Threads of Peace: How Mohandas Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. Changed the World
Author: Uma Krishnaswami
Published August 17th, 2021
Summary: Mahatma Gandhi and Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. both shook, and changed, the world, in their quest for peace among all people, but what threads connected these great activists together in their shared goal of social revolution?
A lawyer and activist, tiny of stature with giant ideas, in British-ruled India at the beginning of the 20th century.
A minister from Georgia with a thunderous voice and hopes for peace at the height of the civil rights movement in America.
Born more than a half-century apart, with seemingly little in common except one shared wish, both would go on to be icons of peaceful resistance and human decency. Both preached love for all human beings, regardless of race or religion. Both believed that freedom and justice were won by not one, but many. Both met their ends in the most unpeaceful of ways—assassination.
But what led them down the path of peace? How did their experiences parallel…and diverge? Threads of Peace keenly examines and celebrates these extraordinary activists’ lives, the threads that connect them, and the threads of peace they laid throughout the world, for us to pick up, and weave together.
Praise: ★“The book’s attractive design, lucid text, and carefully chosen details combine to create an inviting and original treatment of its subjects. History has been carefully intertwined with the present in this engaging and reflective book.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred)
About the Author: Uma Krishnaswami is the author of several books for children including Book Uncle and Me (International Literacy Association Social Justice Literature Award, USBBY Outstanding International Book) and Step Up to the Plate, Maria Singh (Asian Pacific American Librarians Award, FOCAL Award). She was born in New Delhi, India, and now lives in British Columbia, Canada. To learn more, visit her website: umakrishnaswami.org.
Review: First, happy book birthday!!!!!! 🎉
In the Author’s Note, Krishnaswami notes, “Then, in 2008, I read The End of Empires: African Americans and India by historian and African American studies professor Gerald Horne. It was an eye-opener. I was born in India and I’d lived in the United States for nearly thirty years, but in neither country had I ever learned this history.” As I’ve noted over and over again when I review nonfiction or historical fiction, it is only through brilliant books that I have learned true history as my history classes were so US-centered that we hardly learn anything other than basic history about the world and it is so white-washed that even when slavery or Civil Rights is covered, it very much focuses on the successes. It is because of this that I am so thankful that books like this exist and allow me to share the erased history with students. Because even with Martin Luther King Jr., who all are familiar with, there is so much of him and his journey and point of view that are erased in history books.
Everything I learned about India’s history was from some books before I read this: The Night Diary by Veera Hiranandani, I am Gandhi (both picture book & graphic novel) by Brad Meltzer, and A Taste of Freedom: Gandhi and the Great Salt March by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel. That was all of my prior knowledge, so I was taken aback by the breadth of India’s history that I was ignorant about. Krishnaswami did a brilliant job telling about Gandhi’s personal life while also teaching about Indian history. In the second half of the book, we switch to Martin Luther King Jr.’s life and the racial injustices happening in the United States. Again, the book focuses not only on King’s personal life but the history of the US at the time as well. I learned so much in this book. It made me think, reflect, get angry, cry, and have purpose for continuing with a focus on anti-racism.
Uma Krishnaswami does a beautiful job using the imagery of threads figuratively throughout this book to tie Gandhi and King through their views on peace and nonviolence as well as Gandhi and King to the histories they helped shape.
Teachers’ Tools for Navigation & Discussion Questions: There is so much to discuss in this book! I could see parts of it being used to supplement curriculum, I could see it being used AS the curriculum, I could see it being used as a resource for research, I could see it being an independent reading book for an interested student…. It has endless potential.
- Why would the author choose thread to be the figurative imagery in the book?
- Although Gandhi and King both were focused on equality and nonviolence, they differed in many ways also–how so?
- In both cases, Gandhi and King continued their work despite potentially putting their family in danger. Why would they do this?
- How was India’s reach for freedom similar to the Civil Rights Movement in the United States?
- Both Gandhi and King had assassination attempts multiple times in their life. They both did not want their attackers charged–why not? What does this tell you about them?
