Meet Authors & Illustrators

Brent Ashabranner

   After successful careers in the Peace Corps and with the Ford Foundation, Brent Ashabranner turned his hand to writing. In a span of fifteen years he has produced thirty books, the majority of which are nonfiction for children. His goal is to interpret "the American experience for young readers." Several books highlight Native Americans, that harken back to his boyhood in Oklahoma; several others put the spotlight on immigrants and refugees. Brent's most recent in this category is Still a Nation of Immigrants (1993, Cobblehill, Ages 10 up, $15.99).

   Brent collaborated with his daughter Jennifer, a photographer, on a series of books about American memorials. They include Always to Remember: The Story of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial (1988, Putnam, Ages 10 up, $14.95), A Grateful Nation: The Story of Arlington National Cemetery (1990, Putnam, Ages 10 up, $15.95) and A Memorial for Mr. Lincoln (1992, Putnam, Ages 10 up, $15.95). This partnership of a talented father and daughter are currently developing a new Native American book with a contemporary theme. The extra bonus of working together is the opportunity to strengthen family ties.

   In addition to Jennifer, Brent has collaborated with another well-know photographer, Paul Conklin, on a dozen books. Among those still in print are Dark Harvest: Migrant Farm Workers in America (1993 reprint of 1985 ed., Shoe String, Ages 12 up, $16.50) and Land of Yesterday, Land of Tomorrow: Discovering Chinese Central Asia (1993, Cobblehill, Ages 10 up, $16.00). The latter was widely reviewed and provides a fascinating look at a little-known part of China-the ancient silk road, over which flowed goods and ideas between China and the rest of the world. Their most recent joint effort is A New Frontier: The Peace Corps in Eastern Europe.

   Brent has lots of ideas for more books, and he commented that "children's book writers are fun! I've developed many great friends who have enriched my life." Also Brent said he writes about things he thinks are important and worth sharing. I couldn't agree more.

    Learn more about this author at The Children's Book Guild.

 

Reviews

Badge of Valor: The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial
Brent Ashabranner
Photographs by Jennifer Ashabranner
   Perhaps few people realize that a national memorial for fallen law enforcement officers exists, but reading Ashabranner's book will instill a desire to visit the memorial. Ashabranner describes the planning and creation of the memorial from the inception of the idea to the finished monument. The use of photographic inserts and short biographical sketches of slain officers adds a human dimension to the book. Ashabranner's explanation of the decision to include ALL officers slain from the beginning of the nation helps the reader realize the importance of many who, to this point, were only names listed in history books. The photographs of the memorial and its visitors add emotion to what otherwise could be just a factual account. The book will hold greater appeal for boys than girls, but would be a good addition to books about monuments and memorials in the Washington, D.C. area. Information about the location of the memorial, a list of books and articles for further reading, and an index make the book a good reference for a school or public library's collection. 2000, Twenty-First Century Books, $24.00. Ages 11 up. Reviewer: J. B. Petty
ISBN: 0-7613-1522-5


Badge of Valor: The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial
Brent Ashabranner
Photographs by Jennifer Ashabranner
   Containing many photos and personal stories, this book is a serious telling of the history and importance of a relatively unknown and new monument in the United States of America. The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial was dedicated in 1991 and stands in Washington, D.C. in an area of the city that was once run down and in need of renewal. The monument aided in urban renewal by drawing crowds of visitors. On the memorial is a list of all the law officers who have died while serving their country and community. There are quotes from famous Americans like Ben Franklin and former President George Bush. Also included is a special dedication to the two men who were killed at the capital building. This book would serve as a good addition for information on the various national monuments and memorials found in Washington, D.C. It could also serve as a resource for those considering a law enforcement career. (Great American Memorials.) 2000, Twenty-First Century Books, 64p, $18.67. Grades 6 and up. Reviewer: Monica Irwin (Heart of Texas Reviews (Vol. 13, No. 1))
ISBN: 0-7613-1522-5
Best Books:
   Senior High School Library Catalog, Sixteenth Edition, 2002 ; H.W. Wilson; United States

