Biography

  1. Malala, a Brave Girl from Pakistan/Iqbal, a Brave Boy from Pakistan

    Malala, a Brave Girl from Pakistan/Iqbal, a Brave Boy from Pakistan

     

    Jeanette Winter writes excellent picture book biographies for early grade elementary students, and this book is no exception.  Malala Yosafzai is a 2014 Nobel Peace Prize winner, despite being only 17 years old.  When she was eleven, she spoke up about the importance of education for girls, despite the fact that she lived in Pakistan and received threats from the Taliban.  Eventually, a Taliban fighter shoots her, but Malala lives after being transported across the ocean to be treated.  And Malala continues to speak up.

  2. The Protest Singer: An Intimate Portrait of Pete Seeger

    When Alec Wilkinson approached Pete Seeger about writing his story Seeger asked him to write something that could be read in one sitting. This book fits the bill.

  3. Josephine

    Josephine

    This book showcases the passionate performer and civil rights advocate who danced, sang and clowned her way beyond her poverty-stricken St.

  4. Respect: The Life of Aretha Franklin

    Aretha Franklin, Queen of Soul, was born to gifted and well-to-do parents. Her mother was a singer and her father was a well-known preacher who marched alongside Martin Luther King, Jr. during the Civil Rights movement. Life wasn’t a piece of cake. Aretha’s mother left the family when she was young leaving the father as a single parent. Her father showcased her childhood talent by waking her up in the middle of the night to play piano and sing for his party guests.

  5. Frida & Diego: Art, Love, Life

    Diego Rivera was twice the size and age of Frida Kahlo when they married in August of 1929 but they seemed destined to be together. Rivera was a famous Mexican muralist who used the fresco method of painting on wet plaster. Kahlo was known for her self-portraits showing her suffering due to internal injuries resulting from a bus accident and for her depictions and deep love of animals. As a child, she contracted polio. She had always been sickly. Reef has written a book about one of the most interesting artist couples in history.

  6. Janet Leigh: A Biography

    Janet Leigh was best known for her portrayal of Marion Crane in the 1960 Alfred Hitchcock classic thriller, Psycho and her eleven-year marriage to Tony Curtis. She starred in mostly low-budget films throughout her film career which spanned from 1947-1999. Hollywood film moguls were attracted to her natural beauty. She endured the unwanted attention of Howard Hughes.

  7. Unbroken

    "Unbroken" is the story of an undaunted human spirit presented by author Laura Hillenbrand; who chronicles the extraordinary life of Olympic runner, Louis Zamperini.  When faced with supposed insurmountable obstacles, Louie proves to be a survivor and an example of the power one person can have over his own destiny.  

  8. Neil Sedaka: Rock ‘N’ Roll Survivor:

    Those of us of a certain age grew up to the strains of comma comma down dooby doo down down, comma comma, down dooby doo down down, breaking up is hard to do. That is Neil Sedaka’s signature song, Breaking up is Hard to do. It was released in 1962. Podolsky tells the story of Neil’s early days in Brooklyn. He started his musical training at the prestigious Juilliard School at the tender age of seven.

  9. John Adams

    He was honest, witty, loyal, brilliant, and indefatigable.  He was also pompous, arrogant, insecure, petty, and cranky.  He probably did more than anyone else to persuade Congress to declare American independence, bu

  10. Pat and Dick: The Nixons, an Intimate Portrait of a Marriage.

    Richard Nixon graduated number three from his Duke University Law School class. Thelma (Pat) Ryan was an orphan in Depression-era California yet she attained the equivalent of a master’s degree in merchandising and she taught high school typing and shorthand classes. Swift tells the story of the Nixon courtship, political life and death after 53 years of marriage. Along the way we read about Nixon’s involvement with the Communist scare, 1960 presidential election footing Nixon against John F.

  11. The Beatles Were Fab (and They Were Funny)

    The Beatles Were Fab (and They Were Funny)

    This is a fab(ulous) and funny book about John, Paul, George and Ringo—four lads from Liverpool, England who together, achieved worldwide fame and admiration as the Beatles, rock music band extraordinaire.

  12. The Mad Potter: George E. Ohr, Eccentric Genius (2013)

    The Mad Potter : George E Ohr, Eccentric Genius

     

     

     This biography, a Sibert Honor recipient, introduces readers to a little known, but unforgettable artist.

  13. Johnny Cash: The Life

    Hilburn delivers a highly detailed but readable account of the legendary country singer, Johnny Cash. Virtually every aspect of his career and personal life is covered including his boyhood in Dyess, Arkansas, his admiration for Jimmie Rodgers,  the start of his recording career with Sun Records, Cash’s first gold record (the album Ring of Fire), his marriage into the Carter family, and his highly acclaimed video of Hurt which was produced by Rick Rubin.

  14. The Black Count

    The Black Count by Tom Reiss

     This year’s Pulitzer Prize winner in Biography was also the best book I’ve listened to in 2013. The Black Count by Tom Reiss is both informative and entertaining. Read by Paul Michael, an actor who gave the story even more depth with his expressive style and excellent pronunciation, this book is a step above the average biography. I was enthralled not only by the amazing adventures of the man who was the inspiration for the Count of Monte Cristo but by the writing style of the author.

