The October Mentor Text Author Study looks at Margarita Engle’s latest picture book about pianist Teresa Carreño. Celebrating Latinx Heritage!
Click the book cover to read the post. Happy writing!
OPENING THE ROAD is the true story behind the Green Book guide Black Americans used to travel safely during legal segregation and the mail carrier who wrote it. I was honored to reveal the cover of my upcoming release on author Tara Lazar’s blog. Click on the cover to see a sample spread from the book by the talented artist Alleanna Harris.
I also wrote about my inspiration, the story behind the story, and a little about my road to publication.
BEEP! BEEP! On our way, be there January 26, 2021!
And there’s a GIVEAWAY! Comment on the blog post to enter a chance to win a copy of OPENING THE ROAD: Victor Hugo Green and His Green Book.
Beaming Books | ISBN: 978-1506467917
40 pages | ages 4-8
Pre-order wherever books are sold!
The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch is today’s pick for Perfect Picture Book Friday!
Written by: Chris Barton
Illustrated by: Don Tate
Publisher: Eerdmans Books for Young Readers (April 1, 2015)
Suitable for ages: 7 and up
Themes/Topics: US History, Reconstruction, Civil Rights, Mississippi politics, racism, slavery, perseverance, hope, courage, inspiration
Brief Synopsis: The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch is a picture book biography about the inspirational life of a man born enslaved, freed as a teenager after the start of the Civil War, and 10 years later elected to the Mississippi House of Representatives during Reconstruction.
John Roy’s father, Patrick Lynch, was an Irish overseer, his mother enslaved on the plantation where they lived. Patrick planned to save enough money to purchase and ”own” his family since by law he could not free them. But in 1849, when his son was a mere a toddler, Patrick became ill. He entrusted a friend to free his family in case of his death, but instead this man sold them to a new owner.
Opening pages: “John Roy Lynch had an Irish father and an enslaved mother. By the law of the South before the Civil War, that made John Roy and his brother half Irish and all slave.”
Why I like this book: Let me start by saying I am a genealogy addict which involves a lot of historical research. And for that reason, I love this book!
Barton does a phenomenal job recounting the life of this extraordinary man who overcame so much hostility and oppression to become a justice of the peace and a state representative in Mississippi during a time when laws marginalized people of color. The author’s research is impeccable. The use of primary documents gives us a sense of the man John Roy was and brings readers into the world in which he lived. Barton does not sugarcoat the history nor the inhumane treatment a select group of people suffered. He does give us a history of how one man was able to rise above the fray despite insurmountable obstacles.
The watercolor illustrations by Don Tate carries the lengthy story helping young readers digest these harsh periods in US history.
This book is well done all around and for this reason it is a must read for all ages, not just kids. Many citizens have not learned the history presented in this book. The historical note, timeline, author’s note and illustrator’s note are supplements that add even more to this remarkable story. And of course it is a treasure because -#weneeddiversebooks that are this well researched and written.
“When every man, woman, and child can feel and know that his, her, and their rights are fully protected by the strong and generous and grateful Republic, then we can all truthfully say that this beautiful land or ours, over which the Star Spangled Banner so triumphantly waves, is, in truth and in fact, the “land of the free and the home of the brave.”
John Roy Lynch
United States House of Representatives 1876
Congressional Record, vol. 2, Part 5, 43rd Congress, 1st Session (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1876), pp. 4782-4786.
Click here to find more books and facts about John Roy Lynch.
Click here for the educator’s guide.
Click here to see the book trailer.
For more of today’s book reviews, click here go to author Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book page.
Happy 4th of July Estados Unidos! Actually Louisianians would have said something like Feliz el 4 de Julio or Heureux le 4 éme Juillet. Thanks Google!
Language aside, the Spanish Colony of Louisiana under the leadership of Bernardo de Gálvez (photo below) joined forces with the British-Americans to fight for their independence against the British. Indigenous Native Louisianans fought alongside those of French, Spanish, African, German, Acadian, and Swiss descent. The rest as they say, is history. Why did Spanish Louisiana help British-America?
European wars profoundly affected the fledgling French colony. Spain supported the American Revolution because of their losses to Britain during the Seven Year’s War (1756–1763). On the same day France relinquished most of her empire east of the Mississippi to Britain at the end of the Seven Years’ War, she ceded all her possessions west of the Mississippi to Spain, her ally in the conflict. Spain lost all of her North American territories (Spanish Florida) to regain control of Cuba and became the new ruler of the Louisiana Colony. In order to recoup her losses and to protect what was left of her colonies in the Americas, Spain used both international and domestic policies to guard and develop her holdings. Internationally, Spain’s support of the American Revolution helped protect her borders from Britain, while on the domestic front Spain needed to develop a prosperous Louisiana colony.
Allowed to access supplies through the port of Havana in Cuba as well as the port in New Orleans during the revolution, Spanish Louisiana played a crucial role in American Independence.
You’re welcome America! Just sayin’!
Swing Sisters: The International Sweethearts of Rhythm by Karen Deans is my pick for today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday in honor of Jazz Fest in New Orleans and Teacher’s Appreciation Week, both celebrated in the month of May.