A Date With Destiny : The Women in Military Service for America Memorial
Brent Ashabranner
Photographs by Jennifer Ashabranner
   From the women pilots who instructed their male counterparts in World War II, to the black nurses who served despite segregation and quotas, women in uniform have a long and proud history. Women have served heroically in every American war, even as they were denied veterans' benefits and military burials. In 1997, a memorial was finally established at Arlington National Cemetery to tell their stories. This book, created by a father-daughter team, follows the quest to establish the memorial, and also recounts some of the fascinating stories in the memorial's exhibits. The women's stories are definitely the highlight of the book. A bit too much time is spent on other things, like a detailed account of the first Veterans' Day observance at the memorial. Still, like the memorial, this book successfully tells of an important and almost-forgotten part of history, making the point that women should be "judged on their ability rather than on gender." This book is part of the "Great American Memorials" series. 2000, Twenty-First Century Books/Millbrook Press, $23.90. Ages 11 to 15. Reviewer: Emily Schuster
ISBN: 0-7613-1472-5
Best Books:
   The Best Children's Books of the Year, 2001 ; Bank Street College of Education; United States
   Middle And Junior High School Library Catalog, Supplement to the Eighth Edition, 2001 ; H.W. Wilson; United States

The Lion's Whiskers and Other Ethiopian Tales
Brent Ashabranner and Russell Davis
Illustrated by Helen Siegel
   Authors Ashabranner and Davis worked in U.S. foreign assistance programs in Ethiopia in the 1950's, during which they explored and sought out storytellers. The great affection they acquired for Ethiopia and its people is expressed in each of these lovingly retold tales. The intelligence of the collection lies not so much in the stories themselves, but rather in the way the authors have chosen to introduce each tale within its cultural past and present, then tie each succeeding story to its predecessor. The end result is a smoothly flowing history that truly expresses the uniqueness of Ethiopia. It is a river that should carry along young and old alike. 1997, Linnet, Ages 8 up, $19.95. Reviewer: Kathleen Karr
ISBN: 0-208-02429-8
Best Books:
   School Library Journal Book Review Stars, May 1997 ; Cahners; United States

Lithuania: The Nation That Would Be Free
Stephen Chicoine and Brent Ashabranner
  This book pays tribute to the indomitable national spirit of Lithuanians past and present as it tells the story of the country's long struggle to regain its sovereignty from czars, Nazis and the Soviet Union. The faces of the people are what capture the reader. Chicoine's photographic odyssey through the cities and countryside provides a rare look at individuals. We learn their names, how political events have shaped their lives and about their dreams for the future. It is a book that makes us care about the fate of Lithuania. 1995, Cobblehill Books, Ages 10 up, $16.99. Reviewer: Victoria Crenson
ISBN: 0-525-65151-9
Best Books:
   Adventuring with Books: A Booklist for Pre-K--Grade 6, 1997 ; National Council of Teachers of English; United States

The New African Americans
Brent Ashabranner
Photographs by Jennifer Ashabranner
   Why is it that only 3% of our nation's legal immigrants come from Africa today, particularly when compared to those from Latin America and Asia? Brent Ashabranner presents a historical overview of the forced African immigration to the U.S. during our colonial days, through the present, where immigration is determined by both personal reasons and immigration laws. Readers are introduced to several recent immigrants and their personal success stories. Jennifer Ashabranner has captured, in black-and-white photography, Africans who have settled in various regions of the U.S., both at work and with family. Brent Ashabranner has written about a complex topic in a manner that will be understandable by most middle school students and used as a springboard for further research and discussion. 1999, Linnet Books, $21.00. Ages 11 to 14. Reviewer: Mary Sue Preissner
ISBN: 0-2080-2420-4
ISBN: 0-2080-2425-5
Best Books:
   Children's Catalog, Eighteenth Edition, 2001 ; H.W. Wilson; United States
   Senior High School Library Catalog, Sixteenth Edition, 2002 ; H.W. Wilson; United States

