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Higginbotham, Anastasia. 2015. Divorce Is the Worst (Ordinary Terrible Things). New York:The Feminist Press at CUNY.
I didn't think I'd like this book, and I didn't; I loved it. It is honest; it is practical; it is a beautifully artistic rendering of a sorrowful event. If you know a child in need of a divorce book, look no further; this is it.
Please, do watch the trailer.
The Fangirl's Guide to the Galaxy: A handbook for girl geeks by Sam Maggs, 2015
Read by Holly Conrad, Jessica Almasy
Although it is essentially a book about fandoms of all types (Trekkers, Potterheads, cosplayers, and the like), The Fangirl's Guide to the Galaxy
it is also a motivational book that entreats young women to embrace their fangirl passions without apology.
As I've mentioned before, I had the great honor and opportunity to serve again as a second round judge on the Elementary/Middle Grade Nonfiction book award panel for the Cybils Awards. If you're not familiar with the Cybils awards, they are the Children and Young Adult Bloggers' Literary Awards.
Our judging panel chose the following as the 2014 Cybils Award winner for best Elementary/Middle Grade Nonfiction book:
The judging panel's description:
Using child-friendly similes, Feathers shows that there is both beauty and purpose in nature and that, although we do not fly, we have many things in common with birds, such as the need to be safe, attractive, industrious, communicative, and well-fed. The simple, large text is suitable for reading to very young children, while the inset boxes contain more details for school-aged kids. The scrapbook-style watercolor illustrations show each feather at life size, and provide a nice jumping-off point for individual projects. Science, art, and prose work together to make this the perfect book to share with budding young artists, painters, naturalists, and scientists, and it will be appreciated by parents, teachers, and kids.
Melissa Stewart's website offers teaching resources and activities to go along with Feathers.
Pizzoli, Greg. 2015. Tricky Vic: The Impossibly True Story of the Man Who Sold the Eiffel Tower. New York: Viking.
In 1890, the man who would one day be known by forty-five different aliases was born to the Miller family, in what is now the Czech Republic. His parents named him Robert.
Working both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, Robert Miller was a con man of legendary proportions, becoming most famous for his "sales" of Paris' iconic Eiffel Tower. In addition to selling the Eiffel Tower (numerous times), Miller was a counterfeiter and a card sharp.
Yes, Robert Miller was a criminal of the worst order, but it will be hard for readers to remain unimpressed by the sheer chutzpah of the man. It's a book that readers won't put down until they learn the fate of the legendary man who came to be known as Tricky Vic!
Not content with merely an intriguing story, Greg Pizzoli has enveloped Tricky Vic
in outstanding artwork. The back matter includes an explanatory note about the unique combination of methods (including halftone photographs, silkscreen and Zipatone) used to achieve the book's dated, contextual feel. Appropriately, the face of the elusive Tricky Vic is represented by a fingerprint stamp.
Back matter includes a Glossary, Selected Sources, Author's Note, Acknowledgments, and the aforementioned "Note about the Art in this Book."Advance Reader Copy provided by the publisher. Coming to a shelf near you on March 10, 2015.
Two reminders for this first Monday in March:
March is Women's History Month! Please visit KidLit Celebrates Women's History Month!
We've got a great month planned. Today features author and librarian, Penny Peck.
Today is Nonfiction Monday. Check out all of today's posts at the Nonfiction Monday Blog
I've been reading (and writing!), but no reviews for you today, just a few announcements:
Today is the start of Scholastic’s #IReadYA week - a celebration of all things YA. In support of this week, Scholastic will be holding daily challenges beginning today and running through Friday the 22nd. By participating in the challenges, you earn the chance to win #IReadYA prizes including: #IReadYA tote bags, tumblers and free YA books!
The fun daily challenges range from describing a YA book only using words that start with the same letter (e.g. Harry helps Hogwarts, hefting horcruxes), to sharing YA reaction videos/memes.
Some YA authors will also be participating with impromptu Twitter chats, Tumblr posts and more.
To become a part of #IReadYA week and take part in the daily challenges, click here:Scholastic’s #IReadYA Week
And on the topic of YA books, I attended a Penguin Random House Book Buzz event on Friday. Library of Souls
, the final book in the Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children series will be coming out in September. The final cover will be revealed this month. And coming next spring, is Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiars
, the Tim Burton movie based on the first book in the series.
