Children’s Literature – Meet David Adler

25 Apr 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Children’s Literature – Meet David Adler

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David Adler

Speaking at the Shenandoah University Children’s Literature Festival, David Adler said that he never expected to be a writer. In fact, he taught math for nine years and earned his MBA in marketing while teaching. The story of his first book is the actually the story of his entry into the publishing world.

Coming from a large family he spent a lot of time with nieces and nephews, one of whom asked a lot of questions. Adler began to think about a book featuring a young boy going for a walk to a museum and asking questions of the adult with him. The answer to how did you learn all these answers? was always a little at a time, which became the title and the refrain for his first book.

His research for finding a publisher was to go to a bookstore and browse. He discovered that Random House had the most books in the store so he figured that he would send his little story to them. Because his large family was prone to practical jokes, he thought it was a prank when he received a call from RH saying that they wanted to publish his book. And, that was the beginning of his relationship with editors and the publishing industry.

He acknowledged that he was very lucky to have a book result from his very first foray into publishing.

When his first child was born, he received childcare leave from Queens, NY and became a house father. During this time he made a personal commitment to write for five hours every day. He said that he would be euphoric from the sale of his first book and then would hit the downs with fear that it would be his last sale. He wrote some math books for Crowell and proceeded to branch out into other types of writing.

He (very cleverly) decided that the way to make money in the book world was to have a book that would engender sequels to keep sales going. He told himself that he needed a strong main character to be able to tell lots of stories about the same person. Basing characters on real people gave him the ability to know what the character would do in any given situation.

For example, the Eric Shelton character in the Cam Jansen books is based on Adler’s best friend so of course I can say ‘he would never do that’ or whatever. Adler did actually know a boy with a photographic memory but his character became a girl and as readers readily identified with her she became a staple in the beginning chapter books genre. Her first mystery was based on an experience Adler had with his own son Michael, so in the book Cam is babysitting a boy the same age as Michael.

This method of using real life as the foundation for a story gave Adler’s writing a sense of realism that appealed to readers.

In the 1970s, transitional readers were new to the publishing industry. Cam Jansen and the Polk Street School books were the first series to be devoted to readers transitioning from beginning readers to chapter books. The idea of writing a good book that people need came out of my MBA marketing training.

Adler wrote the Cam Jansen series with the idea that one cannot rush transitional readers but that you can rush the plot and leave out the long descriptive paragraphs and in depth character development. Keep the story moving and the plot progressing without bogging the reader down. This recipe hit the spot and Cam Jansen marched into the lives of millions of young readers.

Her mysteries captured readers’ imaginations because Adler focused on the clue as the main thing with everything else wrapped around. He said that he liked for the clue to be hidden in the ordinary and not noticed by the reader, which is a lot harder to do when writing for children because they are so straightforward. The main job of writing for transitional readers is to keep the plot strong (just puzzling out word by word does not mean that the child is reading) and the predicted comprehension high.

Once Adler began to write it seemed as if the ideas would not stop. Everyday life was chock full of stories and he began to capture lots of them. When his son lost Scaley in their own home, the idea of having a snake loose in the house (which might seem terrible) was thrilling to Adler because it meant a whole new book-and so the Andy Russell series was created.

He would write a few chapters and send them to his editor. He did not write more because his theory was why write more if the beginning is not good. Andy’s series included six books and ended as a closed series.

But Adler had many other avenues to explore including non-fiction and biography.

The Picture Book of . series is well known by librarians and teachers as one of the best resources for young students. This series covers many notables in history and is readily accessible for young researchers. Adler seems to have a deft hand at refining vast amounts of research into informative but readable books that students love.

His goal is to write so that he can make a person come alive to the reader. His own curiosity and fascination with original documents comes through as he often includes original writings in his works. It is great for students to make their own inferences from reading original documents.

And he said, There are great discussion starters from hearing the subjects’ own voices.

