Escaping persecution for being Jewish, the Baline family fled Russia and arrived by ship in New York City harbor in September 1893. Little Israel Isidore Baline is only five years old. After arriving at Ellis Island, the first stop for all immigrants, Israel and his family are ready to begin a new life in America. His family settles in the Lower East Side and soon Israel (now nicknamed Izzy) starts school. And while he learns English, he is not a very good student. According to his teachers he daydreams and sings in class. But while these may not be traits that are helpful in the classroom, these are wonderful tools for a budding singer and composer. And by the time that Izzy (now known as Irving) is a young man, he is well on his way to becoming one of the most well-known composers in America. This vivid picture-book biography examines the life of Irving Berlin, the distinguished artist whose songs, including "God Bless America," continue to be popular today.
For years Jasper, a moon bear, lived a miserable existence, held captive in a cage by bear farmers in rural China. The farmers extracted the bile from Jasper's body and sold it to be used in traditional medicines. It's a horrific practice and conducted on thousands of moon bears each year. But now Jasper has the chance to be free and live a life away from pain and torture. In 2000, Animals Asia, an animal welfare organization, rescued Jasper and other captive moon bears, taking them to its Moon Bear Rescue Centre. Here veterinarians attended to the bears' wounds, hoping to give them some chance of a peaceful existence in the animal sanctuary. But after so many years of abuse Jasper's wounds, both physical and mental, are extensive. Can Jasper mend his body and mind and finally enjoy the life he was meant to live?
Eleven-year-old Kaden has managed to stay under the radar for most of his life. With the exception of Kubla, a pet crow, Kaden doesn't have any friends his own age and he's okay with that. After all, friends can ask inconvenient questions. Questions like Why do you live with your grandmother and where is your father? Questions Kaden doesn't want to answer. Apart from school and a few trips to town, Kaden and Gram keep to themselves, living a simple life at their cabins outside the small community of Promise. But now Kaden's life is getting a lot more complicated. He's starting middle school, which brings its own set of problems for a boy who doesn't fit in. And then he learns that his father, a man he has never known, is getting out of prison and moving to Promise. After years of being the outsider at school, Kaden is given a chance to come out of his shell when Yo-Yo, a new boy, moves to the area and offers friendship. But can Kaden trust him? Will Yo-Yo be a real friend after he learns about Kaden's father? The true meaning of friendship, love, responsibility, and loyalty is explored in this novel for middle-grade readers.
It's 1942: Tomi Itano, 12, is a second-generation Japanese American who lives in California with her family on their strawberry farm. Although her parents came from Japan and her grandparents still live there, Tomi considers herself an American. She doesn't speak Japanese and has never been to Japan. But after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, things change. No Japs Allowed signs hang in store windows and Tomi's family is ostracized. Things get much worse. Suspected as a spy, Tomi's father is taken away. The rest of the Itano family is sent to an internment camp in Colorado. Many other Japanese American families face a similar fate. Tomi becomes bitter, wondering how her country could treat her and her family like the enemy. What does she need to do to prove she is an honorable American? Sandra Dallas shines a light on a dark period of American history in this story of a young Japanese American girl caught up in the prejudices and World War II.
Each paperback in this series features a trio of fictional stories highlighting a moment in American history. Troubled Times contains three stories focusing on the Great Depression. In The Lucky Star a girl helps her sister and other children learn to read when their school is closed. Rudy Rides the Rails features a boy living the hobo life. In Junk Man's Daughter, a family struggles after moving to the United States.
To nine-year-old Willie Powell, there was no prettier sight than the smooth grass lawns of Edgewater Golf Cource. He had been so eager to see them that he'd run seven miles to where the course was situated outside of town. But his elation didn't last. When he asked two golfers if they'd teach him the game, one man responded by saying, 'Son, didn't anyone ever tell you that your kind is not welcome here?' In the 1920's there was no place for Willie, or any black person, on a golf cource. It was a game for white people only, at least in America. But his enthusiasm for golf and his belief in what he knew to be right drove Willie Powell to change that, and to change minds.