And finally, today, as it is every Monday, you can visit the Nonfiction Monday
blog to see what's new in nonfiction for kids and teens.
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The Boys Who Challenged Hitler: Knud Pedersen and the Churchill Club by Phillip Hoose. Narrated by Phillip Hoose and Michael Braun. (2015, Recorded Books)
This is the heretofore little-known story of schoolboys who challenged the Nazi army even as their country's leaders collaborated with the Germans. Alternating first-person accounts of young saboteur, Knud Pedersen, with carefully researched narrative, Phillip Hoose tells the compelling story of these daring young boys who were willing to risk their lives to free Denmark from German occupation. Without their parents' knowledge, the boys raided, stole, and destroyed German property with nothing more than bicycles for transportation! Their heroic actions sparked the Danish resistance.
Michael Braun narrates the chapters containing Knud Pedersen's first-hand recollections of the events. While his delivery is weighty, it lacks personality. It is through the actions of Knud that the listener learns to like and admire him, rather than through his speech. Because the book is targeted at a young audience (ages 12-18) and Knud himself was only a teen at the time, a younger narrator may have been more appropriate. Author Phillip Hoose does an excellent job with the alternating chapters. He reads precisely and takes great care in the pronunciation of Danish names and places.
This is a well-researched, captivating story that proves the ability of individuals to effect change against overwhelming odds.
Review copy supplied by LibraryThing.
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Krull, Kathleen. 2014. What's New? The Zoo!: A Zippy History of Zoos. New York: Scholastic. Illustrated by Marcellus Hall.What's New? The Zoo?
is an illustrated overview of zoos that combines history with hard science and social science. Kathleen Krull outlines the history of zoos, and offers insight into what compels us to keep animals, what we've learned from them, and what has changed in zoos since the founding of the first known zoo,
4,400 Years Ago, The Sumerian City of Ur, in Present-Day Iraq
The king of beasts lunges and roars. The King of Ur roars right back, feeling like the ruler of all nature. How delicious to wield his power over dangerous animals! It's the world's first known zoo, and all we're sure about (from clay tablets in libraries) is that is has lions.
From this beginning, Krull highlights transitional moments in zoos throughout the ages and across the globe. Just a few examples include:
- Ancient Egypt and Rome where zoos were created to impress
- Ancient China where the zoo was a contemplative and sacred place
- Sweden where the science of zoology was established in 1735
- The U.S. National Zoo where the concept of zoos protecting threatened species was introduced
- South Africa's Kruger National Park where the protection of rhinos was so successful that rhinos were delivered to other zoos
- Germany, 1907, where the "cageless zoo" concept is introduced
(Did you know that Aristotle wrote the first encyclopedia of animals?)
On most pages, humorous, watercolor illustrations nestle around paragraphs of simple font against white space. Several pages, however (including one depiction of fifteen buffalo waiting for a train at Grand Central Station, 1907), are double-spreads with many amusing details.
The very talented Kathleen Krull never disappoints! If you like your science accessible and entertaining, this is the book for you.A SLJ interview with Kathleen Krull on the history of zoos.
Duffy, Chris, ed. 2014. Above the Dreamless Dead: World War I in Poetry and Comics. New York: First Second.
(Advance Reader Copy)
Above the Dreamless Dead is an illustrated anthology of poetry by English soldier-poets, who served in WWI. They are known collectively as the "Trench Poets."
Poems by famous writers such as Wilfred Owen and Rudyard Kipling are illustrated by equally talented comic artists, including Hannah Berry and George Pratt. The comic-style renderings (most spanning many pages), offer complementary interpretations of these century-old poems. The benefit of hindsight and perspective give the artists a broader angle in which to work. The result is a very personal, haunting, and moving look at The Great War.
|This is the "case" for Above the Dreamless Dead. |
This, and many other interior photos at 00:01 First Second.
Look for Above the Dreamless Dead
in September, 2014. Thanks to First Second
, who provided this review copy at my request.
|French soldiers of the 87th Regiment, 6th Division, |
at Côte 304, (Hill 304), northwest of Verdun, 1916.
