Picture Book biographies of note

I’ve been remiss in posting the books I’ve read, so I’ll begin to break them down by genre. Today I bring you some picture book biographies I recommend.

Sandy’s Circus by Tanya Lee Stone (Viking, 2008)
“There once was an artist named Alexander Calder. Only he didn’t call himself Alexander. And he didn’t call the things he made art.” So begins this delightful snapshot into the life of the American artist and sculptor who traveled the world with his tiny circus made of “…tiny pieces of wire, cork, cloth, buttons, yarn, string leather, paper, and bits of wood.” And that was before he invented the first mobile.

What to Do About Alice? by Barbara Kerley (Scholastic Press, 2008)
“Theodore Roosevelt had a small problem.” The problem, of course, was his daughter, Alice who was “…hungry to go places, meet people, do things.” Alice called it “eating up the world.” And so sets the stage for this wonderful biography of one of the most colorful first daughters in American history.

Buddy: The Story of Buddy Holly. by Anne Bustard (Simon & Schuster, 2005)
The delightful story of one of America’s iconic musicians whose life was cut short by a plane crash in 1959. Reading this book is like listening to an oldtimer drawling stories with a southern twang. “Faster than greased lightnin’, louder than a thunderstorm, more powerful than a Texas twister, and plumb full of gumption.” “Any old time. Any old where. They’d rock.”
This is a fun, fun read and will make you want to dig out the old Buddy Holly music.

Mack Made Movies by Don Brown (Roaring Brook Press, 2003)
From the very first line of this book you will be hooked. “In 1900, twenty-year-old Mack Sennett was a horse’s rear end.” This biography illustrates the life of Mack Sennett who began his career as a struggling vaudeville actor, but eventually became part of the new moving picture industry. He then perfected slapstick movies in a studio he called a “fun factory.” There he invented the Keystone kops and hired a little known English comic named Charlie Chaplin.

Dizzy by Jonah Winter (Arthur A. Levine Books, 2006)
“This is the story of one cool cat who must have been born with a horn in his hands, judging from the way he played the trumpet.” This biography is written with a ‘jazzy’ style. Dizzy Gillespie was born poor, small, and very tough. The truth in this biography is compelling. From a sad and abusive childhood, he turned to music as an outlet, and made a career as a jazz trumpeter, bandleader, singer, and composer. He was known for his onstage hijinks. “Still, before long he was- you guessed it- shooting spitballs and clowning around…” Dizzy Gillespie is known as the father of Bebop music.

Quote for the Day: “A well-written Life is almost as rare as a well-spent one.” –Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881) Scottish author