July 14, 2017

Fearless Flyer by Heather Lang, illustrated by Raul Colon

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , , , at 6:55 am by suebe2

Fearless FlyerFearless Flyer: Ruth Law and Her Flying Machine
by Heather Lang,
illustrated by Raul Colon
Calkins Creek

The second book for this week is also about pushing boundaries but this particular book is nonfiction. It is the story of Ruth Law and her 1916 flight, in a biplane, from Chicago to Hornell, New York.

Few of these early pilots flew very far.The biggest problem was that if an engine developed a problem, and cut out, they would have nowhere to land.  Find someplace to land and you’d still be too far from someone who could repair your plane.

Law had a solution.  She learned everything she could about her plane’s engine.  She could fix it but she still couldn’t fly very far.  In fact, she’d never flown over 25 miles because her plane only held 16 gallons of fuel.  She tried to get the maker of her plane, Glenn Curtiss, to sell her a larger plane but he didn’t think she could handle such a powerful plane on such a long flight.

And it would be long.  Victor Carlstrom had just flown Curtiss’s new plane from Chicago to Erie, Pennsylvania for a total of 452 miles.  Law was determined to break that record but she couldn’t do it in her current plane.  At least not as Curtiss had configured it.

She added gas tanks.  She added a metal guard to protect her from freezing wind. She charted her course on a special map that she attached over her trousers (trousers!) to her leg.

At 8:25 in the morning she took off.  Yeah, you know me by now.  I’m not going to tell you exactly what happened.  I want you to read the book!

Lang’s text is simple and straightforward.  She gives enough detail to interest readers who are into flight history and women’s history, but not so many that she’ll lose young readers who just want a good adventure.

Colon’s illustrations have an old-time feel.  He created them with pencil and crayon on lithograph paper.  This means that they have the paper’s swirling texture as well as the short ethereal colors of the pencils and crayons.

Together the have created a top-notch book for kids who dream big.  Read this book to your adventurer – the child who simply does not see why that line, that one right there, cannot be crossed.



January 17, 2013

Jose! Born to Dance by Susanna Reich illustrated by Raul Colon

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 1:12 am by suebe2

reichJose! Born to Dance
by Susanna Reich
illustrated by Raul Colon
Paula Wiseman/Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers

Obviously, I’ve been reading a lot of nonfiction picture books lately and many of the biographies are about artists.

Jose Limon was born in Culiacan, Mexico.  When he was only five years-old, civil war broke out in Mexico.  His father moved the family to the border town of Nogales where they lived for two years until the family was allowed to emigrate from war torn Mexico into the United States were his father had found work.

In the United States, Jose’s fellow students made fun of his English and he vowed to learn the language well enough that no one would mock him again.  In three years, he spoke fluent English and was a star student.  He was also popular with his younger brothers and sisters for the drawing that he made for them.  They especially loved the trains.

After high school, he moved to New York taking a job as a janitor while he visited museums and made his drawings, but he was disappointed that what he saw in his head never emerged onto the paper.  When a friend took him to a dance concert, his love of music was reawakened.  Soon he was studying dance and making a name for himself through this type of art.

Reich expertly brings the sounds and movements of Jose’s world alive.  When he is at his grandmother’s he hears the trillia-tweet of her canary.  His mother sings him to sleep, sora-sora-so.  As a teen, he practices the music of two languages.  Carmesi.  Radiante.  Liberacion.  Crimson.  Radiant.  Liberation.

Colon’s water color and colored pencil illustrations bring Jose’s world to life from the bright colors of Mexico to the contrast between the traditional dances he saw there and the modern dances he created in New York.

This book is a great read aloud to share not only with dance lovers but for anyone who needs to hear the song of inspiration.


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