Midnight Teacher by Janet Halfmann

Midnight Teacher by Janet Halfmann is the story of one woman’s courageous journey to improve the lives of others through literacy.

Born into slavery, Lilly Ann Granderson was sold to a slave owner in Kentucky after the death of her mother. The master’s children would often play school and gave Lilly an old speller and taught her to read. She began sharing this gift of reading with others on the plantation. Once the owner died, she was sold to a cotton plantation in Mississippi, where it was illegal for slaves to learn to read. Undeterred, she restarted her school, teaching late at night to avoid being caught. The school grew. When patrollers discovered the slave school Lilly faced a hard punishment, but the authorities eventually ruled there was no law against a slave teaching other slaves.

What I admire about Halfmann’s biographies is that she highlights people who have made a difference in this world long past the pivotal times in which they lived. Granderson’s story displays her tremendous strength and determination to offer a gift that others took for granted because it was never a right denied to them. She knew the risks and faced them without fear of the consequences because she believed education was the path to freedom for her people. Between Halfmann’s moving text and London Ladd’s stunning artwork, the reader is immediately drawn into Granderson’s story.

A perfect book for any school or personal library, Midnight Teacher could inspire many school projects and empower young people to action for the causes for which they are passionate.

Highly recommended!

Rating: 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Grades 1-6
Reading Level Grades 3-6
Lexile Measure: 950 (What’s this?)
Hardcover: 40 pages
Publisher: Lee & Low Books; Illustrated edition (February 13, 2018)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1620141639
ISBN-13: 978-1620141632

I received a copy of this book from the publisher. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

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Coming in February: Midnight Teacher by Janet Halfmann

Halfmann tells the powerful story of Lily Ann Granderson, an enslaved woman who “believed the path to freedom was through education.” Ladd’s rich, naturalistic acrylic-and-pencil images depict Granderson’s upbringing in Kentucky, where she learned to read and write in secret, then shared her knowledge with other children. As an enslaved adult in Mississippi, Granderson risked punishment by holding night classes in an empty cabin: “Landowners feared that if the enslaved could read, they would discover that some northerners wanted slavery abolished.” After the school is discovered, Granderson is shocked to learn that she won’t be punished (Halfmann speculates about why she might have escaped punishment in an afterword) and reopens her school, teaching as a free woman for many more years. The painful but uplifting narrative may spark readers’ curiosity about other enslaved individuals whose stories have not yet been told.

Age Range: 7 – 11 years
Grade Level: 3 – 4
Hardcover: 40 pages
Publisher: Lee & Low Books; Illustrated edition (February 6, 2018)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1620141639
ISBN-13: 978-1620141632

Pre-order from Amazon or other online retailers.

A Rainbow of Birds by Janet Halfmann

rainbow

Papa Cardinal tells his chicks a story of how birds gave the world the rainbow in a story that has been passed down through generations.

A Rainbow of Birds by Janet Halfmann is a vibrant story of color that celebrates the tradition of storytelling. In this imaginative idea that capitalizes on legends and the ancient art of storytelling, children find a fanciful and fun story of how birds came together–sometimes after a squabble–to create the world’s first rainbow. In her trademark habit of educating and entertaining, Halfmann has included fun facts about rainbows, the magic of leprechauns, and rainbow activities and crafts.

Artist Jack Foster has truly outdone himself with the vibrant and occasionally zany characters depicted in this story. I always enjoy Foster’s work, but this book is so stunning it warrants special mention. Coupled with Halfmann’s delightful text, I could imagine and almost hear the story taking place through my office window.

Nature lovers, lovers of legends, and those who enjoy books where storytelling plays a role will want to snatch this one up right away.

Highly recommended!