- In the end they were both assassinated, how did hatred, fear, and ignorance lead to both of their deaths?
- Both had such strong women as wives. How did both women help support their husband’s mission?
- Do you believe that Martin Luther King Jr. would have the same beliefs without Gandhi pathing the way?
Flagged Passages: “Chapter 25: Spinning New Threads of Peace”
To spin thread on a spilling wheel like the one Gandhi designed when he was in jail, you bein with a roll of fluffy, carded cotton. In the Hindi language, this is called pooni. You attach the pooni to a length of thread looped around a small metal spindle. You hold the fluffy cotton loosely in one hand and draw it slowly, outward and upward, to arm’s length. With your other hand, you turn a flat wheel. A few turns clockwise, then a quarter turn counterclockwise, over and over, until the rhythm takes hold of you and you no longer have to link about it.
It takes patience. It takes time. Each had has to learn to do its work without getting distracted.
At first, the cotton drifts apart. The yarn is not twisted enough. This it’s twisted too tightly. It breaks. The spindle falls off its course. The cord that drives the spinning wheel slips from its grove. But slowly, slowly, if you keep at it, the thousands of fibers contained within a single handful of cotton begin to twist around one another, becoming one, united and strong enough to endure. The cotton springs to life, and a thread begins to form! Only inches of it, but it is real cotton thread.
The threads of peace movements are like that. They continue to spin outward over and over, long after they have been created.
In April 1968, after Dr. King’s assassination, the Chicago Sun-Times published this cartoon:
Look at Gandhi, seated on the floor, his hand outstretched, making his point to an attentive Dr. King. You’d think they were old friends. There they are in this alternate reality, perhaps even in the artist’s imagined heaven, reminding us that the voices of peacemakers can resonate long after they are gone.
Although they never met, Gandhi and King were kindred spirits. Gandhi was aware of racial injustice in the United States and hoped that Black American would create their own nonviolent movement.
Martin Luther King Jr. read books by and about Gandhi. He knew people who had met Gandhi. Gandhi’s teaching supported King’s own beliefs that grew out of the love of family, of community, of Jesus. King integrated Gandhian methods and principles into the work of his life, much as he did with the Christian gospel.”
Read This If You Love: I am Gandhi (both picture book & graphic novel) by Brad Meltzer; A Taste of Freedom: Gandhi and the Great Salt March by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel; Chasing Lincoln’s Killer by James L. Swanson; Martin’s Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by Doreen Rappaport; Be a King: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Dream and You by Carole Boston Weatherford; Memphis, Martin, and the Mountaintop: The Sanitation Strike of 1968 by Alice Faye Duncan; March trilogy by John Lewis with Andrew Aydin; A Good Kind of Trouble by Lisa Ramée; The Night Diary by Veera Hiranandani
**Thank you to Barbara at Blue Slip Media for providing a copy for review!**
“Using Anthologies to Teach Writing”
When I was growing up, our family had an Anthology of Children’s Literature. (No doubt one of my mom’s college textbooks!) Even though we regularly checked out books from the library, I spent a lot of time browsing through that book. I loved that I could find stories […]
“Using Anthologies to Teach Writing”
When I was growing up, our family had an Anthology of Children’s Literature. (No doubt one of my mom’s college textbooks!) Even though we regularly checked out books from the library, I spent a lot of time browsing through that book. I loved that I could find stories from all over the world. In that volume, I discovered new tongue twisters, Lewis Carroll’s “Jabberwocky,” and James Weldon Johnson’s “The Creation.”
Today, biographical anthologies have become popular in the children’s literature market. You can find anthologies on a wide range of topics like sports, science, technology, math, and more. They provide young people with an easy way to access stories about people who overcame obstacles to achieve success.
Because anthologies collect the stories of people around a theme, they offer many ways for readers to engage with the stories. Readers can take a treasure hunt through the essays in search for someone that interests them. Students might seek someone who:
+Champions a cause that matters to them.