Public Domain image.
Note: Although this is not an anthology for children, it should be of interest to teens and teachers. It could be particularly useful in meeting Common Core State Standards by combining art, poetry, history, and nonfiction.
Today marks the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I. I have to be honest and say this I don't really know much about this war except what I learned in school, or from a few books I have read. And I have always felt that when your knowledge is lacking on a particular topic, begin learning about it by looking at a good overview, then you can look more closely at particular areas that might be interesting to you.
So, when I realized this anniversary was coming up, I decided to begin with one of DK's Eyewitness books. Eyewitness World War I
begins with an introduction to Europe at the beginning of the 20th century, explains who the major powers were and well as the major conflicts that created alliances that would prove to be important in 1914 and the beginning of World War I.
The war was a result of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne. He was shot in Sarajevo, Bosnia. Bosnia was claimed by Serbia, so naturally Austria-Hungary blamed Serbia for the assignation and declared war on them on July 28, 1014. Immediately, countries began to chose side - Germany supported Austria-Hungary, Russia supported Serbia, France supported Russia, then Britain declared war on Germany for invading Belgium. The US didn't enter the war until April 6, 1917.
Each important aspect of the war is cover, usually in two page spreads, with lots of photographs supporting the text. Readers will learn about how people signed up to fight, the most important battles, the role of women, the use of air power for the first time in a war:
Other topics included are Life in the Trenches, the War at Sea, and the use of one the worst weapons of this war - the Gas Attack. I have always been interested in spying and code breaking, so I was happy to see pages devoted to Espionage:
World War I made good use of carrier pigeons, using up to 500,000 of them according to this page of the book, for espionage and often for sending messages from behind enemy lines.
Back matter to Eyewitness World War I
includes more facts, a Q&A, a list of important people and places, where to go to find out more, places and websites to visit, a Glossary and in Index.
If you have a young reader developing an interest in war books, Eyewitness World War I
would be a good introduction for them. And if you are a classroom or home schooling teacher, this is one you will definitely want as a resource for students. I use my Eyewitness World War II
book all the time, and kids really like all the photographs of what people and things looked like. I'll be placing Eyewitness World War I
with it for their use, since WWI is on the agenda for the next next year.
This book is recommended for readers age 8+
This book was purchased for my personal library
It's Nonfiction Monday
, be sure to visit today's Round Up of other nonfiction books for kids and teens
First there was Winter's Tail: How One Little Dolphin Learned to Swim Again (a companion book to the movie, Dolphin Tale) that detailed the rescue and rehabilitation of the baby dolphin, Winter. Now there is Hope for Winter: The True Story of a Remarkable Friendship.
Yates, David, Craig Hatkoff, Juliana Hatkoff, Isabella Hatkoff.
2014. Hope for Winter: The True Story of a Remarkable Friendship. New York: Scholastic.
(Advance Reader Copy)
Anyone who has seen the movie, Dolphin Tale, knows the story of Winter, the rescued dolphin fitted with a prosthetic tail. Now, in the book Hope for Winter (and in the upcoming Dolphin Tale 2 movie), people will learn of Hope, another bottlenose dolphin rescued in circumstances remarkably similar to those of Winter's, and destined to bring them together.
In simple language, this paperback picture book tells the story of Hope's rescue and new life at the aquarium,
When the cast and crew finished filming Dolphin Tale, they threw a party at Clearwater Marine Aquarium. They were happily celebrating, when they received an urgent call —a baby dolphin was on her way to the aquarium. She was very sick and might not survive the trip. A group of veterinarians, dolphin trainers, and volunteers left the party and started getting prepared. When the baby dolphin arrived, it was clear that every minute counted.
Back matter includes several pages of information on Clearwater Marine Aquarium
, two pages of "Amazing similarities between Winter and Hope," and "Dolphin Facts."
Fans of the original movie, animal enthusiasts, and teachers should love this one. (Publication date: August 26, 2014)
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Powers, J.L. 2014. Colors of the Wind: The Story of Blind Artist and Champion Runner George Mendoza
. Cynthiana, KY: Purple House Press
As a child, George Mendoza began seeing brilliantly-colored lights, shapes and squiggles, eventually losing most of his sight except his peripheral vision and the ever-present colors. Unable to play basketball or other do other things he wanted, George took up running. He excelled in the sport and competed twice in the Olympics for the Disabled. In the back of his mind, however, he'd kept a long-ago word advice from his youth.
