I’ve always loved reading children’s picture book biographies because they tell the stories of people’s lives through both words and pictures. Joey: The Story of Joe Biden opens with the line “Give me the ball!” which can be a metaphor for the way that Joe has lived his life.
As a young boy, Joey loved playing sports. He was quite athletic and daring and he made many friends and admirers through his feats. However, Joey struggled to overcome one challenge in particular. He stuttered. Because of his stuttering, Joey was often bullied in school. But Joey was not to be defeated in this game either. With the encouragement and help of his mother and teachers, he worked hard at overcoming his stuttering. In fact, at his high school graduation, he gave a speech without a hitch. His mantra was, “If you put your mind to something, there’s nothing you can’t do.”
After high school, Joe decided to attend the University of Delaware. He would be the first Biden in his family to attend college. He then went on to attend law school and later became involved in politics. His “Give me the ball!” approach eventually landed him a position in the U.S. Senate, where he became one of the youngest people ever to hold that position. The rest of his story is modern day history. The end of this book has some cute childhood photos and it also includes a nice timeline of other events in both Biden’s political and personal life. One of my favorite last bits is a list of “Bidenisms” on the last page, including the phrase “Keep the faith,” which he used several times in his most recent campaign for president.
Reviewed by Cheryl, Children’s
I love the “Who Is” and “Who Was” children’s biography series. They are written on about a 4th grade reading level, yet they’re a good resource for even older readers because they give a nice abbreviated history of the person they’re written about.
My latest discovery in this series is Who Is Kamala Harris? by Kirsten Anderson. It gives a very nice overview of our newly elected vice president. Many people have heard her name, but few people know her story. Kamala was born in 1964 and both of her parents were involved in the civil rights movement of the 1960s. She even remembers riding along in her stroller at some civil rights marches. Kamala grew up listening to stories about racial injustice, which heightened her interest in and awareness of the need for racial equality.
Kamala’s best buddy when she was growing up was her younger sister, Maya. As children, they decided to join forces to get an outdoor playground area built for the children living in their apartment complex. The story of this adventure is told in the book Kamala and Maya’s Big Idea written by Maya’s daughter, Meena Harris. It’s another delightful story and demonstrates Kamala’s tenacity.
After graduating from high school, Kamala attended Howard University, a Historically Black College and University (HBCU) in Washington, D.C. Kamala loved being surrounded by and interacting with so many bright and creative people of color. Kamala then moved back to California to attend the University of California, Hastings College of the Law and eventually became a prosecutor working in the district attorney’s office. The rest of Kamala’s personal and professional story is told in this compelling biography, including her run for the U.S. presidency in 2020 and her selection by Joe Biden as his vice presidential running mate.
In January 2021, Kamala Harris became not only the first female but also the first woman of color to be sworn in as the Vice President of the United States. Kamala’s mother had always told her, “You may be the first, but don’t be the last.” Kamala is definitely not going to be the last!
Reviewed by Cheryl, Children’s
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