+Overcame difficulties in school.
+Plays their favorite sport.
+Works in a career that interests them.
+Did something brave.
But how do you get young people to engage with these stories? When I wrote Mightier Than the Sword, an anthology of stories about people who used their words to change the world, I chose people from many disciplines because I wanted young people to see that many people write, not just storytellers. I added interactive writing exercises so that young people could write to change their own worlds.
I’ve been an artist educator since 2001, teaching in classrooms, libraries, and museums. I often use mentor texts and anthologies to engage young people in learning history and inspire their writing. Here are three writing exercises—and an art exercise—I use with historical texts:
Writing Exercise #1: Social Media Profile
Sei Shonagon (965-1010) captured court life in her writing, a genre known as zuihitsu that combined lists, advice on conversation and letter writing, observations about events, and suggestions on how priests should preach and dress. Had Sei Shonagon lived today, she might have developed a social sharing site like Instagram or Twitter.
Try this: Invite students to create a social media profile and several posts for the person they’ve chosen. This will especially fun when working with historical people. Maybe George Orwell would write a status update like: “Big brother? This whole platform is sus.”
Note: You can use any social media site that your students can relate to. There are several kid-friendly social media sites that might work, like GromSocial and PopJam.
Writing Exercise #2: Protest Song
The Afghan rapper and activist Sonita Alizadeh was angry about her parents’ plan to sell her into marriage, partly to help raise money to purchase a bride for her brother. To protest this, she wrote and performed the song “Brides for Sale” and posted it on YouTube. Alizadeh’s song saved her from an arranged marriage and paved the way for her to go to school.
Try this: Invite students to write a protest song for a cause that they care about.
Writing Exercise #3: Letter Campaign
Young Sophie Cruz wrote a letter to the Pope, asking him to fight for the rights of immigrants in the United States. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” to protest the advice to “wait” for justice. His letter became a sermon and then was published in newspapers and magazines across the country.
Try this. Ask students to write a letter to encourage change. Perhaps several students will want to create a letter-writing campaign to challenge an organization, government agency, or a government official.
Bonus Exercise: Protest Art!
To protest the lack of women’s works of art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, the Guerilla Girls plastered posters on New York City buses asking: “Does a woman have to be naked to get into the Met. Museum?” The poster featured a reproduction of the nude in Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres’ La Grande Odalisque, with her face hidden by the group’s signature gorilla mask. The poster educated readers on the statistics: “Less than 5 percent of the artists in the Modern Art Sections are women, but 85 percent of the nudes are female.”
Try this: Invite students to create an art poster or social media meme to support their favorite cause.
The library is full of many kinds of anthologies on a wide range of topics like sports, science, technology, math, and more. Check out a big stack and let your students browse. The more they read, the better chance they will have of finding a role model who matters to them.
Published July 27th, 2021 by Beaming Books
About the Book: Mightier Than the Sword: Rebels, Reformers, and Revolutionaries Who Changed the World through Writing is a middle grade social justice book that tells the stories of historical and contemporary writers, activists, scientists, and leaders who used writing to make a difference in their lives and the world. The stories are accompanied by writing and creative exercises to help readers discover how they can use writing to explore ideas and ask for change. Sidebars explore types of writing, fun facts, and further resources.
Download the free activity pack: https://ms.beamingbooks.com/downloads/Activity_Packet_MightierThanTheSword.pdf
About the Author: Rochelle Melander wrote her first book at seven and has published 11 books for adults. Mightier Than the Sword: Rebels, Reformers, and Revolutionaries Who Changed the World through Writing is her debut book for children. She’s a professional certified coach, an artist educator and the founder of Dream Keepers, a writing workshop for young people. She lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin with her husband, children, and two dogs. Visit her online at writenowcoach.com or rochellemelander.com
Thank you, Rochelle, for your book and for this incredible post with such useful classroom ideas!
Don’t miss out on other stops on the Mightier than the Sword Blog Tour!