One day, a flyer arrived in the mail,
advertising a contest for blind artists.
George remembered the priest, who told him,
"You should paint what you see."
George started to paint,
just like the priest told him to do.
And so began the painting career of George Mendoza.
The text appears in a plain, small font on white pages, accompanied by simple blank ink drawings, often highlighted with colors from Mendoza's paintings. Each facing page contains a full-bleed image of one of Mendoza's paintings.
Biographical information, photos of Mr. Mendoza, and painting titles are included in the book's back matter.
The joyful, riotous colors of Mendoza's paintings will certainly appeal to children, as will his story of perseverance and purpose. Enjoy!You can see photos from Mendoza's "Colors of the Wind" exhibit at the Ellen Noel Art Museum here.
The exhibit is listed with the Smithsonian Affiliate Exhibition Exchange
.My copy of the book was provided by the author.
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Woodson, Jacqueline. 2014. Brown Girl Dreaming. New York: Penguin.
Despite the title, Brown Girl Dreaming is most certainly not just a book for brown girls or girls. Jacqueline Woodson's memoir-in-verse relates her journey to discover her passion for writing. Her story is framed by her large, loving family within the confines of the turbulent Civil Rights Era.
Sometimes a book is so well-received, so popular, that it seems that enough has been said (and said well); anything else would just be noise. Rather than add another Brown Girl Dreaming review to the hundreds of glowing ones already in print and cyberspace, I offer you links to other sites, interviews and reviews related to Brown Girl Dreaming. And, I'll pose a question on memoirs in children's literature.
First, the links:
And now something to ponder:
As a librarian who often helps students in choosing books for school assignments, I have written many times about the dreaded biography assignment
- excessive page requirements, narrow specifications, etc.
Obviously, a best choice for a children's book is one written by a noted children's author. Sadly, many (by no means all
!) biographies are formula-driven, series-type books that are not nearly as engaging as ones written by the best authors. Rare is the author of young people's literature who writes an autobiography for children
as Ms. Woodson has done. When such books exist, they are usually memoirs focusing only on the author's childhood years. This is perfectly appropriate because the reader can relate to that specified period of a person's lifetime. Jon Sciezska wrote one of my favorite memoirs for children, Knucklehead,
and Gary Paulsen's, How Angel Peterson Got his Name
also comes to mind as a stellar example. These books, however, don't often fit the formula required to answer common student assignment questions, i.e., birth, schooling, employment, marriages, accomplishments, children, death. Students are reluctant to choose a book that will leave them with a blank space(s) on an assignment.
I wonder what teachers, other librarians and parents think about this. Must the biography assignment be a traditional biography, or can a memoir (be it in verse, prose, or graphic format) be just as acceptable? I hate to see students turn away from a great book because it doesn't fit the mold. If we want students to be critical thinkers, it's time to think outside the box and make room for a more varied, more diverse selection of books.
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Sheinkin, Steve. 2014. The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights. New York: Roaring Brook.
The Port Chicago 50, as they became known, were a group of African American Navy sailors assigned to load munitions at Port Chicago in California, during WWII. The sailors' work detail options were limited; the Navy was segregated and Blacks were not permitted to fight at sea. The sailors worked around the clock, racing to load ammunition on ships headed to battle in the Pacific. Sailors had little training and were pressured to load the dangerous cargo as quickly as possible.
After an explosion at the port killed 320 men, injured many others, and obliterated the docks and ships anchored there, many men initially refused to continue working under the same dangerous conditions. In the end, fifty men disobeyed the direct order to return to work. They were tried for mutiny in a case with far-reaching implications. There was more at stake than the Naval careers of fifty sailors. At issue were the Navy's (and the country's) policy of segregation, and the racist treatment of the Black sailors. Years before the Civil Rights movement began, the case of the Port Chicago 50 drew the attention of the NAACP, a young Thurgood Marshall, and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt.
Through the words of the young sailors, the reader of The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights relives a slice of history as a Black sailor in 1944.
