I've been playing catch-up at the library after a 12 day vacation. While I was away, I had my sewing room painted (it is hibiscus pink and the room of my dreams: all of my fabrics, quilting supplies, magazines, etc. are neatly stored on shelves and easily found. I just stand in the door and grin, it makes me so happy.) and spent several days trying to get it sorted out. Sad to say, I didn't spend a lot of time reading...until I got the flu and couldn't move my body off of the sofa.
I read children's nonfiction for two days and these are the books that really got to me:
Black and white airmen: their true history by John Fleischman. Herb Heilbrun and John Leahr were in the same 3rd grade class, a rarity in the 1920s since Herb was white and John black. They both dreamed of flying and they both worked in an airplane factory with Herb testing equipment and John on the production line. With World War II being fought, Herb enlisted in the new Air Force division of the Army and John was, after much persuasion and a little "help" on his medical tests, taken into the Tuskegee Airmen. They were both assigned to air bases in Italy and even flew a mission together--Herb as a bomber pilot, John flying the escort plane. They did not know (or remember) each other at any point of their parallel careers. Fast forward to a Tuskegee Airmen reunion where Herb crashed the party in order to thank the black pilots who had protected him and his plane on so many missions during the war. He and John met and became friends and now do presentations about their flying days throughout the country.
We are the ship: the story of Negro League baseball by Kadir Nelson (has stunning illustrations). Told in nine innings (chapters) with an extra innings (epilogue), Nelson talks bluntly about the professional baseball (American and National leagues) feeling that Negroes were not smart enough or physically talented enough to play ball. Well, the black players and owners thought differently so they started their own baseball leagues and barnstormed across the country, picking up games wherever they could. The Negro Leagues were where Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella, Henry Aaron, Satchel Paige (one of the most colorful characters in all of baseball) and so many other players got their start, many of them now enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.
Both of these books just knocked me between the eyes. From the vantagepoint of my lifetime, it just shocks me that segregation ever existed or was allowed to exist. That the color of a person's skin was more important that their mind, heart, talent, etc. angers me and makes me very embarrassed. A big thumbs up on both of these books.
On a slightly less intense note, Independent Dames: what you never knew about the women and girls of the American Revolution by Laurie Halse Anderson was great fun. It is filled with brightly colored and highly detailed illustrations with lots of side bars and personal stories and a time line across the bottom. It talks about women who helped the cause on the American side and on the British side as well as telling the stories of some women who did some nasty and underhanded things that helped nobody. I learned a lot, laughed a little and thoroughly enjoyed the book. But I've always liked Ms. Anderson's young adult fiction so I trust her as an author.
I'm looking ahead to a few more nonfiction days since I have a great stack of books waiting for me by the reading chair in my living room. I'll snuggle up under my Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer blanket (a gift from my niece Julie) and be absolutely content. Sounds like heaven, doesn't it?