Category Archives: History

True stories or stories set in history.

Hu Wan and the Sleeping Dragon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hu Wan and the Sleeping Dragon
by Judy Young, illustrated by Jordi Solano
Sleeping Bear Press, 2018

Hu Wan, a poor Chinese peasant boy, lives with his grandfather who is old and becomes very close to dying. When the Chinese Emperor dies and his young son becomes the new Emperor, gifts are requested to cheer him up.  Hu Wan knows how sad he was when his grandfather almost died and takes his first gourd he has shaped into a cricket cage to the new Emperor as a gift. He humbly sets it on a table with very expensive gifts others had brought.  He is most surprised when a guard shows up and learns the new Emperor enjoyed the cricket’s song and requests more gourd cricket cages, for which he will be paid generously.

A wonderful, heart-felt story showing how being yourself and doing what you do best is rewarded.

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Let’s Clap, Jump, Sing & Shout; Dance, Spin & Turn it Out!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Let’s Clap, Jump, Sing & Shout; Dance, Spin & Turn it Out!

Games, Songs & Stories from an African American Childhood
collected by Patricia C. McKissack, illustrated by Brian Pinkney
Schwartz & Wade Books, 2017

“Our earliest toys are our hands, feet, and voices,” says Patricia C. McKassack who collected dozens of hand clap songs and jump rope rhymes, hymns, parables and even performance pieces inspired by African American writers.  Each one comes with a history, some Patricia’s history and most others of where and when they came from or how they came to be.

Her research shows that Aesop is thought to be an Afro-Greek storyteller who lived as a slave more than twenty-five hundred years ago.  The book shares how original songs were reshaped while people were in slavery.  Spirituals originated in the fields and slave quarters of the plantation South.  She writes how the songs came to be written down and are still enjoyed today, songs like Joshua Fought the Battle of Jericho.  The song, Follow the Drinking Gourd, was taught to runaways to help lead them to freedom.

A rich collection of history brought together in one book.

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When We Were Alone

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When We Were Alone
by David A. Robertson, illustrated by Julie Flett
Highwater Press, 2016

This story introduces in simple terms how (white) governments treated Indigenous families, trying to make everyone the same.  Her kokom shares with Nosisim how the government took away the colors they wore and made everyone wear a black and white uniforms. How they cut their long hair short and did not allow them to speak their native language.  Using the same basic story structure between Nosisim and her kokom, each item removed is introduced and ends with how things are now.  This is a book where the meaning of what was removed will grow as the child grows.  To further emphasize the meaning, the illustrations of the items being removed are done in blacks and whites, where the illustrations of where they have their items are done in colors.

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She Persisted, 13 American Women Who Changed the World

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

She Persisted, 13 American Women Who Changed the World
by Chelsea Clinton, illustrated by Alexandra Boiger
Philomel Books, 2017

This is a wonderful collection of American female heroes, written with the theme that each ‘persisted’ to reach their dreams. The collection includes women from several races, a woman with disabilities, an anesthesiologist, as well as well-known and little-known women from the past and present.  It’s easy, delightful, and inspiring to read.  Geared for young readers it’s a perfect way to help girls launch their dreams.

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Six Dots, A Story of Young Louis Braille

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Six Dots, A Story of Young Louis Braille
by Jen Bryant, illustrated by Boris Kulikov
Alfred A. Knopf, 2017
Winner of a Schneider Family Book Award!

Children will love young Louis who is bright and eager for life.  But then Louis’ world turns dark when he becomes blind.  Still eager for life, he learns to walk with a cane, whistle to hear if something is in his path and read letters made of leather, nails or straw.  Dominoes, with dots he can feel, becomes a favorite game.  Louis wants to learn and is frustrated when he cannot learn to read like everyone else.  He finds a way to attend the Royal School for the Blind in Paris.  When he finally gets to read, the books are large, clunky and few, for all the letters are raised on the page.  About that time a French army captain invented a code that can be read by touch, not by sight. Using a pattern of dots for sounds, Louis learns to read through this method.  When Louis was about 12 he decided he could make his own reading system and worked for 3 years, primarily by himself, to create what is now the Braille system.  He changed the world, for the blind.

The story is fascinating, the illustrations beautifully show Louis’ excitement, eagerness, and earnestness for learning. An inspiring story with more history about Louis and his Braille system included in the back matter.

