A Gift of Days: The Greatest Words to Live By

Overview

The society in which we live has been, and continues to be, inspired by visionaries and heroes from all walks of life: activists and artists, athletes and writers, inventors and explorers, healers and politicians, musicians and moguls. Our world's visionaries and heroes challenge assumptions, push boundaries, and inspire the ordinary to become extraordinary, thereby shaping our world each and every day.

Starting with January 1 and arranged by birth date, A Gift of Days ...

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Overview

The society in which we live has been, and continues to be, inspired by visionaries and heroes from all walks of life: activists and artists, athletes and writers, inventors and explorers, healers and politicians, musicians and moguls. Our world's visionaries and heroes challenge assumptions, push boundaries, and inspire the ordinary to become extraordinary, thereby shaping our world each and every day.

Starting with January 1 and arranged by birth date, A Gift of Days highlights the words and ideas of 366 noteworthy figures — including Shakespeare and Steve Jobs, Jackie Robinson and Billie Jean King, Beethoven and Buzz Aldrin, Abraham Lincoln and Maya Angelou, Blessed Mother Teresa and Oprah, Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi — to motivate and inspire readers of all ages to become heroes and mentors themselves, the kind of people who nurture and shape the very best of our culture and society.

With resounding words of wisdom, a stunning selection of portraits, short informative biographies of the visionaries, and an illustrator's note, A Gift of Days celebrates the society of which we're all a part and reminds us that we each have the potential to change the world every day of the year.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Powerful quotations from 366 revered artists, writers, political figures and other visionaries mark every day of the calendar year along with striking block-print portraits (Elvis is shown with a burning sacred heart) in this elegantly packaged book. While the order of the quotations seems arbitrary—quotations from Allen Ginsberg, Socrates and Bill Moyers rub shoulders, while Julia Child is slotted next to Madonna—the result is an inspiring collage-like tribute to human potential. Brief biographies are listed in the back. Ages 8–up. (Sept.)
Children's Literature - Phyllis Kennemer
Quotations from 366 well-known people are arranged according to their birthdates. Each double-page spread has seven entries, dividing the book into weeks. A picture of one of the subjects faces the page of quotes. The framed portraitures relate to the character traits of the individuals. Each week has a theme highlighted in the featured quotation and related (sometimes rather loosely) to the others. People from all walks of life and from all historical eras, including the present, are included. The arrangement by birthdates places people in interesting combinations. The week of May 6th to 12th with a theme of "gifts" includes Sigmund Freud, Johannes Brahms, Harry S. Truman, Howard Carter, Bono, Martha Graham, and Florence Nightingale. A "dream" theme for August 19th to 25th features William Jefferson Clinton, Robert Plant, William "Count" Basie, Claude Debussy, Edgar Lee Masters, Jorge Luis Borges, and Althea Gibson. A one-sentence biography of each person, also arranged by birthdates, appears in the back. An alphabetical index of the subjects' names is included, but there are no aids for finding specific quotations nor those on related topics. A beautiful book for browsing. Reviewer: Phyllis Kennemer, Ph.D.
School Library Journal
Gr 4 Up—For each day of the year, Alcorn presents a quotation from a person born on that date. Each weekly compilation devotes one side of the spread to the selected words. The facing page features a stylized portrait of a person born that week. The flat, static block prints with muted colors incorporate elements for which the person is noted. For example, Vincent Van Gogh's face is centered in a sunflower. Rosa Parks cradles a bus in her arms. Athletes, artists, musicians, politicians, scientists, authors, actors, and other celebrities range from Kurt Cobain, Madonna, Tupac Shakur, and Derek Jeter to Clara Barton, Nelson Mandela, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Amelia Earhart. A sentence or two about each figure appears at the book's end. Because the only index is by name, it is impossible to find quotations on a particular topic. The striking page design and intriguing portraits might appeal to graphic arts students, although the primary audience for this volume will probably be teachers, librarians, and other adults.—Kathy Piehl, Minnesota State University, Mankato
Kirkus Reviews
Beautifully designed and imaginatively conceptualized, this volume presents 366 days and 366 quotations from famous people, tagged to the days they were born. Alcorn lays this out on each double-page spread with a stunning polychrome-relief block-print bordered with pattern on one leaf and, facing, a week of birthdays and quotes. These images are often brilliantly inventive: Billie Holiday's camellia has a death's head in its center; John Lennon is figured as the King of Hearts with a Mozart overlay; Leonardo da Vinci is posed like the Mona Lisa. Some are less inspired, offering only pleasing busts with little iconic imagery. Librarians, educators and historically minded kids will take much pleasure from looking up birthdays to see the associated wisdom from women and men across the ages: LL Cool J (Jan. 14), Mercator (March 5), Mia Hamm (March 17), Golda Meir (May 3), Barack Obama (Aug. 4), Cellini (Nov. 3), Emily Dickinson (Dec. 10). While there is an index and a brief biographical listing for each, there are no citations for the quotations, which is a lamentable omission. (Reference. 8-14)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781416967767
  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
  • Publication date: 9/15/2009
  • Pages: 128
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: 870L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 8.70 (w) x 11.10 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Born in the United States, Stephen Alcorn spent his formative, teenage years in Florence, Italy, where he attended the Istituto Statale d'Arte, an experience that infused his work with an appreciation for history and a passion for experimentation in a multitude of mediums. Since then he has embraced an equally broad spectrum of themes and subjects, including the interpretation of literary classics, interpretation of poetry, nineteenth-century American history, and notably, the African-American experience — resulting in a stream of award-winning projects for adult, young adult, and young readers alike. America at War is Alcorn's fifth collaboration with Lee Bennett Hopkins.

