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Monument Maker: Daniel Chester French and the Lincoln Memorial
Author: Linda Booth Sweeney
Illustrator: Shawn Fields
Published September 3rd, 2019 by Tilbury House Publishers

Summary: This is the story of how a farmboy became America’s foremost sculptor. After failing at academics, Dan was working the family farm when he idly carved a turnip into a frog and discovered what he was meant to do. Sweeney’s swift prose and Fields’s evocative illustrations capture the single-minded determination with which Dan taught himself to sculpt and launched his career with the famous Minuteman Statue in his hometown of Concord, Massachusetts.

This is also the story of the Lincoln Memorial, French’s culminating masterpiece. Thanks to this lovingly created tribute to the towering leader of Dan’s youth, Abraham Lincoln lives on as the man of marble, his craggy face and careworn gaze reminding millions of seekers what America can be. Dan’s statue is no lifeless figure, but a powerful, vital touchstone of a nation’s ideals. Now Dan French has his tribute too, in this exquisite biography that brings history to life for young readers.

Praise: 

“The environment that nurtured Daniel Chester French is given loving treatment by Sweeney and Fields. . .  As Sweeney traces French’s way in the world, French goes on to create numerous statues of Civil War heroes, including the epic sculpture of Abraham Lincoln enshrined in his memorial. A timeline and author’s note fill in various gaps in the text, and Fields’ drawings are both powerful and graceful, just as French would have wanted, depicting a largely white cast but including some figures of color, including one of the two modern children who observe the story. . . Both bracing and winning, a fine tribute to the sculptor and his world. (Picture book biography. 8-12) ” – Kirkus Reviews

*Junior Library Guild Gold Standard

Note from the Creators:

When Abraham Lincoln was shot in 1865, fifteen-year-old Dan French had no way to know that one day his tribute to the great president would transform a Washington, DC marsh into a national gathering place. He only knew that he liked making things with his hands.

As a boy, Dan plowed the straightest lines on his family’s farm, but as a teen, he failed (quite spectacularly) out of MIT.  And yet, almost 50 years after Lincoln’s assassination, Daniel Chester French drew on his memories of Lincoln and his artistic talent to create a lovingly sculpted touchstone for a nation’s ideals, reminding millions of seekers what America strives for and still can be.

This is the story of how one young boy became very, very good at what he loves, and for that talent to inspire people across a country and around the world.

We hope this book both delights and unites!

About the Author: Linda Booth Sweeney is an accomplished writer and an educator specializing in the exploration of living systems. www.lindaboothsweeney.com

About the Illustrator: Shawn Fields studied art at the School of Visual Arts, the Arts Student’s League, and the New York Academy of Art. His work has been exhibited at ArtBasel Miami, Forbes Gallery NYC, Arcadia NYC, and is collected worldwide.

Review: If you have ever been to the Lincoln Memorial, you know that a very talented artist sculpted the statue you find within. Monument Maker tells us how a young farm boy takes something he is good at and makes it not only his job but his passion. And I think that is what I loved the most–it showed that there is so much more to life than what others want you to be good at and what society expects you to do well at. We all have talents and passions, look at what Daniel Chester French did with his!

Sweeney and Fields did a fantastic job telling his story while also tying in the theme mentioned above, celebrating history, and setting goals for the future. Overall, a truly deep and well done middle grade picture book!

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: With ties to art and history as well as social-emotional learning, Monument Maker can find its home in may different classrooms.

Discussion Questions: 

  • What did Dan’s family do to help support him in his endeavors?
  • What are the different steps in creating a large monument like the Lincoln Memorial?
  • How did Daniel Chester French become one of the best in his field?
  • What is something you love that you want to do when you grow up? How can you become an expert?
  • Why was it important for Daniel to learn how to draw even though he wanted to be a sculptor?
  • What does Daniel Chester French failing out of some classes yet becoming a master sculpture tell you?
  • How does the author tie together Lincoln, French’s sculpture, other history, and the future?

Flagged Passages: 

“History shapes our lives. And what we do with our lives can shape history. That’s how it was with Daniel Chester French.”

