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My First Book of Biographies: Great Men and Women Every Child Should Know (Cartwheel Learning Bookshelf) Hardcover – September, 1994

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 2-3-Marzollo presents 36 alphabetical, one-page sketches of 45 famous figures from different time periods, cultures, and backgrounds, including Sequoya, Gandhi, George Washington, Beatrix Potter, and Marie and Pierre Curie. Women and ethnic minorities are well represented. From U.S. Presidents and world leaders to artists, scientists, astronauts, and athletes, the people all share a passion for their work and a willingness to take risks. The clearly written summaries focus on accomplishments and historical significance. The entries are accompanied by full-page watercolor paintings that successfully capture the spirit of the people. An excellent lead-in to Adler's fine "A Picture Book of..." series (Holiday).
Eunice Weech, M.L. King Elementary School, Urbana, IL
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Gr. 2-4. In her introduction, Marzollo makes it clear that the 45 brief biographies in this collection "are meant only to introduce you to these folks" and that she hopes readers will want to investigate further elsewhere. Each subject (sometimes two or three related individuals are treated together) is given a double-page spread, with text on one page and a full-color watercolor painting on the other. Although pronunciation information is given for some words, for example cello, circa, Sequoya, and Mozart, many unfamiliar names and foreign phrases appear without guidelines. Most of the subjects are American, but Marzollo does profile a few figures from other times and nations--among them, Cleopatra, Peter the Great, and Beatrix Potter. She also includes individuals from a variety of ethnic backgrounds. Libraries in need of collective biographies for younger readers or classroom teachers who can use very basic personal profiles may want to consider this attractive volume. Chris Sherman

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Product Details

  • Series: Cartwheel Learning Bookshelf
  • Hardcover: 79 pages
  • Publisher: Cartwheel Books; Twelfth Printi edition (September 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 059045014X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0590450140
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 9.2 x 10.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #937,267 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jean Marzollo was born and raised in Manchester, Connecticut.

She says, "As a child, I loved to read and sew dolls' clothes, one outfit after another. I am a graduate of Manchester High School, the University of Connecticut, and the Harvard Graduate School of Education. After working as a high school English teacher and editor of Scholastic's "Let's Find Out" kindergarten magazine with Carol Devine Carson for 20 years, I began writing children's books. I have written over 130 books, including the award-winning, best-selling I SPY series for children, written completely in rhythm and rhyme. Rhythm and rhyme are like music without the tune; they lure and excite the ear. Children love rhythm and rhyme, and so do I. Do you know that I SPY actually has the same rhythm as "Old Mother Hubbard" and also rap? I treasure the beautiful, intricate photographs by Walter Wick in the I SPY books. When I wrote the first I SPY book, I automatically thought of kindergarten children so everything that I called for was concrete, something a 5-year-old can find. The result is a hunting game that children and grownups can play together successfully. Sometimes children are better than their parents! In recent years I took up painting and have begun to illustrate my own "books on paper" and "books online." You can see them on my website: Writing and illustrating picture books today is as much fun as sewing dolls' clothes was when I was in third grade. As soon as I'm done with one book, I'm happily compelled to start the next."

Jean Marzollo lives in Upstate New York.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Emily K. Paster on September 9, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I picked this book up for my precocious first grader at a used book sale for less than a dollar. What a windfall! My daughter pores over the short biographies contained in this volume. As a result of reading this book, she can discuss Shakespeare and Queen Elizabeth with her grandmother, who is a Shakespeare scholar, and Mozart with her other grandmother, who is a gifted pianist. She understands more about the Great Depression, the time in which her beloved American Girl doll Kit lived, because of the page on Franklin Roosevelt, and understands why her elementary school is named for Abraham Lincoln after reading his biography. The sketches may be short, as one reviewer complains, but they are only supposed to be an introduction to these historical personages, and to the very genre of biography. I know this book has been a real find for my child. I recommend it for anyone whose child is interested in history.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By M. Heiss on August 20, 2010
Format: Hardcover
It's more of a home-bookcase book than a school biography book; not very useful for homeschoolers except as a pictorial reference.

It covers the diversity ground -- Americans and non-Americans, whites and non-whites, men and women. Seems like we have too many American presidents in the book -- they would probably be better in a book of their own.

Very nice illustrations.

I have a soft spot for Jean Marzollo because I have spent dozens of hours with my children, looking at her "I Spy" books. So while this book's usefulness would probably earn it a three-star rating, I'm giving her an extra star for being Jean Marzollo.
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By Msmome on April 15, 2015
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Excellent condition, came on time and was just what I was looking for. The students love it!!
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Charles Ashbacher HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 9, 2007
Format: Hardcover
While this collection of short biographies does introduce children to some of the greatest people in history, they are so short as to be of questionable value. In 79 pages, the lives of 45 people are summarized, one page of text and one page with an image. The text is made up of short, staccato-like sentences, there is very little of substance.

The range is also too broad to be effective. Cleopatra, Christopher Columbus, William Shakespeare, Mohandas Gandhi, Winston Churchill, Benjamin Franklin, Albert Einstein and Katsushika Hokusai appear in the book. There is no broad theme, although it is impossible to dispute that the people selected are most deserving.

In many cases, brevity is to be preferred; however in this case it is not. These are some of the greatest people in the history of the world; it is just not possible to do them justice in a few paragraphs. Furthermore, in my opinion the writing is substandard; the author could have used more complex sentences, which would have made it sound better.
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