Mac & Cheese Wednesday and More Women's History Month

I've become such a delinquent blogger. Today is Mac & Cheese Wednesday, and I have a recipe to share, but it's also March 30, which means today and tomorrow are the last two days of Women's History Month! Since I share a book or entertainment to go with the week's mac recipe, I figure I can share some WHM picture books with you today!

First up: Baking Sheet Mac and Cheese.

Now that I've shared my three go-to mac and cheese recipes, it's finally time for me to branch out and try some new ones. I'd consulted my Pinterest board and had one picked, but then Melissa at Julia's Bookbag tagged me on a recipe on Facebook that I decided I had to try next! This recipe is from Food 52, created with the idea that the crusty, crunchy edge pieces in baked macaroni and cheese recipes are the best part! Now, I like a creamy mac and cheese recipe, but I admit, sometimes I do love those crunchy edges, and I know Mr. B does, too.  So today, I made this. I only had shells on hand (from last week), so I used those instead of cavatappi or another larger, curly noodle. It was definitely a big hit with Mr. B and Big Sis. Mr. B has continued to snack on it all evening, and Big Sis loves the spice from the cayenne pepper. I confess, I prefer to balance the sharp cheddar with a creamier cheese. Cheddar alone can be so oily. I do think we will make this again. I may make it using the same basic principles, but with a different mix of cheeses. To make it yourself, check out the recipe at Food 52.

And now, for the books!

Tonight, I thought I'd share six more books for Women's History Month: three new-to-us books about women in sports (or extreme "sports"), and three new-to-us books about women in music.

Women's History Month: Books about Women in Basketball, Baseball, & Daredevil Entertainment

Basketball Belles: How Two Teams and One Scrappy Player Put Women's Hoops on the Map by Sue Macy, illustrated by Matt Collins. Holiday House, 2011.

In 1896, the first intercollegiate women's sporting event took place, a basketball game between Stanford and the University of California at Berkeley. Agnes Morley, who grew up working on a ranch in New Mexico, played guard for Stanford. She later became a respected writer, and her books inspired the story here. The illustrations are so surprising: young women in buns and braids and skirts, playing basketball - and those aren't Nikes on their feet, either! We learned that the court was divided into thirds instead of halves, and there was much concern about the safety of the women. The game wasn't a high scorer. Stanford beat Berkeley 2-1. Still, women had to start somewhere, right?

 Queen of the Diamond: The Lizzie Murphy Story by Emily Arnold McCully. FSG Books for Young Readers, 2015.

Lizzie Murphy and her brother were taught to play baseball by their father. It was the early 20th century, and women and girls did not play baseball, but Lizzie had other plans. She begged to play on her brother's team, and her talent landed her a spot. Later, she made a semi-pro team in her hometown of Warren, Rhode Island. Despite the fact her very presence drew crowds to the stands - and despite the fact she played a very good game - the manager failed to pay her a cut of the team's earnings. She smiled and sat tight until the next game, then refused to play until she got her share. Her teammates backed her up. She eventually played exhibition games in the majors, and once got a hit off Satchel Paige in a Negro League exhibition game. She never did make much money, but she played baseball, which was her passion in life. (See articles here and here.)

Women Daredevils: Thrills, Chills, and Frills by Julie Cummins, illustrated by Cheryl Harness. Dutton Children's Books, 2008.

Women Daredevils tells ten stories of women who participated in daredevil stunts:Zazel, the Human Cannonball;  Annie Edson Taylor,who went over Niagara Falls in a barrel; Mlle. D'Zizi and Gerturde Breton, who performed dangerous hurdles on bicycles; Isabelle Butler and the LaRague Sisters, circus stunt drivers who drove automobiles on tracks that sent them somersaulting in space; May Wirth, the great circus bareback rider; Georgia "Tiny" Broadwick, "The Doll Girl of the Air," parachute jumper; Mabel Stark, circus tiger trainer; Gladys Roy and Gladys Ingle, who performed stunts on the wings of airplanes; Mabel Cody, another airplane stunt performer, who also managed her own flying circus; and Sonora Webster Carver, who performed a high-dive acts with horses, even after a stunt permanently cost her her eyesight (inspiring the movie Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken).  You can view a book trailer on YouTube.

Women's History Month: Three Books About Women in Music

Harlem's Little Blackbird: The Story of Florence Mills by Renée Watson, illustrated by Christian Robinson. Random House, 2012.

Florence Mills was born in Washington, D.C. in 1896. As a child, she discovered her singing voice, a sweet birdlike instrument, and learned how to dance. She was invited to perform at a big theatre in Washington, but was told her family and friends were not allowed. She used her voice to stand up for her loved one, declaring she would not perform if they were unwelcome. The manager sneaked them in, and Florence performed to thunderous applause. She and her sisters went on to perform in Harlem and Coney Island, but it was Florence who always stood out. She became one of the first people of color to star on Broadway. Florence went to London, where people threatened to boycott, but her talent shined and she became an international star. Back in New York, she turned down a chance to star in the Ziegfeld Follies, preferring to use her stardom to promote unknown African-American performers. She continued to star on stages in Europe and the U.S., and would visit hospitals to deliver flowers and often gave money and food to beggars. Then in 1927, she died. She never appeared on film or recorded her voice, and so she faded from memory. There is a website devoted to her, if you care to explore it.

 Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl's Courage Changed Music by Margarita Engle, illustrated by Rafael López. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015.

In beautiful, poetic language, we learn the story of a young girl in Cuba, who longs to play the drums. She is told that only men play drums, but moved by the rhythms all around her, she drums on the furniture and objects around her, the dreamy illustrations showing the places her imagination takes her as she drums. The girl's sisters want her to be the drummer in their all-girl band, but their father says no, as only boys should play drums. Finally, her father relents, and finds a music teacher, if only to see if she was any good. The teacher was amazed by what he heard and gives her a set of bongo drums. The book was inspired by the childhood of Millo Castro Zaldarriaga, a Chinese-African-Cuban girl. At the age of 10, Millo became the drummer for Anacaona, her sisters' "all-girl dance band." She became famous, playing alongside all the jazz greats, even playing her bongos for President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. You can view the book trailer here.

Leontyne Price: Voice of a Century by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Raul Colón. Alfred A. Knopf, 2014.

This is the beautifully written story of the great soprano Leontyne Price. Born in Mississippi in 1927, she grew up singing along to her father's records and listening to the Metropolitan Opera's Saturday radio broadcasts. When she begged for a piano, her parents sold their phonograph to buy her one, and to pay for lessons. Leontyne went to college in Ohio, planning to become a teacher, but the college president convinced her to study voice. She wound up attending Julliard, the student of Florence Page Kimball. Before making her opera debut, she starred in the Broadway revival of Porgy and Bess. But once her opera career began, the doors flew open. She played many of the great lyric soprano roles, and became the first black singer to star at La Scala in Italy. Back in America, she was the first black opera singer to appear on television. In 1955, she made her debut at the Metropolitan Opera House, landing her first leading role (in Il Trovatore) six years later. She retired in 1985, performing her great role in Aida one last time.

And with that, I'll leave you with Leontyne Price singing "O patria mia" from Aida, from a 1950s (?) television performance.

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