“Soon afterward, Dan’s father returned from Boston carrying a cardboard box. In it was ten pounds of cold, wet clay for a family sculpting night.

One by one the family gave up, but not Dan. He kept at it until the shape of a dog’s head appeared in his hands. From then on, Dan worked on the farm during the day and sculpted birds and animals at night.”

Read This If You Love: Art, Abraham Lincoln, Architecture, Sculpture

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Don’t miss out on other nonfiction picture books! Check out Kid Lit Frenzy’s Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 

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Prairie Boy: Frank Lloyd Wright Turns the Heartland Into a Home
Author: Barb Rosenstock
Illustrator: Christopher Silas Neal
Published: September 10th, 2019 by Calkins Creek

Summary: The early life and creative genius of architect Frank Lloyd Wright, as a maker of American buildings—highlighting his passion, imagination and creativity.

Frank Lloyd Wright loved the Wisconsin prairie where he was born, with its wide-open sky and waves of tall grass. As his family moved across the United States, young Frank found his own home in shapes: rectangles, triangles, half-moons, and circles. So, Frank pursued a career in architecture. Unlike everyone else, he didn’t think the Victorian homes fit the beauty of the land. Using his love of shapes, Frank redesigned the American home inside and out, developing a unique architecture, the Prairie House.

Author Barb Rosenstock and artist Christopher Silas Neal explore the early life and creative genius of architect Frank Lloyd Wright, highlighting his passion, imagination, and ingenuity.

Backmatter includes historical photos, author’s note, quotations, sources, source notes, architectural plans and a photo gallery of Frank Lloyd Wright buildings across America.

About the Creators: 

Author Barb Rosenstock is the author of many picture book biographies, including Otis and Will Discover the Deep, Secret Kingdom, Dorothea’s Eyes, Ben Franklin’s Big Splash, and The Streak: How Joe DiMaggio Became America’s Hero. Her picture book about Kandinsky, The Noisy Paint Box, won the 2015 Caldecott Medal.

Illustrator Christopher Silas Neal is the author and illustrator of multiple picture books, including I Won’t Eat That and Everyone. He is also the illustrator of Kate Messner’s Over and Under the Pond, Over and Under the Snow, and Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt.

Book Trailer: 

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation and Discussion Questions: 

Please view and enjoy the teachers’ and discussion guide I created for Prairie Boy: 

You can also access the teaching guide here.

You can learn more about the book on Barb Rosenstock’s Prairie Boy page.

Recommended For: 

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Just Like Beverly: A Biography of Beverly Cleary (Growing to Greatness)
Author: Vicki Conrad
Illustrator: David Hohn
Published August 13th, 2019

Summary: Just Like Beverly follows the life of beloved children’s author Beverly Cleary from her early years in Oregon to her career as a successful writer who wrote stories, including the wildly popular Ramona and Henry Huggins series, for kids just like her.

As a young girl, Beverly Cleary struggled to learn to read and found most children’s books dull and uninteresting. She often wondered if there were any books about kids just like her. With hard work, and the encouragement of her parents and a special teacher, she learned to read and at a young age discovered she had a knack for writing.

Beverly Cleary’s story comes to life in this narrative nonfiction picture book as she grows to follow her dreams of writing the books she longed for as a child, becoming an award-winning writer and one of the most famous children’s authors of all time.

Beautiful illustrations capture Cleary’s sense of humor, struggles, and triumphs, and are filled with Easter eggs throughout for fans to discover.

Praise: 

“Hohn captures her lively spirit through illustrations, reminiscent of those by Alan Tiegreen for Cleary’s own books, that will keep young readers entertained. A loving and informative tribute worthy of celebrating Cleary’s 103rd year of life.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred

“Conrad writes with clarity and features significant details that bring Cleary’s experiences and personality to life for kids today. Hohn makes good use of color, light, and pattern in his imaginative illustrations, which interpret the text sensitively. The artwork looks fresh and appealing while suggesting the period, the emotional resonance, and the upbeat spirit of Cleary’s books.”–Booklist, starred

“A celebration of Cleary, literacy, and the pursuit of ambitious dreams, this charming picture book will enhance any biography collection.”–School Library Journal

“Debut author Conrad’s storytelling is straightforward, ably conveying—in tandem with Hohn’s homespun, vintage-style illustrations—the various eras of Cleary’s life and her passion for writing and for nurturing readers.”–Publishers Weekly

About the Author: VICKI CONRAD is a teacher with a passion for literacy development and inspiring students to love reading just as much as she did as a child. Growing up, she was always found with a book in her hand, and she has stayed that way ever since. When she is not writing or teaching, she is traveling the world, growing a garden, or searching for stories. She has called Seattle her home for many years. She doesn’t mind the rain, as long as she has coffee, friends, and good books for company. Just Like Beverly is her first book.

