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News & Reviews

Annie Londonderry, the First Woman

to Cycle Around the World



Cover of children's book titled Pedal, Balance, Steer about Annie Londonderry by VIvian Kirkfield

Calkins Creek

(Astra Books for Young Readers)

(pub. 2.20.2024)

40 pages

Ages 7 - 10

Author: Vivian Kirkfield

   Illustrator: Alison Jay

Character: Annie Londonderry


" In the 1890s, times were tough, and opportunities for women were few and far between. When mother-of-three Annie Londonderry saw an ad promising $10,000 to a woman who could cycle around the world in a year, something no one thought possible, she decided it was time to learn to ride. She waved goodbye to her family in Boston and set off for Chicago.

Annie was exhausted when she arrived fifty-nine days later—and she realized she’d never make it across the Rockies before winter, and certainly not riding a heavy women’s bike and wearing a corset and petticoats. So Annie got herself a better bicycle and comfortable bloomers, and headed back East to try a different route. Facing robbers, sprained ankles, and disapproving stares, Annie missed her family and wanted to quit. But she journeyed on, all over the world. And, when she finally reached California and the Southwest, she kept pedaling. Her family was counting on the prize money, and people around the world, especially women, were watching.

Annie came through for all of them, arriving in Chicago fourteen days before her deadline and proving that women could do just about anything."

Tantalizing taste:

"But Annie was determined to win the wager, provide a better life for her children, and prove that a woman could take care of herself.

Once in the city, Annie sold autographed photos, served as a clerk in different stores, and wheeled her way through the streets of Paris, adorning her body and her bike with ribbons advertising French companies, earning francs with every flutter."

And something more: VIvian Kirkfield, in the Author's Note writes: "This twenty-four-year-old Jewish mother of three was a most unlikely candidate for such a wager. But her idol was journalist Nelly Bly, who had traveled around the world eight years before to challenge Jules Verne's fictional record of traversing the globe in eighty days. Upon Annie's return, she moved her family to New York City, got a job as a journalist for the New York World, and published accounts of her exploits."

Updated: Apr 11

The Extraordinary Life of James Baldwin



Book cover of children's picture book biography titled Jimmu's Rhythm & blues about James Baldwin

Harper Collins


48 pages

Ages 4-8

Author: Michelle Meadows

   Illustrator: Janiel Law

Character: James Baldwin


" Before he became a writer, James 'Jimmy' Baldwin was a young boy from Harlem, New York, who loved stories. He found joy in the rhythm of music, family, and books.

But Jimmy also found the blues, as a Black man living in America.When he discovered the written word, he discovered true power. Writing gave him a voice. And that voice opened the world to Jimmy. From the publication of the groundbreaking collection of essays The Fire Next Time to his passionate demonstrations during the civil rights movement, Jimmy used his voice fearlessly."

Tantalizing taste:

"Writing is electric blue,

bright, brilliant words

of letters and words

flying, flipping,

flowing to the beat.

In elementary school, Jimmy stood out.

Kids picked on him,

noticing he was small, shy, and smart.

His teachers noticed something else:

Jimmy had a gift for weaving words together

like musical notes of a song."

And something more: Michelle Meadows, in the Author's Note writes: "While writing this book, it moved me most to learn how James Baldwin found comfort in words from a young age. Words have always soothed me too. My mother says that when I was a child, I left little notes all around the house about how I was feeling. I hope this book inspires young readers to find joy an dpower through written expression."

Updated: Apr 12

The Legacy of John Lewis



Cover of children's picture book titled Fighting with Love about John Lewis

A Paula Wiseman Books

(Simon & Schuster)


48 pages

Ages 4-8

Author: Lesa Cline-Ransome

   Illustrator: James E. Ransome

Character: John Lewis


" John Lewis left a cotton farm in Alabama to join the fight for civil rights when he was only a teenager. He soon became a leader of a movement that changed the nation. Walking at the side of his mentor, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Lewis was led by his belief in peaceful action and voting rights. Today and always his work and legacy live on."

Tantalizing taste:

"John knew that standing up to segregation would mean hard work, but he also knew what years of marching up and down rows of cotton fields had taught him - that hard work meant long days and longer nights. So, after washing dishes in the school cafeteria to pay his tuition, studying late into the night, and practicing his sermons, John started marching."

And something more: Lesa Cline-Ransome, in the Author's Note writes: "Relentless, inspiring, undaunted, John Lewis was my hero. One of my greatest honors was meeting him in 2017 while attending a Black American Library Association event in Atlanta, Georgia. He was in person just as I imagined he would be - a gracious gentleman with a quick laugh.

Gone, but not forgotten, he and his loving legacy remind us all to keep marching."

Where to find Jeanne Walker Harvey books

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