Will’s Words: How William Shakespeare Changed the Way You Talk

WIlls Words final art 300 William Shakespeare loved words. He picked up phrases in playhouses and taverns and on London street corners. He made up brand-new words. Then he put them together in extraordinary ways and used them in his plays.

Four hundred years later, Will’s words are everywhere. They’re bumping into our words all the time, and we don’t even know it!

The long and the short of it is this: Will’s words changed the way we talk forever.

“Focusing on the now commonplace words that Shakespeare introduced into the English language, Sutcliffe describes the inner workings of the Globe Theatre and the Bard’s genius. The verso of each spread presents historical facts about Elizabethan London and the theatrical tradition it spawned, with Shakespeare’s words interspersed amid Sutcliffe’s lively prose, while the recto highlights the words, explains their meanings (both original and contemporary), and cites their usage in the poet’s plays. Shelley’s meticulously detailed painted pen-and-ink drawings brim with life and convey a clear sense of 1606 London, “a bustling, jostling, clinging, singing, stinking, head-chopping, pickpocketing wonder of a city,” while still managing to individualize the personages both onstage and off. They are perfectly married to Sutcliff’s concise, humorous, fact-filled prose. While the author references the few known truths of Shakespeare’s life, the emphasis is on his once-inventive but now familiar words, thus setting this title apart from most standard biographies. Readers will discover the origins of basic terms and expressions, such as hurry, fashionable, and cold-blooded. The book opens and concludes with a letter from Sutcliffe laying out her intentions in penning this work and discussing what we know of Shakespeare’s life. Pair this gem with Diane Stanley and Peter Vennema’s Bard of Avon: The Story of William Shakespeare (Morrow, 1992) for a full portrait of Shakespeare’s genius. VERDICT A beautifully presented, original approach to the playwright’s lasting contributions to the English language.”     ~School Library Journal, starred review

“Shakespeare could turn a phrase, and Sutcliffe brings a number of them to readers’ attention, smartly worked into a vest-pocket history of London theater during Shakespeare’s days. Shelley’s artwork is a lively accompaniment, delicate in color and linework but bustling as only a big population in small confines can be.”      ~Kirkus

Named a 2017 Notable Children’s Book in Language Arts by the Children’s Literature Assembly.

From Charlesbridge Publishing.

Check out the Book Blast here.

The White House is Burning: August 24, 1814

Screen Shot 2014 07 16 at 9.26.43 AM 341x450 Guest Post! This “biography of a single day” recounts the terrible day that the British attacked and destroyed the young nation’s capitol. American soldiers were forced to turn and flee. Drawing upon first-person accounts, including First Lady Dolley Madison, a British officer, a teenage American soldier, and a nine-year-old slave, the compelling chronology of the events of August 24, 1814, will have readers young and old riveted. 

Extensively researched and thorough in coverage, this book gives readers a full view of this compelling story and the events leading up to the conflict. The title is enhanced by the original maps, portraits, paintings, and drawings of key personalities. Sutcliffe’s use of primary sources is impressive as she weaves together a seamless tale from a variety of perspectives. The author draws upon firsthand accounts from a variety of sources (respected military personnel, political figures, everyday citizens, and slaves) to provide an impartial, well-rounded look at this pivotal day in our nation’s history and its aftermath. Certain to spark interest in history aficionados, this title would be a welcome purchase for most collections.  ~School Library Journal

If it seems that the War of 1812 doesn’t thrive in the classroom, crammed as it is between the massive units on the Revolutionary and Civil wars, look to Sutcliffe’s title as an antidote.  ~Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, starred review

A graceful narrative draws from primary sources to shed light on a key historic day.  ~Kirkus Reviews

  • Junior Library Guild Selection
  • Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books Blue Ribbon Title
  • A Children’s Book Council Notable Social Studies book

Charlesbridge Publishing: www.charlesbridge.com

Watch the book trailer.

Stone Giant: Michelangelo’s David and How He Came to Be

No one wanted the “giant.” The hulking block of marble lay in the work yard, rained on, hacked at, and abandoned—until a young Michelangelo saw his David in it.

“[T]his is a handsome offering that helps youngsters understand both an artist’s process and how this stunning statue became the enduring symbol of a city and its people.”
~Kirkus Reviews

“Author Jane Sutcliffe is a master at biographical storytelling for young readers. She takes a subject commonly studied by high school and college students and breaks it down into an educational and inspiring story ideal for a picture book audience.”                    ~Smart Books for Smart Kids

  •  A Junior Library Guild selection.
  • A Reading Rainbow book
  • A Children’s Book Council Notable Social Studies book.

Charlesbridge Publishing: www.charlesbridge.com

Watch the book trailer.

Want to find out why writing nonfiction is like sculpture? Check out this guest post.


Chester Nimitz and the Sea

CHESTER NIMITZ AND THE SEA“Stay there until the war is won,” Pres. Franklin Roosevelt said to Chester Nimitz after Pearl Harbor was bombed on December 7, 1941. Nimitz rose to the challenge, eventually becoming commander in chief for US forces in the Pacific theater. The remarkable life of Chester Nimitz is presented for young readers.

Pelican Publishing Company: www.pelicanpub.com

Reading Level: Ages 4-8

Click here to watch the book trailer.

Leonardo’s Monster

When Leonardo was a young boy, his father received a request from a friend to have a shield painted. Knowing how talented his son was, he naturally asked Leonardo. Leonardo set out to paint a monster, and ended up painting a  creature so lifelike that his father nearly fainted from fright upon seeing it. This picture book tells the remarkable story from the life of a pretty unusual boy.

Pelican Publishing Company: www.pelicanpub.com

Reading Level: Ages 4-8

Teacher Guide available