The Just the Facts! Book Club in Palo Alto
A book club for ages 8-12 that will meet and discuss titles from the popular “Who Was, Who Is, What Was, and What Is” Series.
Meets the 1st Sunday of every month at 3:00 p.m.
Get 15% off of each month's book selections!
New members are always welcome!
Books Inc. in Palo Alto
74 Town & Country Village
May Selection #1: Steve Jobs, adopted in infancy by a family in San Francisco, packed a lot of life into fifty-six short years. In this Who Was...? biography, children will learn how his obsession with computers and technology at an early age led him to co-found and run Apple, in addition to turning Pixar into a ground-breaking animation studio. A college dropout, Jobs took unconventional steps in his path to success and inspired the best and the brightest to come with him and "change the world."
May Selection #2: Like Michelangelo, Galileo is another Renaissance great known just by his first name--a name that is synonymous with scientific achievement. Born in Pisa, Italy, in the sixteenth century, Galileo contributed to the era's great rebirth of knowledge. He invented a telescope to observe the heavens. From there, not even the sky was the limit! He turned long-held notions about the universe topsy turvy with his support of a sun-centric solar system. Patricia Brennan Demuth offers a sympathetic portrait of a brilliant man who lived in a time when speaking scientific truth to those in power was still a dangerous proposition.
April 2019 Selection #1: Born into wealth in 1860's London, Beatrix Potter always had a vivid imagination. Her early interests included natural history and archaeology, and Potter delighted in sketching fossils and fungi. After briefly illustrating Christmas cards with her brother, Bertram, Potter wrote and illustrated her well-known book, The Tale of Peter Rabbit. The book was rejected by several publishes until Frederick Warne eventually took a risk and published the story in 1902 - a risk that paid off. Peter Rabbit was a huge success and readers loved hearing about Peter's mischevious adventures in the lush English countryside. As she got older, Beatrix Potter became a proud conservationist, working hard to defend the landscape she loved so well against industrialization and logging. Now over one hundred years old, Peter Rabbit and his animal friends have become cultural touchstones and continue to delight readers of all ages.
April 2019 Selection #2: Roald Dahl is one of the most famous children's book authors ever. Now in this Who Was . . . ? biography, children will learn of his real-life adventures. A flying ace for the British Air Force, he was married to an Academy Award-winning actress. He also wrote books and screenplays for adults. Entertaining and readable, this biography has 80 black-and-white illustrations.
February 2019 Selection #1: You can always recognize a painting by Kahlo because she is in nearly all--with her black braided hair and colorful Mexican outfits. A brave woman who was an invalid most of her life, she transformed herself into a living work of art. As famous for her self-portraits and haunting imagery as she was for her marriage to another famous artist, Diego Rivera, this strong and courageous painter was inspired by the ancient culture and history of her beloved homeland, Mexico. Her paintings continue to inform and inspire popular culture around the world.
February 2019 Selection #2: Leonardo da Vinci was a gifted painter, talented musician, and dedicated scientist and inventor, designing flying machines, submarines, and even helicopters. Yet he had a hard time finishing things, a problem anyone can relate to. Only thirteen paintings are known to be his; as for the illustrated encyclopedia he intended to create, all that he left were thousands of disorganized notebook pages. Here is an accessible portrait of a fascinating man who lived at a fascinating time--Italy during the Renaissance.
January 2019 Selection #1: As a boy he preferred reading sea stories to doing homework and, at age 16, became an apprentice seaman. Subsequently, Ernest Shackleton's incredible journeys to the South Pole in the early 1900s made him one of the most famous explorers of modern times. His courage in the face of dangerous conditions and unforeseeable tragedies reveal the great leader that he was. His historic 1914 journey aboard the Endurance has all the drama of an action movie.
January 2019 Selection #2: In 1848, gold was discovered in California, attracting over 300,000 people from all over the world, some who struck it rich and many more who didn't. Hear the stories about the gold-seeking "forty-niners!" With black-and white illustrations and sixteen pages of photos, a nugget from history is brought to life!
November 2018 Selection #1: As a field reporter in the 1960s, Gloria Steinem worked hard to dig up important stories. She went undercover to expose the grim realities of gender inequality in America. As her message continued to grow, she became the spokeswoman of the women's liberation movement and created the feminist publication, Ms. magazine. Steinem continues to speak and write about women and women's roles in media and politics.
Novmeber 2018 Selection #2: Malala Yousafzai was a girl who loved to learn but was told that girls would no longer be allowed to go to school. She wrote a blog that called attention to what was happening in her beautiful corner of Pakistan and realized that words can bring about change. She has continued to speak out for the right of all children to have an education. In 2014 she won the Nobel Peace Prize.