Steven Sheinkin combines excellently researched source materials, a little-known, compelling story, and an accessible writing style to craft another nonfiction gem.
Read an excerpt of The Port Chicago 50 here.
Advance Reader Copy supplied by publisher.
- Table of Contents
- Source Notes
- List of Works Cited
- Picture Credits
I haven't been posting much lately, but it's not because I haven't been busy. Here's what I've been doing:
Angel Island: Gateway to Gold Mountainby Russell FreedmanClarion Books
I'm a Round 2 Judge for Nonfiction -Early & Middle Grades. The finalists are listed below. A winner will be announced on February 14, 2015. Stay tuned and check out the finalists in all the other categories on the Cybils
site. I can't discuss the books, but you are free to comment on your favorites.
Chasing Cheetahs: The Race to Save Africa’s Fastest Cat
by Sy Montgomery
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Feathers: Not Just for Flying
by Melissa Stewart
Handle With Care: An Unusual Butterfly Journey
by Loree Griffin Burns
Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation
by Duncan Tonatiuh
Harry N Abrams
The Case of the Vanishing Little Brown Bats: A Scientific Mystery
by Sandra Markle
When Lunch Fights Back: Wickedly Clever Animal Defenses
by Rebecca L. Johnson
I'm honored to be the 2015 Co-Chair of the ALA/ALSC Great Websites for Kids Committee. If you've never taken advantage of this great resource, I urge you to check it out at http://gws.ala.org/.
The site is continually updated with new sites added and outdated sites deleted. Suggestions and comments are always welcome. In December, we announced the seven newest sites to be added:
And last but not least,
This year will mark the fifth anniversary of the KidLit Celebrates Women's History Month celebration. Each year, fellow librarian, Margo Tanenbaum and I, gather writers, illustrators, librarians and bloggers to highlight and celebrate and raise awareness of great books for young people that focus on women’s history. This year's celebration kicks off in March. Please, stay in touch with us and support the inclusion of women's history in books for young readers! Follow our blog, KidLit Celebrates Women's History Month.
You can also find us on:
Below is a sneak preview of the authors and their books that will be featured this year.
See? I told you I've been busy! Have a great week! Let it start with a reminder from MLKDay.gov
"Life's most persistent question is: What are you doing for others?" Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
And, oh yeah, it's Nonfiction Monday
! Check it out.
In January, I was very pleased to learn that Louise Borden and her book His Name Was Raoul Wallenberg
had been named winner of the 2013 Sydney Taylor Book Award for Older Readers by the Association of Jewish Libraries
. The Sydney Taylor Book Awards are given annually to those outstanding works that authentically portray the Jewish experience.
Born into a relatively well-to-do family of bankers in Stockholm, Sweden in 1912, Raoul Wallenberg was always excited and curious about everything and his endeavors were encouraged and supported by his family. At age 11, he traveled alone from Sweden to Turkey on the Orient Express to visit his grandfather, Gustaf Wallenberg, Sweden's minister to Turkey. And at age 19, he left Sweden to attend college at the University of Michigan, majoring in Engineering. When he returned to Europe, Raoul spent time travelling and as he did, he began to hear stories from Jews who has escaped Hitler's Germany, stories about new laws, beatings and even murder inflicted on Jews by the Nazi government.
Raoul had taken a job and was an excellent salesman, helped by his ability to speak different languages. But pretty soon the world was at war. As he watched country after country fall to Nazi occupation, he worried about Sweden's neutrality. Denmark and Norway, close neighbor, had already fallen to the Nazis. When roundups and deportations were announced in Denmark in 1943, Sweden gave permission for Danish Jews to enter the country, saved by the many Danish fisherman willing to sail them there. Swedish freedom and neutrality remained intact.
Hungary was also a country with a large Jewish population, but it was not a neutral and in 1944, it, too, became a Nazi occupied country. Roundups and deportations of Hungarian Jews began and many went to the Swedish embassy seeking visas to Sweden. But the War Refugee Board in America wanted a neutral Swede to organize some relief for the Jews in Hungary. Raoul Wallenberg, with his many languages and skill as a salesman, was just the person they needed.