  15. Flying Solo

    Flying Solo

     

    Almost everyone has heard of Amelia Earhart, but Ruth Elder is a new name to many.  Ruth wanted to be the first woman to cross the Atlantic Ocean solo in 1927, just like Charles Lindbergh.  Unfortunately, after 36 hours in the air, Ruth had serious trouble with an oil line rupture and had to abandon her plane in the ocean.  Fortunately, there was a ship nearby to rescue her.  Ruth charmed her way into the public's eyes, and by 1929 forty women met to begin a cross country race. 

  16. Irving Berlin

    Irving Berlin: A Daughter's Memoir

    At the time that Mary Ellin Barrett’s parents met, her father Irving Berlin was the world’s most popular, famous, and financially successful songwriter.  He had started as a penniless Russian Jewish immigrant, an uneducated child who had scrounged for a living by singing to the drunken wastrels of New York’s sleazy bowery.  A dozen years after the death of his first wife (who passed away just months after their marriage), Berlin met the much younger Ellin Mackay, daughter of Clarence Mackay, a fabulously wealthy businessman.  Ellin was Catholic, well educated, socially promin

  17. Tito Puente, Mambo King /Tito Puente, Rey del Mambo

    Tito Puente, Mambo King /Tito Puente, Rey del Mambo

    This bilingual English/Spanish book celebrates the life of the great Latin Jazz musician Ernest “Tito” Puente (1923-2000).  Readers learn about Tito in different stages of his life: as a baby (in New York City of Puerto Rican parents), banging out rhythms on pots and pans; as a kid drumming and dancing his way to talent show success (but still finding time to play baseball with the neighborhood kids); as a young man in the Navy serving his country while developing his gift of playing and writing music; and as a professional musician who wins fame, fortune, love and admiration by using

  18. Manson: The Life and Times of Charles Manson

    Manson: The Life and Times of Charles Manson
    1955 wedding
    Cousin Joann, maternal grandmother and Charlie

    The author of “Manson: The life and times of Charles Manson” brings us a life story, rather than the history of the Manson murders.

    Charles Manson was born in 1934 to a teenaged mother. He often said that his mother was a prostitute, but here was no evidence of that.  She did get pregnant at 15 and when the father didn’t want any part of the baby, she somehow talked William Manson into marrying her before Charlie was born. Kathleen Manson was a party girl who liked a good time and drinking and dancing, which her Nazarene mother strongly objected to.

  19. Desmond and the Very Mean Word

    Desmond and the Very Mean Word

     

    According to the author's note at the back of the book, this story is inspired by something that actually happened to the author (Archbishop Tutu) as a child in South Africa. 

  20. A Splash of Red

    A Splash of Red

     

    This outstanding non-fiction picture book for older readers tells the story of African American artist Horace Pippin.  A quote from the book: "Pictures just come to my mind...and I tell my heart to go ahead," is touching when you think of a child who did not have real art supplies of his own until he won a contest.  During World War I Horace was wounded in the right shoulder, and was unable to draw the way he had loved to so much. 

  21. The Name Above the Title

    The Name Above the Title

    In my opinion, this is the best book ever written about Hollywood and the making of movies.  It’s the autobiography of Frank Capra, the director of such classic films as It Happened One Night, Mr.

  22. The Price of Freedom:

    The Price of Freedom:

     

    This superb factual tale of John Price is fascinating.  John Price escaped from slavery in January 1856.  After crossing the frozen Ohio River, he was in Ohio, was slavery was not allowed.  He wasn't completely safe though, the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 allowed slave owners to capture their runaway slaves anywhere in the United States, even in states where slavery was against the law, like Ohio.  Canada was Price's destination; slavery was completely outlawed there.  Price stopped for the winter in Oberlin, Ohio.

  23. The Redgraves: A Family Epic

    Donald Spoto’s account of the Redgraves has the feel of a readable “intellectual” soap opera, for the talented Redgraves were well known for their work in the theatre and film world but their private lives were anything but conventional. There are many instances of infidelity, divorce, dysfunctional parenting, and the insecurities that resulted from these issues.

  24. The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill

    The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill - Visions of Glory, 1874-1932 (1983)
    The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill - Alone, 1932-1940 (1988)

    Dozens, if not hundreds, of biographies have been written about Winston Churchill, but none are as insightful, or as gracefully written, as this brilliant work by William Manchester. The book is in two parts: Visions of Glory, which covers the first 58 years of Churchill’s life; and Alone, detailing the 1930s, when Churchill was out of government.

  25. Stay

    Stay: The Story of Ten Dogs

    “Why do it?” I asked myself.  “Just months ago, you reviewed a book about a dog with a second chance at a happy life (Saving Audie by Dorothy Hinshaw Patent), so why do another so soon?”  “I can’t help it!” was my reply.  “I’ve fallen in love, and people in love can do foolish things.  So there!”

  26. Team of Rivals

    Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln (2005)

    In 1860, Abraham Lincoln was a former one-term congressman and two-time failed senate candidate from Illinois. Despite this feeble resume, he managed to outmaneuver the top leaders of the Republican party—all far more experienced and better known than Lincoln—and win the nomination for president. Once elected, and as the southern states began pulling out of the Union, Lincoln selected these same political rivals as the members of his new cabinet.

  27. Aaron Rodgers

    Aaron Rodgers
    Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers Super Bowl XLV

    The state legislature has declared 12/12/12 “Aaron Rodgers Day” in Wisconsin, in honor of the Green Bay Packers star quarterback with the uniform number 12.  Young readers can celebrate the success of this remarkable athlete with two books added to the library’s collections this past year.

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