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      Greta’s Story: The Schoolgirl Who Went on Strike to Save the Planet

      by Valentina Camerini

      Apr 2020

      Biography Elementary Plus

      You are never too young to make a difference.

      Ever since she learned about climate change, Greta Thunberg couldn’t understand why politicians weren’t treating it as an emergency. In August 2018, temperatures in Sweden reached record highs, fires raged across the country, and fifteen-year-old Greta decided to stop waiting for political leaders to take action. Instead of going to school on Friday, she made a sign and went on strike in front of Stockholm’s parliament building.

      Greta’s solo protest grew into the global Fridays for Future—or School Strike 4 Climate—movement, which millions have now joined. She has spoken at COP24 (the UN summit on climate change) and has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. This timely, unofficial biography is her story, but also that of many others around the world willing to fight against the indifference of the powerful for a better future.

      It Began with a Page: How Gyo Fujikawa Drew the Way

      by Kyo Maclear

      Mar 2020

      Biography Elementary Plus

      Growing up in California, Gyo Fujikawa always knew that she wanted to be an artist. She was raised among strong women, including her mother and her teachers, who encouraged her to fight for what she believed in. During World War II, Gyo’s family was forced to abandon everything and were taken to an internment camp in Arkansas. Far away from home and from her family, Gyo worked as an illustrator in New York while her innocent family was imprisoned.

      Seeing the diversity around her and feeling pangs from her own childhood, Gyo became determined to show all types of children—white, black, Asian, girl, boy, immigrant—in her books for children. There had to be a world where they saw themselves represented. Gyo’s book Babies was initially rejected by her publisher at Grosset & Dunlap. But after Gyo insisted, they finally relented, and Babies went on to sell almost two million copies. Gyo’s books paved the way for publishers, teachers, and readers to see what we can be when we welcome others into our world.

      Note from the author and illustrator. Time line of Gyo Fujikawa’s life, with photographs. Full-color illustrations.

      Paper Son: The Inspiring Story of Tyrus Wong, Immigrant and Artist

      by Julie Leung

      Feb 2020

      Biography Elementary Plus

      Before he became an artist named Tyrus Wong, he was a boy named Wong Geng Yeo. He traveled across a vast ocean from China to America with only a suitcase and a few papers. Not papers for drawing—which he loved to do—but immigration papers to start a new life. Once in America, Tyrus seized every opportunity to make art, eventually enrolling at an art institute in Los Angeles. Working as a janitor at night, his mop twirled like a paintbrush in his hands. Eventually, he was given the opportunity of a lifetime—and using sparse brushstrokes and soft watercolors, Tyrus created the iconic backgrounds of Bambi.

      Author’s note. Illustrator’s note. Photographs of Tyrus Wong. Full-color illustrations rendered digitally.


      by Jonah Winter

      Jan 2020

      Biography Elementary Plus

      Thurgood Marshall was a born lawyer—the loudest talker, funniest joke teller, and best arguer from the time he was a kid growing up in Baltimore in the early 1900s. He would go on to become the star of his high school and college debate teams, a stellar law student at Howard University, and, as a lawyer, a one-man weapon against the discriminatory laws against black Americans. After only two years at the NAACP, he was their top lawyer and had earned himself the nickname Mr. Civil Rights. He argued—and won—cases before the Supreme Court, including one of the most important cases in American history: Brown v Board of Education. And he became the first black U.S. Supreme Court Justice in history.

      Like its subject, here is a biography that crackles with energy and intensity—a great introduction to a great man.

      Author’s note, with photographs. Full-color illustrations done in watercolor and collage.

      Soldier for Equality: José de la Luz Sáenz and the Great War

      by Duncan Tonatiuh

      Dec 2019

      Biography Elementary Plus

      José de la Luz Sáenz believed in fighting for what was right. Although he was born in the United States, he and his family experienced prejudice because of their Mexican heritage. When World War I broke out, Luz volunteered to join the fight. Because of his ability to quickly learn languages, he became part of the Intelligence Office in Europe. However, despite his hard work and intellect, Luz often didn’t receive credit for his contributions. Upon his return to the US, he joined other Mexican-Americans whom he had met in the army to fight for equality. His contribution, along with others, ultimately led to the creation of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), which is the oldest Latino civil rights organization.

      Author’s note. Source for quotations. Time lines. Select bibliography. Glossary. Photograph of José de la Luz Saenz. Index. Full-color illustrations were hand drawn, then collaged digitally.

      Ida B. Wells: Discovering History's Heroes

      by Diane Bailey

      Nov 2019

      Biography Elementary Plus

      Ida B. Wells was an African-American journalist and activist who led an anti-lynching crusade in the United States in the 1890s.

      On one fateful train ride from Memphis to Nashville, in May 1884, Wells reached a personal turning point. Having bought a first-class train ticket, she was outraged when the train crew ordered her to move to the car for African Americans. She refused and was forcibly removed from the train—but not before she bit one of the men on the hand. Wells sued the railroad, winning a $500 settlement. However, the decision was later overturned by the Tennessee Supreme Court.

      This injustice led Ida B. Wells to pick up a pen to write about issues of race and politics in the South. Using the moniker “Iola,” a number of her articles were published in black newspapers and periodicals. Wells eventually became an owner of the Memphis Free Speech and Headlight, and, later, of the Free Speech. She even took on the subject of lynching, and in 1898, Wells brought her anti-lynching campaign to the White House, leading a protest in Washington, DC, and calling for President William McKinley to make reforms.

