Category Archives: Summer

Posts related to summer activities and celebrations.

Happy Birthday, Duke Kahanamoku!

Today is the birthday of Duke Kahanamoku, the first Hawaiian ever to swim in the Olympics. He was born on August 24, 1890 in Honolulu and was an incredible swimmer with a passion for surfboarding. By the end of his twenty-year Olympic career, he was a six-time medal winner! He also introduced the art of surfing to Australia and the east and west coasts of the United States. You can read more about Duke in Surfer of the Century: The Life of Duke Kahanamoku by Ellie Crowe and illustrated by Richard Waldrep.

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Where can you see Bill Traylor’s artwork?

Traylor drawing
Bill Traylor draws on a street corner in a scene from “It Jes’ Happened”

Bill Traylor’s story is the stuff of legend: he was born into slavery in Alabama, lived most of his life as a sharecropper, and started drawing at the age of eighty-five, while living homeless in Montgomery, Alabama. His drawings once decorated a street corner; now he’s known as one of America’s most important folk artists.

You can learn more about Traylor’s life story in our picture book biography, It Jes’ Happened, but there’s nothing like seeing Traylor’s artwork in person. Most of it is concentrated at a few museums in the southeast, but luckily, right now there’s a traveling exhibition making its way around the US with over 60 of Traylor’s works. The paintings, borrowed from permanent collections at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta and the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, represent some of the best examples of Traylor’s unique folk art style. Here’s where the exhibit will be:

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Three Great Books to Celebrate the Olympics

It’s Olympics time! Have you all been glued to your televisions and various electronic devices for the last 5 days? Or, conversely, have you been dodging your televisions and electronic devices, trying to avoid spoilers?

Either way, the Olympics are one of my favorite things. And while it’s tons of fun rooting for all the current big names (Michael Phelps! Kerri Walsh! Gabby Douglas!) it’s also worth spending a few minutes remembering some great Olympic athletes from the past who paved the way. Here are three to start with:

Sixteen Years in Sixteen Seconds1. Sammy Lee (Sixteen Years in Sixteen Seconds): Diver Sammy Lee was born on August 1, 1920 in Fresno, California. Growing up, Sammy was barred from the public pool six out of seven days of the week because he was not white; despite that, Lee became a world-class diver and at the 1948 Olympic Games in London, became the first Asian American to win a gold medal. There’s a great picture of Sammy Lee, now 91, in this now-and-then piece on athletes from the last London Olympics.

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One More Sensational Summer Read Aloud!

For the last installment in our series on Sensational Summer Read Alouds, literacy expert Jaclyn DeForge shares one final title that has a high student-interest level, can be used to hit multiple Common Core learning standards, and is super rich in terms of content, just like A Full Moon is Rising and Silent Star.

Balarama: A Royal ElephantToday’s Pick: Balarama: A Royal Elephant

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Why Do You Love Ferris Bueller’s Day Off?

Ferris Bueller coverFor those of you who didn’t know, Cat Girl’s Day Off takes place on the set of a remake of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Since its release in 1986, this movie has achieved the status of cult classic and become the source of countless pop culture references and movie quotes (Bueller? Bueller?)

For me, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off evokes fond images of playing hooky in sunny Chicago, adventures you could only have with your best friends, and the loveable Ferris himself. I would love to be Ferris
Bueller!! But what exactly is it about the movie that makes it an all-time favorite?

Cat Girl's Day Off CoverAuthor Kimberly Pauley tells us her top five reasons why she chose the film to tie in to Cat Girl’s Day Off:

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What Are Your Top 3 Beach Reads?

In celebration of July 4th and all of summer’s fun activities, I asked a few Lee & Low authors and staff members what their favorite beach reads are. I’m sure it was difficult to pick just three, but here’s what they came up with:

Don Tate, author of It Jes’ Happened, says: “Reading here has been slow lately. But here’s what’s tops on my summer reading list, books written by friends and critique partners in my local writing community.”

  1. Laugh With The Moon by Shana Burg
  2. Chronal Engine by Greg Leitich Smith
  3. Think Big by Liz Garton Scanlon

 Jaclyn DeForge, our Resident Literacy Expert, explains why she made her choices:During the summer, despite my best intentions, I seldom actually make it to the beach, so here are my favorite travel-centric reads that help me imagine I’m on vacation.”

  1. A Sense of Direction:  Pilgrimage for the Restless and the Hopeful by Gideon Lewis-Krauss
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Happy First Day of Summer!

Image from Yum! ¡Mmmm! ¡Que Rico!

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