Non-Fiction for Younger Readers

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Ruth Law Thrills a Nation

In 1916 a young woman named Ruth Law attempted to fly from Chicago to New York City in one day–something no one else had ever done. This is the story of that daring attempt. Beautifully detailed watercolors dramatize a dangerous journey made by the pilot President Woodrow Wilson called “great.” Full-color illustrations.A Reading Rainbow Selection.

First published in 1992, it remains in print!

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Alice Ramsey's Grand Adventure

Don Brown introduces us to yet another little-known heroine. On June 9, 1909, twenty-two-year-old Alice Ramsey hitched up her skirts and climbed behind the wheel of a Maxwell touring car. Fifty-nine days later she rolled into San Francisco, becoming the first woman to drive across America. What happened in between is quite a tale! Through words and pictures, the author shares this story of a brave and tenacious young woman who followed her vision to conquer the open road – even when the road was nothing more than a wagon trail. Alice Ramsey’s adventure offers a unique perspective on turn-of-the-century America and pays tribute to the pioneering spirit that helped create it.

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One Giant Leap

As a young boy, Neil Armstrong had a recurring dream in which he held his breath and floated high in the sky. He spent his free time reading stacks of flying magazines, building model airplanes, and staring through a homemade telescope. As a teenager, Neil worked odd jobs to pay for flying lessons at a nearby airport. He earned his student pilot’s license on his sixteenth birthday. But who was to know that this shy boy, who also loved books and music, would become the first person to set foot on the moon, on July 20, 1969.

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Rare Treasure

Brown (One Giant Leap, 1998, etc.) opens with the thrilling incident from Mary’s infancy: while her nursemaid and two companions died under a tree struck by lightning, Mary survived. Taught by her father to hunt for fossils on the rocky beaches and cliffs near Lyme Regis, Mary continued to do so after his death, to help support herself and her family. Without formal education, she studied and read and always pursued fossils, despite physical danger. Richard Owens, the scientist who coined the word dinosaur,’ came to hunt fossils with her. Brown’s prose has a light and poetic touch, and his watercolors, with their dramatic vistas, small figures, and fossil sketches, suit the tone nicely. He effortlessly imbues a small, appealing package with a lot of information, and a little inspiration besides. Kirkus Reviews

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Uncommon Traveler

Mary Kingsley spent her childhood in a small house on a lonely lane outside London, England. Her mother was bedridden, her father rarely home, and Mary served as housekeeper, handyman, nursemaid, and servant. Not until she was thirty years old did Mary get her chance to explore the world she’d read about in her father’s library. In 1893, she arrived in West Africa, where she encountered giant flying insects, crocodiles, hippos, and brutal heat. Mary endured the hardships of the equatorial country—and thrived.

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A Voice From the Wilderness

By the time Anna Howard Shaw was barely twelve years old, she had crossed the stormy Atlantic (one and a half times), survived a grueling journey from Massachusetts to the unexplored woods of Michigan, and helped create a house and home in the middle of nowhere. By most measures, Anna Howard Shaw’s life was hard and filled with struggle.
But a life in the North American wilderness also had many pleasures. Anna was young, happy, and strong. What Anna didn’t have was school.
With incredible fortitude and purpose, not only did Anna go on to teach school herself, she also accomplished a great many other things, including helping to win the right to vote for women. With his magical storytelling and radiant artwork, Don Brown welcomes us into the pioneer life of a most extraordinary woman.

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Far Beyond the Garden Gate

In her time, Alexandra David-Neel was the most famous woman in France. She had traveled extensively in China and Tibet and, in 1924, was the first Western woman ever to enter Tibet’s forbidden capital, Lhasa. Alexandra was a self-taught Buddhist scholar and spoke Tibetan flawlessly. And she did it all as a mature woman—she was in her mid-fifties when she arrived in Lhasa.
Not only is Alexandra David-Neel’s story one of high adventure, of trekking through snow-choked mountain passes and wild encounters on the Tibetan tablelands, but it is also about a prolific writer and passionate advocate of Tibetan culture. Far Beyond the Garden Gate reveals an unforgettable life’s journey with vibrant, graceful prose and stunning illustrations.

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Across a Dark & Wild Sea

Columcille was born in a remote corner of Ireland in the year 521. Legend has it that as a child, he was fed a cake filled with the letters of the alphabet, and so learned to love writing. He grew up to become a monk and a scribe a thousand years before the invention of printing, when books had to be copied by hand.There was one book, a beautiful volume of psalms from distant Rome, that Columcille especially loved, and even though its owner refused him permission, Columcille secretly copied it. The copy was discovered, and a dispute arose over who it belonged to: Columcille, who made it, or the owner of the original. So better was the argument that a battle was fought between the two men’s powerful friends; although Columcille’s side won, the victory felt hollow to him. To punish himself, he set out in a tiny boat, vowing to leave Ireland forever.A revered figure in Celtic history, Columcille (also known as Columbia) founded the famous monastery on the Scottish island of Iona and left a legacy of learning that illuminated a corner of the Dark Ages. History, drama, and a love of books and reading fill a story–told here in exquisite watercolors and deflty understated prose by noted author and artist Don Brown.

