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News & Reviews

Blazes a Trial to Congress

The Story of Jeannette Rankin



Calkins Creek

(Astra Books)

(pub.2.7.2023) 40 pages

ages 7-10

Author: Gretchen Woelfle

Illustrator: Rebecca Gibbon

Character: Jeannette Rankin


" Jeannette Rankin was always a take-charge girl. Whether taking care of horses or her little brothers and sisters—Jeannette knew what to do and got the job done. That’s why, when she saw poor children living in bad conditions in San Francisco, she knew she had to take charge and change things.

But in the early twentieth century, women like Jeannette couldn’t vote to change the laws that failed to protect children. Jeannette became an activist and led the charge, campaigning for women’s right to vote. And when her home state, Montana, gave women that right, Jeannette ran for Congress and became America’s first congressWOMAN!"

Tantalizing taste:

" When she finally spoke, she lambasted congressmen who had voted to spend $300,000 to study food for hogs, and only $30,000 to study the needs of children.

She said, 'if the hogs of the nation are ten times more important than the children, it is high time that women should make their influence felt.'"

And something more: In the Acknowledgments, author Gretchen Woelfle writes "...My esteemed writers' group - Alexis O'Neill, Caroline Arnold, Ann Stampler, and Sherrill Kushner - having read multiple drafts of this book, know (and love) Jeannette nearly as well as I do ... [and] I've been a fan of Rebecca Gibbon's art for many years now, and am honored to share Jeannette's story with her."



Holiday House

(pub.3.28.2023) 40 pages

ages 6-9

Author: Lesa Cline-Ransome

Illustrator: James E. Ransome

Character: Joseph-Antoine Adolphe Sax


" You may think that the story of the saxophone begins with Dexter Gordon or Charlie Parker, or on a street corner in New Orleans. It really began in 1840 in Belgium with a young daydreamer named Joseph-Antoine Adolphe Sax—a boy with bad luck but great ideas.

Lesa Cline-Ransome unravels the fascinating history of how Adolphe's once reviled instrument was transported across Europe and Mexico to New Orleans. Follow the saxophone's journey from Adolphe's imagination to the pawn shop window where it caught the eye of musician Sidney Bechet and became the iconic symbol of jazz music it is today."

Tantalizing taste:

" His father let him be while Adolphe tested and tinkered and tweaked with keys and levers and reeds. Adolphe played flute, clarinet, and nearly every instrument you can imagine, including his own creations - the steam organ, the sax tuba, the sax trombone, the euphonium, the bass tuba, and the flugelhorn.

But Adolphe was daydreaming of a new sound. Just the right sound ...

He knew that [symphonies and marching bands] needed an instrument that was not as loud as a trumpet. Not as soft as a clarinet. Somewhere right in the middle."

And something more: The Story of the Saxophone concludes with references to the great saxophonists:

"Adolphe passed away in 1894, but in New Orleans and other cities, his saxophone lived.

On the street corners and in juke joints, at funerals and in jazz clubs, the sound of the saxophon spread to every corner of New Orleans. Only now people called it the saxophone. One day, when a New Orleans clarinetist named Sidney Bechet picked up a saxophone that blew low and slow, just how he liked it, he put down his clarinet and never picked it up again.

Coleman Hawkins heard Sidney play.

And Lester Young heard Coleman play.

And Charlie Parker heard Lester play.

And Dexter Gordon heard Charlie play. And everyone heard Dexter play the saxophone, that began far, far away, across the seas, in a workshop in Belgium, made by a boy everyone called Adolphe."

The Life and Brilliance of the Woman Who

Discovered What Stars Are Made of



Chronicle Books

(pub.2.7.2023) 48 pages

Author: Kirsten W. Larson

Illustrator: Katherine Roy

Character: Cecilia Payne


" Astronomer and astrophysicist Cecilia Payne was the first person to discover what burns at the heart of stars. But she didn't start out as the groundbreaking scientist she would eventually become. She started out as a girl full of curiosity, hoping one day to unlock the mysteries of the universe.

With lyrical, evocative text by Kirsten W. Larson and extraordinary illustrations by award-winning illustrator Katherine Roy, this moving biography powerfully parallels the kindling of Cecilia Payne's own curiosity and her scientific career with the process of a star's birth, from mere possibility in an expanse of space to an eventual, breathtaking explosion of light."

Tantalizing taste:

" ... Cecilia's sphere feels smaller and smaller still when she realizes her new school is a black hole with none of her favorite classes.

No algebra. No German. No science.

Not even any friends for a shy and studious girl like her.

Cecilia hides in a secret place- a dusty lab meant for older students- and studies the rows of chemicals ringing the room. Here are the pieces that put the universe together."

And something more: The Cecilia Payne: Science Superstar section explains: "As a woman working in science, Cecilia often found her path difficult. She didn't look like other scientists of her day; they were mostly men But Cecilia proved not only what makes a star but also what makes a star scientist: curiosity, passion, hard work, and a belief in oneself."

Where to find Jeanne Walker Harvey books

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