Meet the Past: What Would You Ask?

Have you ever wished that you could talk to a ghost? (A friendly one, of course.) Reading about history is like talking to ghosts—finding out what people thought and how they lived. You can re-live their adventures or discover how they overcame difficult circumstances such as sexism, racism, and war.

The Kansas City Public Library isn’t haunted (as far as we know), but you can meet the past. Starting in April, Library Director Crosby Kemper III will interview re-enactors portraying famous people from the past, such as poet Langston Hughes, pilot Amelia Earhart, and President Harry S. Truman.

Meet the Past events at the Central Library, 14 W. 10th St.

Langston Hughes: Tuesday, April 7 at 6:30 p.m.
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Amelia Earhart: Tuesday, April 14 at 6:30 p.m.
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President Harry S. Truman:Tuesday, April 28 at 6:30 p.m.
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And you can do one thing more—you can help the Library determine what to ask these living ghosts. Do you have a good question? Let us know and it might become a part of the program. Each interview will be filmed and the Meet the Past series will air on KCPT (channel 19) in the fall of 2009.

What would you ask them? Langston Hughes, Amelia Earhart, or Harry S. Truman.

Yours with snorts,

S. Will Burr signature


The First Book of Jazz
By Hughes, Langston
Illustrator Roberts, Cliff

Langston Hughes, celebrated poet and longtime jazz enthusiast, wrote The First Book of Jazz as an homage to the music that inspired him. The roll of African drums, the dancing quadrilles of old New Orleans, the marching tunes of that city's brass bands, the work songs of the river ports, the field shanties of the cotton plantations, the spirituals, the jubilees, the blues, the off-beats of ragtime - in a history as exciting as jazz rhythms Hughes describes how each of these played a part in the extraordinary history of jazz. The First Book of Jazz provides a clear account of what jazz is and introduces some of the colorful personalities that have been a part of its exciting story. Illustrated throughout by Cliff Roberts' stylized be-bop drawings, this book is a helpful and enlightening guide for both jazz aficionados and listeners coming for the first time to this indigenous American sound. It also offers a unique glance at Langston Hughes, eager to share his love for music.

The Dream Keeper and Other Poems
By Hughes, Langston
Author Pinkney, J. Brian
Illustrator Pinkney, Brian

CCBC Choices - 1994
Hughes' classic collection of poetry for children is now available in a handsome new gift edition that includes seven additional poems written after The Dream Keeper was first published (in 1932). All-new illustrations accompany the inspirational and uplifting message to young people, as strong and relevant today as it was in 1932.

Cooperative Children's Book Center Review
This handsome volume features Brian Pinkney's dignified scratchboard artwork accompanying Hughes' 66 poems for youth, 59 of which appeared in an earlier edition. The splendid layout and design, choice of paper and judicious use of two colors for the text add elegance to this tribute to an important poet who wrote both in dialect and in standard English. (Age 11 and older)

© 1994, All rights reserved, Cooperative Children's Book Center

Langston Hughes: American Poet
By Walker, Alice
Illustrator Deeter, Catherine

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker celebrates the life of Langston Hughes, one of the greatest American poets of the 20th century. Originally published in 1974, this new edition includes a new author's note and stunning artwork by Catherine Deeter. Full color.

Amelia and Eleanor Go for a Ride
By Ryan, Pam Munoz
Illustrator Selznick, Brian

Cooperative Children's Book Center Review
Two of the strongest American women of the 20th century come face to face is a wonderfully exuberant picture story based on an actual event. Mrs. Roosevelt, it seems, loved flying and by 1933 had logged more passenger miles than any other woman in the world. When Amelia Earhart came as a guest to the White House on April 20, 1933, it would seem only natural that the two women would do what they both loved best -- go for a spin in an airplane, and in formal gowns and white gloves, no less! Pam Muñoz Ryan has fictionalized the story just a bit by allowing the two to make the flight alone. (In reality others came along with them.) Brian Selznick's pencil drawings illustrate the momentous occasion, appropriately, in black and white. (Ages 7-10)

© 2000, All rights reserved, Cooperative Children's Book Center

Amelia Earhart Free in the Skies
By Burleigh, Robert
Illustrator Wylie, Bill

At the age of twenty-three, Amelia Earhart began her lifelong love affair with aviation. The details of her tragic final flight are well known, but this bold portrait instead focuses on the heroine's dynamic life. The first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic, Earhart was an irrepressible adventurer and accomplished pilot as well as a fierce advocate for women.