As Adler continues to write he has taken on the biographies of George Washington, Sitting Bull Gertrude Ederle, Dummy Hoy, Benjamin Franklin and others. These books are for older readers and are the result of dedicated research and intensive effort. Writing for publishing has restraints that ebb and flow with cultural trends. For example, Adler said that he was not allowed to use the word Indian in his book about Sitting Bull.

Editors may have to consider many aspects of marketing as well as trends in history; but, Adler’s attention to detail makes it easier for them to whole-heartedly embrace his writing.

David Adler’s energetic personality and devotion to getting it right definitely came through as he spoke to the gathering of librarians and educators. He conveyed the need to reach youngsters and the methods that he has employed to grab their attention while encouraging teachers to whet the appetites of students with books and stories that reflect their own experiences.

The generosity he showed in sharing handouts and behind-the-scenes anecdotes punctuated his presentation with the real human quality he captures in all of his writing. The audience acknowledged their gratitude for his contributions to the world of education with a rousing round of applause. There were smiles all around!

Contributor: Sheilah Egan

Find out more about David Adler and his books at .

Andy and Tamika

David A. Adler

Illustrations by Will Hillenbrand

School is fraught with complications for the young protagonist in Andy and Tamika. Andy Russell is so busy trying to decide on the perfect name for his soon-to-arrive baby brother or sister that he doesn’t always pay attention in class. He worries that his numerous pet gerbils may not find good homes through the school carnival.

He yearns to find the right way to comfort his friend Tamika, who must say good-bye to her foster parents. Young readers are sure to empathize with warm-hearted Andy, who wrestles with issues similar to their own. 1999, Harcourt Brace, $14.00 and $4.95.

Ages 7 to 10. Reviewer: Mary Quattlebaum (Children’s Literature).

Andy anticipates the arrival of a new sibling and tries to guess its sex, awaits his old friend Tamika’s moving in with them (since her parents are both recuperating from an accident), befriends a stray cat, and participates in a school fund-raising carnival in support of a food kitchen. Hillenbrand’s line illustrations, one page per chapter with a quarter-page chapter opener, add to the reader’s ability to visualize the characters and create some humor.

While the characters are nice people, the story suffers from blandness and too many subplots. A slapstick gerbil escapes at the carnival and sacrifices the teacher’s character, but reveals to Andy that the smug Stacey Ann may be all right after all because she is not afraid of gerbils as are the other class members. Fans of the first two books in the Andy Russell series will appreciate this modestly entertaining entry and look forward to the next volume set up by this book’s end.

1999, Gulliver Books/Harcourt Brace, $14.00 and $4.95. Ages 7 to 10. Reviewer: Susan Hepler, Ph.D. (Children’s Literature).

The main character in The Andy Russell series has a lot going on in his life. Andy’s mother is having a baby, his best friend Tamika is about to move in with the Russell family, his fourth grade class is planning a carnival and he has about fifty gerbils too many. In addition, he has been feeding and caring for a stray cat in the schoolyard, trying to avoid his annoying classmate, Stacy Ann Jackson and spending too much time daydreaming during class.

Andy is often thinking about a name for the new baby. He and his older sister are quite involved with the impending birth of their sibling. This aspect of the plot rings true since today’s young kids talk about sonograms and listen to Mommy’s tummy and are quite knowledgeable and concerned about childbirth.

The story has some exciting moments, but kids may not be as captivated by Andy’s escapades as they’ve been by the adventures of Cam Jansen, the hero of Mr. Adler’s mysteries for young readers. There are not many of the black and white illustrations, but they are appealing. 1999, Gulliver Books/Harcourt Brace, $14.00.

Ages 7 to 10. Reviewer: Carolyn Mott Ford (Children’s Literature).