Dr. Fauci: How a Boy from Brooklyn Became America’s Doctor
Author: Kate Messner
Illustrator: Alexandra Bye
Published June 29th 2021 by Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers
Goodreads Summary: The definitive picture book biography of Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and one of the most crucial figures in the COVID-19 pandemic.
Before he was Dr. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Anthony Fauci was a curious boy in Brooklyn, delivering prescriptions from his father’s pharmacy on his blue Schwinn bicycle. His father and immigrant grandfather taught Anthony to ask questions, consider all the data, and never give up—and Anthony’s ability to stay curious and to communicate with people would serve him his entire life.
This engaging narrative, which draws from interviews the author did with Dr. Fauci himself, follows Anthony from his Brooklyn beginnings through medical school and his challenging role working with seven US presidents to tackle some of the biggest public health challenges of the past fifty years, including the COVID-19 pandemic. Extensive backmatter rounds out Dr. Fauci’s story with a timeline, recommended reading, a full spread of facts about vaccines and how they work, and Dr. Fauci’s own tips for future scientists.
Review: Dr. Fauci has been a face on our TV for over 15 months now, but I know that my son only knows that he is the “COVID Doctor.” What Kate Messner does in her picture book of Dr. Fauci is bring him to life for any who read it. The book shows his humanity behind the glasses and doctor’s coat we see on TV. The book explores what makes Dr. Fauci the inquisitive, kind, brilliant man he is today.
I loved learning about his past: his kindness from a young age, his father’s advice to keep his mind thinking, and his “just watch me” moment from construction to doctor all leading to becoming the expert he is today. Kids, and adults alike, will love Kate’s narrative of Dr. Fauci’s life filled with anecdotes and accolades, and all of it is brought to life with colorful and realistic illustrations by Alexandra Bye which ties it all together.
This is a book that will find a place in homes, schools, and libraries!
Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: I would have “Dr. Fauci’s FIVE TIPS for Future Scientists” be norms during my science lessons! They are such important reminders from a contemporary scientist:
- Keep an open mind.
- Don’t be afraid to fail.
- Get excited about discovery.
- Remember that science is self-correcting.
- Keep learning.
Also, use the publisher-provided educator’s guide for use in the classroom!
Video of Kate Messner’s interview with Dr. Fauci:
- What did you learn about Dr. Fauci?
- How did learning about Dr. Fauci affect how you feel about the COVID-19 pandemic?
- How do vaccines work? Are vaccines safe?
- How did Dr. Fauci’s father’s words drive Dr. Fauci?
- Why do guidelines about viruses change from time to time?
- How did Dr. Fauci deal with criticism during the AIDS epidemic? What does this tell you about him?
- How does the author turn the biography into a story?
- Although Anthony wasn’t the tallest or best on his basketball team, he ended up being team captain. Why?
- How does Dr. Fauci inspire you?
- Why do you think the author chose to write a book about Dr. Fauci now?
Read This If You Love: Picture book biographies, science, medicine, inspirational books
**Thank you to Simon and Schuster for providing a copy for review!**
Jump at the Sun: The True Life Tale of Unstoppable Storycatcher Zora Neale Hurston
Author: Alicia D. Williams
Illustrator: Jacqueline Alcántara
Published January 12th, 2021 by Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books
Summary: A picture book that shines the light on Zora Neale Hurston, the writer and storycatcher extraordinaire who changed the face of American literature.
Zora was a girl who hankered for tales like bees for honey. Now, her mama always told her that if she wanted something, “to jump at de sun”, because even though you might not land quite that high, at least you’d get off the ground. So Zora jumped from place to place, from the porch of the general store where she listened to folktales, to Howard University, to Harlem. And everywhere she jumped, she shined sunlight on the tales most people hadn’t been bothered to listen to until Zora. The tales no one had written down until Zora. Tales on a whole culture of literature overlooked…until Zora. Until Zora jumped.