Wallenberg devised a legal looking Protection Pass or Schutzpass
that were like Swedish passports and protected the bearer from deportation. Wallenberg even created a single Schutzpass
that protected whole families. But the Schutzpass,
which probably saved around 20,000 people, was only one way Wallenberg worked to help Hungarian Jews.
Ironically, the man who worked tirelessly to save Jews, was picked up by the Soviet military in Hungary and on January 17, 1945, he was last seen being driven away in a Soviet car, and was never to be heard from again.
The details of Wallenberg's life and the work he did saving Jews in Hungary are all nicely detailed in-depth in Borden's free verse biography of this incredible man. His Name Was Raoul Wallenberg
is beautifully put together, divided into 15 sections, each one chronicling a period of Wallenberg's life with a wealth of supporting photographs and other documents that give a comprehensive picture of his life as he grows and changes and even goes beyond his disappearance up to the present. As you will discover when you read the Author's Note at the back, Borden had the privilege of working closely with his family over many years and so had much more personal insight into the real child and man that was Raoul Wallenberg than biographers are generally privy to. And that shows throughout the book.
But His Name Was Raoul Wallenberg
is more than just a biography, it is a shining example of one man who rose to the challenge at a very bleak time in history and who made a difference in the world, saving so many Hungarian Jews from certain death. Borden has written a book that is a fine addition to the whole body of Holocaust literature and anyone interested in the Jewish experience at that time.
Raoul Wallenberg was named Righteous Among The Nations by Yad Vashem in 1963 in Israel.
Come back tomorrow for an interview with Louise Borden.
This book is recommended for readers age 12+
This book was purchased for my personal library
You can find more information about Raoul Wallenberg at his alma mater
, the University of Michigan, here
You can find more on Raoul Wallenberg and the plight of Hungarian Jews at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum here
Be sure to visit Louise Borden's website here
This review also appears on my other blog Randomly Reading
Nonfiction Monday is hosted this week byAbby the Librarian
Despite what John Lennon urged, as adults, it's hard for us to imagine peace. As a global community, we've never had it; we've never seen it. It's more the stuff of imagination than possibility. Heck, even the Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC) for Wendy Anderson Halperin's new book, Peace
, is 172.42, translation - "political ethics." Pragmatic, yes - but lacking in idealism to be sure.
But to talk to children (even teenagers) and many can
envision peace - and
they have ideas on how to achieve it. That's one of the many things that make children so wonderful. They haven't lost the ability to hope and dream and imagine the to-date unachievable.Wendy Anderson Halperin
's new book, Peace
(Atheneum, 2013), seizes on that idealism, reflects it, and feeds it with new possibility.
Groupings of Halperin's delicate and peaceful, pencil and watercolor illustrations decorate each page in this circular story of peace which begins,
For there to be peace in the world ...
there must be peace in nations.
Accompanying each line is a collection of quotes from the likes of Walt Whitman, Dalai Lama, Kofi A. Annon, and other lesser-known individuals. The quotes serve as borders between the many illustrations on each page, each one, a story in itself.
The circular narrative leads inward, with the continuing theme of
For there to be ...
there must be ...
until the "heart" of the book is reached,
For there to be peace in homes,
there must be peace in our hearts.
Here the double-spread layout features the art of schoolchildren from Michigan, Ohio, and New York, and moving then outward, the refrain changes to
When there is ...
there will be ... .
Culminating in the elusive,
There will be peace in our nations.Peace
And we will have peace in our world.
is a beautiful and inspiring piece of work, or perhaps more aptly, a work of peace.
Much thought went into the design and concept for the book, as evidenced by its companion website, "Drawing Children Into PEACE
." The page with suggested Peace Projects
has some great ideas. As a matter of fact, I have an old chair that would make a fine "peace chair." It may not turn out as well as the one below, but I'm inspired to give it a try.
See several pages of Peace at the author's website.
I first heard about the Triple Nickles when I read the book Jump into the Sky
by Shelly Pearsall, the story of a young African American boy whose father was a paratrooper in 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion, or the Triple Nickles.
Now, Tanya Lee Stone's Courage Has No Color
tells the true story of the Triple Nickels, America's first and only all black unit of paratroopers in World War II. She begins their story by describing in graphic detail what it feels like to jump out of an airplane and parachute back to earth, to give you an idea of the level of courage it takes to be a paratrooper. It is not something I think I would want to ever do.
