The Quickest Kid in Clarksville by Pat Zietlow Miller and illustrated by Frank Morrison. 2016. Watercolor.
Brief summary: Alta is a fast runner despite the many holes in her shoes who worships Wilma Rudolph and can’t wait to see her idol in a parade through the streets of Clarksville, Tennesse. Charmaine, a new girl with new tennis shoes, figures out a way all four girls could carry the large banner by mimicking the Olympic relay and “can do” attitude with teamwork. They are thrilled to see the fastest woman in the world who won the summer Olympic Games in Rome, Italy.
Comments: The author’s notes in back include a photo of Wilma Rudolph. This story is an inspiration to those who are reaching a goal and need grit. The athlete had polio as a child and kept pushing herself until she became the fastest.
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Steamboat School by Deborah Hopkinson; illustrated by Ron Husband. 2016. Illustrations are black, brown, and yellow. Mechanical pen and India ink with Photoshop of an aged paper background.
Brief summary: Reverend John Berry Meachum was an educator in St. Louis, Missouri who advocated for African-Americans’ rights. He secretly taught African-American children in the basement of his church by candlelight, as there were no windows. His teaching immediately stopped with the new 1847 law stating that “No person shall keep any school for the instruction of Negroes or mulattoes, reading or writing in this state.” He acquired a beat-up steam boat, and with the help of some of his students, was able to renovate the boat as the new school where his students could have a place to learn how to read and write. He cleverly gets around the 1847 law, because the Missouri state laws do not apply on the river.
Comments: This was inspired by a true story, and a historical fiction picture book. I think this could pair with how some countries today do not allow girls to go to school. This could be used to talk about the importance of having an education for all people.