Best Books:

The Best Children’s Books of the Year, 2000; Bank Street College of Education; United States

Awards, Honors, Prizes:

Society of School Librarians International Book Awards Honor 1999 Language Arts – K-6 Novels United States

ISBN: 0-15-201735-6

ISBN: 978-0-15-201735-4

Andy Russell, NOT Wanted by the Police

David A. Adler

Illustrations by Leanne Franson

The Perlmans, Andy’s next-door neighbors, have asked him and his friend Tamika to keep an eye on things while they are away. Andy and Tamika don’t expect any trouble, but strange things start to happen. Lights turn on and off in the Perlmans’ house, and garbage appears in their trashcan. The problem is, no one believes Andy and Tamika, and the police are getting annoyed. It’s up to the young detectives to find out what is going on next door.

In this fifth Andy Russell book, David A. Adler presents a fast-paced, light-hearted mystery that readers are sure to enjoy. 2001, Gulliver/Harcourt, $14.00. Ages 7 to 11.

Reviewer: Heidi Hauser Green (Children’s Literature).

State and Provincial Reading Lists:

Cochecho Readers’ Award, 2003-2004; Nominee; Dover, New Hampshire

ISBN: 0-15-216474-X

ISBN: 978-0-15-216474-4

B. Franklin, Printer

David A. Adler

A great man’s life does not necessarily portend a great biography. Thankfully, this middle grade reader lives up to the reputation of the man, Benjamin Franklin. Over his long life, Benjamin Franklin wore many coats–printer, inventor, writer, scientist and statesman. He was arguably as close to a true Renaissance man as this country has ever produced.

After gaining fame for the wit and wisdom of his Poor Richard’s Almanac, Franklin went on to make advances in science, including his work with electricity, inventing bifocals and the Franklin stove. As a leader in society, he was instrumental in organizing America’s first public library, police and fire departments, and forming one of the first groups for the abolition of slavery. He was also the person most responsible for getting France’s backing for the American Revolution.

The author wisely uses frequent quotations from Franklin himself. Also included are many illustrations, suggested web sites, a chronology and a bibliography. And don’t miss the source notes, which include information edited from the text but that the author (rightly so) felt too juicy to leave out completely. 2001, Holiday House, $19.95. Ages 10 up.

Reviewer: Christopher Moning (Children’s Literature).

Best Books:

The Best Children’s Books of the Year, 2002; Bank Street College of Education; United States

Booklist Book Review Stars, Jan. 1, 2002; United States

Children’s Catalog, Eighteenth Edition, Supplement, 2003; H.W. Wilson; United States

Children’s Catalog, Nineteenth Edition, 2006; H.W. Wilson; United States

Los Angeles’ 100 Best Books, 2001; IRA Children’s Literature and Reading SIG and the Los Angeles Unified School District; United States

Middle and Junior High School Library Catalog, Ninth Edition, 2005; H.W. Wilson; United States

Middle and Junior High School Library Catalog, Supplement to the Eighth Edition, 2002; H.W. Wilson; United States

Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People, 2002; National Council for the Social Studies NCSS; United States

School Library Journal Book Review Stars, February 2002; Cahners; United States

Awards, Honors, Prizes:

Beacon of Freedom Award Nominee 2003 United States

Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children Recommended Title 2002 United States

Society of School Librarians International Book Awards Honor Book 2002 Social Studies-Grades 7-12 United States

ISBN: 0-8234-1675-5

ISBN: 978-0-8234-1675-2

The Babe I

David A. Adler

Illustrated by Terry Widener

Upon discovering that his father is out of work and selling apples on the street corner, the young protagonist joins his friend Jacob in selling newspapers. After picking up their papers, Jacob takes him to Yankee Stadium where they hawk their papers by giving headlines about Babe Ruth. Then one day, while selling the papers, a tall man buys a paper and tells him to keep the change from the five-dollar bill. Jacob informs him that it was Babe Ruth himself who bought that paper.