No Better Hope: What the Lincoln Memorial Means to America
Brent Ashabranner
Photographs by Jennifer Ashabranner.
   In the fourth of his "Great American Memorials" series, Ashabranner presents Abraham Lincoln as the "larger than life" man whom many consider to be the greatest American president. In a tone that reflects Ashabranner's own awe of Lincoln, the reader is introduced to the presidency of Lincoln and the building of the monument dedicated to his honor. The memorial was approved in 1912 and dedicated in 1922. Architect Henry Bacon and sculptor Daniel Chester French designed the memorial and the great statue of Lincoln. Together the men created the memorial that is most treasured by Americans. The Lincoln Memorial has been the site of many milestones in twentieth century America--the concert of contralto Marian Anderson in 1939, the famous "I Have a Dream" speech of Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1963, and the celebration to begin the year 2000. In this straightforward, yet moving, account of the impact of Lincoln and the Memorial, Ashabranner and his photographer daughter, Jennifer, again give young people a glimpse into America's history and future. The book includes a table of contents, index, bibliography and information about the Lincoln Memorial. 2001, Twenty-First Century Books, $24.90. Ages 9 up. Reviewer: J. B. Petty

No Better Hope: What the Lincoln Memorial Means to America
Brent Ashabranner
Photographs by Jennifer Ashabranner.
   What a timely book! The theme is patriotism and National Monuments--one in particular--the Lincoln Memorial. Ashabranner begins this book by explaining his interest in Lincoln and the Memorial. He tells the history of the monument, includes a short biography of Lincoln, and tells how the monument is used today. There are numerous photographs throughout the text that add to the overall interest of this book. For those who love reading about our national history and heritage or for those doing reports, this book would prove invaluable. It is filled with information. There is a full copy of the Emancipation Proclamation and the Gettysburg Address. There are architectural details--like size, shape, and dimensions. One photo shows the statue of Lincoln being put together, which should prove interesting to children and adults alike. This book would be a fine addition to any library. (Great American Memorials) Nonfiction (975.3). 2001, Twenty-First Century Books, 64p, $18.67. Grades 5 and up. Reviewer: Monica Irwin (Heart of Texas Reviews (Vol. 14, No. 2))
ISBN: 0-7613-1523-3

On The Mall in Washington, D.C.: A Visit to America's Front Yard
Brent Ashabranner
Photographs by Jennifer Ashabranner
   Subtitled "A Visit to America's Front Yard," this book surveys perhaps the most evocative 2 miles in America, from the Capitol building to the Lincoln Memorial. It describes the memorials, the museums, the ponds and gardens, and special events on the Mall, from 4th of July celebrations to famous demonstrations such as the 1963 March on Washington. There is also a chapter on future memorials and museums, visitor information, a list of important places near the Mall, resources for more information, and an index. Sidebars provide more detailed information on individual sights and profile individuals such as Pierre Charles L'Enfant, original designer of the Mall and Washington, D.C., and James Smithson, whose generous bequest founded the Smithsonian Institution. The text is thorough and well written. Each sight mentioned in the text has a number corresponding to a large map at the center of the book. Full-color, captioned photographs illustrate the text. The book is a handy resource for children writing reports on the capitol or visiting Washington, and can be used by parents as a family travel guide. 2002, The Millbrook Press, $23.90. Ages 8 to 12. Reviewer: Pamela S. Turner
ISBN: 0-7613-2351-1
Best Books:
   The Best Children's Books of the Year, 2002 ; Bank Street College of Education; United States
   Children's Catalog, Eighteenth Edition, Supplement, 2002 ; H.W. Wilson; United States
   Middle and Junior High School Library Catalog, Supplement to the Eighth Edition, 2002 ; H.W. Wilson; United States

Remembering Korea: The Korean War Veterans Memorial
Brent Ashabranner
Photographs by Jennifer Ashabranne
   This straightforward social-studies book tells all about the Korean War Veterans Memorial located on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The author begins with a vivid description of a visit he made to the memorial on the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the Korean War. A later chapter details the history of the conflict in the early 1950's, lucidly explaining why America found itself at war so soon after World War II ended. There is a chapter about how the memorial was designed and funded, with particular attention paid to the statues and the reflecting wall. Large, clear, full-color photographs add to the book's value. A bibliography and chronology of the war are included. Easy-to-understand and attractively designed, this is a good choice for school libraries that need material about the topic. The book is the fifth in a series about American monuments. 2001, Twenty-first Century/Millbrook, $24.90. Ages 8 to 12. Reviewer: Miriam Rinn
ISBN: 0-7613-2156-X
Best Books:
   Middle and Junior High School Library Catalog, Supplement to the Eighth Edition, 2002 ; H.W. Wilson; United States

