Heroes to Admire

womanBooks are a great way to provide kids with interesting details of well-known heroes and introduce them to some new ones, as well. Here is a small sampling of my favorites. Spend some time at your local bookstore of library to discover and explore other inspiring figures.

You Never Heard of Sandy Koufax?! by Jonah Winter and Andre Carrilho

Sandy Koufax is an American hero for his achievements on and off the baseball field. The book cover has outstanding visual appeal, using a lenticular image of creates an animated version of Koufax winding up and pitching. By shifting the book from side to side, the complete action can be seen. Young baseball fans will be enthralled before opening the book. The folksy narrative and rhythm of the language is perfect for a read aloud. Small sidebar boxes provide interesting baseball facts. A helpful glossary of terms and references for baseball stats are included in the back matter.

Accompanying the engaging text are illustrations so unique, each page is a masterpiece. Dodger players are presented in black and white tones, while their uniforms are bold blue and white. Metallic gold and tones of red are used as accents. Emotions and action jump off the page. When Koufax hangs his head in disappointment, his emotions are palpable. When Koufax pitches, the action feels real. The real beauty of You Never Heard of Sandy Koufax?! is in the story. The author shares the struggles and triumphs of a baseball legend with honesty and integrity. Although it is in picture book format, even older readers will enjoy reading about Sandy Koufax.

Anne Frank – Her Life in Pictures and Words

Anne Frank is an iconic figure. Millions of young people have read her diary and her words have provided insights about WWII and the Holocaust that no other text can provide. Anne Frank – Her Life in Pictures and Words is an outstanding accompaniment to The Diary of Ann Frank. With never before seen photos, the bits and pieces of Ann’s life are reconstructed like a jigsaw puzzle, offering readers an up close view of Anne’s life before and during the war. Follow-up about Anne, her family and friends bring Anne’s tragic story full circle. The book also described the process of bringing the diary to life through the eyes of Anne’s father, the only surviving family member. The book is packed with primary source material, but the small size makes it easy to read and very accessible. Maps, a glossary, and numerous photos add to the appeal and educational value.

Wangari’s Trees of Peace: A True Story from Africa by Jeanette Winter

Wangari Maathai may not be a household name, but her contribution to environmental activism was honored with the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004. In this charming picture book, readers meet young Wangari as a child in Kenya. Her love and respect for the land are evident in the simple yet rhythmic text and appealing folk art illustrations. Wangari was given the opportunity to be educated away from home, but returns to discover the tree-filled world land she remembers is gone.

So she plants trees, inspires others to plant trees, and ultimately builds a movement that literally changes the landscape of Africa. There is supplementary information that will help children interested in learning more or those doing a report or project. A perfect book to introduce children to the importance of protecting the environment, and the power one person can have to make a difference in the world.

Barbara Bietz

Barbara Bietz, -Childrens' Books and Movie Section, is a children's author, magazine writer, children's book reviewer, and past chair of the Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee. She loves talking about the creative process, books and the craft of writing. Her middle-grade chapter book, LIKE a MACCABEE,(Yotzeret Publishing) is a PJ Library selection. Barbara reviews books and movies and has contributed to numerous print and online publications. She also teaches writing classes for adults. Learn more about Barbara at www.BarbaraBietz.com
Barbara Bietz

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