There was enough to buy two tickets to the game and still add to the money jar, so that is what he did. He continued to keep his father’s unemployment a secret from his mother, and knew it was okay because, I knew Dad and I were also a team. Love, respect, and responsibility (and the excitement of Babe Ruth) are interwoven in this picture book. The expressive illustrations convey the Bronx in the 1930s.

The first person narrative works well in this story of the strong bond between a father and his son. 1999, Gulliver Books/Harcourt Brace Company, $16.00. Ages 6 to 10.

Reviewer: Sharon Salluzzo (Children’s Literature).

The young hero is angry when he receives a dime rather than a new bike for his birthday. This is the Great Depression, and he discovers that his father has lost his job. He is selling apples on a corner and hiding the fact from the family.

The boy’s friend, Jacob, is a newsie. He teaches him the secret of success which is that baseball sells more papers than tragedy. Emotions run strong in this story. It shows an era where a boy could earn more than his father and how shame makes for secrecy. Baseball and Babe Ruth provide a magic that helps this young boy, like many others in the 1930’s, transcend troubles and realize that teamwork can conquer any difficulty.

1999, Harcourt Brace, $16.00. Ages 8 to 10. Reviewer: Susie Wilde (Children’s Literature).

Best Books:

The Best Children’s Books of the Year, 2000; Bank Street College of Education; United States

Booklist Book Review Stars, March 15, 1999; United States

Children’s Catalog, Eighteenth Edition, 2001; H.W. Wilson; United States

Children’s Catalog, Nineteenth Edition, 2006; H.W. Wilson; United States

The Children’s Literature Choice List, 2000; Children’s Literature; United States

Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People, 2000; National Council for the Social Studies NCSS; United States

Smithsonian Magazine’s Notable Books for Children, 1999; Smithsonian; United States

Awards, Honors, Prizes:

California Young Reader Medal Winner 2003 Picture Book California

The Golden Kite Award Honor Book 1999 Picture Book Text United States

Jefferson Cup Award Worthy of Special Note 2000 United States

Kentucky Bluegrass Award Winner 2001 Gr. 3-5 Kentucky

Rhode Island Children’s Book Award Winner 2002 Rhode Island

State and Provincial Reading Lists:

Black-Eyed Susan Book Award, 2000-2001; Nominee; Picture Books; Maryland

Rhode Island Children’s Book Award, 2002; Nominee; Rhode Island

Washington Children’s Choice Picture Book Award, 2001; Nominee; Washington

West Virginia Children’s Book Award, 2001-2002; Nominee; West Virginia

Young Hoosier Book Award, 2001-2002; Nominee; Grades K-3; Indiana

ISBN: 978-0-15-201378-3

Cam Jansen and the Birthday Mystery

David Adler

Illustrated by Susanna Natti

Cam and her friend Eric, with assistance from Eric’s parents, have planned a surprise birthday party for Cam’s parents who are both turning forty. Just as the festivities are getting exciting, there is a call from Cam’s grandparents at the local airport saying that they have been robbed. As Mr. and Mrs. Jansen hurry off to help, Cam and Eric hop in the back of the car because they want to help solve the mystery.

Once at the airport, Cam (whose real name is Jennifer, but has earned the nickname because of her photographic memory) begins to click mental pictures of the many people she passes. Because of Cam’s special talent, the thief is quickly caught. Cam and her family and friends happily resume the birthday celebration.

This little book is a perfect addition to a collection of chapter books for primary readers. It is volume 20 in the Cam Jansen Series. 2000, Puffin/Penguin, $3.99. Ages 7 to 10.

Reviewer: Janice DeLong (Children’s Literature).

State and Provincial Reading Lists:

David A. Adler

Illustrated by Colin Bootman

Designated a Level 2 book in the Holiday House Readers series, this entry emphasizes Martin Luther King’s strong character, which was partially instilled in him by a strong minister father who believed in the rights of all people. Adler enlivens the early pages with a few well-chosen anecdotes and moves readers through King’s education and marriage to his involvement in civil rights, the Montgomery Bus Boycott, his speech at the March on Washington, and what he earned as a result–the Nobel Peace Prize, the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act.

