Autobiography and Biography

Skit-Skat Raggedy Cat Ella Fitzgerald by Roxanne Orgill

Skit-Skat Raggedy Cat Ella Fitzgerald

Ella Fitzgerald developed a love for music and singing while she was a young girl growing up in New York.  She and her mother Tempie used to dance around their apartment while Ella's younger sister Frances repeatedly put the needle back to the beginning of the record so that they could dance and sing the day away.  They had such a grand time that they forgot all about the washing and the ironing.  The book Skit Skat Raggedy Cat Ella Fitzgerald by Roxanne Orgill and illustrated by Sean Qualls introduces us to the young Ella.  At thirteen, Ella and her friend Charlie were singing and dancing on Morgan Street outside the apartment building.  It was 1930 in Yonkers New York and people did not have much money.  But some folks were able to spare some change for Ella and Charlie.  They occasionally had a nickel or two tossed at them.

Charlie and Ella put their nickels together and they were able to take the Number 1 trolley to the end of the line.  From there they climbed aboard the subway train to 125th Street.  They were in Harlem.  Ella watched the dancers at the Savoy Ballroom on Lenox Avenue.  When Ella and Charlie danced outside the theatre, people tossed them their loose change.  They were making more money than the shoeshine boys.  Ella knew that she was going to be famous and she told everyone so.

The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder

The Long Winter

The constant beating of the winds against the house, the roaring, shrieking, howling of the storm, made it hard even to think. It was possible only to wait for the storm to stop. All the time, while they ground wheat, twisted hay, kept the fire burning in the stove, and huddled over it to thaw their chapped, numb hands and their itching, burning, chilblained feet, and while they chewed and swallowed the coarse bread, they were all waiting until the storm stopped.

It did not stop during the third day or the third night. In the fourth morning it was still blowing fiercely.
“No sign of a letup,” Pa said when he came in from the stable. “This is the worst yet.”
 
On the television series Little House on the Prairie, the sun is almost always shining—not surprising since it was filmed in Simi Valley, California. On television, the weather was hardly ever a problem. The TV stories are usually about how people interact with each other. But in the books, the Ingalls family was up against much more than that mean Nellie Oleson. The Long Winter of 1880-1881 begins with family on their South Dakota homestead, bringing in the hay crop on a lazy August day when all seems well.

Phyllis Reynolds Naylor Tells Great Stories

When Phyllis Reynolds was in first grade, she had a hard time making sense of the stories her teacher wrote on the blackboard. Those little, squiggly characters danced crazily across the open space and didn't mean a thing to her. One day, her teacher asked her to read a story out loud. Phyllis didn't hesitate for a second. She plunged into an exciting story-- her own story-- about a cat and a tree and an autumn day. The teacher shook her head sadly at Phyllis. No, she hadn't gotten it. But she had gotten it-- the desire to tell stories. In time, she did learn to read, and soon she was writing her own books on notebook paper. Phyllis had found a love for writing that she has never lost through the tough times and the good.

Deliciously Demented Daniel Pinkwater

How does this master of dry wit create? He imagines a boy, very much like he was, and tries to write a story that would please him. Like many excellent writers for kids and young adults, he has a terrific recall of what it feels like to be a bright, out-of-sync, yet amazingly well-adjusted, kid in a not totally indifferent world.

Daniel Manus Pinkwater was a well-traveled soul by his teens. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, moved to Chicago, then on to Los Angeles at age eight and back to Chicago again as a teenager. Not being a particularly tanned or svelte person, he found Chicago to be a much more friendly residence, although Los Angeles was where he first discovered art supplies. In high school, his friends were like the "Snarkout Boys" from his books-- not socially gifted in the mainstream, but together they formed a clever, friendly group of creative goofballs and truth-seekers.

Helen Cresswell: Imagination at Play

"Log on to your imagination - that's the real internet - and you can access it just by opening a book." – Helen Cresswell

She is considered to be one of the best modern writers of English literature for young people. From folk tales to picture books to modern stories to screen plays, Helen Cresswell’s deft ways with words have made her works favorites of readers of all ages.

The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher: Murder and the Undoing of a Great Victorian Detective

At 5 o'clock in the morning, a curly-headed toddler went missing from his bed in the spacious mansion in the English countryside, never to be seen alive again.
Young Saville Kent's soon-to-be-discovered vicious murder at the hands of someone who was surely a family member or trusted servant excited the press, the populace, and the authorities and ultimately drew the attention of one of Scotland Yard's first and finest detectives, Jack Whicher. Like the fictional Sherlock Holmes, Detective Whicher had a keen mind and almost sixth sense for uncovering criminals in the most unlikely places. With no forensics lab modern or otherwise to help him discover the identity of Saville's killer, Whicher used reason and intuition when setting about his task.

Walter Farley's Black Stallion Still a Winner

“Alec heard a whistle—shrill, loud, clear, unlike anything he had ever heard before. He saw a mighty black horse rear on its hind legs, its forelegs striking out into the air. A white scarf was tied across its eyes. The crowd broke and ran.”

Walter Farley first imagined the Black Stallion, a wild creature of blazing speed and mysterious origins, when he was a teenager and high school track star in 1930s. He kept working on the story, sometimes turning parts of it into class assignments at college. After graduation, he began writing for a New York advertising agency, but he still kept working on his horse stories.

Great Lives Series: Thomas Edison

On Tuesday, April 6, 2010, Paul Israel of Rugters University and author of Edison: A Life of Invention will give a talk on the inventor. This lecture, part of the university's Great Lives series, is free and open to the public. For more information on "The Wizard of Menlo Park," check out this list of materials recommended by the reference staff of the Central Rappahannock Regional Library.

Great Lives Series: Rachel Carson

On Thursday, March 18, 2010, Mark Hamilton Lytle of Bard College and author of The Gentle Subversive: Rachel Carson, Silent Spring, and the Rise of the Environmental Movement, will give a talk on the scientist. The lecture, part of the University's Great Lives series, is free and open to the public.