The Secret Garden of George Washington Carver by Gene Barretta

The Secret Garden of George Washington CarverThe Secret Garden of George Washington Carver by Gene Barretta; illustrated by Frank Morrison. 2020. Oil on illustration board. Published by Katherine Tegen Books.

Brief summary: This narrative biography begins in 1874 with a young  ten year old George Carver watering his plants in his secret Missourian garden. Through George’s love of botany and nature around him, he learns of the benefits of those plants and shares this knowledge with others. He attends Iowa Agricultural College. Booker T. Washington hires George to teach the people about agriculture.  He began experimenting with new crops to replace cotton, because that crop was destroying the land.  He discovers peanuts do well in the South. Carver travels and educates people about how to farm better and the many beneficial uses of peanuts.

Comments: Wow! I had no idea that there are 300 uses for peanuts. The book did not list any of those, so I’ll have to do some research. Maybe that would be a good topic for students to research and share.

Timeline, bibliography, and further reading sections are in the back.

Beautiful and inspirational illustrations. The cover caught my eye.

Ada Lovelace, Poet of Science: The First Computer Programmer by Diane Stanley

Ada Lovelace, Poet of Science: The First Computer Programmer by Diane Stanley

Ada Lovelace, Poet of Science: The First Computer Programmer by Diane Stanley; illustrated by Jessie Hartland. 2016. Gouache.

Brief summary: Ada Lovelace, daughter of Lord Byron and math whiz Annabella, did not like the things and interests of other young women of her time. She co-worked with Charles Babbage to invent the Analytical Engine which could run any mathematical calculation by using punched cards and considered the first programmable all-purpose digital computer. Ada wrote the mathematical code. Ada wrote a scientific paper about the invention giving it scientific and mathematical attention. She translated the work from French to English.

Comments: Back pages explain  how  both scientists worked on the engine, but there was some concern of what each contributed.  Good addition for a coding study.

(I may get a commission for purchases made through links in this post through the Amazon Affiliate Program.  Books reviewed were checked out of the public library and not sent to me free for review).

Whoosh!: Lonnie Johnson’s Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions by Chris Barton

Whoosh!: Lonnie Johnson's Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions by Chris Barton

Whoosh!: Lonnie Johnson’s Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions by Chris Barton; illustrated by Don Tate. Illustrations created digitally. 2016.

Brief Summary: Lonnie Johnson was one of six children living in Mobile, Alabama. He was interested in inventing as a child leaving home to go to Tuskegee Institute to become an engineer. He invented the super-soaker realizing that an air pump would make the water go further. He went to a toy company and his water gun was produced making water fighting more fun than ever.

Comments: This is an invention that students can relate to and will want to know who and how it was created.  Nonfiction narrative.  It could go in biographies or inventions section of the library. I plan to share this during the first two weeks of school when students are still water fighting to cool off during the hot, August heat.

Story Behind the Name Series

Story Behind the Name Series consists of four biographies(as of July 2016) that are written and illustrated in an interesting and fun way that makes the reader want to know more about the individual. Students will enjoy reading these narrative nonfiction books for reports as well as reading for fun.  The illustrations are large and colorful. The books have a glossary, read more, internet site referrals, and critical thinking using the common core sections. No index or table of contents. I bought all four for my elementary school library to be used with 4th and 5th grade biography reports. All four are also available in library binding.

George Ferris’s Grand Idea: The Ferris Wheel by Jenna Glatzer; illustrated by Stephanie Dominquez


John Deere’s Powerful Idea: The Perfect Plow by Terry Collins; illustrated by Carl Pearce


Gustave Eiffel’s Spectacular Idea: The Eiffel Tower by Sharon Katz Cooper; illustrated by Janna Bock


Milton Hershey’s Sweet Idea: A Chocolate Kingdom by Sharon Katz Cooper; illustrated by Alvaro Iglesias Sanchez