His untimely death and the national holiday in his honor conclude the book. Text is arranged on the page to look inviting, and Bootman’s dark watercolor illustrations lend a solemn dignity to the story. Important dates arranged sequentially but not in a timeline and a list of four sources end the book. There is no index.

This is a useful addition to school libraries. 2001, Holiday House, $14.95. Ages 6 to 8. Reviewer: Susan Hepler, Ph.D. (Children’s Literature).

Best Books:

Children’s Catalog, Eighteenth Edition, Supplement, 2002; H.W. Wilson; United States

ISBN: 0-8234-1572-4

ISBN: 978-0-8234-1572-4

George Washington: An Illustrated Biography

David A. Adler

It will take an ambitions student or an ardent student of George Washington to pick up this impressive tome of our first president. Though titled a biography, this is equally a history book of colonial life and wars, and the inception of American government. At a considerable 274 pages, many readers will shy away from Adler’s book.

That is unfortunate, as there are some unique glimpses into Washington’s public and not-so-public life, as well as snippets of colonial life and a generous helping of illustrations smattered throughout–including several appealing maps of Washington’s residences, America during the Revolutionary War, and the farms at Mount Vernon. Prominently missing from this work is the famous portrait of Washington by Gilbert Stuart, though there is a brief mention of that sitting.

Other artists’ renditions are spread throughout the book, almost in defiance of the famous portrait. Following the lengthy text are helpful resources including Generals under Washington, Members of the first Cabinet and a few choice websites for George Washington and Mount Vernon. Primary source seekers will delight in the many excerpts from local gazettes, speeches and facsimiles of Washington’s papers–even samples of handwriting by him from ages 13 to 67. 2004, Holiday House, $24.95.

Ages 9 to 12. Reviewer: Elizabeth Young (Children’s Literature).

Best Books:

Best Children’s Books of the Year, 2004; Bank Street College of Education; United States

Children’s Catalog, Eighteenth Edition, Supplement, 2005; H. W. Wilson; United States

Children’s Catalog, Nineteenth Edition, 2006; H.W. Wilson; United States

Middle and Junior High School Library Catalog, Ninth Edition, 2005; H.W. Wilson; United States

Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People, 2005; National Council for the Social Studies; United States

ISBN: 0-8234-1838-3

ISBN: 978-0-8234-1838-1

Heroes of the Revolution

David A. Adler

Illustrated by Don A. Smith

A dozen men and women whose courage and determination to seek freedom changed history are depicted in this quick overview. Adler has condensed information, salient facts, and memorable quotes in a three-to-five paragraph pocket biography of well-known figures like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, Paul Revere, Ethan Allan, Nathan Hale, Molly Pitcher, John Paul Jones, and Crispus Attucks.

He also includes Haym Salomon, a noted financier who bailed out the struggling revolution by loaning money to pay soldiers; Deborah Sampson who, disguised as a man, fought in the war until wounded; and Lydia Darragh, a servant who spied for the patriots. Each person’s dates of birth and death are given along with the paragraphs. Smith’s unconvincing and wooden depictions of these heroes get the job done, in the manner of textbook illustrations, but add little interest.

Endnotes include a fascinating fact or two about each hero which children will enjoy adding to their overview. Important dates from 1760 to 1783 give an overview of the Revolution and source notes are included. Because Adler includes scholarly source notes, he had to feature these references in his selected bibliography, sources of interest to adults only.

But he thus missed a chance to guide his readers to further reading, such as books by Jim Giblin, Jean Fritz, or even Adler’s previous Picture Book Biography series. And Adler’s tantalizing glimpses of these heroes will provoke many to search out further information. 2003, Holiday House, $16.95. Ages 6 to 10.