About the Creators:
Alicia D. Williams is the author of Genesis Begins Again, which received a Newbery and Kirkus Prize honors, was a William C. Morris Award finalist, and for which she won the Coretta Scott King – John Steptoe Award for New Talent. A graduate of the MFA program at Hamline University, and an oral storyteller in the African American tradition, she is also a teacher in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Jacqueline Alcántara is the illustrator of the critically acclaimed The Field and Freedom Soup. Her favorite days are spent drawing, painting, writing, and walking her dog. In 2016, she was awarded the inaugural We Need Diverse Books Illustrator mentorship. Find out more at JacquelineAlcantara.com.
- How are the end pages representative of Zora?
- How were Zora’s stories important to American literature?
- Why did the author call Zora a “storycatcher?”
- How did the author integrate fictional characters and stories within her nonfiction biography of Zora Neale Hurston?
- Why was some of Zora’s storytelling looked down upon?
- What does the figurative phrase “reach/jump to the sun” mean?
Read This If You Love: Zora Neale Hurston, Picture book biographies
**Thank you to Simon & Schuster for a copy of the book to review!**
As a 6th grader living in San Diego, CA, there was quite a buzz about the 1984 Summer Olympics, scheduled in nearby Los Angeles. Such excitement as we crowded along a sidewalk to see the torch relay go by! I still remember the special unit our teacher introduced, covering the history of the Games, from […]
As a 6th grader living in San Diego, CA, there was quite a buzz about the 1984 Summer Olympics, scheduled in nearby Los Angeles. Such excitement as we crowded along a sidewalk to see the torch relay go by! I still remember the special unit our teacher introduced, covering the history of the Games, from the Ancient Greeks to the meaning behind the rings on today’s Olympic flag. Fast forward many years to a children’s book author (me!) looking for a new topic to share with young readers. As mom to a child with physical limitations, our family loved watching the Paralympics. How did they come to be? After a bit of research, I discovered the fascinating story of a doctor who changed the standard of care for people with spinal injuries, eventually founding the Paralympic Games.
Did you know?
- Ludwig Guttmann was a Jewish neurosurgeon who fled Nazi Germany in 1939 to continue his work with injured soldiers in England.
- After WWI, nearly 80% of patients with a fractured spine died from bladder infections or bedsore infections caused by their full body casts.
- Other doctors called Ludwig’s patients “incurables” until he introduced an entirely new treatment plan, including the removal of casts, movement in wheelchairs, and sports! Only 11% of Ludwig’s patients died from their spinal injury.
- In 1948, Ludwig coordinated a wheelchair archery competition between 16 service men and women. It took place on the front lawn of the Stoke Mandeville hospital. A few dozen family members watched.
- When Ludwig wanted to expand the competition, people laughed. They said wheelchair sports were ridiculous and no one would watch. But that didn’t stop Ludwig.
- In 2016, more than 4000 athletes competed in the Paralympic Games in Rio. The Games broke viewership records with a global television audience of more than four billion people!
A Sporting Chance: How Ludwig Guttmann Saved Lives with Sports
Author: Lori Alexander
Illustrator: Allan Drummond
Published: April 7th, 2020 by Houghton Mifflin
Summary: Telling the inspiring human story behind the creation of the Paralympics, this young readers biography artfully combines archival photos, full-color illustrations, and a riveting narrative to honor the life of Ludwig Guttmann, whose work profoundly changed so many lives.
Dedicating his life to helping patients labeled “incurables,” Ludwig Guttmann fought for the rights of paraplegics to live a full life. The young doctor believed—and eventually proved—that physical movement is key to healing, a discovery that led him to create the first Paralympic Games.
Told with moving text and lively illustrations, and featuring the life stories of athletes from the Paralympic Games Ludwig helped create, this story of the man who saved lives through sports will inspire readers of all backgrounds.
Teachers’ Tools for Navigation and Discussion Questions:
This Common Core and Next Gen Science Standards-aligned teacher’s guide includes discussion questions, activities about the nervous system, and a writing exercise encouraging students to support a social justice claim.
