Staff Picks Youth Biographies

« All Staff Picks

October 2023

A Man Called Horse: John Horse and the Black Seminole Underground Railroad

by Glenette Tilley Turner

In this intriguing biography covering the little-known subject of the history of Black Seminoles, children’s author, historian, and educator Glenette Tilley Turner presents an inspiring account of the remarkable life of chief John Horse. Also known as Juan Cavallo, Horse was a Black Seminole of African and Native descent. His leadership played a significant role in the political and military efforts that drove the relentless pursuit of freedom for his people. From Florida, to Texas and Mexico, John Horse dedicated most of his life during the mid 1800s to serve as a warrior, diplomat, and protector on a daring mission for survival. Supported with archival photographs, maps, and illustrations, Turner’s research findings offer an introduction to an unfamiliar aspect of the Underground Railroad and unsung heroes of American history. 

This biography was one of the 6 selected titles for the Grades 9-12 category of the 2023 Illinois Reads, a yearly statewide project that highlights the work of Illinois authors and promotes reading for all Illinois citizens.  

Recommended by: Fanny Camargo, Youth Services Reference Librarian I

Posted in: Youth Biographies

July 2023

Little Dreamers – Visionary Women Around the World

by Vashti Harrison

Wonderful book with an encouraging message to girls today to follow their passions and dream big! Loved the variety of women represented from the arts and sciences, past and present.  So many remarkable stories that are so inspiring to young girls today.  The concise one-page biographies are easy to read accompanied with an illustrated portrait.  If you are wanting more from Vashti Harrison, she has also written “Little Leaders” and “Little Legends”.
Recommended by: Lenore Garoufalis, Youth Services Assistant

Posted in: Youth Biographies

March 2023

Opening the Road: Victor Hugo Green and His Green Book

by Keila Dawson

In the late 1930s when segregation was legal and Black Americans couldn’t visit every establishment or travel everywhere they wanted to safely, a New Yorker named Victor Hugo Green decided to do something about it. Green wrote and published a guide that listed places where his fellow Black Americans could be safe in New York City. Soon customers started asking Green to make a guide to help them travel and vacation safely across the nation too.

Recommended by: Joan Stoiber, Youth Services Reference Librarian

Posted in: Youth Biographies

January 2023

Hilde on the Record: Memoir of a Kid Crime Reporter

by Hilde Lysiak

When she was 4 years old Lysiak managed to go with her journalist father to the scene of a murder. That was when she knew journalism was for her. The family moved to Pennsylvania and she started her own neighborhood newspaper. When she was 9 years old she covered a murder and it went viral for getting the information out before any traditional news sources. There were a variety of reactions to that as people spoke from their perspectives as to whether she should be covering murder at her age. By 14, she had published a book series, Hilde Cracks the Case, and she was the inspiration for the TV series, Home Before Dark. In spite of her many awards and accomplishments, such as being youngest person to give a college commencement address, she suffers from issues with food, loss of self-esteem, and emotional turmoil as a teenager. This is the scoop from the perspective of a teen reporter.

Recommended by: Joan Stoiber, Youth Services Reference Librarian

Posted in: Youth Biographies

Splash!: Ethelda Bleibtrey Makes Waves of Change

by Elisa Boxer

A biography of Ethelda Bleibtrey, who as a child had polio. In her teens she found that when she was in the water she felt free to move without pain. She liked that change and went on to cause other changes. Women at that time were required to wear swim socks or else be considered nude, men did not. So she took off her socks and was immediately arrested. The outdated law was changed. She went on to compete in the Olympics 1920 and won three gold medals and set three world records in swimming. As a nurse working with children in constant pain she realized there needed to be more swimming pools available so she brought about that change too in a unique way. The illustrations are a great addition to the text as can be seen by the cover. Comments that are made up are either italicized or in word bubbles to distinguish from facts. Be sure to read the information at the end of the text to find out more about her and why the author wrote the book.

Recommended by: Joan Stoiber, Youth Services Reference Librarian

Posted in: Youth Biographies

October 2022

The Genius Under the Table

by Eugene Yelchin

Yevgeny is growing up in Russia during the Cold War. He’s not talented like his ice-skating star older brother. He feels as if he has no artistic talent at all but then his parents see the secret artwork he has been creating underneath the family’s dining room table. Once he starts taking art lessons under the tutelage of an art master, his life starts looking up. 

Recommended by: Becky McCormack, Youth Services Assistant Manager

Posted in: Youth Biographies

Above the Rim: How Elgin Baylor Changed Basketball

by Jen Bryant

Learning to play basketball in the streets, Elgin Baylor took his ability to jump high and hang in the air over the rim to new heights. His nickname was Rabbit. After college he became the first professional African American NBA player. Elgin played in the late 1950s and early 1960s for the Minneapolis/Los Angeles Lakers using his acrobatic skills to excel as a player. Though people loved to come see him play, he was not allowed into “whites only” restaurants and hotels as the team traveled. Changes in society were happening that are referred to as part of his journey to stand up for himself by sitting down and getting people and the NBA to change.

This book is available in the library and as a movie on Hoopla.

Recommended by: Joan Stoiber, Youth Services Reference Librarian

Posted in: Youth Biographies

August 2022

While I was Away

by Waka Brown

Waka lives in Kansas. When her mother decides she needs to know how to speak Japanese better than she does, Waka is sent to live with her grandmother in Tokyo, Japan for five months. Not only is Waka not fluent with the language but she’s unused to the customs there. She also needs to navigate the different friend network at her new school. 

Recommended by: Becky McCormack, Youth Services Assistant Manager

Posted in: Youth Biographies

January 2022

Who was the Girl Warrior of France?: Joan of Arc

by Sarah Winifred Searle

A new Who HQ Graphic Novels series tells the story of Joan of Arc. The set-up of this series are dialogue-driven panel art interspersed with short historical informational pages. Joan of Arc’s faith and determination are needed in her challenging journey to help end the Hundred Years War between England and France.

Recommended by: Joan Stoiber, Youth Services Reference Librarian I

Posted in: Youth Biographies

August 2021

A Girl Named Rosita: The Story of Rita Moreno: Actor, Singer, Dancer, Trailblazer!

by Anika Aldamuy Denise

Rosita Dolores Alverio, a girl who loves to sing and dance for anyone who will watch her. This is the story of Rita Moreno, from her childhood days in Puerto Rico to her rise to stardom. An inspiring picture book biography that portrays her experiences from migration to perseverance, belonging, talent, and triumph. Rita Moreno is a Latina trailblazer and one of only six women with four awards for the arts known as EGOT (an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, and a Tony). She continues to be an influential voice that sparks determination and activism. Leo Espinosa’s beautiful illustrations are vibrant and captivating. Rita’s iconic lilac dress in this book will be as memorable for the young readers as for those who have seen her unforgettable Oscar-winning performance in “West Side Story”. This is a great choice for a read-aloud that can be paired with video clips of Rita’s “West Side Story” performance and her Oscar acceptance moment.

Recommended by: Fanny Camargo, Youth Services Reference Librarian I

Posted in: Youth Biographies

1 2 3