In the 1970s “The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau” was a regular television show watched by a lot of people. Jacques Cousteau was the host of the show – an adventurer, explorer and teacher who took his boat called the Calypso all over the world filming amazing underwater creatures to show the rest of us. Jacques was like Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter, but without all the “Crikey!” and alligator wrestling.
This book is the story of Jacques life as an adventurer and inventor. He helped develop the aqua lung – the tank that allows people to breath underwater. Jacques’s message about keeping the ocean clean and protecting ocean creatures was way ahead of everyone else. Jacques was green before being green was cool! Author: Jennifer Berne Illustrator: Éric Puybaret
If you want to know what it was really like during the California Gold Rush, this book is a great place to start. It isn’t a textbook telling all the facts, this is the inside story of the gold rush told by one of the miners himself, Thomas Hartley. Thomas tells the story from the day he heard about the discovery of gold in California. All the people around him can talk about is gold, “how much and how to get it and how to spend it once you’ve got it.” Of course, they forget to talk about all the work…and the danger. Thomas’s story includes blisters and rotting teeth, scurvy, dysentery, scheamers, crooks and murderers. A true adventure that just might end in fortune. Author: Tod Olson Illustrator: Scott Allred
Look at that cover! Talk about making history intresting. Do you know the names Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton? Both worked for George Washington during the Revolution. Eventually, Aaron Burr became Vice – President and Alexander Hamilton became Secretery of the Treasury – he’s the guy on our $10 bill. Here are two guys you would consider pretty smart…yet they both couldn’t think of a better way to settle their differences than a duel – a fight to the death. And like many disagreements, their reasons seem very silly now! That’s the thing about fighting, it usually seems pretty dumb later.
These two guys both had tempers, they were jealous, they argued, and they talked badly about each other to other people. They sound like a couple of school boy brats rather than the educated adults they were. Rather than work out their differences they agreed to have a duel, and they even sneaked off in the night to do it because they knew it was illegal. That’s a lot of bad choices made by both of them. In the end, one walked away from the duel but lived out his life in disgrace…and the other was dead. Now that’s a no-win situation!
This is a great book that brings two historic figures to full color life. It also goes to show you what a poor choice fighting is! Fighting has never been a smart way to solve differences. Thankfully, our politicians today use debates and interviews and speeches to settle their differences. So let’s hear it for the 2008 presidential election, a war of words and not of fists. Author: Dennis Fradin Illustrator: Larry Day
A true story. It’s 1948 during the Berlin Airlift. Pilots, who three years earlier were bombing Berlin, are now in the business of saving Berliners from a slow, wintry starvation. One of those pilots is Lt. Gail Halvorsen. In addition to his deliveries of flour and coal, he parachutes Hershey Bars to the watching children. These children have never tasted candy. Halvorsen’s kindness is a hit. He receives fan mail, and in one letter, a child named Mercedes asks the “Chocolate Pilot” to please drop some candy at her house. A knock on Mercedes’ door begins a unique friendship. Author: Margot Raven Illustrator: Gijsbert van Frankenhuyzen
In 1832, three-year-old Laura Bridgman and her two sisters were stricken with scarlet fever. In those days, there were no antiobotics or fever reducing medicines. Laura’s two sisters died. Laura’s fever lasted for many weeks and left her blind, deaf and without her senses of taste and smell. The only sense Laura had left was touch. Like Helen Keller, who was born many years later, Laura was often frustrated and threw temper tantrums, angry about her inability to make other people understand what she wanted.
Luckily, a man named Samuel Howe was at the same time opening a school for the blind and figuring out ways to help deaf and blind children learn. (It later became the Perkins School for the Blind.) Laura went to live at Mr. Howe’s school and he was able to teach her to read and write. Laura became famous. The English writer Charles Dickens even came to visit her and included a story about her in his book American Notes. 40 years later, Helen Keller’s mother read that book by Charles Dickens and realized that her daughter Helen cold be helped! Can you imagine her reaction when she was reading, realizing that there was another girl like Helen who had learned to read!
It was Laura Bridgman who taught Annie Sullivan how to fingerspell. Annie Sullian became Helen Keller’s teacher. I never knew there were deaf and blind students before Helen Keller that could communicate like her. It was Laura, not Helen, that was the very first deaf and blind student to learn to read and write.
It is hard to even imagine…living in silence and darkness…and then having someone teach you how to share your thoughts with others. What a miracle! In the biography below Helen talks about what it was like to learn how to read…and then what it felt like to go to the Perkins School for the blind and meet other blind children who could also fingerspell…she had friends for the very first time. Cool! Author: Sally Hobart Alexander
So, it was Mr. Samuel Howe who worked with Laura and taught her how to fingerspell. Laura taught Anne and Anne taught Helen. It all started with Mr. Howe. His methods are still used today to teach deaf and blind students how to read and write. Now that’s one guy who made a big difference.