This meme was started by Rae Longest at Powerful Women Readers. As I am a grandmother, who loves to read to her grandchildren, a mother who loved to read to and with her children, and a retired teacher librarian, this meme really attracted me.

If you regularly follow my blog, you will know that I love the Little People, Big Dreams series of child friendly biographies. All of the books featured were provided to me from the publishers upon request, through Netgalley. I did not read these ones to my grandchildren as I am in Florida and they are at home. I enjoy these books a lot, so I would read them anyway, as I usually always learn something about the person being showcased.

Maya Angelou (Little People, Big Dreams #4) by Lisbeth Kaiser, Leire Salaberria (Illustrations)

Published August 24th 2016 by Frances Lincoln Childrens Books

4 Stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

I really enjoy the Little People, Big Dreams series, but was surprised to learn that some of the earlier books in this series were written by Lisbeth Kaiser. I knew that Maya Angelou was a poet and that she had written I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, but being as I haven’t read it yet, I didn’t know much else about her life. In this book, we learn that she and her brother moved to Arkansas to live with their grandmother and had to deal with a lot of racism as well as being attacked by her mother’s boyfriend when she was only 8 years old. She stopped talking at that time, but was encouraged to read aloud by a friend of her grandmothers and she got her voice back. She believed she could do anything and worked as a streetcar conductor, a singer, a dancer and an actress. Eventually she realized she wanted to be an author and wrote her autobiography. She eventually became a poet and performed her poetry at Bill Clinton’s inauguration. She traveled the world and became an activist. As people got to know her, she encouraged them, especially children, to follow their dreams. These child friendly biographies are meant to introduce children to some well known people in all walks of life. They are not detailed, but touch upon how they followed their dreams to achieve what they did. This book definitely reminded me to read her book and there are a couple of books suggested for further study. I do recommend this book to schools and classrooms, especially with February being Black History month, this one is a good choice at this time.

Dwayne Johnson (Little People, Big Dreams #90) by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara, Lirios Bou (Illustrations)

Published October 4th 2022 by Frances Lincoln Children’s Books

5 Stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

My husband and I were huge wrestling fans, and Dwayne Johnson was one of our favourites. I have read several books about this wrestling and acting icon, so seeing a child friendly biography was great. He is often referred to as a hero to people, including kids and I agree that he is someone that is a positive role model. Dwayne Johnson was born to a family that had two generations of wrestlers and even though he wanted something different, he worked out with his father and friends. His family was Samoan and Black and they moved around a lot. He found it hard to make friends until he made the football team in high school. He received a scholarship to college to play football and played for a very short time in the CFL but he was quickly injured and his football career was done. Falling back on the family business, he became a wrestler. His personality, dedication and skill eventually brought him fame as a wrestler and eventually became a movie star as well. One thing about his movies is that he vowed that they would end happily and they all do. I loved how Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara shared “The Rock’s” story. He worked hard to get what he got in life and he encourages others to do the same. I enjoy his movies, and especially like the child friendly ones. The back pages with the timeline and will check out the one suggestion for future reading. Many children know Dwayne Johnson even if they don’t watch wrestling because of his movies, Moana being one, so this is a good subject for them. If you are teaching about biographies, whether reading or writing, this book or series would be a great one to use as a model. The illustrations by Lirios Bou are quirky and fun. They added to the story. This is another one I recommend to all.

Terry Fox (Little People, BIG DREAMS #92) by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara, T. Connor (Illustrator) 

Published November 1st 2022 by Frances Lincoln Children’s Books

5 Stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Terry Fox is one of our Canadian icons and I have read a variety of books about this hero, so I was delighted to see that Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara had chosen him as the subject of one of her Little People, Big Dreams books. Terry Fox wanted to be a sports guy in school, but was small, so had to work really hard to achieve his dream. Becoming a basketball star and long distance runner for his school were things he worked hard for and then his world fell apart. He was diagnosed with cancer and had to have his leg amputated, but he knew he still wanted to do something. After reading a book about Dick Traum, a man who had a leg amputated after a freak accident and started the Achilles Track Club for disabled athletes, he worked hard to be able to run again. He began his Marathon of Hope, a quest to run across Canada. Not making it before being called back home to the hospital and passing away, Canadians and others from other countries, still have their own, Terry Fox runs every September. This child friendly biography is very well done. The story was very on point and stressed all the things he did to achieve his goal. The illustrations by T. Connor added much to the book. As always the timeline at the back of the book gave added information to encourage further reading as well as giving a couple of sources to read. I definitely recommend this book to libraries (public, school, classrooms, family) to encourage reading, research, as well as following and acting on their dreams.

Hedy Lamarr (Little People, Big Dreams #93) by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara, Maggie Cole (Illustrator)

Published January 3rd 2023 by Frances Lincoln Children’s Books

5 Stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

I didn’t know much about Hedy Lamarr except that she was an actress, so this book was very interesting to me. Born Hedwig, in Vienna, she loved hearing about inventions from her father, and she began creating her own inventions when she was a young girl, one was a light up dog collar to keep dogs safe at night. Teachers knew she was smart, but many people just thought she was a beautiful girl. She started to taking acting lessons and realized she was good at it. She was a young woman when she married Friedrich, an arms dealer, who was very possessive and kept her in a gilded cage. She Often heard him and his friends talking about terrible weapons and military technology. She was very unhappy and she fled Austria with her jewelry and one bag and went to Hollywood, where she became a famous actress. She didn’t just act, but also continued to work on her inventions which helped the allies to defeat the nazis. Wanting to be more than just a pretty face, Hedy never gave up working on her inventions to be more than people expected her to be. This was another wonderful addition to this series. I learned a lot about Hedy Lamarr and will definitely be looking for books with more information about her and her escape from Austria. Whoever is looking for a child friendly biography book and series, then I recommend you pick this one up. I definitely recommend this series for schools and classrooms.

Freddie Mercury (Little People, Big Dreams #94) by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara, Ruby Taylor (Illustrator)

Expected Publication February 7th 2023 by Frances Lincoln Children’s Books

4 Stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

I watched the Freddie Mercury movie last year, so know a lot about this talented musician. In this book, I did learn a bit about his early years, his birth name and education, but felt that there was a lot about his life that could have been touched upon that would have given the book a bit more depth. Freddie was born in Zanzibar, named Farrokh Bulsara, son of Parsi parents from India. His parents sent him to India for boarding school, where he discovered his interest in music and was nicknamed Freddie. He had an amazing range that he believes was due to having extra teeth. Due to political conditions in Zanzibar his family moved to England when he was in his late teens. He met other musicians and joined their band, The Smiles. Freddie loved clothes and dressing up, selling vintage clothes at markets to earn money. He convinced his band to change their name to Queen and the rest is history. The book didn’t talk much about the struggle to make it big, nor his personal life that might have added more to the story. I did enjoy this book and think it would be a great way to introduce Freddie Mercury to a young audience as well as to talk about homosexuality and AIDs in a very basic way. Although Freddie had an underlying talent, it is important to show that he persevered and didn’t give up on his dream to be a famous musician. As always there is a timeline at the back with actual photographs and a suggestion of a book to read for more information. Another great addition to the Little People, Big Dreams series.