Tag Archives: American History

Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer

14 Jan

22747807Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer

written by Carole Boston Weatherford

illustrated by Ekua Holmes

Candlewick Press, 2015

Winner 2016 Caldecott Honor &  Sibert Honor awards


Carole Weatherford and Ekua Holmes collaborate to create a masterful biography of the woman known as the Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement. Brilliant artwork deepens the meaning of the lyrical prose of the story. The text is infused with specific quotes and gives the reader the flavor that they whole thing is autobiographical when in fact it is a biography told in first person. Each spread depicts a different event or time in the life of Fannie Lou Hamer, 20th child to Mississippi sharecroppers who grows up to become a civil rights leader and one of the three women in a group to be the first African American women to sit in Congress.

One of my favorite quotes is,

I feel sorry for anybody that could let hate wrap them up.

Ain’t no such thing as I can hate anybody

and hope to see God’s face.

Out of one blood God made all nations.

It’s no wonder this book won both a Caldecott Honor and a Sibert Honor this year.

Yankee Doodle Dandy

23 May

17290903Yankee Doodle Dandy written by Callista Gingrich and illustrated by Susan Arciero (2013)

Don’t be deceived by this cute little elephant marching on the cover. This is not a funny-silly sing-along, this picture book is a history lesson of the American Revolution told in rhyme by Callista Gingrich, as Ellis the Elephant learns a little bit about America’s fight for freedom and independence. It’s written and illustrated for early primary students. Ellis, whose name immediately makes you think of Ellis Island, imagines himself in daily situations both pre- and post- revolutionary times. He sweeps the floor as the British soldiers come to a storefront, he wears a native headdress as the Sons of Liberty dump tea into Boston Harbor, he stands with Patrick Henry as he quotes ‘give me liberty or give me death’, and he looks out a bedroom window as Paul Revere rides through the town. Each page is an introduction to a much larger historical account. Reading it cover to cover only takes a few minutes, but it can easily be a springboard to learn more about each or any of the individual events.

Susan Arciero’s illustrations draw the reader into each scene with rich details not given in the verse, yet are simple enough to give a young reader a basic understanding of each event. Ellis the Elephant is a bystander. This gives the impression that a child is getting a glimpse of history unfolding. She is true to the dress and nature of the participants as well as details of the era, candlesticks, bonnets, quill pens, muskets, sewing needles, carts with wooden wheels, etc. And one little detail I came to look for on each page was a baby bald eagle perched somewhere in each scene.

I enjoyed the book and I think young children will enjoy reading it, or having it read to them. The rhyming verses and the cute little elephant and eagle make history fun to learn. And really at this age, kids should be having fun while they learn. Time for in-depth study of the American Revolution will come soon enough.  I imagine a little Yankee Doodle Dandy will go a long way in getting kids interested in learning more about history.

Fingerprints on the Table

16 Feb

A little something to think about on Presidents’ Day…

“Upstairs in the White House there is a long table.  The FINGERPRINTS of all who touch it are part of its story…”


The table is the White House Treaty Table.  It was commissioned in1869 by President Grant as a conference table for himself and his seven advisors who formed his cabinet.  Each seat has its own drawer with a lock and key.  In 1898 it was used for the signing of the peace treaty with Spain ending the Spanish-American War.  Since then it has been known as the Treaty Table and another Cabinet Table was built when the president’s cabinet grew to nine advisors. Over the years it has been moved and used by presidents for various reasons.  In 1929 President Coolidge signed the Pact of Paris peace treaty on that same table.  In 1961 First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy had the table returned to its original place, and in its honor that room became known as the Treaty Room.  As more and more treaties are signed on that table over the years, it collects more and more fingerprints of the men and women who work for peace in our country.

This is all information which I did not know before this week, before I read this picture book, written by my OLLI instructor, Connie Trounstine.  I am proud to have an autographed copy of this book in my library.  Connie is a wonderful person, author, and instructor, and I am very lucky to have met her.  I encourage you to pick up your own copy of Fingerprints on the Table for yourself and for your children.


Happy Presidents’ Day!


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