Reviewer: Susan Hepler, Ph.D. (Children’s Literature).

ISBN: 0-8234-1471-X

ISBN: 978-0-8234-1471-0

How Tall, How Short, How Far Away

David A. Adler

Illustrated by Nancy Tobin

Opening with a brief historical description about Egyptian and Roman measurements, Adler then move on to today’s modern means of measuring, both customary units (inches and pounds) and the metric system. Also included in this educational and engaging book are several activities which involve measuring different items using different methods. It makes math concepts and measuring more entertaining and appealing.

In addition, there are lots of colorful and detailed illustrations that make learning even more fun. 1999, Holiday House, $15.95. Ages 7 up. Reviewer: Bonnie Bruneau (Children’s Literature).

Best Books:

Children’s Catalog, Eighteenth Edition, 2001; H.W. Wilson; United States

Children’s Catalog, Nineteenth Edition, 2006; H.W. Wilson; United States

The Children’s Literature Choice List, 2000; Children’s Literature; United States

Outstanding Science Trade Books for Children, 2000; National Science Teachers Association; United States

ISBN: 0-8234-1375-6

ISBN: 978-0-8234-1375-1

Joe Louis: America’s fighter

David A. Adler

Illustrated by Terry Widener

Adler succinctly summarizes the life of the boxing champion who became a hero not only for African-Americans but, finally, to all Americans. After a hard-working childhood, Louis found satisfaction and then eventual success as a boxer. Nicknamed the Brown Bomber, Louis brought hope to African-Americans with his successes during the Depression years.

At first white fans were not cheering a black fighter. Louis had lost to Max Schmeling of Nazi Germany in 1936, but he was cheered by white as well as black Americans when he finally knocked Schmeling out in 1938. After joining the army, he boxed again after the war and retired as world champion in 1949. An attempt at a comeback was not a success, but he remained an American hero until his death in 1981.

Widener uses acrylics to produce naturalistic scenes which stylistically suggest sculptured figures. There is a strong sense of design in both the city and the boxing illustrations. The picture of a referee calling Louis out, standing over the boxer with wide-spread arms and legs, stirs emotion very effectively.

It contrasts with a later scene where Louis is on his knees as the standing referee raises his arm. The strength of the images parallels that of the text. There is a timeline and added notes by the author.

2005, Gulliver Books/Harcourt, $16.00. Ages 6 to 9. Reviewers: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz (Children’s Literature).

Writer David Adler and illustrator Terry Widener collaborate for the third time in this title. Joe’s early years of poverty teach him to fight for what he wants in life. When he discovers boxing at seventeen, he feels power pumping through him and he knows he has found his way. Louis goes on to become the punching machine called the Brown Bomber who cheers African Americans during the depression until his retirement in 1949, undefeated as a world champion.

Emotions are well described and the book’s setting well defined by both illustration and words, giving both a sense of era and the man. 2005, Harcourt, $16.00. Ages 7 to 10.

Reviewer: Susie Wilde (Children’s Literature).

Best Books:

Best Children’s Books of the Year, 2005; Bank Street College of Education; United States

Children’s Books 2005: One Hundred Titles for Reading and Sharing, 2005; New York Public Library; United States

Children’s Catalog, Nineteenth Edition, 2006; H.W. Wilson; United States

Kirkus Book Review Stars, October 15, 2005; United States

Awards, Honors, Prizes:

Storytelling World Awards Honor 2006 Stories for Adolescent Listeners United States

State and Provincial Reading Lists:

Emphasis on Reading, 2006-2007; Book List; Grades 2-3; Alabama

ISBN: 0-15-216480-4

ISBN: 978-0-15-216480-5

Mama Played Baseball

David A. Adler

Illustrated by Chris O’Leary

Spring leads our thoughts to baseball and this is a picture book about the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL). The story is about a little girl and her mother during WWII. Dad is off at war, mom needs a job so she practices playing baseball in order to try out for the AAGPBL.

