For the coming months that celebrate influential leaders of our time, we offer the following collection of biographies. Whether they were presidents, athletes or astronauts, each of their stories illustrates an individual's ability to overcome adversity, take on challenges, and accomplish remarkable things through will-power and determination. What better way to keep children interested in reading than to provide stories that will inspire them?
Penguin Putnam Inc./Dial Books for Young Readers, $16.99 (Hard Cover)
This spectacular biography of Bob Lemmons, a former slave and a cowboy with legendary tracking ability, will appeal to a wide range of readers.
Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $16.00 (Hard Cover)
In jaunty verse, authors Chandra and Comora chronicle Washington’s crossing of the Delaware with nine teeth in his mouth, only to arrive at the other side of the river with just seven. All ends well when a now toothless George helps his faithful dentist construct a set of false teeth carved from a “strong hippo tusk.”
Houghton Mifflin Children's Books, $16.00 (Hard Cover)
This engaging biography of Neil Armstrong relates the story of the first moon landing as a child's dream come true.
Candlewick Press, $16.99 (Hard Cover)
The inspirational life story of Sarah Breedlove Walker (1867-1919) -- a chemist, business owner, community leader, and advocate for the rights of black women.
Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine Books, $16.95 (Hard Cover)
A minimal text provides listeners and readers with the pivotal events in the life of the Mexican painter Frida Kahlo (1907-1954). This offbeat biography is a compelling labor of love.
Hyperion Books for Children, $15.99 (Hard Cover)
This large format picture biography of Martin Luther King, Jr. focuses on King's resounding words, and the forceful illustrations give the reader/viewer an uncanny sense of Dr. King's charisma.
Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $6.95 (Paperback)
Coddled cows upstairs, pigs running the household, and lecturing sheep-- is it any wonder that George Washington fled home to brave the frosty Delaware? Told in rollicking verse and virtuoso watercolors, Small's book is a model of economy of line and narrative moving so fast you don't have time to wonder or stop chuckling.
Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing/Richard Jackson Books/Atheneum, $16.95 (Hard Cover)
This excellent biography tells the story of Helen Frances Theresa Delaney Martini, the first woman keeper in the history of the Bronx Zoo - who raised twenty-seven baby tigers as well as innumerable other zoo babies.
Harcourt Trade Publishers/Silver Whistle, $16.00 (Hard Cover)
Rachel Carson was always curious about the world around her. As a girl she loved being outside, always exploring and wanting to know more about the universe. As an adult Rachel wrote books about what she loved--including Silent Spring, a book that changed the world.
Charlesbridge, $15.95 (Hard Cover)
There's no shortage of children's material about Abe Lincoln, but this new non-fiction picture book by Dawn Fitzgerald is a notable deviation from the standard Lincoln biography. Here, the focus is primarily on Vinnie Ream, a gifted young sculptor who defied society's objections against her age and gender in order to create a lasting tribute to our sixteenth president.
Candlewick Press, $16.99 (Hard Cover)
With a tongue-in-cheek irreverence that is rarely associated with Baroque music and the monumental works of George Frideric Handel in particular, this charming picture book tells the story of the life of one of the greatest composers of all time. This is Handel-lite, but Handel-right.
Scholastic Inc., $16.95 (Hard Cover)
Ruby Bridges chronicles her role in the history of civil rights in this moving autobiography.
Walker Books for Young Readers, $16.95 (Hard Cover)
Matthew Henson was not meant to lead an ordinary life. His dreams had sails. They took him from the port of Baltimore, around the world, and north to the pole. No amount of fear, cold, hunger, or injustice could keep him from tasting adventure and exploring the world. He learned to survive in the Arctic wilderness, and he stood by Admiral Peary for years on end, all for the sake of his goal. And finally, after decades of facing danger and defying the odds, he reached the North Pole and made history. Book Description
Holiday House, Inc., $19.95 (Hard Cover)
In 1728, when Benjamin Franklin wrote his own epitaph, he modestly decided he wanted to be remembered as "B. Franklin, Printer." Respecting his subject and his wishes, the author has written a straightforward account of Franklin's life with few flashbacks and digressions.
Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing/Anne Schwartz Books/Atheneum, $19.95 (Hard Cover)
Modeled on his own Poor Richard's Almanack, this unique scrapbook captures Franklin's countless accomplishments. Biography and anecdote, cartoon and etching mesh to create a fascinating portrait of this most fascinating man. Book Description
Penguin Putnam Inc./Dial Books for Young Readers, $15.99 (Hard Cover)
This five-foot-two, ninety-eight pound young woman's strong right arm led her all the way to three years of professional baseball play with the Negro League's Indianapolis Clowns. Her struggles against the injustices of racism and sexism are told as matter-of-fact asides to her joy in playing baseball.
Candlewick Press, $19.99 (Hard Cover)
This fine biography follows the up-and-down (mostly down) fortunes of one of the world's greatest writers. Michael Rosen tells how various events effected Dickens and ultimately influenced his writings. The golden-hued, intricately drawn illustrations by Roger Ingpen enrich this engaging work.
Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing/Atheneum Books for Young Readers, $18.95 (Hard Cover)
This new biography presents Douglass as he lived through the misery, tragedy, and heartbreak of his early years, as he escaped from slavery only to endure anxiety and outrage in the free states of the North. He eventually made his way to Great Britain, where he lectured forcefully against slavery. Book Description
Imagine the Possibilities
In a tribute to some of our most celebrated visionaries, we offer this reading list to inspire children to look beyond what is, and to imagine what could be.