Author quotes

New Picture Book Biographies

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Rock, Rosetta, Rock! Roll, Rosetta, Roll!: Presenting Sister Rosetta Tharpe, the Godmother of Rock & Roll 

by Tonya Bolden (Author), R. Gregory Christie  (Illustrator). Publisher ‏ : ‎ HarperCollins. 2023. Grades 1-3. Hardcover. ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0062994387.

Brief summary: Sister Rosetta Tharpe, the Godmother of Rock & Roll, was born in Arkansas in 1915 to two musical parents. Rosetta learns to sing and plays the guitar at an early age. Her family moves to Chicago, where her performance in church begins her career. She marries a preacher. He preaches, and she plays her guitar, where the Sunday service is broadcasted on the radio, thus reaching a broad audience.

Rosetta’s musical career takes off with her playing around the USA and Europe, performing gospel, blues, and rock and roll producing one hit after another.

The timeline at the back of the book lists her notable musical accomplishments and personal life events. Author’s Note and Sources included.

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The way to really understand the energy and personality of this musician is to hear and see her perform.

ReelinInTheYears66. (2017, December 27). Sister rosetta tharpe- “didn’t it rain?” live 1964 (Reelin’ in the years archive). YouTube. Retrieved March 18, 2023, from

The Green Piano: How Little Me Found Music 

by Roberta Flack (Author), Tonya Bolden  (Author), Hayden Goodman (Illustrator).Publisher ‏ : ‎ Anne Schwartz Books. 2023. PreK-2. Hardcover. ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0593479872.

Brief summary: Roberta Flack grew up in a Blue Ridge Mountain town in North Carolina, living in a house with two musical parents. She longed to have a piano of her own. Her father found one in a junkyard and spruced it up by painting it green. Her love of music blossomed forth.

The Author’s Note and Career Highlights are in the back.

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I added a 1972 performance of her playing the piano and singing “First Time Ever I Saw Your Face.” One needs to hear her sing to feel her heart.

OLDTAPES. (2018, January 29). Roberta Flack – First Time ever I saw your face 1972. YouTube. Retrieved March 18, 2023, from

Mary Anning Breaks New Ground: Courageous Kid of Paleontology (Courageous Kids) 

by Carol Kim  (Author), Mark Simmons (Illustrator). Publisher ‏ : ‎ Capstone Pr Inc. 2022. Grades 4-6. Paperback Graphic Novel. ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1666334302.

Brief summary: Mary Anning was only twelve when she discovered an Ichthyosaurus along the cliffs near Lyme Regi, England, in the early 1800s. This area was known as the heart of the Jurassic Coast, where ammonite and belemnite fossils were often found unburied. Her father, a carpenter and cabinet maker, would fossil-seek as a hobby taking his children, Joseph and Mary, along the cliffs to find fossils to sell to tourists.

After their father died, her brother learned the upholstery business while she sold fossils for a living. It wasn’t until 2010 that the Royal Society acknowledged Mary and two other women, Mary Somerville, and Caroline Herschel, for their contributions to paleontology.

This is a narrative nonfiction graphic novel with a glossary, read more, internet sites, and about the author sections in the back.

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The Fire of Stars: The Life and Brilliance of the Woman Who Discovered What Stars Are Made Of 

by Kirsten W. Larson  (Author), Katherine Roy (Illustrator).Publisher ‏ : ‎ Chronicle Books. 2023. K-3. Hardcover. ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1452172873.

Brief summary: Cecilia Payne moved from the country as a girl to London so her brother, Humfry, could attend a better school. Her school did not teach her the science curriculum that she desired until a new science teacher and friend, Miss Dalglish, was hired. Cecilia wins a University of Cambridge scholarship to study plants but is inspired once she attends a lecture by astronomer Arthur Addigton, whose work created a new field called astrophysics. She moved to America to study astronomy at Harvard, where other women were studying the same subject. Through her work, she discovered what stars are made of, thus building a foundation for astronomers to learn and better understand the stars.

This narrative nonfiction biography picture book has two-page illustrations paralleling Cecilia’s beginning of her career and that of a star’s.

