Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Girls Who Followed Their Dreams

        Visit Alyson Beecher on Wednesdays for Non-Fiction Picture Books at Kidlit Frenzy.  From Alyson and others, you will discover terrific nonfiction picture books!

        Women's stories are often of their struggles to follow their dreams, use the talents they have despite the naysayers, despite sometimes also fulfilling the stereotypical female roles. Caroline Herschel lived from 1750 to 1848, became a great astronomer and the first woman to be paid for her discoveries. She had a tough upbringing, was scarred by smallpox and her growth was stunted by typhus. Her parents thought she would never be attractive enough to marry and used her as their maid. Thankfully, her brother William, one with whom she had a close relationship, left for England (from Germany) and he took Caroline with him. They shared an intense interest in the stars and together built a great telescope, worked to create numerous star charts. Their discoveries were many. Caroline was the first woman to discover a comet! The book by Emily Arnold McCully shares a story of someone who worked tirelessly because of her interest, knowledge, and passion. The Herschels' star catalogs are still used by space agencies today. Added information is in the backmatter, including an author’s note, a bibliography, a glossary, and a timeline.



       My former colleague and long-time book buddy and I are sharing again, and she brought me this book last week.  I know of the controversy when Maya Lin's submission was chosen as the architect of the Vietnam Memorial. She was a student! And she was a woman, and unknown! Thank goodness, she persisted, a trait we are all admiring lately! Jeanne Walker Harvey writes that that beautiful memorial is just what Maya Lin wanted, "a quiet place to remember all those who died during the war." Here is how Dow Phumiruk illustrates that first day of visitors, who did touch names special to them, and who cried.
Click to enlarge.
      What I didn't know was of Maya Lin's childhood, that her father was an artist and her mother was a poet, that Maya played chess with her brother and drew and built tiny towns with paper scraps. Harvey tells the story simply, touching the highlights of Maya Lin's life. And Dow Phumiruk fills the pages with realistic scenes, including the architectural inspirations of Maya, and the tools she uses in her work. There is a small part about her memorials designed since the one for Vietnam and an added author's note. I enjoyed it very much.

4 comments:

  1. I loved the focus on the contronversy over Maya Lin's youth in Harvey's book. It was such an empowering message for kids!

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    1. Yes, it is a good passage to see that this "still a student" did not give up, but really had a vision of what the memorial should be, especially to those who had lost loved ones. Thanks, Annette!

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  2. I really enjoyed the Maya Lin book. Will have to search for the other.

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    1. Me, too, Earl. I hope you enjoy the other one, too, certainly a good one showing background in astronomy history. Thanks!

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