Five favorite biographies

Lots of amazing women this year!


Fancy Party Gowns: The Story of Fashion Designer Ann Cole Lowe by Deborah Blumenthal.  Published by Bonnier Publishing.

“Ann thought about what she could do, not about what she couldn’t change.”  This repeating refrain provides words to live by in this gorgeously illustrated biography about the pioneering African-American dress designer who created Jackie Kennedy’s wedding gown.  Link to Amazon.


The Youngest Marcher: The Story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, A Young Civil Rights Activist by Cynthia Levinson.  Published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers.

Yes, kids, this nine-year-old girl spent a week in jail in 1963 for participating in the civil rights movement.  Link to Amazon.


Undefeated: Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian School Football Team by Steve Sheinkin.  Published by Roaring Brook Press.

Jim Thorpe, Pop Warner, the Carlisle Indian School, Olympics controversy…so much is covered here, all of it in Sheinkin’s inimitable style.  Here’s hoping this is on the Newbery Committee’s short list, as well as those deciding on the Sibert awards.  Link to Amazon.


The World Is Not a Rectangle by Jeannette Winter.  Published by Beach Lane Books.

Whatever the fate of The Secret Project, Jeannette Winter should also be considered for this gorgeous biography of Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid.  Link to Amazon.


Ruth Bader Ginsburg: The Case of R.B.G. vs. Inequality by Jonah Winter. Published by Harry N. Abrams.

There were  two excellent picture book biographies of Ruth Bader Ginsburg this year, but I only reviewed one on the blog.  This one just caught up with me this week.  Written as a legal argument, it lays out a compelling case for Ginsburg defeating the discrimination she has faced throughout her life.  And it’s by The Secret Project author Jonah Winter, who is Jeannette Winter’s son.  Link to Amazon.


Five favorite nonfiction books

I do love nonfiction, and this year there were so many, I’ve ended up making two lists.  Look for biographies coming tomorrow; that will be my last list and final post for the next few weeks.


Grand Canyon by Jason Chin.  Published by Roaring Brook Press.

Save yourself airfare to Arizona, and just take a long, slow look through Jason Chin’s book instead.  This could also be on my Caldecott contenders’ list.  Link to Amazon.


Stormy Seas: Stories of Young Boat Refugees by Mary Beth Leatherdale.  Published by Annick Press

Compelling stories from the last 60 years that will engage fans of the “I Survived” series.  The text format and collage illustrations make it visually appealing.  Link to Amazon.


How Many Guinea Pigs Can Fit on a Plane? Answers to Your Most Clever Math Questions by Laura Overdeck.  Published by Feiwel and Friends.

Kids clamoring to read a math book?  I’ve seen it with my own eyes.  Link to Amazon.


The 57 Bus: A True Story of Two Teenagers and the Crime That Changed Their Lives by Dashka Slater.  Published by Farrar Straus Giroux.

A hate crime without the hate told with compassion from both sides.  I hope this amazing book gets some award recognition from the YA world.  Link to Amazon.


The Secret Project by Jonah Winter.  Published by Beach Lane Books.

I know there’s controversy about this book.  Be sure to also look at an opposing viewpoint.  It reminds me of A Fine Dessert of a few years ago–I think the controversy will prevent it from winning any awards, but I still find it a compelling read.  Link to Amazon.