Posted tagged ‘Nonfiction Picture Books’

Author, Runner: Kim Chaffee’s Story

May 16, 2019

Kim Chaffee headshotToday I’m interviewing my friend, critique partner, and author extraordinaire, Kim Chaffee. She is the author of Her Fearless Run:  Kathrine Switzer’s Historic Boston Marathon – a book that received two starred reviews. Ellen Rooney is the talented illustrator whose colorful illustrations and attention to detail are done in a combination of digital media and mixed media collage using paint, paper, and pencil. The book is a perfect collaboration between author and illustrator.

Kim Chaffee’s biography of Kathrine Switzer tells of switserKathrine’s love of running from an early age. Back in the late 1950’s girls weren’t supposed to run. They were “too weak, too fragile, for sports.” That’s not what Kathrine thought. She kept on running. While in college, the men’s coach at Syracuse University saw Kathrine run. He invited her to practice with the team. That’s where she met the volunteer team manager, Arnie Briggs. When he mentioned to Kathrine that women weren’t up to running the distance of the Boston Marathon, she disagreed with him and took his challenge. She applied for her official number by registering as K. V. Switzer. No one knew K. V. Switzer was a woman—not a man. On April 19, 1967, Kathrine Switzer made history by running the entire Boston Marathon with an official number. Her feat opened doors for women to compete in future marathons.

Welcome, Kim. I’m so excited to have you here today.

Why did you decide to write about Kathrine Switzer? And did you have any reservations about writing a biography of a well-known living person?

Thanks so much for having me on the blog today, Cathy! When I started writing, I wasn’t really thinking of ever tackling a biography. I mostly write fiction. But I was home writing one Monday in April 2016 with the Boston Marathon on TV and within view. Kathrine was on, talking about her Boston run in 1967. I was completely pulled into her story and was shocked that as a runner, I had never heard it before. I immediately felt compelled to share her story. In hindsight, I probably should have had some reservations about writing a biography of a well-known living person, but I didn’t while I was writing it. I just kept thinking that I had to do her story justice.

Kim, you’re a Wonder Woman. You’ve run in many races before, but this year you ran the most famous of all marathons – The Boston Marathon. Did writing about Kathrine Switzer have anything to do with your decision to run?  

My goodness! I don’t know about Wonder Woman! But I do love to run and have the best running friends that keep me motivated and push me to challenge myself. Writing about Kathrine had everything to do with my decision to run Boston. I was thinking about it a lot while I was researching and writing the book but that tiny voice of doubt and fear kept creeping in telling me I was crazy. After finishing and selling the book, I just couldn’t shake the thought of needing to run Boston- needing to silence that tiny voice in my head. Kathrine helped me find my fearless and believe in myself.

Can you tell us a bit about how you trained for this long and difficult run?

There are a lot of different marathon training plans out there and I had trouble choosing one so I meshed two together, typed up monthly calendars with motivational quotes, and put one foot in front of the other. My training started in December with three runs/week and two cross-training days. Long runs were done on the weekends and by mid-March, I was feeling a little physically and emotionally drained. Marathon training is no joke. Some runs felt great, others worried me that I had gotten myself into something I wasn’t going to be able to complete. But when I ran my 20-mile long run, a race from Maine, through the Seacoast of NH, and into Massachusetts, I felt ready.

I watched the interview with Kathrine Switzer that took place during the running of the Boston Marathon. She spoke very highly of you and your book. What was it like to meet Kathrine?

I was so surprised when I found out she was talking about the book while I was running! Talk about motivation to keep going! Meeting Kathrine was surreal. We had talked several times and emailed even more before we actually met to do an event together on the Friday before the Marathon so I kind of felt like we were old friends already. She is just as amazing as you would imagine…so genuine and inspiring!

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Lisa Hughes, WBZ-TV News Anchor, Boston

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Lisa Hughes, Shalane Flanagan, Olympian and Boston Marathon Runner, Kathrine Switzer

You also ran with the global nonprofit 261 Fearless, Inc. Can you tell us more about that and what 261 stands for?

Yes! I was honored to run for 261 Fearless, Inc. which is the nonprofit organization founded by Kathrine in 2015. It’s a women’s social running network that aims to support and empower women all around the globe. Amazing things are happening in these clubs! Women in Mumbai, Goma, all over the United States and Europe are finding their strength and self-esteem through running, and we are all united under Kathrine’s iconic bib number from her 1967 run, 261.

Do you and Kathrine have any plans to see each other again?

Yes! We are currently scheduled to do a book event together at a bookstore called Rough Draft in Kingston, New York on July 1!

How was your run on the day of the marathon? Feelings? Emotions?