About the Author: Lori Alexander loves to read and write! She has written picture books like BACKHOE JOE (Harper) and FAMOUSLY PHOEBE (Sterling) as well as the FUTURE BABY board book series (Scholastic). Her first non-fiction chapter book, ALL IN A DROP (HMH) received a Sibert Honor Award. Her new book, A SPORTING CHANCE (HMH), is a Junior Library Guild Selection and a Kirkus “Best Books of 2020.” Lori resides in sunny Tucson, Arizona, with her scientist husband and two book loving kids. She runs when it’s cool and swims when it’s hot. Then she gets back to reading and writing. Visit Lori at www.lorialexanderbooks.com or on Twitter @LoriJAlexander or Instagram @lorialexanderbooks
Thank you, Lori, for sharing your inspiration, book, and guide!
The Stuff Between the Stars: How Vera Rubin Discovered MOST of the Universe
Author: Sandra Nickel
Illustrator: Aimée Sicuro
Publishing March 2nd, 2021 by Abrams Books for Young Readers
Summary: An inspired biographical picture book about a female astronomer who makes huge discoveries about the mysteries of the night sky and changed the way we look at the universe.
Vera Rubin was one of the astronomers who discovered and named dark matter, the thing that keeps the universe hanging together. Throughout her career she was never taken seriously as a scientist because she was one of the only female astronomers at that time, but she didn’t let that stop her. She made groundbreaking and incredibly significant discoveries that scientists have only recently been able to really appreciate—and she changed the way that we look at the universe. A stunning portrait of a little-known trailblazer, The Stuff Between the Stars tells Vera’s story and inspires the youngest readers who are just starting to look up at the stars.
About the Creators:
Sandra Nickel says that story ideas are everywhere; you just have to reach out and grab them. She holds an MFA in writing for children and young adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her first book, Nacho’s Nachos: The Story Behind the World’s Favorite Snack, was a Golden Kite Award finalist. Sandra lives in Chexbres, Switzerland, where she blogs about children’s book writers and illustrators at whatwason.com. To learn more, visit https://sandranickel.com/.
Aimée Sicuro is an illustrator, picture book maker, and surface pattern designer who received a BFA in Illustration from Columbus College of Art and Design. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and young sons. Visit her website to learn more.
“This engaging biography will appeal to budding scientists, particularly those with a penchant for sky searching.” – Kirkus Reviews
“A truly beautiful story of perseverance and passion.” – Booklist
Review: I love learning about amazing women. At the same time, I think it is so sad that these same women aren’t already being taught in schools. Whenever dark matter is discussed, why isn’t Vera Rubin’s story delved into?! It should be. She was someone that should be admired and learned from. Her grit to overcome the blatant sexism in her field is just so tough to even wrap your brain around. These female pioneers deserve all of the name yelling from the hill tops we can give them.
For that reason, I am so thankful for this book. I did not know about Vera Rubin. Nickel’s story did a wonderful job of intertwining Rubin’s personal story, professional story, and pure passion into a narrative that taught me about her and about space. I also loved the illustrations and the design of the book. Sicuro’s use of darkness and light & spacing were so thoughtful, and I loved the mix between the realistic and the scientific in illustrations.
Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Add in Stuff Between Stars to your Amazing Women in Science text set then use the text set in a lit circle to discover and explore the amazing women scientists picture book biographies that are out there for kids! (Although there still aren’t enough, but it is vastly improving!)
I also think that this book really pushes the idea of passion projects. Everyone dismissed Vera and didn’t nurture her love of science and astronomy. Yes, she overcame, thankfully, but just imagine if just one teacher had told her to just learn everything she could and truly nurtured that love?! Let’s aim to be that educator more!
Post will soon be updated with the curriculum guide for this book!
- How did others’ criticisms affect Vera?
- In the 3rd spread below, how did the author use color to bring across the author’s point?
- What challenges did Vera overcome to still become an infamous astronomer?
- Why do you think Vera’s work is less known than other astronomers?