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The Hawk of the Castle, a Story of Medieval Falconry

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Hawk of the Castle, a Story of Medieval Falconry
by Danna Smith, illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline
Candlewick Press, 2017

This exquisitely illustrated book shares a tale of falconry set in the medieval days. Author Danna Smith was trained on falconry as a child, and provides an exciting, insightful experience of hunting with falcons.

With easy to understand rhyme, repetition and illustrations, the youngest readers can follow the basic story.  Readers learn how falcons are trained, how the birds are lifted into flight, how they soar above the castle, and how they capture their prey.  As young readers are ready to know more, each page provides explanations of terms, equipment and insights about falcons.  A generous afterward includes many more historical and current details about the sport.

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The Book of Chocolate, The Amazing Story of the World’s Favorite Candy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Book of Chocolate, The Amazing Story of the World’s Favorite Candy
by HP Newquist
Viking, 2017

This book is a chocolate lover’s delight for both adults and children!

The history of chocolate begins in ancient times with the cocoa bean and goes up until 2015’s top selling chocolates.  Everything about chocolate you ever wondered is in this book.  I completed it’s 147 pages in a weekend.  As a history buff, I loved the stories of how chocolate started as, basically, cottage industries in the United States.  How the families battled to make their own unique chocolates successful, how the second world war influenced the industry and helped bring peace to the world.

The book contains fun factoids, like, “Research has found that countries where people eat a lot of chocolate also produce a lot of Nobel Prize winners”, with Switzerland at the top with 26 pounds of chocolate per person and 32 Nobel Prize winners per 10 million people.  The book includes old advertisements, old photos, and geography lessons, too.  Maps show that 71.2% of cocoa beans grow in Africa.  Wonderfully written, easy to read and you better have a box of chocolates on hand!

Read more reviews and purchase on Amazon.  Great gift book!

A Voyage in the Clouds, The (Mostly) True Story of the First International Flight by Balloon in 1785

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Voyage in the Clouds, The (Mostly) True Story of the First International Flight by Balloon in 1785
By Matthew Olshan, illustrated by Sophie Blackall
Margaret Ferguson Books, 2016

Mix in a small bit of history from 1785, two partners trying to best one another, grown men in underwear, and two men literally ‘peeing’ from a hot air balloon ride to save their lives, and readers will have a fun read on the First International Flight by Balloon. In this ‘mostly’ true story, Englishman Dr Jeffries and Monsieur Blanchard, the pilot, join together to make the first hot air balloon flight between countries.  They start in England and cross the English Channel/La Manche, to land in France.

The story opens when both men claim they will be the first to step off the aerial car in France, and it ends with both men insisting the other goes first.  Find out how they both try to best each other, and how and why they join together in the end.

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Melvin the Mouth, Young Mel Blanc…before he was the Man of 1,000 Voices

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Melvin the Mouth, Young Mel Blanc…before he was the Man of 1,000 Voices
by Katherine Blanc, illustrated by Jeffrey Ebbeler
Charlesbridge, 2017

The words and illustrations take readers into the heart of a ‘sound’ genius, Mel Blanc, who, as an adult, created voices/sounds for 1500 movie/television characters.

Young Mel loves to create sounds to go along with the vivid characters he imagines.  Everything is BIG for Mel.  He Whooooooosh’s down the hall.  He captures kids with his Rrow! RROW!  Even, ‘garbage duty’ turns into a Zrroom-Zroom race car screeching around corners.  Readers will love all the trouble Mel gets into just being himself.  And they will love that the parents accept that someday Mel will use his ‘talent’ in some useful way when he grows up.  A supportive story for a child’s ‘gifts’.  Back matter includes background on Mel’s work as an adult. (Think Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Barney Rubble and 1,497 more!)

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I am Gandhi

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am Gandhi
By Brad Meltzer, illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulos
Dial Books for Young Readers, 2017

Brad Meltzer knows how to write biographies that bring young readers right into the heart of the person featured.

In I am Gandhi, we learn Gandhi was afraid of snakes, not good at sports and ran home so people wouldn’t make fun of him.  Even though he read lots of books, he wasn’t good at school.  The book goes on to tell about all the social injustices he experienced as an Indian in South Africa.  One day he decided to do something about it.  He made his first speech and formed the Natal Indian Congress.  Most importantly, he came up with Satyagraha, outlining peaceful methods to changing the social injustices.  Written so young minds can understand how and why his simple methods resulted in change, this is an inspiring story about how an ordinary person made a change in the world.

Meltzer has sold more than a million non-fiction books for young readers. Look for his other inspiring, ‘hero’ stories.

Read more reviews and discover more Brad Meltzer books on Amazon.