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Mack Made Movies

Mack Sennett invented the Keystone Kops, filmed the first pie-in-the-face skit, and introduced Charlie Chaplin to the movies. Here Don Brown tells the story of this American movie genius, from his beginnings as a Vaudeville actor to his triumph as the “King of Comedy”

5 starred reviews!

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The Good Lion

My father and I settled in Africa in 1906. . . . And it was there, as a small girl, I was eaten by a lion.
So begins a true story from aviatrix Beryl Markham’s autobiography. Here young Beryl and a “tame” lion called Paddy come together in an encounter that challenges our notions of wild and docile, trust and duplicity, punishment and forgiveness. Coupled with Don Brown’s expressive watercolors, The Good Lion is a powerful story that will leave readers wondering about the true natures of man and beast.

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American Boy

Our popular image of Mark Twain is of a gruV, gray-haired eccentric, the outspoken literary giant who created enduring novels such as The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
But once upon a time, Mark Twain was a boy named Samuel Clemens. His birth on November 30, 1835, coincided with the appearance of Halley’s comet streaking across the sky. A dreamer, a prankster, a lover of great tales, Sam Clemens spent his boyhood years “in high feather,” living out adventures along the banks of the mighty Mississippi River. His beloved river would eventually carry Mark Twain far beyond Hannibal, Missouri, but he would return to the freedom, innocence, and vitality of his youth again and again in his writing.
In glowing watercolors and spirited text, Don Brown reveals the glad morning of Twain’s life, now the classic American boyhood, and the forces that inspired his funny, irreverent, insightful, and groundbreaking works of fiction.

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Kid Blink Beats the World

Brown has found a winning topic to write about–literally. This grabber of a picture book for older children details the events in the summer of 1899, during which hundreds of young news vendors stood up to two of the most powerful men in the U.S.–William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer. The financial circumstance that forced the kids to strike–the extra penny that the newspaper owners wanted to charge the vendors to buy their papers–is clearly explained, but Brown also personalizes the story very well. He does have some vividly named “newsies,” to work with, including Kid Blink, Crazy Airborn, and Tiny Tim, who, when asked how long the strikers could hold out, answers, “Ferever.” Like all David-versus-Goliath stories, this has a natural rooting factor, though the compromise ending may slow the cheering. The loose-lined, sepia-tone ink-and-wash artwork is less successful than the go-go text at capturing the fervor of the strike… The rousing cover, however, with the boys on the march, will grab kids, and the story inside brings history home to readers the same age as those who lived it. Booklist.

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Odd Boy Out

When he was born, Albert was a peculiar, fat baby with an unusually big and misshaped head. When he was older, he hit his sister, bothered his teachers, and didn’t have many friends. But in the midst of all of this, Albert was fascinated with solving puzzles and fixing scientific problems. The ideas Albert Einstein came up with during his childhood as an odd boy out were destined to change the way we know and understand the world around us.

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Bright Path

Jim Thorpe’s childhood was a mix of hard work in the outdoors and a succession of military-strict “Indian Schools” that relentlessly imposed white culture on Native American children. Then in 1907, wearing overalls and a work shirt, he effortlessly broke his school high-jump record–a feat that launched a remarkable athletic career in track, football, and baseball, culminating at the 1912 Olympics, where Thorpe won the decathlon with a world record score that would stand for almost 20 years and the pentathlon with a points total that would never be beaten.

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Dolley Madison Saves George Washington

Dolley was a farm girl who became a fine first lady when she married James Madison. She wore beautiful dresses, decorated her home, and threw lavish parties. Everyone talked about Dolley, and everyone loved her, too. Then war arrived at her doorstep, and Dolley had to meet challenges greater than she’d ever known. So Dolley did one thing she thought might make a difference: she saved George Washington. Not the man himself, but a portrait of him, which would surely have been destroyed by English soldiers. Don Brown once again deftly tells a little known story about a woman who made a significant contribution to American history.

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Teedie: Young Teddy Roosevelt

Teedie was not exactly the stuff of greatness: he was small for his size. Delicate. Nervous. Timid. By the time he was ten years old, he had a frail body and weak eyes. He was deviled by asthma, tormented by bullies. His favorite place to be was at home. Some might think that because of these things, Teedie was destined for a ho-hum life. But they would be wrong. For teeedie had a strong mind, as well as endless curiosity and determination. Is that all? No. Teedie also had ideas of his own–lots of them. It wasn’t long before the world knew him as Theodore Roosevelt, the youngest president of the United States.

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A Wizard from the Start

A wizard from the start, Thomas Edison had a thirst for knowledge, taste for mischief, and hunger for discovery—but his success was made possible by his boundless energy. At age fourteen he coined his personal motto: “The More to do, the more to be done,” and then went out and did: picking up skills and knowledge at every turn. When learning about things that existed wasn’t enough, he dreamed up new inventions to improve the world. From humble beginnings as a farmer’s son, selling newspapers on trains and reading through public libraries shelf by shelf, Tom began his inventing career as a boy and became a legend as a man.

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Henry and the Cannons

In 1775,in the dead of winter, a bookseller named Henry Knox dragged 59 cannons from Fort Ticonderoga to Boston—225 miles of lakes, forest, mountains, and few roads. It was a feat of remarkable ingenuity and determination and one of the most remarkable stories of the Revolutionary War. And it brought the American’s a decisive victory, chasing the British army out of Boston.

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See Descriptions of All of Don's Books Here.