- Why did Vera have to be so blunt about wanting the job at the Carnegie Institute? What would have probably happened if she was not?
Watch for: In Celebration of Women’s History Month, Publishers Weekly will be featuring Sandra Nickel and Laurie Wallmark. We talk about science, curiosity, and the importance of picture books about women in STEM. Look for our ‘In Conversation’ on March 8.
Read This If You Love: The Leaf Detective by Heather Lang, Marjory Saves the Everglades by Sandra Neil Wallace, Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly, Shark Lady by Jess Keating, Grace Hopper by Laurie Wallmark, Ada’s Ideas by Fiona Robinson, Who Says Women Can’t Be Doctors? by Tanya Lee Stone, Me…Jane by Patrick McDonnell
**Thank you to Abrams Books for Young Readers for providing a copy for giveaway!**
The Leaf Detective: How Margaret Lowman Uncovered Secrets in the Rainforest
Author: Heather Lang
Illustrator: Jana Christy
Published February 9th, 2021 by Calkins Creek
Summary: Meg Lowman was determined to investigate the marvelous, undiscovered world of the rainforest treetops. Meg’s perseverance […]
The Leaf Detective: How Margaret Lowman Uncovered Secrets in the Rainforest
Author: Heather Lang
Illustrator: Jana Christy
Published February 9th, 2021 by Calkins Creek
Summary: Meg Lowman was determined to investigate the marvelous, undiscovered world of the rainforest treetops. Meg’s perseverance and creativity allowed her to achieve this goal, but when this fantastic ecosystem started to disappear, Meg needed to act quickly.
Meg Lowman was always fascinated by the natural world above her head. The colors, the branches, and, most of all, the leaves and mysterious organisms living there. As a scientist, Meg set out to climb up and investigate the rain forest tree canopies– and to be the first scientist to do so. But she encountered challenge after challenge. Male teachers would not let her into their classrooms, the high canopy was difficult to get to, and worst of all, people were logging and clearing the forests. Meg never gave up or gave in. She studied, invented, and persevered, not only creating a future for herself as a scientist, but making sure that the rainforests had a future as well. Working closely with Meg Lowman, author Heather Lang and artist Jana Christy beautifully capture Meg’s world in the treetops.
About the Creators:
Heather Lang loves to write about real women who overcame extraordinary obstacles and never gave up on their dreams. Her award-winning picture book biographies include Fearless Flyer: Ruth Law and Her Flying Machine.
Jana Christy currently lives in the Berkshire Mountains in Massachusetts. She is the illustrator of various titles, including I’m the Big One Now!: Poems about Growing Up. Visit janachristy.wixsite.com/illustrations.
Review: Heather Lang does an amazing job of the layering in this book ensuring to include many different aspects of Margaret (Meg) Lowman’s life including her passion for the environment, challenges of being a woman in the sciences in 1970s and the barriers that came with the institutional sexism, and someone wanting to be innovative yet being shut down left and right.
The narrative of the story is written in beautiful verses mixed with direct quotes from Lowman and extra side bar notes that includes facts and information that help drive the biography. And finally the illustrations, filled with vibrant blues and greens, bring the story and setting to life for the reader.
The back matter includes an author note sharing about Lang’s interest in Lowman and about meeting and interviewing her, and it includes photos of Lowman and Lang! This shows the reader Lang’s research methods and how the quote throughout the book are primary sources.
Teachers’ Tools for Navigation:
Publisher-provided Educator Guide:
Read This If You Love: Marjory Saves the Everglades by Sandra Neil Wallace, The Blue Giant by Katie Cottle, Over and Under series by Kate Messner, Swimming with Sharks by Heather Lang, Me…Jane by Patrick McDonnell, The Fantastic Undersea Life of Jacques Cousteau by Dan Yaccarino, The Tree Lady by Joseph H. Hopkins
Don’t miss the other stops on the tour!
**Thank you to Boyds Mills & Kane for providing a copy for review and giveaway!**
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