About the Illustrator: DAVID HOHN is an illustrator based in Portland, Oregon. His days are spent in the studio imagining what it would be like to be someone else, doing something else–and then he paints it.

Review: It was so wonderful reading about Beverly Cleary’s childhood! It truly showed how supportive teachers and parents plus some access to books truly can result in brilliance! It just took some guidance, praise, and confidence to make her bloom as a writer.

From a parent and teacher point of view, I loved that Beverly saw a issue in the children lit world and used a talent to work to try to solve that issue–what a great role model!

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: There are three ways I picture this book being an asset in the classroom.

First, it is a wonderful addition to any picture book biography text set/mentor text set.

Second, it is a beautiful book to read aloud! And truly would lead to wonderful discussions.

Third, I could see it being used in conjunction with Cleary’s novels. How does her childhood story connect to the novels that she wrote?

Discussion Questions: 

  • When looking for stories about kids like you and your friends, what type of characters are you looking for?
    • [Writing prompt] Write a fictionalized story that you can relate to.
  • What character traits did Beverly have to be as successful a writer as she was?
  • What does Beverly’s pride in winning a contest that she was the only entry say about you?
  • What do you believe is the author’s purpose for writing this title?
  • How does Beverly’s story fit the theme of “Growing to Greatness”?
  • How is children literature different now than it was during Beverly’s childhood?

Flagged Passages: 

Read This If You Love: Beverly Cleary!; Picture book biographies about writers such as Some Writer! by Melissa Sweet; A Boy, A Mouse, and a Spider by Barbara Herkert; A River of Words by Jennifer Bryant; Papa is a Poet by Natalie S. Bober

Recommended For: 

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Don’t miss out on other nonfiction picture books! Check out Kid Lit Frenzy’s Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 

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Tomorrow marks the 50th anniversary of the groundbreaking Apollo 11 mission. To celebrate this momentous celebration, I am happy to share some fantastic space books! (And don’t forget to enter the giveaway!)

Reaching for the Moon: The Autobiography of NASA Mathematician Katherine Johnson
Author: Katherine Johnson
Published July 2nd, 2019 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers

The inspiring autobiography of NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson, who helped launch Apollo 11.

As a young girl, Katherine Johnson showed an exceptional aptitude for math. In school she quickly skipped ahead several grades and was soon studying complex equations with the support of a professor who saw great promise in her. But ability and opportunity did not always go hand in hand. As an African American and a girl growing up in an era of brutal racism and sexism, Katherine faced daily challenges. Still, she lived her life with her father’s words in mind: “You are no better than anyone else, and nobody else is better than you.”

In the early 1950s, Katherine was thrilled to join the organization that would become NASA. She worked on many of NASA’s biggest projects including the Apollo 11 mission that landed the first men on the moon.

Katherine Johnson’s story was made famous in the bestselling book and Oscar-nominated film Hidden Figures. Now in Reaching for the Moon she tells her own story for the first time, in a lively autobiography that will inspire young readers everywhere.

Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11
Author: Brian Floca
Originally Published April 9th, 2019 by Richard Jackson Books

Brian Floca explores Apollo 11’s famed moon landing with this newly expanded edition of Moonshot!

Simply told, grandly shown, and now with eight additional pages of brand-new art and more in-depth information about the historic moon landing, here is the flight of Apollo 11. Here for a new generation of readers and explorers are the steady astronauts clicking themselves into gloves and helmets, strapping themselves into sideways seats. Here are their great machines in all their detail and monumentality, the ROAR of rockets, and the silence of the Moon. Here is a story of adventure and discovery—a story of leaving and returning during the summer of 1969, and a story of home, seen whole, from far away.

