Tag Archives: history

Strongmen

This month marks 100 years since Charles Atlas was born. In his honor, here are some stories about strongmen.

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The Story of Charles Atlas, Strong Man by Meghan McCarthy
Although he grew into a giant amongst men with awe-inspiring strength and power, Charles Atlas started out as a weakling who was bullied by the neighborhood kids, yet with a fitness regime and good eating habits, Atlas successfully transformed himself into “The World’s Most Perfectly Developed Man.”

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The Great Antonio by Elsie Gravel
What made the Great Antonio so great? He weighed as much as a horse! He once wrestled a bear. He could devour twenty-five roasted chickens at one sitting. In this whimsical book, beloved author and illustrator Elise Gravel tells the true story of Antonio Barichievich, the larger-than-life Montreal strongman who had muscles as big as his heart.

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Strong as Sandow: How Eugen Sandow became the strongest man on earth by Don Tate
Introduces the life of Eugen Sandow, including his sickly childhood in Prussia, his defeat of strongmen Sampson and Cyclops, and his founding of the Great Competition in 1901.

Heroes, artists and a little girl

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The Hiding Game by Gwen Strauss, illustration by Herb Leonhard

The main heroes are two men: Varian Fry (sometimes called the American Schindler) and Danny Bénédite (the author’s great uncle). They are working to help refugees escaping from the Nazis.

The artists are some famous people you would study if you took a class on modern art: Max Ernst, Marc Chagall, Marcel Duchamp.

The little girl is Aube, hiding with her father the poet and her mother the painter.

Younger readers can follow along from Aube’s point of view to see life in the safe house (a mixture of art games and spycraft, hunger and danger).

As she is escaping to safety, Aube remembers “how the artist Marcel Duchamp once visited the Villa with a small suitcase. When he opened it, there was a collection of all his favorite artworks, like a miniature museum.” You can see a box like this at the Smart Museum of Art in Chicago.

In Chicago, you can also see art created by Chagall including the outdoor mosaic The Four Seasons and his America Windows at the Art Institute.

 

 

 

Can you figure out what these books have in common?

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Fa Mulan: The Story of a Woman Warrior by Robert D. San Souci; illustrated by Jean & Mou-Sien Tseng
A retelling of the original Chinese poem in which a brave young girl masquerades as a boy and fights the Tartars in the Khan’s army.

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I’ll Pass for Your Comrade: Women Soldiers in the Civil War by Anita Silvey
Explores the secret world of women Civil War soldiers, discussing who they were, why they went to war, how they managed their masquerade, their wartime experiences, and what happened to them afterwards.

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Joan of Arc: The Lily Maid by Margaret Hodges
A biography of the fifteenth-century peasant girl who led a French army to victory against the English.

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My Last Skirt: The Story of Jennie Hodgers, Union Soldier by Lynda Durrant
Enjoying the freedom afforded her while dressing as a boy in order to earn higher pay after emigrating from Ireland, Jennie Hodgers serves in the 95th Illinois Infantry as Private Albert Cashier, a Union soldier in the American Civil War.

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Nurse, Soldier, Spy: The Story of Sarah Edmonds, a Civil War Hero by Marissa Moss and John Hendrix
A story of a nineteen-year-old woman who disguised herself as a man to avoid an unwanted marriage and who distinguished herself as a male nurse during the Civil War, and later as a spy for the Union Army.

Quick pick: Who Says Women Can’t be Doctors?

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Who Says Women Can’t Be Doctors? The Story of Elizabeth Blackwell by Tanya Lee Stone, illustrated by Marjorie Priceman
An introduction to the life and achievements of the first American female doctor describes the limited career prospects available to women in the early nineteenth-century, the opposition Blackwell faced while pursuing a medical education, and her pioneering medical career that opened doors for future generations of women.

Two generals and a dog

Ms. Wendy encountered this ad while enjoying Fourth of July fireworks on TV, and shared it with the rest of the Children’s Services Department:

As librarians, we all enjoyed that the letter about the dog is in the Library of Congress! (Follow the link above and click on “original document” to see it.)

When we hear a good story, one of our first thoughts is usually to ask “Is there a children’s book about this?” In this case, it turns out that there is!

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George Washington and the General’s Dog by Frank Murphy
Recounts events in the life of George Washington which focus on his fondness for animals.

Thoreau investigations

You would expect Daniel Pinkwater, author of The Hoboken Chicken Emergency, to have a quirky taste in books. If you tuned in to the radio in 2003 you might have heard him introducing a series of picture books that has a number of unusual characteristics. For one thing, they feature a main character based on writer/naturalist/philosopher Henry David Thoreau. Secondly, the main character (and everyone he interacts with) is a bear. Third, the books are illustrated in a sort of Cubist Expressionist style that you hardly ever see in children’s books.

 

 

 

This July 12, Thoreau turns 200 years old. If you want to introduce your children to his work, the library has a few books that will let children enjoy his writings in his own words:

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Henry David’s House shares selections from Walden alongside beautiful illustrations. Singing America includes two of his poems in a collection with works by other authors.

There are also several books (past the picture book level) that feature Thoreau as a hero or icon. The Dragon Tree opens with a quote from Thoreau, and imagines a magical tree with quotes from all kinds of literature on it leaves. This book was the inspiration for the architectural “trees” decorating the Children’s Services department. It’s also the eighth book in the Hall Family Chronicles, which includes

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The Mysterious Circus, in which the Halls foil a new enemy’s plan to build a Henry Thoreau theme park across from their home (with humor and magic).

It’s not too different in theme from

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The Trouble With Henry: A Tale of Walden Pond, in which Thoreau defends his beloved woods from a toothpick factory.

Moving into the modern day, we have

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Octavia Boone’s Big Questions About Life, the Universe, and Everything. Seventh-grader Octavia puzzles over lifes biggest questions when her mother seems to find the answers in a conservative Christian church, while her artist father believes the writings of Henry David Thoreau hold the key.

Kids who love humor might prefer

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Alvin Ho: Allergic to Camping, Hiking and Other Natural Disasters. When Alvin‘s father takes him camping to instill a love of nature, like that of their home-town hero Henry David Thoreau, Alvin makes a new friend and learns that he can be brave despite his fear of everything.

If you want to read more about the life of Thoreau, we have several biographies. There’s also a guide in our homeschooling section called Henry David Thoreau for Kids: His Life and Ideas, with 21 Activities. Or you could follow this link to see how he invented No. 2 pencils (no, really!). Be sure to check out our display of books!

 

Happy Anniversary!

Today is the 50th anniversary of the Loving vs. Virginia decision!

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The Case for Loving: The Fight for Interracial Marriage by Selina Alko; illustrated by Sean Qualls and Selina Alko.
The story of interracial couple Mildred and Richard Perry, who got married in Washington, D.C., and were arrested after they returned to Virginia, and took their legal case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.