Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Trinity Church, St. Paul's, and Hamilton

I spent some time this weekend in lower Manhattan. My hotel was directly across the street from St. Paul's Chapel so I had to stop over to see this 250-year old Episcopal church that survived 9/11 and holds so much history.

The cemetery is populated by Revolutionary War veterans and New World residents who lived in New York before we were a free nation.

It is remarkable to see this tiny chapel among NY skyscrapers and to imagine an earlier New York. St. Paul's was built by Trinity Church to serve the neighborhood.

St. Paul's 

Just a few blocks away is Trinity Church, where Angelica Schuyler her sister, Eliza and Alexander Hamilton are buried. The original Trinity Church burned down. While awaiting the new building, George Washington and the gang attended St. Paul's.

Trinity Church 

He was a good guy, but.....  

John Lawrence! 

Eliza's plot

This is a great place to fill out your Hamilton knowledge. These two locations are filled with so much history. I could hear the whispers of the early parishioners while walking among the graves and standing inside these two special churches.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Book Shopping - Illustrator Stacy Innerst Brings History Alive!

I fell in love with Stacy Innerst's beautiful illustrations at the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators conference in Los Angeles this month. Stacy is the recipient of the 2017 Golden Kite Award for Picture Book Art for The Music In George's Head, a wonderful book about George Gershwin by Suzanne Slade.

Seeing Stacy's books collected together made me appreciate their amazing illustrations all the more. Stacy has a wonderful way of bringing these historical biographies to life. I was amazed to learn that the Levi Strauss illustrations were actually created on denim!  Take a look at them for yourself!

 Find out more about Stacy's work and August picture book release about Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Reading on the Glorious Fourth

So many great patriotic titles to read this holiday. I'm thinking the popularity of Hamilton on Broadway has a little something to do with some of these new releases. Don't you?

I can't wait to read Melissa De La Cruz's latest YA novel inspired by this famous couple.

For younger readers, Don Brown has taken a stab at the famous duel.  Brown wrote and illustrated Aaron and Alexander, described as a tale of passion, patriotism, and pride.

Here are a few others that shed light on our founding fathers. 


Friday, June 23, 2017

Reading on Russia

While Russia seems to be in the news every day, I'd thought I'd put together a reading list of books set in and about Russia.  Perhaps you might want to add these to your summer reading list.

I'm starting off with my book that, surprisingly, has much to do about Russia.

I went to St. Petersburg, Russia to research and photograph THE STORY OF SEEDS: FROM MENDEL'S GARDEN TO YOUR PLATE, AND HOW THERE'S MORE OF LESS TO EAT AROUND THE WORLD. Having grown up during the Cold War, I never imagined I would be visiting there, let alone on a research trip to a government facility. I had the unique opportunity to visit the Vavilov Research Institute, the world's first global seed bank. You can read about how this important facility survived during the WWII's Leningrad Siege and how Nikolai Vavilov created something so valuable that countries, including the US, are still benefiting from it today. It is a story of bravery, science, and vision!

M.T. Anderson's SYMPHONY FOR THE CITY OF THE DEAD: DMITRI SHOSTAKOVICH AND THE SIEGE OF LENINGRAD's focuses on a different voice of the Leningrad Siege -- that of a Russian composer. Like my story, it highlights the courage and bravery of Leningrad's citizens during this terrifying period of history. The story is brilliantly told and well-researched.

This year marks the centennial of the Russian Revolution. There is one marvelous book that is a must-read -- THE FAMILY ROMANOV: MURDER, REBELLION, AND THE FALL OF IMPERIAL RUSSIA by Candace Fleming. This YA book offers readers a riveting story of the Russian royal family and the circumstances that led to their demise. Wonderfully written and impeccably researched, this book is a treat in both its written form and in audio. (I personally loved the audio version!)

I reviewed THE LOST CROWN for the Historical Novel Society in 2011 -- Sarah Miller’s well-researched novel, The Lost Crown, gives beautiful, honest voices to the teen daughters of Tsar Nicholas II in the years of their imprisonment following his abdication.   Faithful Tatiana, thoughtful Olga, comforting Maria and spunky Anastasia are brought to life within the pages of this moving young adult novel.  Knowing the fate of these girls does not make this an easy read, but certainly worthwhile.  I began reading the book in the evening and it did not leave my head until I finished it the next morning. Each chapter is told in alternating voices with a small photo of each narrator on the chapter’s first page. 
Readers may find themselves comparing these historic events to recent headlines.  As exile options dwindle for deposed leaders, many of them struggle to hold on to their sovereignty.  Tsar Nicholas’ daughters, once privileged and protected, lived under house arrest for years before meeting their brutal fate.  Bewildered by the growing hatred towards them, Sarah Miller portrays the life the girls lived behind painted windows and unlocked doors. 

Here are a few more to add to your reading list:

Please feel free to add additional titles in the comments! Spasibo!  (That is one of the few words I learned for my trip! The rest is already forgotten.)

Happy reading!