October 2018 Selection #1: Filled with broken hearts and black ravens, Edgar Allan Poe's ghastly tales have delighted readers for centuries. Born in Boston in 1809, Poe was orphaned at age two. He was soon adopted by a Virginia family who worked as tombstone merchants. In 1827 he enlisted in the Army and subsequently failed out of West Point. His first published story, The Raven, was a huge success, but his joy was overshadowed by the death of his wife. Poe devoted his life to writing and his tragic life often inspired his work. He is considered to be the inventor of detective fiction and the father of American mystery writers. His work continues to influence popular culture through films, music, literature, and television.
October 2018 Selection #2: Known as the keepers of modern-day fairy tales, The Brothers Grimm are as legendary as their stories. Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm were born in 1780s Germany and were inseparable throughout their childhood. While pursuing their law degrees, the two became fascinated with folktales and folk songs. Together, they researched and published centuries of folklore in their famous early nineteenth-century compilation, Children's and Household Tales. Thanks to the Brothers Grimm, German folk tales like "Rumpelstiltskin," "Little Red Ridinghood," and "Hansel and Gretel" are enjoyed by children everywhere.
September 2018 Selection #1: Rock and roll sprang from a combination of African-American genres, Western swing, and country music that exploded in post World War II America. Jim O'Connor explains what constitutes rock music, follows its history and sub-genres through famous musicians and groups, and shows how rock became so much more than just a style of music influencing fashion, language, and lifestyle.
September 2018 Selection #2: Almost everyone can sing along with the Beatles, but how many young readers know their whole story? Geoff Edgers, a Boston Globe reporter and hard-core Beatles fan, brings the Fab Four to life in this Who Was...? book. Readers will learn about their childhoods in Liverpool, their first forays into rock music, what Beatlemania was like, and why they broke up. It's all here in an easy-to-read narrative with plenty of black-and-white illustrations!
August 2018 Selection: Everyone loves Harry Potter. Now kids can learn about Harry's creator!
In 1995, on a four-hour-delayed train from Manchester to London, J. K. Rowling conceived of the idea of a boy wizard named Harry Potter. Upon arriving in London, she began immediately writing the first book in the saga. Rowling's true-life, rags-to-riches story is as compelling as the world of Hogwarts that she created. This biography details not only Rowling's life and her love of literature but the story behind the creation of a modern classic.
August 2018 Selection: Meet the man who created Alice, the Mad Hatter, and Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum!
Lewis Carroll is the pen name of Charles L. Dodgson, a mathematician and church deacon, who taught at Oxford University. He was inspired to write his best known works, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, by one of the Dean's daughters, Alice Liddell. The books were hugely successful and brought Carroll wide acclaim, especially for the nonsense poems "Jabberwocky" and The Hunting of the Snark.
Children and adults continue to be delighted by the fantasy of the Alice stories, which have been the basis of plays and movies since their publication in Victorian England during the 1860s and 1870s.
July 2018 Selection #1: Ben Franklin was the scientist who, with the help of a kite, discovered that lightning is electricity. He was also a statesman, an inventor, a printer, and an author-a man of such amazingly varied talents that some people claimed he had magical powers! Full of all the details kids will want to know, the true story of Benjamin Franklin is by turns sad and funny, but always honest and awe-inspiring.
July 2018 Selection #2: On a hot summer day near Philadelphia in 1776, Thomas Jefferson sat at his desk and wrote furiously until early the next morning. He was drafting the Declaration of Independence, a document that would sever this country's ties with Britain and announce a new nation--The United States of America. Colonists were willing to risk their lives for freedom, and the Declaration of Independence made that official. Discover the true story of one of the most radical and uplifting documents in history and follow the action that fueled the Revolutionary War.
June 2018 Selection#1: Easter Island, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean thousands of miles from anywhere, has intrigued visitors since Europeans first arrived in the 1700s. How did people first come to live there? How did they build the enormous statues and why? How were they placed around the island without carts or even wheels? Scientists have learned many of the answers, although some things still remain a mystery. Megan Stine reveals it all in a gripping narrative.
This book, part of the New York Times best-selling series, is enhanced by eighty illustrations and a detachable fold-out map complete with four photographs on the back.
June 2018 Selection #2: A life in the wild!
Jane Goodall, born in London, England, always loved animals and wanted to study them in their natural habitats. So at age twenty-six, off she went to Africa! Goodall's up-close observations of chimpanzees changed what we know about them and paved the way for many female scientists who came after her. Now her story comes to life in this biography with black-and-white illustrations throughout.