      Ida B. Wells never backed down in the fight for justice.

      Epilogue. Glossary. Endnotes. Bibliography.

      Just Like Beverly: A Biography of Beverly Cleary

      by Vicki Conrad

      Oct 2019

      Biography Elementary Plus

      As a young girl, Beverly Cleary struggled to learn to read and found most children’s books dull and uninteresting. She often wondered if there were any books about kids just like her. With hard work, and the encouragement of her parents and a special teacher, she learned to read and at a young age discovered she had a knack for writing.

      Beverly Cleary’s story comes to life in this narrative nonfiction picture book as she grows to follow her dreams of writing the books she longed for as a child, becoming an award-winning writer and one of the most famous children’s authors of all time.

      Beautiful illustrations capture Cleary’s sense of humor, struggles, and triumphs, and are filled with Easter eggs throughout for fans to discover.

      Further biographical information. Time line. Full-color illustrations.

      Monument Maker: Daniel Chester French and the Lincoln Memorial

      by Linda Book Sweeney

      Oct 2019

      Biography Elementary Plus

      This is the story of how a farmboy became America’s foremost sculptor. After failing at academics, Dan was working the family farm when he idly carved a turnip into a frog and discovered what he was meant to do. Sweeney’s swift prose and Fields’s evocative illustrations capture the single-minded determination with which Dan taught himself to sculpt and launched his career with the famous Minuteman Statue in his hometown of Concord, Massachusetts.

      This is also the story of the Lincoln Memorial, French’s culminating masterpiece. Thanks to this lovingly created tribute to the towering leader of Dan’s youth, Abraham Lincoln lives on as the man of marble, his craggy face and careworn gaze reminding millions of seekers what America can be. Dan’s statue is no lifeless figure, but a powerful, vital touchstone of a nation’s ideals. Now Dan French has his tribute too, in this exquisite biography that brings history to life for young readers.

      Time line. Author’s note. Biography of Daniel Chester French. Note on the Lincoln Memorial. List of statues by Daniel Chester French. Selected resources. Illustrator’s note. Historical photographs. Full-color illustrations created with pencil and ink pens.

      Rise!: From Caged Bird to Poet of the People, Maya Angelou

      by Bethany Hegedus

      Sep 2019

      Biography Elementary Plus

      In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the publication of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, this beautiful biography of Maya Angelou describes how she rose above a childhood of trauma and emotional pain to become one of the most inspiring voices of our lifetime.

      Writer, activist, trolley car conductor, dancer, mother, and humanitarian - Maya Angelou's life was marked by transformation and perseverence.  In this comprehensive picture-book biography geared towards older readers, Bethan Hegedus lyrically trances Maya's life from her early days in Stamps, Arkansas through her work as a freedom fighter to her triumphant rise as a poet of the people.

      Foreword by Colin Johnson. Time line with photographs. Author’s note with resources. Selected bibliography. Quotation sources. Full-color illustrations were rendered in acrylic and oil paint.

      The Important Thing About Margaret Wise Brown

      by Mac Barnett

      Sep 2019

      Biography Elementary Plus

      What is important about Margaret Wise Brown?
      In 42 inspired pages, this biography by award-winning writer Mac Barnett vividly depicts one of the greatest children’s book creators who ever lived: Margaret Wise Brown, the author of Goodnight Moon, The Runaway Bunny, and The Little Fur Family. Illustrated with sumptuous art by rising star Sarah Jacoby, this is essential reading for book lovers of every age.

      Sources. Full-color illustrations created with watercolor, pastels, and Photoshop.

      Guitar Genius: How Les Paul Engineered the Solid-Body Electric Guitar and Rocked the World

      by Kim Tomsic

      Aug 2019

      Biography Elementary Plus

      This is the story of how Les Paul created the world's first solid- body electric guitar, countless other inventions that changed modern music, and one truly epic career in rock and roll. How to make a microphone? A broomstick, a cinderblock, a telephone, a radio. How to make an electric guitar? A record player's arm, a speaker, some tape. How to make a legendary inventor? A few tools, a lot of curiosity, and an endless faith in what is possible. Featuring richly detailed, dynamic illustrations by Brett Helquist, this unforgettable biography will resonate with inventive readers young and old.

      Author’s note. Works cited. Full-color illustrations rendered in oil paint.

      Just Like Rube Goldberg: The Incredible True Story of the Man Behind the Machines

      by Sarah Aronson

      Jul 2019

      Biography Elementary Plus

      Want to become an award-winning cartoonist and inventor? Follow your dreams, just like Rube Goldberg! From a young age, Rube Goldberg had a talent for art. But his father, a German immigrant, wanted Rube to have a secure job. So, Rube went to college and became an engineer. But Rube didn’t want to spend his life mapping sewer pipes. He wanted to follow his passion, so Rube got a low-level job at a newspaper, and from there, he worked his way up, creating cartoons that made people laugh and tickled the imagination. He became known for his fantastic Rube Goldberg machines—complicated contraptions with many parts that performed a simple task in an elaborate and farfetched way. Eventually, his cartoons earned him a Pulitzer Prize and his own adjective in the dictionary.

      Further information about Rube Goldberg. Sources. Reproductions of Goldberg cartoons. Full-color illustrations created with pencil and ink and digitally.
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