Amelia Earhart: The Sky's No Limit
By Van Pelt, Lori

As a tomboy growing up in Kansas, Amelia Earhart (1897-1937) delighted in trying new and risky things, once even building a working roller-coaster in her grandparents' backyard.

Her enchantment with aviation began in her twenties while she was volunteering as a war-time nurse in Toronto, Canada. She began taking flying lessons in California in 1921 and, to look more like a pilot, donned jodhpurs and boots before take-off and trimmed her blonde locks into the tousled bob that would become her signature style.

In 1928, when sponsors of the transatlantic Friendship flight sought a "Lady Lindy" to make the ocean crossing, they invited Earhart, whose willowy build, wholesome smile, and blue-grey eyes were similar to those of the famous Charles Lindbergh. Earhart received worldwide fame for this adventure.

For nine spectacular years thereafter Amelia Earhart was the world's best-known aviatrix, setting records and championing the efforts of women, especially in aviation, inspiring females throughout the world to explore careers traditionally held by men.

In 1937, she attempted to fly around the world at the Equator with navigator Fred Noonan. The two were lost en route to tiny Howland Island in the Pacific Ocean, just days before Earhart's fortieth birthday.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt authorized the greatest land/ocean search ever undertaken but Earhart, Noonan, and the Electra were never found.

Who's Haunting the White House?: The President's Mansion and the Ghosts Who Live There
By Belanger, Jeff
Illustrator Powell, Rick

Filled with archival images and original illustrations, this book takes young readers on a tour of the White House, examining its history and the ghosts believed to reside there.

Publisher Comments
Come explore the spooky world inside the White House It's one of America's most famous and haunted homes, so keep your eyes wide open for darting shadows, ghostly apparitions, and lurking creepy creatures. We'll hear true, scary stories from past Presidents and First Ladies, as well as from staff who work there every day and have had the chance to see it all. It's the perfect election year book; as adults decide who will move in, kids can enjoy thinking of what the new inhabitant might encounter in the building's many rooms and hallways.

Has the original landowner decided to stick around? Is Abigail Adams still hanging laundry on the premises? Does President Andrew Jackson still make a ruckus up in the Rose Guest Room? Is Abraham Lincoln a permanent fixture in the bedroom that bears his name? Every one of these figures, and others, has been spotted or heard from. To increase the chills, a variety of archival images and original illustrations capture the hauntings.

In addition to ghost-hunting, kids will learn about the real history inside the White House.

Harry S. Truman: Thirty-Third President 1945-1953
By Venezia, Mike
Illustrator Venezia, Mike

Fans of Venezia's highly praised artist biography series will be drawn to this new series.

Author presents the lives of U.S. presidents in an entirely fresh way with his unique format-a blend of casual prose, historical reproductions, and amusing original illustrations.

How to Draw the Life and Times of Harry S. Truman
By Parker, Lewis K.

A kid’s guide to drawing the White House and President Harry S. Truman, from his childhood in Missouri to his retirement.

America Votes: How Our President Is Elected
By Granfield, Linda
Illustrator Bjorkman, Steve

An informative and up-to-date look at how we elect our government.

Publisher Comments
Kids shouldn't have to wait until they're old enough to vote to get caught up in the excitement of presidential elections From the first primaries, through the party conventions, to the final count at the polls, the race for the presidency is a whirlwind of passionate speeches, sensational campaigns and new beginnings that every American can be a part of.