Charlie Takes His Shot

How Charlie Sifford Broke
the Color Barrier in Golf

Albert Whitman & Company
(pub. 1.1.2018)
 32 pages

A True Tale with
A Cherry On Top   

A uthor:  Nancy Churnin
    and illustrator: John Joven

C haracter: Charlie Sifford

 verview from the jacket flap: 

     "As a kid, Charlie Sifford fell in love with golf. It wasn't long before he could strike the ball farther and truer than anyone on the course near his home. He won the Negro National Open so many times they told him to keep the trophy! But he couldn't play in a PGA tournament. The Professional Gofers' Association of America had a rule in their constitution: their members had to be white.
     But Charlie was determined to play in the PGA and win. It would be tough, but that didn't matter. The rule was wrong. Charlie would have to change things.
     Charlie would take his shot."
T antalizing taste: 
     "Another time when he went to putt his ball, someone kicked it far away.
     Charlie kept going. He practiced his swing. He studied courses to figure out the right club and angle for each shot.
     And he tried to close his ears to the jeers of people who didn't want him there."
and something more: In the Author's Note, Nancy Churnin explains that "in 2011 the Revolution Golf Course in Charlotte, North Carolina, where he had so much trouble finding a place to play golf growing up, was renamed the Dr. Charles L. Sifford Golf Course at Revolution Park. In 2014 President Barack Obama awarded Sifford the Presidential Medal of Freedom." Sifford died the next year at the age of ninety-two. I liked Nancy's acknowledgement: "Thank you, most of all, to Charlie Sifford, who fought a long, difficult fight with grace so that he could leave a better and fairer world to all children, including my own beloved [four] boys."


Strong As Sandow

How Eugen Sandow
Became the Strongest
Man on Earth 

(pub. 8.22.2017)
40 pages

A True Tale with
A Cherry On Top   

A uthor 
    and illustrator: Don Tate

C haracter: Eugen Sandow

 verview from the jacket flap: 

     "As a boy, Eugen Sandow was sickly and weak. But his spirit was strong. Through exercise and healthy living, he built himself up to be one of the strongest men on earth.
     Sampson and Cyclops were also strong. The brawny brutes flexed their mighty muscles, lifted heavy weights, and hoisted horses and elephants like they were feathers.
     Who would dare try to defeat them in a contest of strength?...
     Ezra Jack Keats Book Award winner Don Tate tells the larger-than-life story of Eugen Sandow, the father of modern-day bodybuilding and a champion of healthy living for all.

T antalizing taste: 
     "Strong and Stronger
     Prussia to Belgium 1885?-1887
     One day a traveling circus rolled into town. Friedrich [his name before he changed it to Eugen] snuck away from school to watch. He was starstruck by the performers - tumblers, wrestlers, acrobats, strongmen. The lure was simply too much to resist. Friedrich left the university and joined the circus. He became an acrobat. 
     Life as an acrobat was physically demanding. Friedrich tumbled and bent and balances. He flipped and flopped and stood on his hands. Soon he began to notice in his body: his muscles wee getting bigger and stronger."
and something more: In the Author's Note, Don Tate discusses what drew him to tell the story of Eugen Sandow:  "As a kid, I was skinny. Recognizing my anxiety about it, my dad bought me a bench press and a copy of the The Bodybuilder's Nutrition Book.  It featured nutrition information, along with photos of famous bodybuilders... I dreamed of someday having powerful muscles like them." And then, in his 30s, Don Tate began his "bodybuilding journey" and eventually took and first and second in a contest. And the book includes a photo of Don Tate in 1998 in the Upper Midwest Natural Bodybuilding Championships.
   I was interested to learn that "writing Sandow's story was challenging" for Don Tate because of limited records about Sandow and varied stories about Sandow and his past and accomplishments.  Don Tate explained his goal for the book: "to tell the story as I think Sandow would have wanted it told, fanciful as that might be. Regardless of his true origins (and a few less-than-admirable things I learned about him) the story of Eugen Sandow is an important one. His tale of sickly kid turned physical-fitness guru and self-made businessman inspired millions of people... [He showed] how a healthy body is necessary for a healthy mind. His lesson rings true today."


