History

Staff Picks: What Do You Do with a Voice Like That? by Chris Barton

Reviewed by Alejandria G. 

It’s impossible not to feel inspired while reading this gorgeous, well-written nonfiction picture book about the life of Texas congresswoman Barbara Jordan.

From a young age, Barbara Jordan had a remarkable voice. Her voice demanded attention and projected confidence beyond her years. As the author ponders, “What do you do with a voice like that?”. And so began the journey of Barbara Jordan from child to college student. From lawyer to Congresswoman. Jordan spent her career speaking up for those who had less power and protected the rights of those who were discriminated against. Chris Barton’s wonderful words remind us to honor Jordan’s legacy by making our own voices heard.

Ekua Holmes honors Barbara’s life with gorgeous mixed media illustrations. Bold colors and patterns fill the pages and add dimension to the story.

Staff Picks: Step Right Up by Donna Janell Bowman

Reviewed by Christina J. 

You have to read it to believe it. Then you have to see the photos in the historical note at the back of the book to really believe the incredible story of William ‘Doc’ Key and his intelligent horse Beautiful Jim Key. Even people who witnessed it firsthand, including scholars from Harvard University, couldn’t understand how Doc Key managed to teach his horse how to read, spell, cipher, and more on command. This is a stunning and inspiring story of how kindness and love has the potential to unleash the intelligence and capacity in animals, during a time when most people believed animals had no feelings.

Staff Picks: Dactyl Hill Squad

Reviewed by Ellen A. 

Welcome to 1863 New York City, where dinosaurs roam the streets! Magdalys Roca and her fellow orphan friends are enjoying a field trip in the city when riots break out and a few of their group are kidnapped. It's up to Magdalys and the Dactyl Hill Squad to rescue their missing friends and defeat the evil magistrate, Riker. 

This alternate history involving the U.S. Civil War, a diverse bunch of heroic orphans, and dinosaurs is quite a thrilling ride. The exciting adventure, written by Daniel José Older, also touches on deeper issues such as extreme racial injustice and fighting for what is right.

I'm looking forward to the second book in the series, Freedom Fire, to be released in May 2019.

Staff Picks: The War That Saved My Life

Reviewed by Stephanie H. 

I love Ada! Ada and this character-driven historical fiction won many awards, including the Newbery Honor book. She and her younger brother Jamie are evacuated from London to the English countryside during World War II. Away from the bombings and their abusive mother, they find the rural setting and their new caregiver both frightening and joyful. 

Never have I been so glad for a sequel! Ada grew so much in the first novel, but in the sequel she really demonstrates her strength against the formidable Lady Thorton, runaway horses, and a war that now reaches the countryside and those she has come to love. 

Powerful and uplifting! 

Women's History Month in Children's Books

Women’s History Month is almost over, but it’s not too late to check out some of our great children’s books featuring strong female characters. Browse our Women's History Month display in the Main Library Children's Area until the end of March—and celebrate women’s history throughout the year with books that inspire and delight young readers.

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

On November 17, author Jamie Ford speaks at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater in Bloomington for the NEA Big Read and the library’s biennial Power of Words program.

As he often does, Jamie Ford writes about the clashing and melding of different cultures in his three historical novels: Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, Songs of Willow Frost, and Love and Other Consolation Prizes.  

International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples

Today is International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples, and the tenth anniversary of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Today we honor the contributions of the world's indigenous peoples—the descendants of a given region's original inhabitants—and the cultural heritage with which they continue to identify.

A Short History of DADA

"Beautiful like the chance meeting on a dissection table of a sewing machine and an umbrella." —Compte de Lautréamont

Is it possible for an art movement to be anti-art? What would such a movement (anti-movement?) even look like? For the founders of DADA, which grew out of the aftermath of World War I in Europe, the answer is disruption—of society, of culture, and of art itself. 

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