Rating: 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

 

Paperback: 20 pagesrainbow inside
Publisher: Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc; large type edition edition (February 15, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1616334622
ISBN-13: 978-1616334628

 

I received a free digital copy of this book from the author. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

Seven Miles to Freedom by Janet Halfmann

So engaging it could be fiction, Seven Miles to Freedom: The Robert Smalls Story by Janet Halfmann should be in American classrooms everywhere.

The story of Robert Smalls begins in 1939 with his birth into slavery in Charleston, South Carolina. A favored servant, Smalls has a decent life for a slave, but he witnesses firsthand the cruelty of this Peculiar Institution. As he grows from child into man, Smalls falls in love and longs for freedom for him and his family. Seven Miles to Freedom shares how he leads a plot to steal a Confederate steamboat and pilots it into Union held territory.

What a fascinating story! My Civil War collection is the most extensive in my home library. I have numerous non-fiction titles about a variety of topics on the War between the States. I will proudly add Seven Miles to Freedom by Janet Halfmann to my collection.

Having enjoyed Halfmann’s Good Night, Little Sea Otter and Fur and Feathers, I knew the writing would be superb; but it can be difficult to make history interesting for young readers. Halfmann makes it look easy. It’s a true historical action adventure on the Atlantic. I wasn’t sure how I would like the impressionistic artwork for this book, but in the end I decided that Duane Smith’s creations were the perfect complement to the story. His style allows the reader to imagine this being any African-American slave’s story. Granted it is Smalls’s story, but the fact remains there were many brave African-Americans who helped the Union win the Civil War.

It’s no wonder that Seven Miles to Freedom has won so many honors and awards.  If you want to teach your children history in an engaging manner, you’ll want to pick up a copy of this one.

Rating:  🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

  • Publisher:Lee & Low Books
  • ISBN-10:9781600602320
  • ISBN-13: 978-1600602320
  • SRP:  $17.95

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinions. I received no monetary compensation to provide this review.

Seven Miles to Freedom by Janet Halfmann

Growing up a slave in South Carolina, Robert Smalls always dreamed of the moment freedom would be within his grasp. Now that moment was here.

Robert stood proudly at the Planter’s wheel. Only seven miles of water lay between the ship and the chance of freedom in Union territory. With precision and amazing courage, he navigated past the Confederate forts in the harbor and steered the ship toward the safety of the Union fleet. Just one miscalculation would be deadly, but for Robert, his family, and his crewmates, the risk was worth taking.

Seven Miles to Freedom is the compelling account of the daring escape of Robert Smalls, a slave steamboat wheelman who became one of the Civil War’s greatest heroes. His steadfast courage in the face of adversity is an inspiring model for all who attempt to overcome seemingly insurmountable challenges.

Read an excerpt!

In late 1861 freedom suddenly grew closer for Robert and Hannah. The Union navy captured Fort Royal, just down the coast from Charleston. A Union fleet set up a blockade at the entrance to Charleston Harbor. Looking thorough the captain’s field glasses, Robert could see the northern ships. The Union lines and freedom were within reach—only seven miles away.

Read the Reviews!

“The daring Civil War escape of a slave, his crew and their families in a stolen Confederate supply boat receives appropriately inspirational treatment in this new picture book. . . .Smith, a newcomer to picture books, sketches out scenes and characters with broad daubs of oil, creating a sculptural effect that heightens the monumental nature of Smalls’s deed. Page turns and textual pacing combine to relate the actual escape with pulse-pounding excitement; readers’ relief at Smalls’s success is almost physical. A triumph.”

–Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“This book is an excellent vehicle to bring [Smalls’s] story to a wider audience. . . .The oil paintings employ thick, bold strokes and deep saturated colors to convey Smalls’s strength and determination in successfully delivering his and his crew’s family members to freedom.”

–School Library Journal

“The story is simply told with the appropriate perspective of the era and the risks taken by the participants. Dramatically illustrated, this book should find a sympathetic audience among young readers and help reestablish in public memory the existence of a remarkable person.”