Ten-year-old Dandi (affectionately called "Dan" by family and friends) lives and breathes baseball. She may not be a fence buster but she can "hit 'em where they ain't" in the neighborhood pick-up games. The boys know she's a contender. And there's no bigger fan of the 1961 Kansas City A's. So when Charlie Finley, the A's new owner, announces an essay contest to get batboys, there's no doubt Dandi will enter the contest. Dandi not only enters the contest--her essay wins! However, her joy is short-lived when the contest officials enforce the For Boys Only rule. Long before the boundary-breaking ruling of Title IX, young women across the country used grit and determination to prove that barriers of gender have no place on a level playing field. Dandi Daley Mackall's true-life story gives voice and testament to the spirit of these young sports pioneers.Dandi Daley Mackall conducts writing workshops across the United States and speaks at numerous conferences and young author events. She was an instructor at Highlights and taught novel writing for the Institute for Children's Literature. Her most recent Sleeping Bear Press book is Rudy Rides the Rails. Dandi lives in West Salem, Ohio. Rene Graef is well known as the illustrator for the "Kirsten" books in the American Girl children's book collection. She has also illustrated many books in the My First Little House series. Her books with Sleeping Bear Press include Paul Bunyan's Sweetheart and B is for Bookworm: A Library Alphabet. Rene lives in Cedarburg, Wisconsin.
Did you know Americans generate nearly 250 million tons of trash each year? Or that it takes hundreds of years for a polystyrene cup to decompose? Mankind's negative impact on Mother Earth is tremendous and daily bad news can make it feel overwhelming. But all is not lost! S is for Save the Planet: A How-to-Be-Green Alphabet details the many environmental issues we face and then suggests easy-to-take actions that anyone can do. From the particulars of vermicomposting and xeriscaping, to the three R's of responsible waste management, young readers learn how they can be a force of nature in protecting the earth for generations to come.Brad Herzog spends two months every summer traveling across the country with his wife and two young sons and celebrating America's natural wonders. Together, they have visited more than 30 national parks and seashores. This is Brad's eighth alphabet book for Sleeping Bear Press. He lives on California's Monterey Peninsula. Linda Holt Ayriss is the recipient of a silver medal from the Best in the West Society of Illustrators, and has been recognized in the Communication Arts Annual. She is also the author of Sleeping Bear's E is for Evergreen: A Washington Alphabet. Linda lives in Washington State.
In 1932, Akron, Ohio was no better off than other parts of the country. Since Black Tuesday in '29, companies are closed, men all over the state are out of work, and families are running out of hope. Thirteen-year-old Rudy wants to help but doesn't know where to turn. His father, sullen and withdrawn, spends his time sulking on their front porch. His mother is desperate, not knowing how she will feed and care for her family. When Rudy learns of other boys leaving town and heading west to seek their fortunes, he hops a train figuring at least there will be one less mouth to feed at home. As Rudy lives the hobo life while he "rides the rails" to California, young readers are given a snapshot view and testament of Depression-era America.Writer Dandi Daley Mackall met the real "Ramblin' Rudy" in 2000 and was inspired to capture his story and the spirit of adventure shown by many during the Great Depression. She conducts writing workshops across the United States and speaks at numerous conferences. Dandi lives in West Salem, Ohio. Rudy Rides the Rails is Chris Ellison's second book with Sleeping Bear Press. He also illustrated Let Them Play, which was named to the 2006 Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People list. Chris is presently working on another Tales of Young Americans story about the Oklahoma Land Run. He lives in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.
Delly Porter has a happy life. She needs new shoes, but doesn't really mind because she loves the soft, silky feel of the dirt road beneath her bare feet. She's a good artist, too, even if she has to make her own art supplies. And she loves her schoolteacher, Miss Violet, who lets her help in the classroom. Life only looks brighter when Miss Violet announces the school will have a Shoebox Social to help raise funds for new art materials. But when what should be a festive occasion is threatened by prejudice and cruelty, Delly finds out that one must stay true to oneself to successfully navigate life's joys and sorrows. From Trinka Hakes Noble, the author of The Scarlet Stockings Spy and The Last Brother, comes the story of a young girl who learns the most precious things in life are not measured in dollars and cents but by the warmth of one's heart. And that truth, beauty, and love are in the eye of the beholder.