Before She Was Harriet

Holiday House Publishing

(pub. 11.7.2017)
32 pages

A True Tale with
A Cherry On Top   

A uthor: Lesa Cline-Ransome
      and illustrator:  
                James E. Ransome

C haracter: Harriet Tubman

 verview from the jacket flap: 

      General Tubman,
the woman we know today as Harriet Tubman went by many names. Each represented one of her many roles as a spy, as a liberator, as a suffragist, and more.
     A powerful poem and exquisite watercolor paintings pay tribute to a true American hero.

T antalizing taste: 
"Before she was an old woman 
she was a suffragist
a voice for women 
who had none
in marriages
in courts
in voting booths
before her voice became
soft and raspy
it was loud
and angry 
rising above injustice
and something more: I was intrigued by the way this powerful and eloquent story was told -- a loop beginning as an older woman and progressing in reverse order through her life back to a woman "who dreamed/ of living long enough/ to one day/ be old/stiff and achy/tired and worn and wrinkled/ and free".  And such a lovely dedication by James E. Ransome, the illustrator: "To black women who have carried the weight of family and work with grace and dignity."


Big Machines

The Story of
Virginia Lee Burton

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
(HMH Books for Young Readers)

(pub. 9.5.2017)
48 pages

A True Tale with
A Cherry On Top   

A uthor: Sherri Duskey Rinker
      and illustrator: John Rocco

C haracter: Virginia Lee Burton

 verview from the jacket flap: 

     "In this book, you will find ... a train that goes 'choo, choo!'... a steam shovel named Mary Anne... Katy, the brave tractor ... and even a little pink house (surprise!)
     Big Machines were the stars of Virginia Lee Burton's classic picture books. But in this loving tribute to her life and legacy by the New York Times best-selling creators Sherri Duskey Rinker and John Rocco, Burton and her big imagination take center stage. So come along to seaside Folly Cove to catch up with old friends, make new friends, and celebrate Jinnee's magic."

T antalizing taste: 
     "First there is just paper: white, white, white,
      Jinnee touches it and .... POP!
      With a whoosh of black and
      some strokes of red and green,
      Aris and Michael meet ... Katy!

      Katy is a beautiful, bright crawler tractor,
      She can roll on her thick black reads.
      She can push with a bulldozer blade attached.

      But best of all, Katy can plow!"
and something more: The back matter of Big Machines talks about Virginia Lee Burton's California and San Francisco connections (which I appreciated): "Jinnee spent most of her childhood in California, and there fell in love with dancing, music, and later, art.  Jinnee was intelligent, hardworking, talented, and - to all who knew her - lively and beautiful.   
     After graduating high school Jinnee won a scholarship to attend the California School of Fine arts in San Francisco. She studied art, and, with equal passion, also continued to study dance. During the long travel to school by train ferryboat, and cable car, she began drawing from her memory and from what she saw, often making quick sketches of other passengers (they never knew!)"



John Newbery and
the Boisterous
Birth of Children's Books

Chronicle Books
(pub. 4.4.2017)
44 pages

A True Tale with
A Cherry On Top   

A uthor: Michelle Markel
      and illustrator: 
      Nancy Carpenter

C haracter:John Newbery

 verview from the jacket flap: 

     "Welcome! This book's for you. Every page, every picture, and every word was designed for your pleasure.
       Lucky, lucky reader.
       Be glad it's not 1726.
       Back then, children had to read preachy poems and fables, religious texts that made them fear that death was near, and manuals that told them where to stand, how to sit, not to laugh, and scores of other rules.
      Because the future champion of children's books was just a lad."