A Strange and Distant Shore: Indians of the Great Plains in Exile
Brent Ashabranner
   In the 1870's, in order to punish some Plains Indian leaders and generally weaken the Cheyenne, Arapaho, Comanche and Kiowa tribes, the US government sent 72 leaders and warriors to an old Spanish fort in St. Augustine, Florida. Sent away without trial or evidence of guilt, some of the prisoners were as young as 20. Suffering from harsh conditions and homesickness, many comforted themselves by creating intriguing drawings and paintings, and thus bringing about the beginning of modern Native American art. This well-documented non-fiction account also describes the culture clash resulting from the establishment of the first Indian boarding schools. The color reproductions of Indian pictures are fascinating. An author's note, index, bibliography and many black and white and color photos and drawings also are included. 1996, Cobblehill, Ages 12 up, $16.99. Reviewer: Gisela Jernigan
ISBN: 0-525-65201-9
Best Books:
   Annual Best Children's Science Book List, 1997 ; Science Books & Films; United States
   Best Children's Books of the Year, 1996 ; Bank Street College of Education; United States
   Outstanding Non Fiction Choices, 1997 ; Language Arts; United States

To Seek A Better World: The Haitian Minority in America
Brent Ashabranner
Photographs by Paul Conklin
   Ashbranner and Conklin's latest collaboration conveys an understanding of the reasons Haitians emigrated. Biographies of former and current immigrants describe their struggles and triumphs. There is an excellent chapter on the geography and history of Haiti that includes a discussion of the more recent political turmoil. Ashabranner profiles "Little Haiti," a growing and slowly prospering section of Miami, where many Haitians have begun their new lives. My only criticism of this book is the choice of black and white photographs, which are in themselves, excellent--but they should be in color, especially given the vibrant and colorful art of the Haitians. This text portrays the Haitian people in a positive light; it does not delve into the truly horrible conditions they have endured at the hands of their own government. 1997, Cobblehill/Dutton, Ages 10 up, $16.99. Reviewer: Mary Sue Preissner
ISBN: 0-525-65219-1
Best Books:
   Books for You: An Annotated Booklist for Senior High, Fourteenth Edition, 2001 ; National Council of Teachers of English; United States
   Kaleidoscope, A Multicultural Booklist for Grades K-8, Third Edition, 2001 ; National Council of Teachers of English; United States
   Middle And Junior High School Library Catalog, Eighth Edition, 2000 ; H.W. Wilson; United States

The Washington Monument: A Beacon for America
Brent Ashabranner
Photographs by Jennifer Ashabranner
   At the very top of the Washington Monument, at the very tip of the pyramid-shaped crown, is an aluminum cap about nine inches long. In the winter of 1883, when the cap was installed, it was the largest piece of cast aluminum ever made. Aluminum was rare then, expensive, and hard to refine, but it would conduct lightning and it would not tarnish. For once, the issue of expense was ignored. Today, the Washington Monument is arguably the most recognizable symbol of the United States to be built by Americans (the Statue of Liberty was a gift from the People of France). Here, in somewhat laborious detail, is the whole history of the monument, from the first, unfunded proposals by the Continental Congress, to its latest refurbishing. Many anecdotes are interesting; for example, in 1854 the Pope contributed a block of stone from the ancient Roman Temple of Concord. Unfortunately, anti-Catholic sentiment ran high at the time. The stone was politicized, stolen, thrown into the Potomac River, and never recovered. In spite of such material, the narrative can be slow and the history impersonal. Some detail is meaningless, as in giving the sway of the monument in a 30-mph wind to the nearest 1,000th of an inch. Still, the book is useful reference about one of America's enduring landmarks. Part of the "Great American Memorial" series. 2002, Twenty-First Century Books, $25.90. Ages 9 to 12. Reviewer: Michael Chabin
ISBN: 0-7613-1524-1

 

Added 04/30/03

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