Thursday, June 17, 2010

Heroes for My Son by Brad Meltzer


Who do Americans consider to be their real heroes? Brad Meltzer has been fascinated by this question for nearly a decade. From his first exhilarated drive home from the hospital the night his son was born, his mission has been to find the heroes in life who would help him teach his child about kindness and courage and other singular attributes that would help his boy become a good man. The issue was, where to begin? He decided to do what he knew: tell the best stories.

HEROES FOR MY SON (HarperStudio/$19.99/May 11, 2010) by Brad Meltzer is the New York Times bestselling novelist’s first foray into nonfiction. It’s a hand-picked collection of heroes—52 men and women, both familiar and unknown—and illustrated throughout with black-and-white photographs, many of which have not been seen in decades. Meltzer mines the lives of each of these men and women and finds the moment that best illustrates what makes a hero out of each of them. Lyrically written, these narratives have potency in their very simplicity. Meant to be read aloud and shared together across generations, HEROES FOR MY SON gets to the heart of what it means to be heroic in everyday life.

From the Wright Brothers to his grandfather, Ben Rubin, Meltzer’s heroes include philanthropists and creative people, doctors and politicians, performers and activists, athletes and ordinary citizens. Roberto Clemente and Jackie Robinson, Bella Abzug and George Washington, Jonas Salk and Jim Henson, Clara Hale, Mother Theresa, Mr. Rogers and Albert Einstein stand side-by-side with Officer Frank Shankwitz who founded the Make A Wish Foundation, or Dan West who created Heifer International, and Miep Gies, Otto Frank’s assistant who hid her employer and his family including his young daughter Anne Frank for two years.

Meltzer draws from the stories—some familiar from history lessons—and within them finds unorthodox wisdom. The Wright Brothers’ fame as the first in aviation becomes a story about how they always packed everything they would need to repair their planes; in essence planning for their failure, and yet never giving up. What Meltzer tells about Abraham Lincoln is how he lost his Senate race in 1858 because he refused to go along with the prevailing view of that time that Black men and women had no rights—he committed political suicide because he refused to be quiet. Jim Henson wanted to work on television but when he went looking for a job at seventeen, he was turned down. He saw that they needed a puppeteer so he went to the library, checked out a book on the subject, built his own puppets and returned to the station—and got the job.

As Meltzer writes in his introduction, “There are thousands of heroes. And I think that’s what I like best. There is proof—absolute proof—everywhere. Look around at any life and you’ll find examples of character and honesty, leadership and humility, tenacity and dignity. These are the tools I want my son to have…This isn’t about how to be remembered—it’s a book about how we live our lives, and what we are capable of on our very best days.”

05_08_new_author_photo Brad Meltzer is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Book of Fate, as well as the bestsellers The Tenth Justice, Dead Even, The First Counsel, The Millionaires, The Zero Game, and The Book of Lies.
He is also one of the co-creators of the TV show, Jack & Bobby—and is the Eisner Award-winning author of the critically acclaimed comic book, Justice League of America.  

His first non-fiction book, Heroes For My Son, is a collection of heroes—from Jim Henson to Rosa Parks—that he’s been working on since the day his son was born and is on sale May 11. His newest thriller, The Inner Circle, will be released in January 2011. You can read far more about him at

Heidi Says . . . I knew, as soon as I received the press information on this book, that it would be a keeper.  I was right!  In a day and age when so many young people are choosing the wrong heroes, Brad Meltzer has put together a book filled with worthy heroes – people whose lives are worth looking at for examples of how we should live. 

Brad’s inspiration for writing the  book?  Becoming a new dad, and thinking of all the responsibilities parenthood brings.  He filled this book with stories of heroes whose lives are worth emulating. Heroes include the obvious, like George Washington and Rosa Parks; those that are familiar, like Jim Henson and Eleanor Roosevelt; and the lesser-known, such as Frank Shankwitz and Barbara Johns (if you don’t know who these people are, buy the book!) 

Each hero receives a 2-page spread in this book.  The pages look old – rather like parchment paper – and appear much like an old photograph album (love that).  On the left-hand side, you’ll find the hero’s name and what they are famous for, along with a picture, and an interesting fact.  The right-hand side contains more detailed facts (written in a very engaging tone), and a quote (either by the hero, or by someone else speaking of the hero). 

Each account is interesting.  The one that really stood out to me last night was about Mr. Rogers (yes, loved the guy!)  One of his quotes really struck me ---

“When a bubble’s gone, you don’t see it anymore with your eyes. And when an opera is over, you don’t hear it anymore with your ears. But you can remember it. You can remember what bubbles look like and what operas sound like and what friends feel like. And you’ll always have them with you in your memory.” ~Fred Rogers

This book is worth reading and sharing.  Would you like a copy?  I have a signed, hardcover copy of Heroes for My Son to give away to one of my readers.

How can you win?  Simply leave me a comment telling me what most appeals to you about this book.  I’ll do a random drawing next Thursday, June 24th, and will announce a winner at that time.  (U.S. shipping addresses only, please)


Debra said...

Oh, wow, even before I saw there was a giveaway, I thought "I have to have this book!"

I love the idea of the rather unconventional lessons drawn from the stories of some of these heroes.

Wendy said...

Hey Heidi!

I would love to have a copy of this book. :) I think it would be great for Scott and Noah to read it together. I love for Noah to read stories about "ordinary" folks who did heroic things. I'm hoping it will inspire him at times when he needs it as he's growing up. Thanks for the chance to win!


Steve and April said...

I'd like to read this book (and win it) so I can have a memory file of heroes to tell the kids about as related situations arise in life. Of course, if I can get the older kids to read it themselves ... even better!

April E.

Kelly said...

I would love to read this book. I think the most appealing thing about this book is that these are real heroes, not those who have become heroes through media attention. This is a book I can see my husband read to our son as he gets older and help him see that we are all heroes.

Steve said...

I saw this on Good Morning America and thought it sounded great! Would love to win it, I want my kids to have positive role models--and always to enjoy reading some non-fiction as well as fiction.

Don't know if you have our email:

Sorry-this is going to show up as Steve but it's actually Ali commenting.

Shannon said...

This sounds like it would be a great addition to our library and schoolwork.

I use this type of book as a narration exercise. I have my daughter usually read small snippets and articles and then write her narration. I try really hard to keep it uplifting.

Martha said...

This book sounds wonderful. A delightful mix of people from all walks of life who made it a point to do things to make life better for others, without a thought to themselves.

Lovely inspiration and history for both Sons and Daughters.

Stacy said...

This sounds like a great book for anyone to read, but especially for young men. I would like to have this book for my son to read and to gain insight into what good character is all about.

Moira said...

Thank you so much for offering this book! I think it would be wonderful to have a copy to teach my kids about everyday heroism and those who go above and beyond. It would also be terrific for when I am student teaching soon in pursuit of my BS in elementary education/special education. I think EVERY teacher should have this book in their classroom whether they are homeschoolers, private or public educators.

Lynette said...

In this age when there are so many role models for kids, esp. boys, who are irreverent, sassy, disobedient and uncaring, I am always looking for truly positive role models and heroes. This book sounds like just the ticket!
THanks for offering it!

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