The back sections are: Cecilia Payne: Science Superstar, A Star is Born, and a Timeline.

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Milloo’s Mind: The Story of Maryam Faruqi, Trailblazer for Women’s Education 

by Reem Faruqi (Author, granddaughter of Maryam Faruqi), Hoda Hadadi (Illustrator). Publisher ‏ : ‎ HarperCollins. 2023. K-3. Hardcover. ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0063056619.

Brief summary: In 1930, a young Pakistani girl, Milloo, loves to read and study but is told that since she finished fifth grade, she will need to stay home to do housework. Milloo wanted to become a teacher, so her parents only agreed if she learned English. With a lot of hard work and determination, she graduated from high school and college. She is ready to become a teacher. She marries, but her husband wants her to stay home. She makes a school in her house and then opens more and more schools.

There is a glossary and author’s note in the back.

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Children's Book Recommendations

Five New Picture Books with Grandparent Characters

Recommended by Angela Ferraris, The Retired School Librarian

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I’m always on the lookout for picture books with grandparents and grandchildren relationships and have been pleased to see five brand-new ones in our public library. I hope there are more to come this year.

Mama Shamsi at the Bazaar 

by Mojdeh Hassani  (Author), Samira Iravani (Author), Maya Fidawi (Illustrator). Publisher ‏ : ‎ Dial Books. 2023. K-2. Hardcover. ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0593110614.

Brief summary: Samira is a bit nervous about going to the bazaar with her grandmother for the first time to buy groceries. She repeatedly asks Mama Shamsi to hide in her chador, but the woman wisely resists using humor to soothe her granddaughter’s fear.

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At the Drop of a Cat 

by Élise Fontenaille (Author), Violeta Lópiz (Illustrator), Karin Snelson  (Translator), Emilie Robert Wong (Translator). Publisher ‏ : ‎ Enchanted Lion Books. 2023. K-3. Hardcover. ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1592703821.

Brief summary: A grandson visits his Grandpa Luis every Wednesday and Sunday. His grandpa is not only a talented artist but can make anything grow, creating the beautiful garden where they spend their days. The six-year-old is learning to read and write and tells us that his Grandpa does not know how as he was an immigrant from Spain to France who had to work in the fields as a child.

This is a French translation and captures the two kindred spirits. I like the mixed-up idioms and how the grandson narrates how he is getting to know Grandpa Luis.

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Abuela’s Super Capa 

by Ana Siqueira  (Author), Elisa Chavarri  (Illustrator). Publisher ‏ : ‎ HarperCollins. 2023. K-3. Hardcover. ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0063113657.

Brief summary: Luis and his abuela have fun every Saturday going around the neighborhood being superheroes. One Saturday, she does not visit. Luis learns that his abuela is very sick in the hospital. She comes to stay with them as she recovers. Although Luis is saddened that his abuela is unable to be as active, he tries to come up with a way to have fun and realizes his sister, Isabel, can be his new sidekick and fight and do adventures together in their capes. 

There is a glossary of the Spanish words used in the book.

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In Every Life 

by Marla Frazee  (Author, Illustrator). Publisher ‏ : ‎ Beach Lane Books. 2023. PreK-2. Hardcover. ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1665912488.

Brief summary: The text has seven lines with seven words each(except for the last line). Each line is across the top of a two-page spread with small illustrations below, and then the next two-page spread is an illustration matching that color scheme.

The words are calm and straightforward. The stunning illustrations are done with pencil and gouache and are detailed little scenes of family members with everyday interactions. I stopped and looked at the details of each one before continuing to the following line and was glad to see that grandparents were included.

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Together with You

by Patricia Toht  (Author), Jarvis  (Illustrator). Publisher ‏ : ‎ Candlewick. 2023. PreK-1. Hardcover. ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1536223514.

Brief summary: A grandmother and her grandchild put on rain gear to play in Spring’s rain. Summer arrives with them cooling off from the hot sun. Autumn brings the wind they need to fly a kite and enjoy the falling leaves. Winter comes with them getting cozy and watching the snow from inside. Each season is spent with one another.

The seasonal color schemes go in hand with this gentle and calming book that blends from one season to the next.

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