There are some things which are hard and painful to understand. Slavery. Skyscrapers exploding. War. Tsunamis. Even famous people's ordinary lives.
But in a true story, there may also be courage, hope, love, and determination. When Jeanette Winter tells her readers of historic events and people, she makes sure the stories carry not only the frightening pieces but the parts that leaven the misery as well.
Her books take readers to Michigan's deep woods, the dusty streets of India, Chinese fishing boats, and on an Alaskan dog sled trail. And those are only the stories set in today's world.
She has also written books set in revolutionary Russia, on the 1880s American frontier, 1918 British East Africa, and along the Underground Railroad. All of these journeys she writes for us begin with another story--a true one--of a little girl who was very sick.
“And then suddenly the wolf was there. With a crashing of twigs and small branches it sprang into the open, then, seeing the hunters all about it, checked almost in mid spring, swinging its head from side to side, with laid-back ears and wrinkled muzzle: a great, brindled dog wolf, menace in every raised hackle.”
(From Warrior Scarlet)
Rosemary Sutcliff’s splendid stories take place in Britain’s distant past. Shining Roman spears. Cloth woven red for warrior valor. A broken bit of barley cake on a hearth whose ashes grow cold. The last signal fire against the darkness of a massing enemy.
The author of Hans Brinker, a famous book about poor children who lived in Holland, grew up rather rich and never visited Europe. She was a New York City girl, born on January 26, 1831, to a well-off family who helped her on the way to becoming a beloved children's writer and magazine editor. This writer had an unusual and privileged background. Miss Mary Mapes did not go to school with everyone else. She was taught at home by tutors and governesses. There she studied French, Latin, music, drawing, and literature. Her family's circle of friends included some very intelligent people. Horace Greeley, a hugely important newspaper publisher, and the famous poet-journalist William Cullen Bryant were often hosted at the Mapes home.
Jacqueline Woodson was born on February 12, 1963, in Columbus, Ohio. She had her growing up days in both South Carolina and Brooklyn, New York. One reason that she writes is because she believes that "language can change the world."
When she was young, she rarely saw books that had pictures of people who looked like her or her family or her friends. Her books have helped to fill in that gap, making it easier for libraries to succeed in their mission of letting every child find herself in a book.
Gillian Bliss was born April 29, 1937, in London. She grew up during Britain's dark days of World War II. Like the children in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, she was sent off to stay with her grandparents far away from the bombs falling on London. For years she lived away from her parents in a beautiful part of England called Cornwall. Cornwall is linked to many legends, including the stories of King Arthur and Merlin.
When he was a very young boy, Andrew Clements loved A.A. Milne's House at Pooh Corner and Margaret Wise Brown's The Five Little Firemen. By the time he started school, he already loved reading. He read so much he surprised his teachers. Once he checked out a big book of Greek myths from the school library. The next day, he brought it back. The librarian said if it had been too hard for him he was welcome to get another book. Andrew wanted another book all right. Another thick book. He had finished the Greek myths in one day and was ready for more good stuff.
Milo was bored. So very bored by school, by books, and by toys that when he found a package marked "One Genuine Turnpike Tollbooth" he figured he couldn't possibly get any more bored by looking at it. So he opened it, set it up, climbed into his electric car and sped off for adventures in Dictionopolis, the land of words, and Digitopolis, the land of numbers. Accompanied by the faithful watchdog Tock, he faces the raucous Dischord & Dynne, the Terrible Trivium, and many other odd and wonderful creatures.
Readers who enjoy Paul Goble's many stories of traditional Native American lives and legends are sometimes surprised to discover that the author/illustrator was born in England and not in the American West.
When he was a young boy, he liked to spend time at a lake near his home. He studied all the plants, birds, animals, and insects he saw there throughout the year, and he began to collect arrowheads and wildflowers. Soon he started to draw and paint from nature and from the specimens he would find in books and museums.
When David Shannon was five-years-old, he wrote a book about himself. On each page, there were different pictures of that showed the story of how he was so very good at getting into trouble. Each page had the words, "No, David!"