From there she writes about the kind of treatment black soldiers received in the military: segregated and relegated to service work and treated like servants. It was demeaning and demoralizing to the men who joined the military to fight for their country and freedom. One man, Walter Morris, a first sergeant in charge of Service Company of The Parachute School, saw how being treated like servants was affecting the men serving under him. Morris devised a plan to teach his men how to feel like soldiers again. It was his plan to teach them what they needed to know to become paratroopers. And so after the white serviceman were finished practicing for the day, and the black servicemen arrived to start cleaning up after them, they also began their training. And someone noticed how well they learned what was needed to become a successful paratrooper. Pretty soon, the First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, long a proponent of equality, got into the act.
In 1941, The 99th Pursuit Squadron, or the Tuskegee Airmen, was formed and the men trained to be the country's first African American aviators. And in 1943, these airmen were finally sent into combat overseas. But the 555th Paratrooper Infantry Battalion was finally formed in February 1943. Though trained as paratroopers, the Triple Nickles would never be used in combat, instead they were sent to Oregon to fight fires. Turns out those fires were started by balloons sent over by Japan for that very purpose.
All of this and much more about the people and history of the 555th is detailed in Courage Has No Color,
including an in-depth explanation of how they got their name - yes, there more to it than just 555. It is a fascinating book covering this little known aspect of the United States military and World War II and an exceptional contribute to the history of African Americans in this country.
Stone has done an exemplary job of gathering primary source material, including interviews with some the of members of the 555th and lots of archival photographs, to bring to life the courage and heroism of these men and their accomplishments even against all odds. Included is a very eyeopening timeline of the desegregation and the Triple Nickles,
Sadly, the United States Military was not desegregated until 1950.
This book is recommended for readers age 10+
This book was obtained from the publisher
Oh yes, remember that description of jumping out of an airplane I mentioned, well, you too can experience what it is like to be a paratrooper by reading it here
A very useful teaching guide including Common Core connections, can be downloaded here
The popular, not-for-profit, educational Women’s History Month website returns in March!
Now in its third consecutive year, the blog, KidLit Celebrates Women’s History Month
founded by me and fellow librarian, Margo Tanenbaum, of The Fourth Musketeer
, brings together distinguished authors and illustrators of books related to women’s history with librarians and bloggers from across North America.
Each day features a new essay, commentary or review by some of the most noted writers in the field of literature for young people. Contributors for 2013 include Jane Yolen, Sy Montgomery, Roger Sutton, Tanya Anderson, Michelle Markel and Kathleen Krull, among others.
The blog will publish daily from March 1 through March 31, and will once again feature original posts from well-known, award-winning writers, illustrators, and bloggers. A complete lineup of contributors may be found on the site. Interested readers can sign up to “follow” the blog, or receive it via email. Visit the site at http://kidlitwhm.blogspot.com
to see “following” options, an archive of past contributions, and links to educational resources. Don't miss a single day. It's going to be a great month!
I am this week's host of the weekly Nonfiction Monday
meme, a weekly gathering of bloggers who discuss nonfiction books for children each Monday.
Here at Shelf-employed
, I will feature links and descriptions to each participating blog. Please check back later or tomorrow to see all of today's contributions to Nonfiction Monday. Thanks so much.
|Illustration copyright © 2013 by Rebecca Guay|
Yolen, Jane and Heidi E. Y. Stemple. 2013. Bad Girls: Sirens, Jezebels, Murderesses, Thieves, and other Female Villains
. Watertown, MA: Charlesbridge.
Just in time for Women's History Month, the mother-daughter duo of Jane Yolen and Heidi E. Y. Stemple has released a fun compendium of "bad" women in history. From Delilah, the stealthy hairstylist of the Bible (circa 110BC), to gangsters' gal, Virginia Hill (1916-1966), Yolen and Stemple highlight history's most rebellious, racy, raucous, reprehensible, and sometimes resourceful women.