Mr. Alcorn lives with his wife, Sabina, and four cats in an eighteenth-century farmhouse in the heart of Cambridge, New York, surrounded by the pastoral farmland of Washington County. An overview of his work may be viewed at www.alcorngallery.com.

Born in the United States, Stephen Alcorn spent his formative, teenage years in Florence, Italy, where he attended the Istituto Statale d'Arte, an experience that infused his work with an appreciation for history and a passion for experimentation in a multitude of mediums. Since then he has embraced an equally broad spectrum of themes and subjects, including the interpretation of literary classics, interpretation of poetry, nineteenth-century American history, and notably, the African-American experience — resulting in a stream of award-winning projects for adult, young adult, and young readers alike. America at War is Alcorn's fifth collaboration with Lee Bennett Hopkins.

Mr. Alcorn lives with his wife, Sabina, and four cats in an eighteenth-century farmhouse in the heart of Cambridge, New York, surrounded by the pastoral farmland of Washington County. An overview of his work may be viewed at www.alcorngallery.com.

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 6, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Timeless, Ageless, Flawless

    Stephen Alcorn's latest book is a collaboration between the printmaker and history itself. What discerns one book of quotations from another is the selection; either by subject or, as seen here, by speakers. What makes this collection quite unique is that the speakers have been chosen not for their ethnicity, gender, or profession, but for their ability to inspire an artist such as Alcorn to set his carving knife in motion. As a writer who often takes a notepad to museums and scrawls rapidly between paintings, it's interesting to see a printmaker prove that a word is worth a thousand colors.

    With each portrait reflecting both thought and thinker, the original art almost outshines the quotations. Lennon and McCartney are the Kings of Hearts. James Baldwin stares through eyes like caves. Ray Charles is a fountain of sweat. Nina Simone's scratched cheeks are the treasure chest where her voice is kept. Billie Holiday's portrait is an exact replica of her famous wailing profile but for a tear on her cheek and a skull in her hair. Sometimes, that's all there is between mediocrity and mastery.

    Everyone from Michelangelo to Madonna is here, making the readers swim through the classical and the contemporary. For this reason, it is an excellent primer for kids, and Alcorn is a seasoned guide for children in the worlds of art and history. But there is no way an adult could dismiss an image of Karl Marx emanating from a smoke stack or the line ".what is done in love is done well" as juvenile.

    Many have noted that the book is difficult to categorize and indeed, what it does best of all, simply by example, is question so many of our modern assumptions about art and the arts. Who says Shakespeare fans don't listen to Johnny Cash? Why do we so rarely see women represented this well in history books? And when did illustration get restricted to children's literature, no matter how masterful? As Queen Latifah and Gandhi and the other beaming subjects know, "hard to categorize" is a quality necessary for brilliance.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 22, 2009

    Totally awe-inspiring!

