Wisconsin Historical Society Press publishes some great Badger State books for adults on everything from bowling alleys to bars, history to nature to sports and more. But, the Madison-based publisher also dishes up new titles each year in its great Badger Biographies series for young readers ages 7 and up.
The series has nearly two dozen titles, spotlighting Curly Lambeau, Frank Lloyd Wright, Bob La Follette, Les Paul and many others. What’s nice is that the books, which are illustrated, are invariably well-written and never talk down to young readers.
I’m especially excited by the two newest titles, which focus on Milwaukee legends.
"Father Groppi: Marching for Civil Rights" - written by Stuart Stotts, who also wrote books in the series on Lucius Fairchild and Lambeau - traces the story of one of the state’s most influential Italian Americans. Groppi was born to Tuscan emigrants in Bay View, and went on to become an outspoken supporter of Civil Rights.
In addition to explaining Groppi’s work in the fights for fair housing and desegregated schools, the book also looks at Milwaukee’s neighborhood’s, Groppi’s early life, the great migration from the south to the north and the national Civil Rights movement.
The publisher tapped Barbara Manger and Janine Smith for "Mary Nohl: A Lifetime in Art." The two also wrote a book for adults about Nohl a couple years ago.
Nohl is the late artist who made her unique home on Milwaukee’s North Shore; the Fox Point home has come to be called the witch’s house, though Nohl was no witch.
No, Nohl was a prolific creator of colorful, fanciful artworks. That work, along with her mystique helped define her as Milwaukee’s premier outsider artist. This biography explores her life and her work, adding a great section of color photographs of her work and a glossary of terms for young readers, too.
Both titles belong in any Milwaukee kid’s library. (Bobby Tanzilo, OnMilwaukee.com)