Illustrated by: Joe Cepeda
Publisher: Holiday House (January 1, 2015)
Suitable for ages: 7-11
Themes: women in music, educational activism, integration, jazz, gender studies, perseverance, inspiration, US history, Jim Crow laws, stereotypes
Brief Synopsis: This book brings attention to the first interracial all female jazz/swing band, The International Sweethearts of Rhythm formed in 1939 at Piney Woods Country Life School in Mississippi. The band became popular in the 1940’s and toured the US and Europe.
The story opens by bringing attention to Dr. Laurence Clifton Jones, a black educator who started a school in 1909 for orphans in Mississippi. Music education eventually became a part of the school’s curriculum and many of the Sweethearts were part of the school band.
Swing Sisters highlights the struggles these women endured from society because of both race and gender.
Opening pages: “Way back in 1909, not far from Jackson, Mississippi, there was a special place for orphans It was called Piney Woods Country Life School.
A man named Dr. Laurence Clifton Jones started the school. He wanted to make sure these African American kids had a place to live, food to eat, clothes to wear, and a good education. In return, the children worked at the school to earn their keep. Some planted seeds and picked weeds outside on the farm; others chopped vegetables in the kitchen or did laundry.”
Why I like this book: A great example of history using a story that inspires and educates. During one of the most difficult times in US history when the intent of oppression from Jim Crow laws was to prevent African Americans from achievement, this band of talented women, black and white, formed and succeeded in entertaining Americans and Europeans.
Further research shows Dr. Jones came from a family of educators, with an uncle who started a school back in 1846. When Dr. Jones learned about a county in Mississippi that had an eighty percent illiteracy rate, he moved there from Missouri and eventually started Piney Woods Country Life School.
For more of today’s book reviews from May 15, 2015, go to author Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book page.
It’s Perfect Picture Book Friday! My pick for today is A Fine Dessert: Four Centuries, Four Families, One Delicious Treat
Title: A Fine Dessert: Four Centuries, Four Families, One Delicious Treat
Written by Emily Jenkins
Illustrated by: Sophie Blackall
Publisher: Schwartz & Wade (January 2015)
Suitable for ages: 4-8
Themes/Topics: food history, American history, family, historical genealogy, geography, technology
Brief Synopsis: Follow four families over four centuries make the same blackberry fool dessert. The book opens in 1710 in England and the reader sees the mother and daughter picking the blackberries, beating the cream from their cow with twigs. Fast forward a hundred years to 1810 in South Carolina, then 1910 in Boston and finally to San Diego today.
Opening pages: “A bit more than three hundred years ago in an English town called Lyme, a girl and her mother picked wild blackberries.
Their hands turned purple with the juice.
The thorns of the berry bushes pricked the fabric of their long skirts.
Why I like this book: As a family historian I spend a great deal of time researching and rummaging through genealogical records. This book is a delightful and can be used in so many ways to introduce change over four centuries. Kids are introduced to technological advances that affected the daily lives of people. Every hundred years a new kitchen tool is used to make the cream- twigs, a wire whisk, a rotary beater, and finally an electric mixer that affects the time it takes to prepare it. They also see sociological change through the family units presented. The illustrations show the evolution of the family over four centuries from high society, slave society, to a more middle class society that becomes more inclusive and less formal.
The author and illustrator include notes about their research lagniappe for any teacher or researcher. And of course there’s a recipe for blackberry fool!
Resources: A Fine Dessert Poster and Activities (with CCSS tie-ins) is available on the Random House website here.
For more of today’s book reviews, go to author Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book page.
Written by: Susan Lynn Meyer
Illustrated by: Eric Velasquez
Publisher: Holiday House, January 2015
Suitable for ages: 6-9
Themes/Topics: courage, determination, activism, community, cultural awareness, racial discrimination
Brief Synopsis: Ella Mae is excited about getting new shoes. But she is not allowed to try on shoes at the local shoe store because she lives in the southern United States during a time when Jim Crow state and local laws ensured African-Americans did not have equal rights and were treated unfairly. She and her cousin Charlotte find a way to overcome such humiliating treatment. They work together to create an atmosphere for their community where they feel welcomed and will never experience discrimination.
Opening pages: “My cousin Charlotte hands me the package as we stand outside Johnson’s Shoes.
“If you could have any shoes in the window,” I ask, “which would you choose?”
Why I like this book: Although a fictional account, this story is based on real life experiences of Americans who suffered from discriminatory laws and practices across the southern United States. Such laws began as early as 1890 with the Supreme Court ruling of Plessy vs. Ferguson legalizing “separate but equal” treatment for black Americans. These discriminatory laws expanded during Reconstruction after the Civil war into state and local laws known as Jim Crow. US President Johnson signed the historic Civil Rights Act of 1964 that ended Jim Crow. This book however is a reminder that these citizens did not sit by idly and accept their situation. In fact, Ella Mae and Charlotte represent the resistance and the resilience of a people in that era.
Resources: Educator’s Guide
For more book reviews, go to author Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book page.