Staff Picks for Children
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Recommended by Liz at West Kendall Regional
Schomburg: The Man Who Built a Library
By Carole Boston Weatherford
Free verse poems tell the story of Arthur Schomburg, whose extensive collection of books, letters, art and music documenting African culture and history formed the foundation of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, one of the preeminent archives for researchers worldwide. Schomburg was inspired by the dismissal of African history by his elementary school teacher to document and reveal the African influences in western culture, and particularly in American history. Schomberg’s collection included books and documents by Frederick Douglass, Phillis Wheatley, Toussaint Louverture and Nicolás Guillén. After the collection outgrew the space available in his home, Schomburg found a new place for it at the New York Public Library, where he served as a curator.
Dramatic oil paintings by Eric Velasquez that illustrate both Schomburg’s quest for knowledge and the historical figures that he researched vividly complement the engaging text. This is an inspiring tale for those who love libraries and history, and of the difference one individual can make.Check Availability
Art from Her Heart: Folk Artist Clementine Hunter
By Kathy Whitehead
Clementine Hunter was a manual laborer at Melrose Plantation, a Louisiana farm and haven for artists and writers. It was there that Hunter, then in her 50s, picked up some left‑behind paints and brushes and began to create her own works on anything she could find, including window shades, glass jugs and plywood. Encouraged by several of the artists in residence to continue, Hunter initially sold her paintings for 25 cents apiece; they’re now valued in the thousands of dollars and displayed in museums across the country. Yet because of segregation, Hunter was banned from attending her early gallery shows and had to see her art displayed after hours.
The joys of everyday farm life—rendered by Hunter in many of her paintings—are captured in Shane W. Evans’s vibrant illustrations, which also reflect Hunter’s determination and creative spirit. Included are photos of some of her paintings, and author’s notes that tell more about this remarkable self‑taught artist.Check Availability
The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch
By Chris Barton
John Roy Lynch was the son of an Irish father and an enslaved mother who spent most of his youth in slavery. After the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, Lynch left the Tacony Plantation in Louisiana and went to work for the Union Army during the Civil War, earning a wage for his work for the first time in his life. At the end of the war, 17‑year‑old Lynch went to Natchez, Mississippi, and shortly became a justice of the peace. He was elected to that state’s House of Representatives at only 24 years of age, and later to the U.S. House of Representatives—when just 10 years prior he’d been a teen‑age slave.
Don Tate’s lively illustrations realistically depict Lynch’s struggles, but do so on a child’s level. Includes historical notes, notes from the author and illustrator, maps and suggestions for additional reading.Check Availability
Molly, by Golly! The Legend of Molly Williams, America’s First Female Firefighter
By Dianne Ochiltree
Molly Williams, born in the early 1800s, was a servant for a volunteer firefighter at New York City’s Oceanus Engine Company No. 11. She often helped out at the firehouse bringing food over for her boss and the other volunteers. One winter, a massive influenza outbreak struck the city and many of the firefighters became ill. So, when a large fire was reported, Williams joined in with the few healthy firefighters left to put it out. From that day forward, she was considered a member of the fire company and was nicknamed Volunteer No. 11.
Bright illustrations by Kathleen Kemly bring old New York City to life. Interesting facts on early firefighting is woven into Williams’s story, including the role of runners, young volunteers who ran through the streets ringing bells and rattles to alert the city whenever a fire blazed. More information on Williams and early firefighters is included at the end of the book, along with suggested websites and other books of interest.Check Availability
Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down
By Andrea Davis Pinkney
The award‑winning husband‑and‑wife team of writer Andrea Davis Pinkney and illustrator Brian Pinkney collaborate to relay the history of the 1960 Greensboro lunch counter sit‑in. Four African‑American college students staged a peaceful protest against segregation at the Woolworth’s lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina. Their protest spread and became one of the defining moments of the civil rights movement.
Andrea Pinkney builds a compelling narrative using poetic prose with well‑chosen quotes from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.; Brian Pinkney’s illustrations are powerful and expressive. The book includes a civil rights highlights timeline, additional facts and suggested reading.Check Availability