Hidden Figures: Young Readers’ Edition
Author: Margot Lee Shetterly
Published November 29th, 2016 by HarperCollins

This edition of Margot Lee Shetterly’s acclaimed book is perfect for young readers. It is the powerful story of four African-American female mathematicians at NASA who helped achieve some of the greatest moments in our space program.

Before John Glenn orbited the earth, or Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, a group of dedicated female mathematicians known as “human computers” used pencils, slide rules, and adding machines to calculate the numbers that would launch rockets, and astronauts, into space.

This book brings to life the stories of Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden, who lived through the Civil Rights era, the Space Race, the Cold War, and the movement for gender equality, and whose work forever changed the face of NASA and the country.

Moon’s First Friends: One Giant Leap for Friendship
Author: Susanna Leonard Hill
Illustrator: Elisa Paganelli
Published May 7th, 2019 by Sourcebook Jabberwocky

A heartwarming story of a friendship-seeking moon that also celebrates the extraordinary 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing!

From high up in the sky, the Moon has spent her whole life watching Earth and hoping for someone to visit. Dinosaurs roam, pyramids are built, and boats are made, but still no one comes. Will friends ever come visit her?

One day a spaceship soars from Earth…and so does her heart.

Includes bonus educational pages about the moon mission!

One Giant Leap: The Story of Neil Armstrong
Author: Don Brown
Published September 24th, 2001 by HMH Books for Young Readers

As a young boy, Neil Armstrong had a recurring dream in which he held his breath and floated high above the people, houses, and cars. He spent his free time reading stacks of flying magazines, building model airplanes, and staring through the homemade telescope mounted on the roof of his neighbor’s garage. As a teenager, Neil became obsessed with the idea of flight, working odd jobs to pay for flying lessons at a nearby airport. He earned his student pilot’s license on his sixteenth birthday. But who was to know that this shy boy, who also loved books and music, would become the first person to set foot on the moon, on July 20, 1969. Here is the inspiring story of one boy’s dream – a dream of flying that landed him more than 200,000 miles away in space, gazing upon the awesome sight of a tiny earth hanging suspended in a perfectly black sky. On the thirtieth anniversary of the moon landing, Don Brown’s expressive story reveals the achievement of this American legend, Neil Armstrong.

Previously Reviewed and Recommended:

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**Thank you to Milena at Simon & Schuster for providing the books for giveaway!**

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“Creating Words and Pictures for The Spacesuit – How Authors and Illustrators Work Together”

Alison Donald: Just like the Apollo program, a book is a product of a collaboration of a team.  I’ve always wished I could draw.  I can see parts of my story unfold vividly in my head.  But I don’t have the necessary skills or talent to actually draw what I want to the quality that I want.

Thank goodness for illustrators.  Illustrators can read a text and bring it to life.  I was lucky to have Ariel Landy illustrate my latest book:  ‘The Spacesuit – How a Seamstress Helped put Man on the moon”.  But, do we actually work together?  The answer is yes, but indirectly though illustration notes.

Illustration notes:

When I submitted ‘Spacesuit’ to my publisher Maverick Arts, I included a few illustration notes.  I really wanted a 1960’s feel to book.  I also wanted it to be fashionable.  Afterall, it’s about seamstresses who were fashioning one of the most important garments in world history!

I identified when sewing machines and spacesuits needed to be in the text and I asked for the seamstresses to be crowded around the tv watching Neil Armstrong on the moon (spoiler alert! Sorry!).

I researched the A7L spacesuit and provided diagrams.  I also provided photographs of the actual seamstresses at the factory of Playtex / ILC dover for reference.

Then, I sat back while Kim, my fabulous editor / designer found an illustrator.

It’s an exciting day when a sample spread arrives in my inbox.  Here was Ariel’s sample spread for the Spacesuit:

Just perfect!

The editor:

Editors / designers have a much better sense of layout, how much text should be on a page, and they know more about colour palettes than I do.  Kim worked with Ariel and then shared Ariel’s sketches with me.