How much time do we have here? Haha! It was quite a day and I feel like I could go on and on about it. I’ll start by saying it was hard. Not a shocker, I know. But it was harder than I had expected and I think that’s because the day didn’t go as planned. As a runner, you do your best to adapt and overcome obstacles that pop up at any point in a race, be it the night before when your daughter gets sick in your bed, or at mile 17 when your stomach feels queasy (both of these things happened). My goal was simple: cross the finish line. And I got to do that with my son which still brings me to tears when I think about it.

Kim and Colin

Kim and her son, Colin

KIm with medal

Kim and her medal

Would you run the marathon again?

 I won’t say no but I don’t have plans to any time soon.

You sponsor an annual 5K Run. Tell us more.

When my brother-in-law was diagnosed with thyroid cancer several years ago, I felt so helpless. I wanted to do something to make a difference but wasn’t sure what. One of my best friends suggested we start a team for the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life. The 5K race started as one of our team fundraisers and then shifted into a stand-alone event that now raises money to support local families afflicted by cancer. This will be our 8th year hosting the Fight 2 Finish Cancer Family Fun Run/Walk 5K in Windham, NH! This year’s event will be on Sunday, June 2nd and we are hoping it will be our biggest year yet. If you are local and would like to join us you can register at www.lightboxreg.com

Now that your training isn’t taking up so much time in your life, what’s next for you with your writing career?

I’ve been doing a bunch of school visits, which as a former second-grade teacher, makes my heart so happy! I definitely have more time to write! Hooray! And I’m still running but not nearly as much. Also, my second book, Nothing Wee About Me, a fiction story about a little girl who uses her grandmother’s magical ladle to go on an adventure and save the day, will be hitting shelves on November 12, so I’m starting to prep for that.

What is some advice you can give to writers about achieving their goals?

Don’t give up. Ever. Even when it gets really hard, just keep putting one foot in front of the other and you’ll make it to the finish line.

As always, it’s fabulous being with you, Kim! Thank you so much for doing this interview.

Don’t forget to check out Kim’s forthcoming book.

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Learn more about Kim Chaffee here.

Website:  www.kimchaffee.com

Follow on Twitter:  @Kim_Chaffee

Follow on FB: Kim Chaffee, Children’s Author

Follow on Instagram:  kchaffeebooks

 

 

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Rock On!

July 13, 2017

What is it about rocks? An overabundance of toys can be there for the taking, but if there are rocks around that’s the first thing my granddaughters grab. Their mother was exactly the same. Rocks seem to call out kids. Who knew they could make little ones so happy?

Today happens to be International Rock Day. Pick up a rock and see if it speaks to you. I find the ones that speak the loudest to me are diamonds, emeralds, rubies …

Maybe one of these books will explain the fascination kids have with ordinary rocks.

Nonfiction Books:

if you find a rock If You Find a Rock written by Peggy Christian and photographs by Barbara Hirsch Lember, Harcourt Brace and Company

national geoEverything Rocks and Minerals written by Steve Tomecek, National Geographic Society

livelyA Rock is Lively written by Dianna Hutts Aston and illustrated by Sylvia Long, Chronicle Books

can beA Rock Can Be… written by Laura Purdie Salas and illustrated by Violeta Dabija, Millbrook Press

rocksRocks! Rocks! Rocks! by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace, Cavendish Square Publishing

lets goLet’s Go Rock Collecting written by Roma Gans and illustrated by Holly Keller, HarperCollins

Fiction Books:

singIf Rocks Could Sing by Leslie McGuirk, Tricycle Press

RhodaRhoda’s Rock Hunt written by Molly Beth Griffin and illustrated by Jennifer A. Bell, Minnesota Historical Society Press

roxRoxaboxen written by Alice McLerran and illustrated by Barbara Cooney, HarperCollins

 

 

 

 

 

 

Black History Month

February 2, 2017

February is Black History Month. It’s a time to honor the accomplishments of black Americans and the and contributions they have made to our country.

Below are some wonderful nonfiction picture books to read and share.

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Freedom in Congo Square written by Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by R. Gregory Christie

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Freedom Over Me written and illustrated by Ashley Bryan

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 Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer written by Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by Ekua Holmes

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The Youngest Marcher: The Story of Audrey Faye Hendricks written by Cynthia Levinson and illustrated by Vanessa Brantley Newton

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Preaching to the Chickens: The Story of Young John Lewis written by Jabari Asim and illustrated by E. B. Lewis

 mahalia

Martin and Mahalia: His Words Her Song written by Andrea Davis Pinkney and illustrated by Brian Pinkney

 blackbird

Harlem’s Little Blackbird: The Story of  Florence Mills written by Renee Watson and illustrated by Christian Robinson

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Marvelous Cornelius: Hurrican Katrina and the Spirit of New Orleanwritten by Phil Bildner and illustrated by John Parra

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My Name Is James Madison Hemings written and illustrated by Jonah Winter

America has a rich history of accomplishments made by African Americans and by many others who are a part of our diverse population. That’s what makes this country so great!