    The moment I received A Gift of Days by Stephen Alcorn, I knew I had much more than just another pretty coffee table book! I was holding an artist's heart and soul in my hands. I was mesmerized by the beauty of the relief-block prints and inspired by the daily quotations. Many of my personal favorites are included: Jeanne d'Arc, Howard Carter, Lou Gehrig and John Lennon, among a myriad of others. I turned each page with great anticipation as to what I would discover and was absolutely delighted with what I found. With the holiday season upon us, I cannot think of a more precious gift to give to someone you truly care about. Stephen Alcorn's labor of love is a veritable masterpiece!

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  • Posted November 15, 2009

    This is an excellent book!

    A GIFT OF DAYS, by Stephen Alcorn, a noted illustrator, painter and printmaker, is a compilation of inspirational words from over 366 visionaries from various: walks of life, time periods, races, genders, and cultures accompanied by 52 beautiful full-page relief-block portraits of those visionaries receiving special emphasis. The variety of styles employed in each image is carefully chosen to reflect the emotional and social context into which each of these people were immersed. The book measures an oversized 8.5 x 11 inches and is divided into 52 subsections or spreads of two pages each. On one page is the portrait and quote of the emphasized visionary born on that day. On the opposite page are quotes from six other notables born during that week. There are brief biographical notes for each individual quoted, organized by month and date at the back of the book. At the beginning of the book, is a concise, "Illustrator's Note" providing us with Mr. Alcorn's inspiration for the project. The publisher is marketing the book as being for young readers, "Ages 8 and Up".

    This is an excellent book! With the careful choices of: visionaries, quotes, artistic styles employed , and design of the book the reader can be drawn into it on a number of different levels. Moreover, this is accomplished with an economy of discourse and illustrative flourish. It has the elegance of a mathematical proof accomplished in the least number of steps. Perhaps this is why the content is so accessible to children, while remaining challenging to adults. While this is not a children's book, it can easily be appreciated and enjoyed by children. Far from being an illiterate hermit, I was nevertheless surprised by how many noteworthy quotes were from individuals I knew very little about. Conversely, of the visionaries I knew of, there were many valuable quotes cited I had never seen before. This book can be enjoyed in either a casual or more serious way. The intriguing challenges foisted upon the reader ensure that one will continually return to it. Why is that?

    In the "Illustrator's Note", the author reveals that while growing up in Florence, Italy his mentors stressed the importance of the humanities, an appreciation of genius, an adherence to standards of excellence, and a development of genuine skill. The embodiment of all these noble qualities could be found in the local superstars of the past: Michaelangelo, da Vinci, and Galileo. Their influence was everywhere in Florence. These were the heroes he drew inspiration from as a young man. Yet, even then he couldn't help but notice a comittment to these same qualities in the work of contemporary local artisans that contributed to the charm and character of the neighborhood. This astute observation by the young classically trained artist eventually led him to derive inspiration from an ever wider and more varied source as he matured. This included not only the fine arts, but elements of popular culture as well. This sense of expanding inclusiveness brought with it the belief that there was a moral element to aesthetics, "... behind every every beautiful song, article, poem, book, painting, speech... there was a noble spirit at work, abiding by his or her conscience..." that adds to the source of inspiration and provides the essential thrust of this edifying book.

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  • Posted October 23, 2009

    This book is a celebration of all that is human, all that is life and all that is. It is truly a "gift" from the archives of Stephen Alcorn's soul to his readers.

    This book creates for the reader a beautiful tapestry of human experience that transcends time and space. The book offers children and adults the chance to celebrate each day of the year through contemplation of both words and images. Educators have come to see in the last few decades that individuals approach learning differently. Some of us are more oriented to the visual while others benefit more from contemplating the written word. Further, it has been shown that we process information differently when contemplating words as opposed to pictures. As the late Neil Postman pointed out: "words and pictures are different universes of discourse.. a picture may indeed be worth a thousand words, but it is in no sense the equivalent of one thousand words, or one hundred, or two hundred.." (Postman.) The educational value of Alcorn's A Gift of Days is that the author offers the reader both approaches. That is, together and separately the beautifully crafted images and the carefully selected quotations find their way into the reader's consciousness through different paths in the brain making for a wholesome and comprehensive learning experience.

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