I acted as another pair of eyes to make sure the pictures were factually correct.

It’s a just right fit when authors can weigh in on visual details that are relevant to the story (thanks Kim!).

Otherwise, it’s nice to leave it to the illustrator to create her own magic.

And as you can see, Ariel certainly did!

Ariel Landy: Happily, for me, by the time I got the story so much research for The Spacesuit had already been done, both by Alison and the editing team at Maverick. When I read the story for the first time, I had a briefing from our editors complete with photographs of Ellie and the talented ladies who actually worked on the spacesuit in various stages. I relied heavily on these primary sources to draw many elements of the story such as the pink factory coat that Ellie wears while working on a small sewing machine, and ‘Sweet Sue’ and ‘Big Moe’, the giant sewing machines brought in to help the seamstresses sew the many, many layers of the spacesuit! Also, fortunately for me, I had fact-checkers at Maverick to catch some of my anachronisms, such as coloring in the TV screen that shows the moon landing, when it likely would have been in black and white.

Of course, the internet is the ultimate research tool! There were so many accessible photos of the spacesuit at my fingertips, both on its own and adorning the astronauts. I was also fortunate to see the documentary Apollo 11, which happened to have a limited run in New York City just as I was working on the coloring stage of the illustrations. The film is all real color footage from the launching of the rocket that brought the brave astronauts to the moon. It was chock full of real spectators sporting the most wonderful 60s clothing and hairstyles. After seeing it I couldn’t wait to go back and tweak my characters!

I feel really lucky to have had such a great writing and editing team collaborating at different stages to make such a special book! Thanks team!

The Spacesuit: How a Seamstress Helped Put Man on the Moon
Author: Alison Donald
Illustrator: Ariel Landy
Published June 18th, 2019 by Maverick Arts

About the Book:There is a competition to make the spacesuit for the first moon landing! Ellie, an ordinary woman, is asked to lead a team of other talented seamstresses. No one believes they can win, but they are determined to try.

Based on the incredible true story behind the spacesuit that astronauts wore on the first moon walk and the team of women who sewed it together.

Don’t miss the other Blog Tour stops! 

Monday, July 15th: Publisher Spotlight Blog
http://www.publisherspotlight.com/blog/

Tuesday, July 16th: YA Books Central
https://www.yabookscentral.com/

Wednesday, July 17th: Randomly Reading
https://randomlyreading.blogspot.com/

Thank you so much for this guest post about this incredible true story!

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Sonny’s Bridge: Jazz Legend Sonny Rollins Finds His Groove
Author: Barry Wittenstein
Illustrator: Keith Mallett
Published May 21st, 2019 by Charlesbridge Publishing

Summary: This groovy, bebopping picture book biography chronicles the legendary jazz saxophonist Sonny Rollins’s search for inspiration on the Williamsburg Bridge after quitting the jazz scene in 1959.

Rollins is one of the most prolific sax players in the history of jazz, but, in 1959, at the height of his career, he vanished from the jazz scene. His return to music was an interesting journey–with a long detour on the Williamsburg Bridge. Too loud to practice in his apartment, Rollins played on the New York City landmark for two years among the cacophony of traffic and the stares of bystanders, leading to the release of his album, The Bridge.

Written in rhythmic prose with a bebop edge, this picture-book biography of Sonny Rollins’s journey to get his groove back will delight young and old fans alike.

About the Author: Barry Wittenstein has worked at CBS Records, CBS News, and was a web editor and writer for Major League Baseball. He is now a New York City elementary-school substitute teacher and children’s author. He is the author of The Boo-Boos That Changed the World: The True Story About an Accidental Invention (Really!) and Waiting for Pumpsie. Barry lives in the Bronx.

About the Illustrator: Keith Mallett studied art at Hunter College in New York City. Keith’s work was commissioned to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s historic breakthrough into major league baseball, has graced the cover of Chicken Soup for the African American Soul, and has been featured in many movies and TV shows. He is the illustrator of Take a Picture of Me, James VanDerZee and How Jelly Roll Morton Invented Jazz. Keith lives in San Diego, California.