May 2018 Selection#1: Babe Ruth came from a poor Baltimore family and, as a kid, he was a handful. It was at a reform school that Babe discovered his talent for baseball, and by the age of nineteen, he was on his way to becoming a sports legend. Babe was often out of shape and even more often out on the town, but he had a big heart and an even bigger swing! Kids will learn all about the Home Run King in this rags-to- riches sports biography. With black-and-white illustrations throughout, a true sports legend is brought to life.
May 2018 Selection #2: "Strike - you're out!" "He's safe!" "Homerun!" Every October, millions of baseball fans around the country anxiously wait to see which team wins baseball's biggest championship. But the original games of the 1900s hardly look like they do today. Take a look back over one hundred years and discover the history of baseball's greatest series. With triumphs, heartbreak, and superstitious curses, this action-packed book brings America's Pastime to life.
April 2018 Selection #1: The beloved plays of Shakespeare are still produced everywhere, yet the life of the world's most famous playwright remains largely a mystery. Young Will left the town of Stratford to pursue theater in London, where his work eventually thrived and made him a famous and wealthy man. With black-and-white illustrations that include a diagram of the famous Globe theater, Celeste Davidson Mannis puts together the pieces of Shakespeare's life and work for young readers.
April 2018 Selection #2: Every kid has heard of Harry Houdini, the famous magician who could escape from handcuffs, jail cells, and locked trunks. But do they know that the ever-ambitious and adventurous Houdini was also a famous movie star and the first pilot to fly a plane in Australia? This well-told biography is full of the details of Houdini's life that kids will really want to know about and illustrated throughout with beautiful black-and-white line drawings.
Illustrated by John O'Brien.
March 2018 Selection #1: Born in 1925, Maria Tallchief spent part of her childhood on an Osage reservation in Oklahoma. With the support of her family and world-renowned choreographer George Balanchine, she rose to the top of her art form to become America's first prima ballerina. Black-and-white illustrations provide visual sidebars to the history of ballet while taking readers through the life of this amazing dancer.
March 2018 Selection #2: Venus and Serena Williams are two of the most successful professional American tennis players of all time. Coached at an early age by their parents, the sisters have both gone on to become Grand Slam title winners. They have both achieved the World Number One ranking in both singles and doubles! Although completely professional and fiercely competitive, the sisters remain close. Who Are Venus and Serena Williams? follows the pair from their early days of training up through the ranks and to the Summer Olympic Games, where they have each won four gold medals--more than any other tennis players.
This title in the New York Times best-selling series has eighty illustrations that help bring the exciting story of tennis champs Venus and Serena Williams to life.
February 2018 Selection #1: In 1955, Rosa Parks refused to give her bus seat to a white passenger in Montgomery, Alabama. This seemingly small act triggered civil rights protests across America and earned Rosa Parks the title "Mother of the Civil Rights Movement." This biography has black-and-white illustrations throughout.
February 2018 Selection #2: Born into slavery in Maryland in 1818, Frederick Douglass was determined to gain freedom--and once he realized that knowledge was power, he secretly learned to read and write to give himself an advantage. After escaping to the North in 1838, as a free man he gave powerful speeches about his experience as a slave. He was so impressive that he became a friend of President Abraham Lincoln, as well as one of the most famous abolitionists of the nineteenth century.
January 2018 Selection #1: Steve Irwin did not have a typical childhood. Born in Melbourne, Australia, on February 22, 1962, he was raised on the wildlife park his parents owned. He cared for the animals and especially loved reptiles--he got a python for his sixth birthday! At nine years old, Steve was already helping his father wrestle small crocodiles. He became a crocodile trapper after graduating high school, catching the creatures before dangerous poachers could. Steve met his wife, Terri, at his family's park, and instead of a honeymoon, the pair filmed a wildlife documentary that led to the creation of the well-known series The Crocodile Hunter. Tragically, Steve was killed on September 4, 2006 while filming a documentary when a stingray attacked, piercing his heart. He was forty-four years old. However, his life's work obviously still strikes a chord with kids who voted him the winner of the 100th Who Was...?
January 2018 Selection #2: In this Where Is? title, kids can explore the Great Barrier Reef--big enough to be seen from space but made up of billions of tiny living organisms.
The Great Barrier Reef, off the coast of Australia, is the world's largest coral reef system. Stretching more than 1,400 miles, it provides a home to a wide diversity of creatures. Designated a World Heritage Site, the reef is suffering from the effects of climate change but this fascinating book shows this spectacular part of our planet.