Born into a travelling gypsy family, young Django Reinhardt taught himself guitar at an early age. He was soon acclaimed as the “Gypsy Genius” and “Prodigy Boy,” but one day his world changed completely when a fire claimed the use of his fretting hand. Folks said Django would never play again, but with passion and perserverance he was soon setting the world’s concert stages ablaze. Bonnie Christensen’s gorgeous oil paintings and jazzy, syncopated text perfectly depict the man and his music.
Walter, the son of Lady Emma and Lord Nathan Rothschild, was a very unusual boy. He was born in 1868 to a family of bankers and was nearly the richest boy in the world. But that’s not what made him unusual. Walter was so shy he barely spoke. He had no friends, but he loved every creature that crawled, slithered or flew. At the age of seven he saw his first circus and was inspired to declare breathlessly to his parents: “I’m going to collect animals from all over the world and build a museum and I’m going to call it My Museum!” The family knew explorers who traveled the world to bring back animals for the London Zoo, and soon Walter had his first exotic creatures: several kangaroos. From there his collection grew and grew, until it threatened to take over the Rothschild estate. Lord Rothschild eventually lost patience with Walter’s hobby and insisted that Walter become a banker, like everyone else in the family. Reluctantly, Walter obeyed, but his dream couldn’t be dimmed–he used his earnings to purchase species from undiscovered lands. Eventually Walter created the largest zoological collection gathered by one man and was respected throughout the world for his contribution to science. He wrote 1200 books and scientific papers and named 5000 new species. Animals that now bear the name Rothschild include butterflies, fish, a millipede, a fly, a lizard, a porcupine, a wallaby, a bird of paradise, and even a giraffe. The painfully shy boy who never made a good banker forever changed our understanding of the world’s diversity of creatures.
Conor Broekhart was born to fly. In fact, legend has it that he was born flying, in a hot air balloon at the Paris World’s Fair.In the 1890s Conor and his family live on the sovereign Saltee Islands, off the Irish coast. Conor spends his days studying the science of flight with his tutor and exploring the castle with the king’s daughter, Princess Isabella. But the boy’s idyllic life changes forever the day he discovers a deadly conspiracy against the king. When Conor tries to intervene, he is branded a traitor and thrown into jail on the prison island of Little Saltee. There, he has to fight for his life, as he and the other prisoners are forced to mine for diamonds in inhumane conditions. There is only one way to escape Little Saltee, and that is to fly. So Conor passes the solitary months by scratching drawings of flying machines on the prison walls. The months turn into years; but eventually the day comes when Conor must find the courage to trust his revolutionary designs and take to the skies.