Summer Reading

June 23, 2016

Summer reading. Share the adventure!

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Check out these websites for some great summer reading choices for kids.

Summer Reading Guide 2016 Ages 0-12

Science is for Girls:  25 Books About Female Scientists  

The New York Times® Bestsellers:  Children’s Picture Books 

ALSC Summer Reading Lists

Summer Reading Lists for Kids Ages 6-14

100 Best Books Every Boy (and Girl) Should Read 

 

 

 

 

The Cow Stops Here

June 9, 2016

June is National Dairy Month. Since our recent move to New Hampshire, I’m missing Wisconsin and all of its delicious dairy products. I’m particularly missing the Farmers’ Market around the Capital Square in Madison. They do a bang-up job of celebrating Dairy Month. Since I couldn’t be there this year, I’m reposting one of the last times I strolled around the State Capital, taking in all the delectable sights.

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Mo-o-o-ve over! June is National Dairy Month, and Saturday the cows were out – Cows on the Wisconsin State Capital Concourse, of course, of course. Cows flaunted their “Dairy aire.” Got Milk? You betcha! White milk, chocolate milk, and strawberry milk were on the menu. There were hunka hunks of cheese and mounds of squeaking cheese curds. If you missed breakfast or lunch, grilled cheese sandwiches were making the rounds. For dessert or an anytime treat, I scream, you scream we all scream for ice cream and don’t forget the overstuffed cream puffs. The cows were doing their best to please. It was a dairy day overload. Follow me and see.

First stop — cows. I had a hard time getting close to the mooers. Those little kiddos wouldn’t let me in.

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A Close-Up Look

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That’s Big

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Milk mustaches were en vogue. Got Milk?

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There were all kinds of dairy treats – good for your teeth and bones.

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Say Cheese!

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Give the Man a Cream Puff!

It was an “udderly” satisfying day. So don’t forget to celebrate National Dairy Month. Drink a glass of milk today!

Want to know more about cows and dairy products? Check these out.

The Milk Makers by Gail Gibbons (Aladdin, 1987), Cows (Animals Animals)by Renee C. Rebman (Benchmark Books, 2009), Farm Animals Cows by Cecilia Minden (Cherry Lake Pub., 2009), Cows (Animals That Live on the Farm) by JoAnn Early Macken (Weekly Reader Early Learning Library, 2009), Ice Cream:  The Full Scoop by Gail Gibbons (Holiday House, 2008)

For Fun:  A Big Cheese for the White House:  The True Tale of a Tremendous Cheddar by Candice Fleming (Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) 2004)

Historical Nonfiction Picture Books of Interest

January 7, 2016

During the holiday break, I stopped at the local library to browse. I found three nonfiction picture books that piqued my interest. These are perfect additions to school libraries.

Aaron and Alexander written and illustrated by Don Brown, Roaring Book Press, 2015

Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton were born a year apart. Don Brown, the author and illustrator, compares the similarities in their lives. Both men were orphaned at an early age. Aaron was taken in by his wealthy uncle. Alexander was taken in by a merchant. Both were bright young men who went to college. Both displayed courage as they fought in the Revolutionary War. Both became lawyers who sometimes worked together. Both became politicians, and that was where their likenesses ended. Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton had very different political views. Aaron politely approached people to ask them for their support. Alexander wrote articles and pamphlets that were insulting. The two became political enemies. Through a series of events, Aaron and Alexander continued to butt heads. When Alexander called Aaron “despicable,” Aaron wanted an apology, but none came. Aaron challenged Alexander to a duel. This duel was the demise of both men. Alexander Hamilton lost his life, and Aaron Burr lost his political career.

This book provides information about two important men in the history of our country, but it’s also a cautionary tale. These were two accomplished men, who had much to offer, but because of differences of opinion and more importantly, what one might call foolish pride, their lives were destroyed. It’s something to think about.

Mesmerized: How Ben Franklin Solved a Mystery that Baffled All of France written by Mara Rockliff and illustrated by Iacopo Bruno, Candlewick Press, 2015.

