reached.

Remembering Vera B. Williams

I only just found out that the author and illustrator of one of my favorite books ever, A Chair for My Mother, passed away in October.

chair for mm

Reading some obituaries for Vera B. Williams, I found out that the story is based in part on something that happened in her own family.



A Chair for My Mother came out in the early eighties, when I was a preschooler.  I think part of what made a big impression on me was the bright, colorful illustrations (I remember my mother pointing out the Caldecott Honor medal on the cover and telling me that meant it had won an award for especially beautiful pictures).

I remember the idea of a house fire made a big impression on me.  When I was explaining where my imaginary friend had come from, I told my parents he was at our house because there had been a fire at his house.

I was excited when I found out there was a second story about Rosa, Something Special for Me.  I didn’t find out about many of her other books until I became a librarian, but I enjoyed the episode of Reading Rainbow that featured Three Days on a River in a Red Canoe.

more more
“More More More” Said the Baby is a favorite that I learned about as an adult.  We own it in both English and Spanish.  It’s a picture book that shows three babies being cuddly with their grown-ups.  This title also won a Caldecott honor.

a and e
Amber Was Brave, Essie Was Smart is a book that has received lots of praise as a sensitive depiction of children coping with having a parent in jail.   This, too, appears to have been based on the author’s own experiences.

Scooter takes us out of the picture book section and into the chapter books, where a girl is making friends in a new neighborhood.  Each chapter features an acrostic poem and memorable characters.

These are just a couple of examples of Vera B. Williams’ work.  I encourage you to check them out!


Valentine Activity Time

DSCI2695Preschool Activity Time is back!
Come and join us this Friday, January 29th from 10:00 -11:30 am in meeting room A for Preschool Activity Time!  This program is a ‘free play’ program for children ages 2-6 with and adult.  Come for all or part of the time!  Meet your friends and have lots of fun in our carpeted meeting room with many games to play!
This week we will be having valentine themed activities, along with all of our standard activities: DUPLOs, big building blocks, the road puzzle with cars, the tunnels, bean bags and of course the parachute finale!  All the things that make Preschool activity time so much fun!