T antalizing taste: 
     "His name was John Newbery. The boy lived on a farm but fancied reading more that forking hay, so upon coming of age, he set off to work for a printer.
      John got a kick out of type sticks and type stands and chases and quoins.  He came to love galleys and presses and the smell of fresh ink.
     As soon as he was able, John became a publisher himself...
     John wanted his first book for children to be irresistible. There'd be letters from Jack the Giant Killer.
     There'd be pictures of pitch and hussel, hoop and hide, blindman's buff, and other children's games. Plus ABC's, proverbs, and other classic material, and for extra punch - a message too for mums and dads."

and something more: The back matter of BALDERDASH explains that "Newbery's books for children were approximately 4 inches by 3 inches ... which made them easily portable in pockets [and that size, of course, reminds me of Beatrix Potter's wonderful books]. He published more than one hundred books for children over his lifetime, and sold thousands of copies, establishing both the value and popularity of books written, illustrated, designed, and printed especially for the perspective and enthusiasms of children." Thank goodness for John Newbery's contribution to children's literature!


Fancy Party Gowns

The Story of Fashion Designer
Ann Cole Lowe

little bee books
(Bonner Publishing)

(pub. 1.17.2017)

40 pages

A True Tale with
A Cherry On Top

A uthor: Deborah Blumenthal
    and illustrator: Laura Freeman

C haracter: Ann Cole Lowe

 verview from the jacket flap: 

     "When Ann Cole Lowe was a little girl, her momma and grandma taught her how to sew. When her momma died suddenly, Ann took over her job sewing party gowns. It wasn't easy, especially when she went to design school and had to work alone, segregated from the rest of the class. But the work she did set her spirit soaring, as evidenced in the clothes she made.
      Today she is best known for designing the dress that Jacqueline Bouvier wore at her fairy-tale wedding to future president John F. Kennedy.  Rarely credited during her lifetime, Ann Cole Lowe was called society's best-kept secret. This beautiful picture book shines the spotlight on a little-known visionary designer who persevered in times of hardship, always doing what she was passionate about: making elegant gowns for the women who loved to wear them."

T antalizing taste: 
     "But when Ann brought the gowns to the mansion in Newport, Rhode Island, where the wedding reception [of JFK and Jackie] would take place, the butler who opened the door told her she'd have to use the back entrance that was meant for workers.
     Ann said that if she had to enter through the back door, the bride and bridesmaids wouldn't be wearing her dresses for the wedding.
     She entered through the front door."
and something more: I noticed that the "For Further Reading" section included many articles but few books that discuss Ann Cole Lowe. Of course, that's not surprising because even during her life, she was "society's best-kept secret" and didn't receive the credit she deserved. As Deborah Blumenthal states in her "Author's Note": "In her later years, Ann continued to design dresses for prominent women. She struggled financially though, and in 1960 was forced to close her salon in New York City... While researchers of Ann's life will find inconsistencies in her biography, what is never in dispute is the extent of her talent."


Sing, Don't Cry

Henry Holt and Company
(pub. 8.22.2017)
40 pages

A True Tale with
A Cherry On Top   

A uthor and illustrator: Angela Dominguez

C haracter: Apolinar Navarrete

 verview from the jacket flap: 

     "Once a year, Abuelo comes from Mexico to visit his family. He brings his guitar, his music - and his memories.
     In this story inspired by the life of Apolinar Navarrete Diaz - author Angela Dominguez's grandfather and a successful mariachi musician - Abuelo and his grandchildren sing through the bad times and the good. Lifting their voices and their spirits, they realize that true happiness comes from singing together.
T antalizing taste: 
     "'Sing, don't cry, even when you are alone in a big city.'
       'Because singing can attract someone to sing with you.'
       'When you are misunderstood, and when people are unkind,
 remember - sing, don't cry, even if it is only in your soul.'
       And always,' Abuelo told us, 'I will be singing with you.'"
and something more:  The Author's Note explains that "Sing, Don't Cry is inspired by the refrain in 'Cielito lindo,' a popular Mexican song."  Angela Dominguez writes that her grandfather "was born in 1916. As a young boy, Apolinar and his family emigrated from the small town of Amealco, Querataro, to Mexico City during the Mexican Revolution. When he lost his leg in a bus accident at the age of nine, he turned to music, learning the guitar...Through it all, he was an extremely optimistic man who loved to share music and life with his loved ones."  The endpapers of the book include some wonderful family photos.