Praise: “An appropriately jazzy picture-book biography of African-American musician Sonny Rollins. It impresses from the endpapers, which mirror a vinyl LP in its paper sleeve and then playing on a turntable, to the liner notes about Rollins’ seminal album “The Bridge” in the back.” -Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“The life of jazz legend Sonny Rollins pulses with the rousing spontaneity of his music in Wittenstein’s free verse biography. Readers witness Rollins’s career as an acclaimed musician followed by his explosive success and the subsequent reincarnations of his art.” -School Library Journal, starred review

Review: The rhythm of the writing in Sonny’s Bridge automatically gets you toe tapping while reading. It captures the feeling and flow of jazz which truly sets the stage for Sonny’s story because in the end this is the story of Sonny Rollins and his path to finding his musical voice.

In addition to the rhythm in the writing, the illustrators images bring the words to life using movement, color, and line to show the power of the music.

Together, the words and music bring Sonny’s story to the readers in a way that will illuminate his struggles and his triumphs.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Because of the rhythmic writing, this will be an amazing read aloud! And then the students can listen to The Bridge.

We are lucky to be living in a time with so many wonderful biographies out there about amazing people and a lot of them happen to be musicians, so what a great opportunity for book clubs or jig saws to look at different musicians and how they became who they are/were and how they changed not only musical history but sometimes even history.

Discussion Questions: 

  • Why does Sonny find the bridge to be the best place for him to practice?
  • Why did Sonny take off two years and how did it change his life?
  • How did Sonny’s life correspond with Black Americans’ fight for equal rights?
  • How did the illustrator show Sonny’s music through is artwork?
  • Why would some want the bridge to be renamed Sonny’s Bridge?
  • After listening to The Bridge, how did the author capture the feeling of jazz in his writing?

Creator Corner with Barry Wittenstein from KidLitTV: 

Flagged Passages: 

Read This If You Love: Music (specifically jazz), Jazz Day by Roxane Orgill, Trombone Shorty by Troy AndrewsLittle Melba and her Big Trombone by Katheryn Russell-Brown, Ella Fitzgerald by Andrea Davis Pinkney, Duke Ellington by Andrea Davis Pinkney, Hip Hop Lollipop by Susan Montanari, The 5 O’Clock Band by Troy Andrews, Born to Swing by Mara Rockliff, Muddy by Michael James Mahin, Stand Up and Sing by Suanna Reich

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**Thank you to Charlesbridge Publishing for providing a copy for review**

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Yogi: The Life, Loves, and Language of Baseball Legend Yogi Berra
Author: Barb Rosenstock
Illustrator: Terry Widener
Published February 5th, 2019 by Calkins Creek

Summary: The life and famous words, such as “it ain’t over till it’s over,” of Major League Baseball player and New York Yankee Lawrence “Yogi” Berra are celebrated in this nonfiction picture book.

Yogi Berra loved his family, his neighborhood, his friends, and, most of all, baseball. He was crazy for it, ever since he was a young kid playing with friends in an abandoned dump. But baseball didn’t love him back–at least not at first. Yogi was different. He didn’t have the right look. When he finally made it to the major leagues, Yogi faced pranks and harassment from players, sportswriters, and fans. Their words hurt, but they made Yogi determined to show all that he could do. This book looks at the talents, loves, and inspirational words of this celebrated New York Yankee and American icon, who earned a World Series ring for each finger and made baseball love him back.

About the Creators: 

Barb Rosenstock is best known for her many picture book biographies, including Thomas Jefferson Builds a LibraryBen Franklin’s Big Splash,The StreakDorothea’s Eyes, and Blue Grass Boy, all published by Calkins Creek. Her other recent titles include a picture book about Vincent Van Gogh, Vincent Can’t Sleep, and a picture book about Vasily Kandinsky, The Noisy Paint Box, which won the 2015 Caldecott Honor Medal. She lives outside Chicago with her family. Visit her at barbrosenstock.com.

Terry Widener is the award-winning illustrator of many picture books on athletes, including The Streak: How Joe DiMaggio Became America’s Hero, Girl Wonder: A Baseball Story in Nine Innings, American Champion Swimmer: Gertrude Ederle,and Lou GehrigThe Luckiest Man. He is also the illustrator of The Kite That Bridged Two Nations by Alexis O’Neill. He lives in McKinney, Texas, with his wife and is the father of three grown children. Visit him at terrywidenerart.com.

