Monday, December 19, 2022


 Today I'm proud to share two informational picture books by my SCBWI-Carolinas colleague, Megan Hoyt. No giveaways this week--my grandchildren will be the proud recipients of these fine books. But in case you need one (or two!) more gifts for the young reader in your life, check out these marvelous books.

Megan Hoyt discovers small pieces of history that are stories begging to be told and then writes them in a way that engages both children and adults. These picture books are for slightly older readers and can be used as classroom resources in grades 1-3. Both books have extensive back matter which include Megan's interest in the topic, additional information about the subject, timelines, and sources. BARTALI'S BICYCLE also includes a letter to the reader from Gino's granddaughter, Lisa. THE GREATEST SONG OF ALL includes the petition which Isaac Stern wrote to save Carnegie Hall. 


BARTALI'S BICYCLE is stunningly illustrated by Italian illustrator, Iacopo Bruno.

Gino Bartali thought of himself as an ordinary bicyclist in Italy in the 1930s. But he was far from ordinary.

For eight years he trained along Italy's mountains and rugged paths. He won race after race, including the prestigious Tour de France in 1938. 

When World War II broke out, Gino refused to believe the lies that leaders were spreading about the Jews. 

He watched as Jews were rounded up and taken away on trucks. He wanted to help--but how?

A priest contacted him and asked him to deliver secret identity papers to Jews who were trying to escape. Although he was afraid of getting caught, he decided to help. "Some medals are pinned to your soul, not your jacket," he said. 

He stuffed the fake identity papers into his hollow bicycle bars and delivered them to hundreds of families, he hid his friend's family in his cellar, and rescued prisoners. 

Gino was a humble man who didn't want to be recognized.

"Good is something you do, not something you talk about," he said. 

But stories trickled out. Children came forward. 

Grateful families remembered the remarkable Gino Bartali, the Tour de France winner, Italian sports hero, and...secret champion.

THE GREATEST SONG OF ALL is brought alive by talented illustrator, Katie Hickey.

When Carnegie Hall opened in 1891 in New York City, Issac Stern wasn't even born yet. He was a young promising violinist in 1934 when Albert Einstein educated the audience with theories of splitting atoms and bending time.

But someone new would soon step onto the legendary stage. Without him, Carnegie Hall's story might have ended right there.

Issac was talented, but his parents were poor Jewish immigrants from Ukraine. They scrimped and said until pennies became dollars. Then they sent their son to the best violin teacher in town."

Issac practiced for years and at 23, made his Carnegie Hall debut. He ended up playing there more than fifty times. This cavernous ruby-colored room felt like a second home to Issac.  Little did Issac know that a powerful city planner, Robert Moses, had other plans for Carnegie Hall. 

His mind swirled with grids and sketches and pans. It may have looked like he was making the city more beautiful, but when Mr. Moses decide Manhattan needed a new, bigger, music hall, he didn't mind knocking down eighteen city blocks to make room for it.

The wrecking ball was scheduled for March 31, 1960. But Mr. Moses hadn't met Issac Stern's opposition.

Music lovers, musicians, and dancers protested against the demolition. But to no avail... Issac couldn't persuade the mayor to preserve the Hall--and he didn't have the five million dollars that was needed to purchase it. 

But Jacob Kaplan, a wealthy business man did! In the nick of time, Issac and his supporters were able to save the magnificent hall and...

Carnegie Hall opened its doors to talented performers from all over the world--rich and poor, young and old, American-born or immigrants seeking a better life, like Issac Stern's family did many years ago.


Megan told me that she is attracted to stories that hold a personal connection.  For Megan's connection to each topic (and a hint at what she is working on next), please visit the Talking Story Facebook page. (Interviews will be posted on December 20 and 21. If you aren't a member yet, just request to join and I'll approve you.)


Congratulations to Danielle Hammelef who won The Snowman's Waltz and to Marci Whitehurst who won Baa, Baa, Tap, Sheep 


Carol said...

What a gift to kids these books are! True heroes I'll want my grandkids to know about. Great reviews--thank you for bringing these books to my attention.

Carol Baldwin said...

Thank you, Carol! They are wonderful books.

Joan Y. Edwards said...

Dear Carol,
What touching books Megan has written! I wish her and you success in all her writing endeavors.

Never Give Up

Danielle H. said...

Both of these books will be on my reading list. I have never heard about the bicyclist who secretly delivered papers to Jewish people using the hollow tubes of his bike frame. Incredible bravery and a true hero.

Joyce said...

It is lovely to see the beauty in picture books on your blog.

Joyce said...

Thanks for the wonderful reviews.

Carol Baldwin said...

Than you, Joyce. I think you'll enjoy reading some backstories tomorrow on the Talking Story FB page!

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks, Joyce!

Carol Baldwin said...

Thank you, Danielle. Maybe you can request the books from your library!

Carol Baldwin said...

Thank you, Joan!

Glee Dunbar said...

Thank you for sharing these, I am excited to check them out.

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks, Glee. I think you'll be glad you did!

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