When you look at a bird, do you see feathers and a beak? Or do you see circles and triangles? Artist Charley Harper spent his life reducing subjects to their simplest forms, their basic lines and shapes. This resulted in what he called minimal realism and the style that would become easily recognized as Charley Harper’s. Art fans and nature lovers around the world fell in love with Harper’s paintings, which often featured bright colors and intriguing nature subjects.
Today, we know Dolores Huerta as the cofounder, with Cesar Chavez, of the National Farmworkers Association, which later became the United Farm Workers of America. We know her as a tireless advocate for the rights of farmworkers, Mexican American immigrants, women, and LGBTQ populations. And we know her as the recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Barack Obama in 2012.
World War II soldier Bill Wynne met Smoky while serving in New Guinea, where the dog, who was smaller than his Army boot, was found trying to scratch her way out of a foxhole. After he adopted her, she served as the squadron mascot and is credited as being the first therapy dog for the emotional support she provided the soldiers. When they weren’t fighting, Bill taught Smoky hundreds of tricks to entertain the troops.
Long before she wrote The House of Dies Drear, M. C. Higgins, the Great, and many other children’s classics, Virginia Hamilton grew up among her extended family near Yellow Springs, Ohio, where her grandfather had been brought as a baby through the Underground Railroad. The family stories she heard as a child fueled her imagination, and the freedom to roam the farms and woods nearby trained her to be a great observer.
In 1955, sixty-seven-year-old Emma “Grandma” Gatewood became the first woman to solo hike the entire length of the Appalachian Trail in one through hike. Michelle Houts and Erica Magnus bring us the first children’s book about her feat and the unexpected challenges she encountered on the journey she initially called a “lark.”
In the third installment of our series Biographies for Young Readers, Nancy Roe Pimm gives us the life of Jerrie Mock, who in 1964 became the first woman to fly solo around the world. Mock, born in Newark, Ohio, received little attention for her feat, despite accomplishing what her childhood heroine Amelia Earhart died trying. Meticulously researched, Mock’s story as presented by Pimm is engaging, accessible, and packed with inspiration for middle-grade readers aspiring to adventure.
Growing up in Ladora, Iowa, Mildred “Millie” Benson had ample time to develop her imagination, sense of adventure, and independence. Millie left her small hometown to attend the University of Iowa, where she became the first person to earn a master’s degree from the school of journalism. While still a graduate student, Millie began writing for the Stratemeyer Syndicate, which published the phenomenally popular Hardy Boys series, among many others.
Dorothy Mary Kamenshek was born to immigrant parents in Norwood, Ohio. As a young girl, she played pickup games of sandlot baseball with neighborhood children; no one, however, would have suspected that at the age of seventeen she would become a star athlete at the national level. The outbreak of World War II and the ensuing draft of able-bodied young men severely depleted the ranks of professional baseball players.