Praise:

*“This excellent character study will be useful as a model for students writing research-based biographies since it includes extensive author’s notes, baseball statistics, a note about Yogi-isms, and secondary quotes about the man himself, but it will loved most of all by Yankees fans.” –School Library Connection, starred review

“(T)his picture-book biography…does an excellent job covering Berra as both baseball player and cultural icon. Widener’s illustrations…ably capture Berra’s short stature and big personality. Thorough back matter concludes the book, including a double-page spread of Berra’s ‘amazing’ stats, a bibliography, an author’s note, several photographs, and source notes.” –The Horn Book

“Rosenstock covers all the bases, focusing on Yogi’s great love of baseball, his determination to succeed, and, most of all, his longing for baseball to love him back. His perplexing, witty, and wise ‘Yogi-isms’ are incorporated in the text as well as appearing in large, hand-lettered blurbs within the illustrations. Widener’s colorful, muscular acrylic cartoons…beautifully capture his essence. A loving homage to a charismatic baseball hero.” –Kirkus Reviews

“(A) loving tribute to New York Yankee baseball legend Yogi Berra. Back matter documents his amazing career… and complement the storylike text that introduces a simple Italian kid from Saint Louis who loved his family, loved his friends, and really, really loved baseball. The illustrations capture the wistful, nostalgic mood… readers will come away with an appreciation for both the amazing athlete and the humble, unique individual. Source notes, a bibliography, and additional background information elevate this offering into viable research material, making this an entertaining and worthy addition to sports biography collections.” –Booklist

Review: I am always so impressed with Barb Rosenstock’s multi-faceted biographies.

  • You can tell she is a historian because of the accurate and well-represented history of whomever she is writing about as well as the detailed and interesting back matter that is included in her books. This one particularly is impressive with its research notes, statistics, Yogi-isms, and quotes about Yogi.
  • You can tell she is a master storyteller because her biographies are never dry history but are instead a beautiful narrative that brings the subject and their story to life.
  • You can tell she is a caring person because of the themes she incorporates within her stories and the people she chooses to write about.
  • With Yogi, you can tell she is a baseball fan because she represents the sport with the heart that those of us who love baseball can feel.

All of this, paired with an illustrator that brings movement and emotions to life, lends to a very engaging picture book biography!

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: This text is a perfect addition to the classroom with its many uses across literacy, history, physical education, and math!

Educators’ Guide provided by the publisher:

Discussion Questions: 

  • How did the author incorporate “Yogi-isms” throughout the narrative? Choose one quote and explain how it fits in with the story.
  • Read the quotes about Yogi in the backmatter. Find evidence from the story to support the statements made by these individuals.
  • Make a list of character traits that Yogi Berra displayed in the story. Find evidence to support these traits.
  • Words hurt. But Yogi wouldn’t let them stop him. What does this tell you about him?
  • In what way do you think Yogi Berra impacted the players around him the most?
  • What makes Yogi Berra one of the best baseball players ever? Use evidence to support your statements.
  • Why do you think his parents let him go play baseball but not his brother?
  • In what way did the author and illustrator compare Yogi’s job as a gunner’s mate during World War II and his job as a catcher in the MLB?

Flagged Passages: 

Book Trailer: 

Read This If You Love: Baseball, Picture Book Biographies, Quotable Quotes

Recommended For: 

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Don’t Miss the Other Stops on the Blog Tour!

Monday, 3/18                       Mile High Reading
Tuesday, 3/19                      Book Q&A’s with Deborah Kalb
Wednesday, 3/20               Mrs. Knott’s Book Nook
Thursday, 3/21                     Behind the Scenes @BMP
Friday, 3/22                          Anatomy of Nonfiction
Monday, 3/25                      The Nonfiction Detectives
Wednesday, 3/27                KidLit Frenzy
Thursday, 3/28                    Celebrate Picture Books
Friday, 3/29                          Unleashing Readers

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**Thank you to Boyds Mills Press for providing a copy for review and giveaway!**

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