What do you do if you find hints that there’s a fascinating person in history, but you can only find a few tantalizing mentions of her existence? What if the person’s name changed in the records, making it nearly impossible to get more information? If you are Janet Halfmann, you don’t give up.
Janet Halfmann followed the thread through history by tracing ancestral records. Once she contacted Lilly Ann Granderson’s descendants, she was able to pull together more of the story. This book is the result of persistent sleuthing and it paid off. Although this had to be a work of historical fiction because of the scarcity of details, Janet Halfmann built it on a solid foundation of historical fact.
Why did Halfmann want to tell this story so much? As an enslaved woman growing up in the 1820s and 1830s, Lilly Ann Granderson wasn’t allowed to learn read. Regardless, when her master’s children played school she joined in and used an old speller to teach herself. Later, she shared her learning with many other slaves. She held school at midnight so the owners wouldn’t find out, at the threat of a painful punishment if she were caught. She knew the ability to read was important enough to risk the consequences and she was dedicated to learning. She stood up and made a difference in the lives of those around her, and those who came after.
Adding tension to the story, London Ladd’s acrylic illustrations give just the right touch of drama. Check out his artistic process, starting from rough sketches. He even acts out the scenes and takes photographs of himself to help capture the mood.
Midnight Teacher would be perfect for Women’s History Month, but it also would be great for reluctant readers who might just be inspired to try harder by Lilly Ann Granderson’s dedication to education. Pick up a copy to share today!
Age Range: 7 – 10 years
Publisher: Lee & Low Books; Illustrated edition (February 13, 2018)
Disclosures: This book was provided electronically by the publisher for review purposes. I am an affiliate with Amazon so I can provide you with cover images and links to more information about books and products. As you probably are aware, if you click through the highlighted title link and purchase a product, I will receive a very small commission, at not extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.
José works hard to buy a pair of special rocket shoes. They are a blast to wear. His neighbor thinks they are too dangerous, however, and talks the mayor into banning them. When the same neighbor gets into trouble during a snow storm, will José break the rules and put on his shoes to save the day?
Author Sharon Skinner is serious about promoting children’s literature. In addition to being the awesome Regional Advisor for our local SCBWI AZ, she also teaches writers through the Writer in Residence programs at local libraries. When she’s not helping adult writers, she’s doing story times for kids. With a GPC, a BA in English, an MA in Creative Writing and a Poetic License, she knows her stuff.
That’s why it’s not surprising that this book has it all. It features diverse characters, the text is full of action verbs and catchy rhymes, it has just the right touch of humor, readers learn about conflict resolution in a lighthearted way (not at all pedantic), plus there’s plenty of potential to tie-in STEAM activities. What more could you ask for?
Rocket Shoes is such a fun book that it will fly off the bookshelf. Share a copy with a young reader today!
Suggested STEAM Activities:
At a recent library program, Sharon showed the kids how to make air-powered rockets using drinking straws.
Buggy and Buddy has instructions. It requires a disposable pipette bulb and a drinking straw, tape, scissors, and paper.
NASA has a an extensive list of rocket-related lessons sorted by age. See the K-5 list.
The Jet Propulsion Laboratory also has lesson suggestions, including a K-2 lesson on measurement called “Rockets by Size.”
Age Range: 5 – 9 years
Publisher: Sterling Children’s Books (October 3, 2017)
Disclosures: I am an affiliate with Amazon so I can provide you with cover images and links to more information about books and products. As you probably are aware, if you click through the highlighted title link and purchase a product, I will receive a very small commission, at not extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.
Come visit the STEM Friday blog each week to find more great Science, Technology, Engineering and Math books.
This Saturday, January 27, 2018, is Multicultural Children’s Book Day. Be sure to check out all the fabulous sponsors and activities surrounding the event in the links below the “I am a Multicultural Children’s Book Day Blogger” button.
The celebration is designed to highlight multicultural children’s books. Today we have a bilingual personalized book for children from TimTimTom Books. The title I received is an underwater adventure called Leah and the Dolphin, with “Leah” being any child’s name you choose. The story is by Saskia Reusens and illustrated by Katrien Van Schuylenbergh.
When families speak two languages or are trying to learn two languages, it can be hard to find appropriate picture books to read. These books fill that gap because they are available in any two of nine different languages: Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Chinese (Simplified or Traditional). You can also personalize the gender, appearance/skin tone, and write your own dedication message. I chose English and Traditional Chinese for the book our family received.
The story is about the main character’s adventure underwater. When she goes to the big pool all by herself for the first time, the main character doesn’t know what to expect. What she finds in the water will delight imaginative youngsters.
The illustrations are bright, with lots of fun things to discover in each spread. The personalized main character is featured prominently, which will make the child feel like he or she is right in the middle of the action.
This video shows how the personalizing works:
There is a lot to like about these books. They are bound with a sturdy hardcover, so will likely last for years. We were pleased to see the stories are not merely translations, but are retold to sound authentic in both languages. They also begin with a letter to the child, engaging them from the start.
Because each book is personalized and must be printed on demand, the customer support is critical. Based on my experience, the process of picking out details I wanted for the book was easy and straightforward, and the customer service from TimTimTom books was outstanding.
If you are looking for a special bilingual book to share with a child, TimTimTom Books are the way to go. They would make excellent gifts for any special occasion.
Want to learn more about marine animals? Check out a related STEM post at Growing with Science.
Multicultural Children’s Book Day (1/27/18) is in its 5th year and was founded by Valarie Budayr from Jump Into A Book and Mia Wenjen from PragmaticMom. Our mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in home and school bookshelves while also working diligently to get more of these types of books into the hands of young readers, parents and educators.
Current Sponsors: MCBD 2018 is honored to have some amazing Sponsors on board.
We’d like to also give a shout-out to MCBD’s impressive CoHost Team who not only hosts the book review link-up on celebration day, but who also works tirelessly to spread the word of this event. View our CoHosts HERE.
TWITTER PARTY Sponsored by Scholastic Book Clubs: MCBD’s super-popular (and crazy-fun) annual Twitter Party will be held 1/27/18 at 9:00pm.
Meet five children who speak different languages: English, French, Spanish, Japanese, and Mandarin. The text offers a greeting, a simple phrase, and “I love you” written in each language (accompanied with English translations). Press the buttons on the right side of the book to hear the children say their version of “I love you.”
Youngsters soak up languages, so it is important for them to be exposed early. Even if they don’t formally study the language, recognizing a few phrases will expand their vocabularies and grasp of grammar. Children also enjoy interactive books, which makes this a winning combination.
On a practical note, if you’ve had “speaking” books in the past, you know that the batteries can wear out quickly. If the battery is hidden within the book, there isn’t much you can do about it. The designers of this book took this into account. The battery pack is exposed in the back of the book, so you can change the battery. The designers also provided a tiny on-off switch on the battery pack, which you’ll need to make sure is “on” before you hand the book to a child.
Disclosure: This book was provided by the publisher for review purposes. I am an affiliate with Amazon so I can provide you with cover images and links to more information about books and products. As you probably are aware, if you click through the highlighted title link and purchase a product, I will receive a very small commission, at no extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.