Voices for Freedom contains three stories focusing on the Underground Railroad and the 1963 Freedom March on Washington. Stories are Friend on Freedom River, Riding to Washington, and The Listeners.In Friend on Freedom River, written by Gloria Whelan, runaway slaves ask Louis to ferry them across the Detroit River to freedom in Canada. Hes not sure what to do. If they are caught, it means prison for Louis. Written by Gwenyth Swain, Riding to Washington tells of one girls journey to attend the 1963 Great March on Washington. Janie and her father ride a bus to Washington, D.C. to hear a man named Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. speak. During the trip, Janie sees firsthand the injustices that many others endure. In The Listeners, another offering from Gloria Whelan, each night Ella May and her friends secretly listen outside the windows of their masters house. They listen to learn their fates and those of the other slaves.
As a young boy in Gujarat, India, Kumar sometimes feels like he lives in two worlds. First there is the old world where people and their choices are determined by prejudice and bigotry. But then there is the second, modern world: in this world Kumar can be friends with whomever he chooses and his future looks bright. As part of the annual Diwali celebration, Kumar is invited to the house of his classmate Andal to watch fireworks. Andal is from a high-caste Brahmin family so Kumar is especially pleased to be included. But there in Andal's house, Kumar's two worlds collide in a very unpleasant way. Instead of being welcomed as a guest, Kumar is sent away, forbidden to join the festivities. Angry and hurt, Kumar is left questioning his place in Indian society. Where does he fit in? To which world does he really belong?
In 1926, 12-year-old Fu Lee lives with his grandparents in a small village in China. He lives with his grandparents because his parents are dead. It is a difficult life but made easier by the love Lee shares with his grandparents. But now Lee must leave all that he knows. Before his parents died, they spent all of their money buying a "paper son slot" for Lee to go to America. Being a "paper son" means pretending to be the son of a family already in America. If he goes, he will have the chance for a better life. But first he must pass the test at Angel Island Immigration Station in San Francisco. Only then will he be allowed to live with his new family. If Lee makes even a single mistake, he could be sent back to China. Lee knows his grandparents want a better life for him. He can't let them down.
Ella May lives on a plantation but she doesn't live in the great house. She is a slave. It's dark in the morning when Ella May heads to the fields to pick cotton. And it's sunset when she comes home. But her day isn't done, not yet. Ella May still has important work to do. She's got to listen. Each night Ella May and her friends secretly listen outside the windows of their master's house. The children listen in the hopes of gleaning information about their fates and those of their loved ones. Who will be sold? Who will stay? The lives of slaves depended on the inclinations of their owners. They had no control over their daily lives or futures. But they could dream. And when the promise of freedom appears on the horizon, the children are the first to hear it. Gloria Whelan's other titles in the Tales of Young Americans series include Friend on Freedom River (Jefferson Cup honor book) and Mackinac Bridge: The Story of the Five-Mile Poem (2007 Michigan Notable Book). Ms. Whelan lives in Michigan. Mike Benny's illustrations have appeared in Time, GQ, and The New Yorker magazines. His awards include three gold and two silver medals from the Society of Illustrators. He also illustrated America's White Table. Mike lives in Austin, Texas.
It is 1933 and the Great Depression has ravaged the nation. Millions of people are out of work; thousands of families are struggling to keep a roof overhead and food on the table. But Momma still finds ways to count her blessings (lucky stars) from Ruth's new shoes to Poppa's new job. But where Momma sees the 'bright,' Ruth only sees the dark. Her shoes are hand-me-downs from a neighbor and Poppa's new job keeps him away from home for months. And now their town can't afford to keep the school open. Ruth will not be going to fourth grade even though she's one of the brightest students in her class. How can anyone find the good in that? But when Ruth stops thinking of her own problems and focuses on someone else's, she realizes that being a lucky star is the best way to start seeing your own lucky stars. In addition to writing children's books, Judy Young teaches poetry writing workshops for children and educators across the country. Her other books with Sleeping Bear Press include the popular R is for Rhyme: A Poetry Alphabet and Lazy Days of Summer. Judy lives near Springfield, Missouri. This is Chris Ellison's third book in the Tales of Young Americans series. He also illustrated Rudy Rides the Rails and Pappy's Handkerchief. His first book with Sleeping Bear Press, Let Them Play, was named a 2006 Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People. Chris lives in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.
