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January 1&15, 2017 BOOKLIST
Find more Top 10 Biographies for Youth
Along with the exciting life stories of the famous, this year’s Top 10 biographies, reviewed in Booklist during the last 12 months, also include several childhood memoirs of ordinary young people caught up in extraordinary times.
The Adventures of Marco Polo. By Russell Freedman. Illus. by Bagram Ibatoulline. 2006. Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine, $17.99 (0-439-52394-X). Gr. 7–10.
Graceful prose and enchanting illustrations take readers through Polo’s amazing explorations along the Silk Road to the kingdom of Kublai Khan.
Berenice Abbott, Photographer: An Independent Vision. By George Sullivan. 2006. illus. Clarion, $20 (0-618-44026-7). Gr. 6–9.
The life story of the early-twentieth-century photographer famous for her work’s straightforward realism is captured in clear prose with large reproductions of Abbott’s photos over 60 years.
Dizzy. By Jonah Winter. Illus. by Sean Qualls. 2006. Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine, $16.99 (0-439-50737-5). Gr. 2–4.
Beginning with Dizzy Gillespie’s South Carolina childhood, the story of “one cool cat” traces the revolutionary trumpeter’s ascent in the New York jazz world of the 1940s. Qualls’ shapes and colors express the music’s exciting rhythm.
Escape! The Story of the Great Houdini. By Sid Fleischman. 2006. illus. Greenwillow, $18.99 (0-06-085094-9). Gr. 6–9.
The show-biz details and compelling visuals about the legendary magician are as fascinating as the transformation story of an immigrant “whose biggest sleight-of-hand was himself.”
Jeannette Rankin: Political Pioneer. By Gretchen Woelfle. 2007. illus. Boyds Mill/Calkins Creek, $18.95 (9781590784372). Gr. 6–9.
In a handsome format, Woelfle tells of the lifelong pacifist and women’s rights crusader, who was Montana’s representative in Congress before women in other states could vote.
Kampung Boy. By Lat. Illus by Lat. 2006. Roaring Brook/First Second, paper, $16.95 (1-59643-121-0). Gr. 8–11.
With humor and affection, Malaysian cartoonist Lat uses the graphic-novel format to share the story of his childhood in a small village, or kampung. His scribbly black-and-white sketches and simple, eloquent prose speak of universals.
Rachel Carson. By Ellen Levine. 2007. illus. Viking, $15.99 (0-670-06220-0). Gr. 7–10.
Direct, eloquent, and precise, this entry in the Up Close series, a portrait of environmental pioneer Carson, is a thoroughly researched introduction to the original scientist whose work remains of urgent importance today.
The Snow Baby: The Arctic Childhood of Robert E. Peary’s Daring Daughter. By Katherine Kirkpatrick. 2007. illus. Holiday, $16.95 (9780823419739). Gr. 5–8.
Illustrated with fabulous photographs, Kirkpatrick’s child-friendly account frames young Marie Ahnighito Peary’s personal story against the larger one of her father’s repeated struggles to reach the North Pole.
Tasting the Sky: A Palestinian Childhood. By Ibtisam Barakat. 2007. Farrar/Melanie Kroupa, $16 (9780374357337). Gr. 7–10.
In a sometimes heart-wrenching memoir of life under military occupation, Barakat’s viewpoint brings very close the political upheaval through the events of her daily life as a young refugee.
Vinnie and Abraham. By Dawn Fitzgerald. Illus. by Catherine Stock. 2007. Charlesbridge, $15.95 (9781570916588). Gr. 2–4.
A spirited introduction to a little-known artist, this handsome picture-book biography with beautiful watercolor paintings tells of sculptor Vinnie Ream, who, at 18, had daily sessions with President Lincoln while she worked to create his likeness.
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