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Biography Books can be Enlightening

Sometimes books about great people make great books that can be a great access to motivating great success. Here is a nice collection of books on biographies that is sure to inform and be of great interest.

The Bravest Woman in America, by Marissa Moss, and painted by Andrea U’Ren, is a picture book that celebrates the life of Ida Lewis who helped save over two dozen lives off the coast of Rhode Island. Her father was the lighthouse keeper during the mid-1900’s and he taught her all of the important aspects of keeping the harbor safe. She was only sixteen when she saved four young boys’ lives by rowing her small boat out through stormy seas and rescuing them. After her father died, she became the official lighthouse keeper helping guide many small boats and large ships to safety.  She was recognized by the press, Congress and the American Red Cross as the “bravest woman in America”. The paintings of the white-crested waves evoke the tumultuous difficulty of the rescues. Be sure to check out the author’s note about more of this hero’s life as well as a photo of her.  This book is good for ages seven and up.

Levi Strauss Gets a Bright Idea: A Fairly Fabricated Story of a Pair of Pants, by Tony Johnston, and brilliantly illustrated by Stacy Innerst, is a hilariously tall tale picture book about the possibilities of how this denim pant came to be. The text begs to be read aloud and reading it out loud will enable you to pronounce the western accent that dangles on every page! The full page spreads flow with color and Innerst even used old denim pants to paint on. This book is great fun to read to all ages.

Mr. Sam:  How Sam Walton built Wal-Mart and Became America’s Richest Man, by Karen Blumenthal, is an interesting chapter book geared for ages ten and up about how Mr. Walton built a retail empire with hard work, determination and ingenuity.  There are graphs, photos and charts that go right along with the book.

Marco Polo:  History’s Great Adventurer, by Clint Twist, is a very inventive look back at this great explorer with flaps, items in envelopes and maps aplenty!  The oversized book opens creatively with the cover opening in the middle.  There’s even a map included that shows how the Europeans viewed the flat world back in Polo’s time.  Kids of all ages will likely pour over this book again and again and it just might spark the explorer in your child.  And in this same format, William Shakespeare:  His Life and Times, by Kristen McDermott, Ph D and Ari Berk, Ph D, is one of the best introductions for kids to begin to understand this brilliant writer by seeing, reading and smiling at the many different elements of Shakespeare’s writing. There is much information found on the pages, on flaps and inside envelopes. This is a must for serious writers and both books are good for ages nine and up.

The Extraordinary Mark Twain (According to Suzy), by Barbara Kerley, and illustrated with digital media by Edwin Fotheringham, is an autobiography picture book with the help of Twain’s thirteen-year-old daughter, Susy, along with Kerley’s liberal interpretation of events that took place during Twain’s life. There are many journal entries inside flaps found throughout the book and the pictures fill both pages. There are also insightful directions of how to write a biography as well as a timeline found in the back. This book is good for ages nine and up.

Lost Boy: The Story of the Man Who Created Peter Pan, by Jane Yolen, and beautifully painted by Steve Adams, is a picture book that showcases J. M. Barrie and the many comparisons to his classic story about Peter Pan.  This biography tells about Barrie’s life as a child and as an adult.  There are some wonderful quotes from Barrie that are found at the bottom of several pages that correlate his life, experiences, friends and the storyline.  There’s a list of all the books written by Barrie found at the back of the book. This book is good for ages seven and up.

The Crossing:  Lewis & Clark’s Historic Journey Seen Through a Brand-New Pair of Eyes, by Donna Jo Napoli, and illustrated by Jim Madsen, is told through the eyes of the baby on the back of a cradleboard of his mother, Sacagawea. This beautifully painted picture book was rendered with digital media. The soft hues of golden browns, rich lavenders, vibrant blues and grassy greens fill the pages as you observe the wilderness, wildlife and skyline as these explorers crossed the country. The text is simple, yet powerful, in exclaiming all that surrounds young baby. And it’s also interesting to note time passing as baby grows. The author’s note, found at the back, makes this book good for all ages.

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