Janie is not exactly sure why her daddy is riding a bus from Indianapolis to Washington, D.C. She knows why she has to go-to stay out of her mother's way, especially with the twins now teething. But Daddy wants to hear a man named Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. speak and, to keep out of trouble, Janie is sent along. Riding the bus with them is a mishmash of people, black and white, young and old. They seem very different from Janie. As the bus travels across cities and farm fields to its historic destination, Janie sees firsthand the injustices that many others are made to endure. She begins to realize that she's not so different from the other riders and that, as young as she is, her actions can affect change.Though fiction, Riding to Washington is a very personal story for Gwenyth Swain as both her father and grandfather rode to Washington, D.C., to participate in the 1963 civil rights march on the nation's capital. Ms. Swain's other books include Chig and the Second Spread and I Wonder As I Wander. She lives in St. Paul, Minnesota. Artist David Geister has entertained audiences for years with his costumed portrayals of historic characters from the nineteenth century, and his artwork reflects his interest in history and dramatic storytelling. Riding to Washington is his third title with Sleeping Bear Press. David lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
In 1850 the Detroit River was a major track along the Underground Railroad -- the last step to freedom. The journey across the river was dangerous, especially in winter and especially for a 12-year-old boy. When Louis's father left him in charge of the farm he offered his son this advice, "If you don't know what to do, just do what you think I would have done." Louis relies upon his father's words of wisdom when a runaway slave and her two children come looking for safe passage. In the second title in our Tales of Young Americans series Gloria Whelan -- author of National Book Award winning Homeless Bird -- beautifully creates a suspenseful coming-of-age story while illuminating a difficult time in America's past. Ms. Whelan's narrative again shows the human spirit will forever shine brightly in dark times. Freedom River - part of our Young Americans series - will quickly become a favorite for its important message and look at history from a youngster's eye. Artist Gijsbert van Frankenhuyzen - a Sleeping Bear Press favorite - treats the material as only he can. Each illustrated page demonstrates the same mastery and devotion to his craft as the young heroes he brings to life.
Segregated Charleston, SC, 1955: There are 62 official Little League programs in South Carolina -- all but one of the leagues is composed entirely of white players. The Cannon Street YMCA All-Stars, an all-black team, is formed in the hopes of playing in the state's annual Little League Tournament. What should have been a time of enjoyment, however, turns sour when all of the other leagues refuse to play against them and even pull out of the program. As the only remaining Little League team in the state, Cannon Street was named state winner by default, giving the boys a legitimate spot in the Little League Baseball World Series held in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. While the Cannon Street team is invited to the game as guests, they are not allowed to participate since they have not officially "played" and won their state's tournament. Let Them Play takes its name from the chant shouted by the spectators who attended the World Series final. Author Margot Theis Raven recounts the inspiring tales of the Cannon Street All-Stars as they arrived in Williamsport, PA and never got the chance to play for the title thanks to the bigotry and ignorance of the South Carolina teams. Winning by forfeit, the Cannon Streeters were subsequently not allowed to participate in Williamsburg because they had not "played" their way into the tournament. Let Them Play is an important civil rights story in American history with an even more important message about equality and tolerance. It's a tale of humanity against the backdrop of America's favorite pastime that's sure to please fans of the sport and mankind. This summer will mark the 50th year since the fans' shouts of Let Them Play fell on deaf ears and 14 boys learned a cruel lesson in backwards politics and prejudice. This book can help teach us a new lesson and assure something like this never happens again.