—The Bloomsbury Review, Editor’s Favorite

Awards:

Starred Review: Kirkus Reviews
Honor Book: Society of School Librarians International
Best Children’s Books of the Year: Bank Street College of Education
Editor’s Favorites: The Bloomsbury Review
Honor Book: Paterson Prize for Books for Young People
Land of Enchantment Book Award Masterlist: New Mexico Library Association
Beehive Book Awards Nominee: Children’s Literature Association of Utah
Reading Circle Program: Missouri State Teachers Association

Purchase Seven Miles to Freedom by Janet Halfmann at:

Lee & Low Books – http://www.leeandlow.com/books/173/hc/seven_miles_to_freedom

Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/Seven-Miles-Freedom-Robert-Smalls/dp/1600602320/

Barnes and Noble – http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Seven-Miles-to-Freedom/Janet-Halfmann/e/9781600602320/

Teaching guide for Seven Miles to Freedom by the National Museum of American History:
http://americanhistory.si.edu/ourstory/activities/smalls/

Janet Halfmann is an award-winning children’s author who strives to make her books come alive for young readers and listeners. She has written more than thirty fiction and nonfiction books.

Before becoming a children’s author, Janet was a daily newspaper reporter, children’s magazine editor, and a creator of coloring and activity books for Golden Books. She is the mother of four and the grandmother of four. When Janet isn’t writing, she enjoys gardening, exploring nature, visiting living history museums, and spending time with her family. She grew up on a farm in Michigan and now lives in South Milwaukee, WI.

Visit Janet online at:

Website: http://www.janethalfmann.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/janethalfmann
Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/janethalfmann



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Good Night, Little Sea Otter by Janet Halfmann

 A sweet and creative bedtime story is what you’ll find in Good Night, Little Sea Otter. It is bedtime for Little Sea Otter, but first he must say goodnight to all his sea friends. One by one they reply, and snuggled in his mother’s arms, Little Sea Otter drifts off to sleep.

I love bedtime stories. My girls are beyond most of them, but I still like to read them. So,  when author Janet Halfmann asked if I would be interested in reading Good Night, Little Sea Otter, I jumped at the chance.

In a unique way, Halfmann helps your little one settle down for sleep. The artwork provided by Wish Williams is outstanding. You feel like you could reach out and touch these creatures as you read along.  You can almost hear the movement of the sea.

I highly recommend  Good Night, Little Sea Otter by Janet Halfmann to anyone looking for the perfect bedtime story. At $5.95, you definitely can’t go wrong.

Rating:  🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

  • Publisher: Star Bright Books
  • ISBN-10: 1595722548
  • ISBN-13: 978-1595722546
  • SRP:  $5.95


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    Fur and Feathers by Janet Halfmann

     In this imaginative new book by Janet Halfmann, Sophia is awakened by the howling winds. Her mother suggests they count animals. Soon Sophia is fast asleep, dreaming of a howling wind that blows all the animals out of their coats. Sophia offers the animals her clothes, but they aren’t very comfortable for her new friends. Then Sophia pulls out her grandma’s sewing box to see what she can find to make the “right coat” for each animal.

    Fur and Feathers is a delightful story from the award-winning team of Janet Halfmann and Laurie Allen Klein. Halfmann’s unique and engaging story is perfectly complemented by Klein’s stunning and beautiful artwork. Young readers will be captivated by this tale of a young girl who helps out her furry and feathered friends.  This book takes the idea of counting sheep to an all new and fun level.

    If you visit Halfmann’s website, she will share the inspiration behind Fur and Feathers. You can view the video trailer below.

    An educational section at the back of the book can be used to teach youngsters about different animals and their skin coverings.

    I’ll definitely be on the lookout for more books by Janet Halfmann!

    Rating:  🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

  • Publisher:  Sylvan Dell Publishing
  • ISBN-10: 1607180863
  • ISBN-13: 978-1607180869
  • SRP:  $8.95


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