Belle and Bob: Partners in Politics

Belle and Bob: Partners in Politics
Belle and Bob: Partners in Politics
Price: $12.95
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Product Details
By: Bob Kann

The most famous couple in Wisconsin politics, "Fighting Bob” La Follette and his wife, Belle Case La Follette, come to life in the pages of the newest addition to the Badger Biographies series for young readers. In an accessible format that includes historic images, a glossary of terms, and sidebars explaining political concepts, students learn about Progressive politics and reform in the early twentieth century through the experiences of this pioneering couple.

The father of "Progressive politics,” Bob La Follette was famous for digging in his heels when it came to reforming government corruption. He also gained a reputation for fiery speeches on the campaign trail and on the Senate floor. Belle La Follette was political in her own right. The first woman to graduate from the University of Wisconsin’s Law School, she was an advocate for world peace and an agitator for the women’s vote. She was also Bob’s most trusted political adviser. Together, the couple raised a family and fought for the changes they believed would make the world a better place.

In these pages readers will learn about politics in Wisconsin 100 years ago. They will find out what it takes to run a successful campaign, and learn how Bob earned the nickname "Fightin’ Bob.” They will learn about local and national government as they watch Bob move from the governor’s chambers to a senate seat to a bid for the presidency. And they’ll understand more of women’s struggle to gain a public voice while still maintaining an active family life.



Paperback: $12.95
144 pages, 83 photos, 7 x 9"
ISBN: 9780870204074 

Published by Wisconsin Historical Society Press

Orders for Trade, Library or Wholesale 

Bob Kann is a well-known storyteller, juggler and magician in addition to an author. He performs throughout the United States in schools, libraries, performing arts centers and at festivals. He also teaches classes and holds workshops for educators, social service agencies, and businesses on humor, motivation, creativity, and storytelling.

Awards

2009 National Indie Excellence Awards Children's Nonfiction Category
Finalist 

Moonbeam Children's Book Awards Best Book Series - Nonfiction

Silver Medal Winner

Praise for Badger Biography Series

This feature article by Karyn Saemann appeared in "The Capital Times" in 2008:

Big Life Stories for Little Readers

Bios for Kids Honor People Who Made Wisconsin Special

They changed the face of Wisconsin. Now, their faces are becoming familiar to children around the state.

Since 2005, the Wisconsin Historical Society Press has tapped a diverse well of authors to write children's biographies of notable state figures.

Notable doesn't have to mean famous. Some "Badger Biographies Series" subjects, like Green Bay Packers founder Curly Lambeau, are household names. But others, like immigrant Swiss cheese maker Casper Jaggi, are little known yet accomplished extraordinary things.

"We want to have a balance of well-known and not," said Bobbie Malone, director of the society's Office of School Services, whose job is to cultivate potential titles and authors. So far, eight books are out, and more are coming.

"I do love what I do," said Malone, a former first-grade teacher who, when not editing the latest biography or some other society publication, travels around the state showing teachers how to bring Wisconsin history alive.

SO MANY STORIES

"What's not to fall in love with? There are so many interesting stories," mused Malone from her tiny office overlooking UW-Madison's Library Mall.

The authors, too, say they've found inspiration in the stories that, in addition to Lambeau and Jaggi, have so far included Hmong refugee Mai Ya Xiong; escaped African-American slave and Underground Railroad user Caroline Quarlls; the founders of Harley-Davidson motorcycles; Mountain Wolf Woman, a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation; the Ringling Brothers of circus fame; and Milwaukee Jew Lizzie Kander, whose "Settlement Cook Book" taught American homemaking to immigrant women and raised money for social causes.

"I think it's fascinating to see how people lived their lives," said Diane Young Holliday, an archaeologist who authored "Mountain Wolf Woman: A Ho-Chunk Girlhood."

Ultimately, "we want people to fall in love with the past so they value it and connect it to their own lives," Malone said.

Bob Kann, who inked Lizzie Kander's story and is himself a Jew whose mother owned a "Settlement Cook Book," said readers will relate to the tales of hard work and determination.

"It's important to expose kids to people who are exemplary, to show how people accomplished what they accomplished, how they dealt with defeat and to show their resilience in how they bounced back," Kann said.

Of Milwaukee's Jewish immigrants of the late 19th and early 20th Century, Kann said he hoped to show "how difficult their lives were, and how courageous it was for them to come to this country with very few resources."

"There weren't any social service agencies," Kann said. "They were very fortunate to have people like Lizzie Kander who were filling that gap."

FOR YOUNG READERS

Writing for children isn't easy.

Jerry Apps, a veteran writer who with the exception of two titles has spent 35 years crafting adult books, called writing for children "extremely difficult."

Apps adapted both of his Badger Biographies titles, on the Ringling family and Jaggi, from adult books he previously wrote on the same subjects.

"It's boiling down the material in such a way that you get to the essence of it, in a way that communicates to young readers yet doesn't compromise the history," Apps said.

"I wasn't sure if I could explain things at a fourth-grade level," admitted Young Holliday, recalling reservations she had when collaborating with Malone on a publication previous to "Mountain Wolf Woman."

In some cases, it's weighing how to appropriately present the tainted personal lives of memorable people to a target audience of fourth- through eighth-graders, without whitewashing too much truth.

For all his legendary professional success, Curly Lambeau treated people badly and had serious character flaws that included infidelity, said Stuart Stotts, a lifelong Green Bay Packers fan and author of "Curly Lambeau: Building the Green Bay Packers."

"Curly was a philanderer, but that is not really dealt with in the book," Stotts said. "We didn't feel that was appropriate for 10-year-olds. You say a little bit about how he was divorced three times, and something about his inability to get along with people, but don't go into the details of extramarital affairs."

However, "I think 7- to 10-year-olds are quite capable of understanding that people are complex," Stotts said. "I think at this age they are quite able to recognize that people may have good qualities and bad qualities at the same time. The subtleties of behavior are not at all beyond what they are dealing with in their own social situations."

"I think as a biographer it's our job to make people's character flaws clear if we are aware of them, but not to dwell on them. The purpose of the book is not to bring down Curly Lambeau, but we have to be realistic about who he was."

Similarly tricky adult situations led to Mountain Wolf Woman's story focusing not on her grown-up years, but on her childhood, Malone said.

"You want to make it real but you can't overwhelm young readers with details or information they can't handle," Malone said.