We get to see what it is like to be in this family’s home while mom plays baseball and everyone worries and thinks about dad. This is really more a story about family with the AAGPBL as a plot device. There is a half page of author’s notes explaining a bit of the history of the league and the tradition of hanging ‘welcome home’ (from the war) signs inside the house in order to not hurt neighbors whose loved ones have died or haven’t yet returned.

A wonderful family book in a genuine historical setting. 2003, Gulliver Books/Harcourt Inc, $16.00. Ages 4 to 8. Reviewer: Sharon Levin (Children’s Literature).

When Amy played catch with her mama, which was most days since her dad went away to fight in the war, she had no idea she was helping her get ready for a new job. Amy’s dad had been a milk truck driver, which seemed like a real job. Playing baseball in the women’s league seemed like a game, but if mama could get paid doing something she liked it would be great. Grandma and Grandpa went with Amy and her mama to the tryouts.

After a missed catch or a bad at bat, many of the women were dismissed. Wow, Mama was good! She made the team and Amy had helped her practice! It was so much fun watching the games. When Mama’s team traveled, Amy worked on a special project she was saving for her dad, when he finally came home.

As a reader, learn how Amy’s story ends, while getting a child-sized look at an important time in history, and how it impacts one family. The soothing, warm, oil painted illustrations enhance this engaging tale. 2003, Gulliver Books/Harcourt, $16.00.

Ages 5 to 8. Reviewer: Barbara Kennedy (Children’s Literature).

World War II is raging, and Amy understands that her Dad has to go away again. He’s in the Army, wears a uniform, and has to put this new job above even his family. What she does not understand is why her Mama wants to play baseball and calls that a job, too. It is not until after Amy helps her mother practice throwing and catching enough that Mama is chosen to be on the women’s (they called it girls’ then) team and get a snappy short-skirted uniform to wear that Amy pulls it all together.

Instead of working in a factory, Mama will play baseball for her job, and that will help the war effort, too. Adler creates a warm bonding between mother and daughter in this book, which keeps alive the memory of the All-American Girls’ Professional Baseball League that provided fans with their favorite sport while so many of the male players were serving in the armed forces. With such names as Chicks, Lassies, and Daisies, these teams lasted until 1954, the Author’s Note tells us.

That certainly dates the story, as do the Depression era oil paintings that wash its pages with browns, taupes and olive drab colors. A good choice for youngsters whose parents are once again serving their country and leaving their families behind to cope. 2003, Harcourt, $16.00.

Ages 5 to 8. Reviewer: Judy Chernak (Children’s Literature).

Young Amy tells the story of her mama’s baseball career in David Adler’s Mama Played Baseball. During WW II, Amy’s mama needs a job and decides to try out for the first professional women’s league. It is hard for Amy to understand how playing baseball can possibly be a job, but soon she pitches in by helping her mama train. The story’s situation has more strength than its characters and the time-specific images, like the Jack Benny show, will mean little to children.

The story does reveal the wartime phenomena of women at work and at play on baseball diamonds. Debut artist Chris O’Leary hits a home run with his oils which are pleasantly reminiscent of the Depression-era and carry an energy that the text sometimes lacks. 2003, Harcourt, $16.00.

Ages 6 to 9. Reviewer: Susie Wilde (Children’s Literature).

Best Books:

Best Children’s Books of the Year, 2004; Bank Street College of Education; United States

Choices, 2004; Cooperative Children’s Book Center; United States

Awards, Honors, Prizes:

Children’s Gallery Award Winner 2006 Grades K-2 United States

State and Provincial Reading Lists:

Children’s Crown Gallery Award, 2005-2006; Nominee; United States

ISBN: 0-15-202196-5

ISBN: 978-0-15-202196-2

A Picture Book of Lewis and Clark

David A. Adler

Illustrated by Ronald Himler

How often do we say to ourselves Imagine if he hadn’t met so and so. or Imagine if such and such hadn’t happened? We can say this about the young Meriwether Lewis having the great luck of being taken into the employ of his neighbor, a certain gentleman called Thomas Jefferson. If this event had not taken place, one of the greatest expeditions in American history probably never would have happened.

