Monday, December 1, 2014



From bestselling author Patricia Polacco's family tree -- the true story of young Clara Barton.

Animals and flowers were Clara's best friends. She had a special way with critters and found joy in the beauty that sprang from the soil. But whenever Clara talked, her words didn't come out right. As hard as she tried, she could not get over her lisp.

Clara's older brother Davie understood that his sister was gifted. When folks made fun of Clara's stilted words, Davie was always at her side reminding her that she had a talent for healing creatures. 

Davie told his sister, "Some day you are going to be a very great lady." And that's exactly what happened. Clara Barton became one of the most famous medical practitioners of all time, and founded the American Red Cross. 


Another winner from a prolific and talented author/illustrator, Clara and Davie introduces the reader to Clara Barton as a young girl.  I especially enjoyed reading about her relationship with her brother, Davie.  Not many brothers ten years older would take the time to help and befriend his younger sister the way Davie does.  It's clear that Clara had a gift for healing from the time she was very young.  But like everyone else she faced her own challenges including a prominent lisp.  This lisp led many of those around her to make fun of her causing her to withdraw, but thanks to the efforts of her brother and other family members she was educated at home.  When Davie suffers a devastating injury, Clara is just the one to help him face his own heart-wrenching challenges.  Like all her other family stories, Polacco shares the experiences that helped people grow and become the people they were.  Keep in mind that biographical picture books like this one often have made up dialogue in them, after all nobody was around to record everything that someone may have said at some point in his/her life.  


For shy young Peter Mark Roget, books were the best companions -- and it wasn’t long before Peter began writing his own book. But he didn’t write stories; he wrote lists. Peter took his love for words and turned it to organizing ideas and finding exactly the right word to express just what he thought. His lists grew and grew, eventually turning into one of the most important reference books of all time.

Readers of all ages will marvel at Roget’s life, depicted through lyrical text and brilliantly detailed illustrations. This elegant book celebrates the joy of learning and the power of words.


One of my favorite books of 2014, The Right Word, takes a look at the creation of Roget's Thesaurus and the man who created it.  Not only are the illustrations remarkable (which I would expect from Melissa Sweet), the text is beautifully integrated with them to present a striking book that is both informative and appealing.  This book would be a great tool for helping children learn how to use a thesaurus and to develop an understanding of the power of having just the right word to use.  Roget strikes me as a rather interesting man to study with his word fascination as well as interest in many aspects of science so I found the author's and illustrator's notes at the end thoroughly intriguing.  The list of references and resources is also helpful and indicates the large amount of work that went into making this book.  It was also really interesting to see a copy of one of the pages from Roget's notebook.  A great book and a great resource and very possibly a soon to be award winner.

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