I’ve always been fascinated by Benjamin Franklin. Among other things, Franklin was a statesman, inventor, scientist, and humorist. He was brilliant. In Mesmerized, Mara Rockliff chooses to explore Ben’s approach to science and other new ideas of the time. Ben is sent to France to convince King Louis the Sixteenth and Marie Antoinette to send much-needed money and soldiers to America to help with the Revolutionary War. While there, Ben hears about the remarkable Dr. Mesmer who claims to have discovered a new force that can do many amazing things – even control thoughts. The French people are enthralled with the thought that their ills can be cured with the wave of Dr. Mesmer’s wand instead of going to a doctor. The king needs someone to help explain this new phenomenon.  Ben Franklin puts on his scientist hat and utilizes his scientific method, which is still used today. He observes, forms a hypothesis, tests the hypothesis, observes the results, and draws conclusions. Ben proves Dr. Mesmer’s force was not what he claimed it to be, and discredits him. The king is happy and provides America with the support requested by Ben. Iacopo Bruno’s over-the-top illustrations are colorful and cleverly executed. Combined with the end pages, you’ll be mesmerized by this book.

W Is for Webster: Noah Webster and His American Dictionary written by Tracey Fern and illustrated by Boris Kulikov, Farrar Straus Giroux, 2015

From his youth on, Noah Webster loved words – big words. Noah’s father knew he would never make a good farmer so he agreed to send Noah to college. Noah enjoyed school and studied hard. When the Revolutionary War began, he volunteered to be a soldier without much success. Eventually, Noah became a school teacher. Noah detested the British textbooks being used in the schools. He thought the newly independent America should have its own language. He was the one to do it. He started with a speller in which he included everyday words and simplified the spelling of other words. The speller was a success, but Noah saw a need for a dictionary with words unique to America. This was not as easy to accomplish as he had thought. He started by writing a small dictionary which was not well-received. Then he set to work on a big dictionary. He collected words, traced their origins, and wrote the definitions. Year after year Noah worked on his dictionary. He sold his expensive house and moved into a small cottage in order to provide for his wife and eight children while he continued to work on his dictionary. He spent years researching and traveling to libraries in America and Europe. He was passionate about bringing his work to completion. Twenty-five years after he began his project, An American Dictionary of the English Language, was complete. The time was right for his project. Congress made it its standard reference book. Revised editions of the dictionary are still used today. Readers will enjoy Boris Kulikov’s imaginative and whimsical illustrations that include words, letters, and comical facial expressions.

Each book includes author notes with additional information, sources, and a bibliography. These are worth checking out!

Huzzah for Libraries and Librarians!

April 16, 2015

It’s National Library Week and School Library Month. What would we do without our beloved libraries and librarians? Both are treasures not to be overlooked or underestimated.

Whether a library is …

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big,

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small,

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public,

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or in a school,

libraries open doors to new worlds.

They shake up your imagination. They offer a wealth of knowledge, and as this year’s theme says, there are “Unlimited Possibilities @ your library.” They’re places where miracles can happen. Make the library a happy, go-to place for you and your family. And if you If you have questions, seek guidance from a librarian. They’re all-knowing!

Below are some of my favorite fiction and nonfiction picture books that pay tribute to libraries and librarians.

Library Lion written by Michelle Knudsen and illustrated by Kevin Hawkes

Bats at the Library written and illustrated by Brian Lies

The Library written by Sarah Stewart and illustrated by David Small

Miss Brooks Loves Books! (and I don’t) written by Barbara Bottner and illustrated by Michael Emberley

Stella Louella’s Runaway Book written and illustrated by Lisa Campbell Ernst

Miss Dorothy and Her Bookmobile written by Gloria Houston and illustrated by Susan Condie Lamb

A Library Book for Bear written by Bonny Becker and illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton

Wild About Books written by Judy Sierra and illustrated by Marc Brown

Book! Book! Book! written by Deborah Bruss and illustrated by Tiphanie Beeke

The Library Dragon written by Carmen Agra Deedy and illustrated by Michael P. White

Aunt Chip and the Great Triple Creek Dam Affair written and illustrated by Patricia Polacco

The Boy Who Was Raised by Librarians written by Carla Morris and illustrated by Brad Sneed

Waiting for the Biblioburro written by Monica Brown and illustrated by John Parra

Library Lil written by Suzanne Williams and illustrated by Steven Kellogg

Please Bury Me in the Library written by J. Patrick Lewis and illustrated by Kyle M. Stone

That Book Woman written by Heather Henson and illustrated by David Small

Tomás and the Library Lady written by Pat Mora and illustrated by Raul Colón

Richard Wright and the Library Card written by William Miller and illustrated by Gregory Christie

“L” is for Library written by Sonya Terry and illustrated by Nicole Wong

Biblioburro:  A True Story from Colombia written and illustrated by Jeanette Winter

Miss Moore Thought Otherwise written by Jan Pinborough and illustrated by Debby Atwell

My Librarian Is a Camel written by Margriet Ruurs

The Librarian of Basra:  A True Story from Iraq written and illustrated by Jeanette Winter

Do you have any favorites to add?

For some inspiring quotes about libraries and librarians, click here.


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