Jefferson was itching to find out what lay beyond what was then the western border of the United States. He also wanted to find a water route across the country to the Pacific Ocean. By the time the trip was organized and ready to go, Jefferson had concluded what was to be called the Louisiana Purchase, and the lands that the expedition were to travel through belonged to the United States.

Meriwether Lewis and an officer whom he met in the army called Captain William Clark set off to fulfill Thomas Jefferson’s dream, and they had one of the greatest adventures of all time. David Adler tells this extraordinary adventure story beautifully, simplifying the tale for a younger reader and yet not losing any of the drama or vital information.

This is an excellent first biography for a younger reader, filled with beautiful paintings and appended with author notes, important dates, further reading, a selected biography, and recommended Web sites. Readers may want to look at further titles in the Picture Book Biographies series of which there are many interesting titles. 2003, Holiday House, $16.95.

Ages 4 to 8. Reviewer: Marya Jansen-Gruber (Children’s Literature).

The celebration of the 200th anniversary of the Louisiana Purchase and the expedition that followed has inspired many books on all reading levels about the difficult journey of Lewis and Clark to explore the new territory. In this addition to his Picture Book Biographies series, Adler summarizes the basic facts about the important characters and their outstanding adventures as they pushed all the way from St. Louis over the Continental Divide to the Pacific Ocean.

For those wishing to learn more than this brief account, Adler has included suggestions for further reading, a bibliography, and Web sites, as well as a chronology and additional notes. Himler’s double-page watercolors, naturalistic but with impressionistic suggestions, leave room for the reader to enter while providing a glimpse of the adventure-filled episodes and the changing landscapes along the way. 2003, Holiday House, $16.95.

Ages 4 to 8. Reviewers: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz (Children’s Literature).

Best Books:

Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People, 2004; National Council for the Social Studies; United States

Illustrated by Terry Widener

This book could be described as a picture book biography. Younger readers may be drawn to the vibrant acrylic illustrations, while older readers will easily follow the text–more text than the average picture book. This is the story of an athlete, a sport, and racism.

Satchel Paige is known as one of the best pitchers ever, and his dream was to play in the major leagues. But no team would take him because he was black. Rather than allow the racism of the time to dampen his dream, Satchel Paige continued to excel.

His response to racist treatment was to answer with his performance on the field. When players on an all-white semi-professional team made racist comments, Paige had his teammates sit down on the field, and then he threw three straight strikeouts. This story will inspire readers that it is never too late to realize a dream. At the age of forty-two, Satchel Paige made it to the majors, where he played until he was fifty-nine years old!

This is a great story for a baseball fan as well as readers who may not know the first thing about the sport. 2007, Harcourt Books, $16.00. Ages 6 to 11.

Reviewer: Mary Loftus (Children’s Literature).

Best Books:

In this nicely designed and produced little book, math problems are given as clumsy bits of verse involving birds. For example Robins resting / The first day of Fall / Six here / Seven there / How many in all? The reader is supposed to provide the answer.

Answers and directions on how to solve the problems are given upside down in small print. Because the reading level is low for children capable of solving problems involving division, the audience for this book is limited. It might be most useful as a classroom game.

The teacher could read the problems and teams of children come up with answers. Unfortunately, there are only twenty-one problems in the whole book. That may be enough for an in-class game but is probably not enough to have much benefit for a single reader. 2006, Holiday House, $16.95.

Ages 7 to 9. Reviewer: Michael Chabin (Children’s Literature).

Best Books:

Choices, 2007; Cooperative Children’s Book Center; United States

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