The choice of subjects, twenty-six in all, isn't the only thing that makes Bad Girls: Sirens, Jezebels, Murderesses, Thieves, and other Female Villains
a unique addition to the collection of books on women in history. Illustrations are provided by Rebecca Guay. In addition to a comic portrait of each notorious woman,
Illustration copyright © 2013
by Rebecca Guay
included after each chapter is a graphic novel-style panel featuring Jane Yolen and Heidi Stemple. Each panel is set in a new location (these ladies took their "research" to the ends of the earth - shopping, eating and sightseeing, in Egypt, London, Massachusetts, wherever this gallery of rogues led them!), where Yolen and Stemple debate history's treatment of each woman. Clever and humorous, these panels remind readers that societal and personal circumstances often dictate behaviors. With the exception of the truly
bad, Elizabeth Báthory, Yolen makes a case for each woman. No, they may not have all been innocent, but given their particular circumstances, some of these women may
have been given a bad historical rap. Stemple provides the counterpoint - bad is bad, regardless of circumstance. Readers will be left to decide for themselves, but regardless of conclusion, they will understand that the role of women throughout history has not been an easy one.
Despite the subject matter, Yolen and Stemple maintain a light-hearted tone in and Bad Girls
, as evidenced by the chapter titles: "Lizzie Borden (1860-1927): One Whacky Woman," "Anne Boleyn (1500-1536): She Lost Her Head for Love."
Resources are included, offering interested older readers a jump start on where to find further information. There is more than just fun to be had with Bad Girls;
download these resources from the publisher's site:
Whether or not you buy MLB's position that Opening Day is March 22, 2014 in Australia (Sorry Australia, baseball "down under" just doesn't feel right), baseball season, will soon be here. Opening Day for the US and Canada is March 31.
If you are a baseball fan, are raising a young baseball fan, or are trying to connect with a young baseball fan, here's the book for you - a marriage of baseball and animals!
Jordan, Christopher. 2014. Baseball Animals. Plattsburgh, NY: Fenn/Tundra.
Which MLB team shares its name with a songbird that loves acorns?
This blue, black and white bird is thought to be responsible for spreading the oak tree across North America.
If the beautiful photograph of my favorite bird on a stark white background doesn't give you the answer, just turn the page to reveal a full-page action shot of a Toronto Blue Jays batter. (Sorry that I don't know which one. Since they beat the Phillies in the 1993 World Series, I refuse to pay attention to the Blue Jays. We fans have long memories.)
Each baseball page features the team's logo, a full-page action photo taken at the ballpark, and some team uniform trivia. Did you know that the Cardinals (often called the Redbirds) were not named for the beautiful bird, but rather for the color of their original uniforms? Their uniforms were cardinal red. So, presumably they are named after the traditional color of a Catholic cardinal's cassock. Now that's a great baseball trivia question!
Fun and informative, this is a must-have for little baseball fans. I don't know why someone didn't think of it earlier! An Appendix of MLB Teams and Logos rounds out the book - featuring all of the teams - even those sans animals on their logos.Advance Reader Copy supplied by LibraryThing's Early Reviewers program.
In addition to being St. Patrick's Day
, today is Nonfiction Monday. Be sure to stop by the Nonfiction Monday
blog for all of today's featured books.
Remember when the Summer Reading theme was "Be Creative?" If you have an artistic inclination, those were the days - with painting, sculpture, and other creative arts in the forefront! With the continued focus on the CCSS, and the upcoming science-driven theme of "Fizz, Boom, Read!", art runs the risk of being lost in the shuffle. Thankfully, there is an effort to combine them - turning STEM into STEAM - adding Art to the traditional Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.
Here, however, is a book that's all art - specifically, painting. Enjoy!
Kutschbach, Doris. 2014. Art Detective: Spot the Difference! New York: Prestel.
With the help of a cartoon dog named Charlie, readers explore famous paintings in an attempt to convict an art forger.
Hello! My name is Carl, but my friends call me Charlie the Sleuth. I'm a detective who solves art crimes, and right now I'm working on a very difficult case. It's about a shady artist and his forgeries - paintings he offers for sale that aren't really what they appear to be. ... Do you think you could help?
... and with that, the reader (now an art detective) begins a page-by-page quest to spot the differences between famous paintings and forgeries. Some are humorous. In "The Sunday Stroll" by Carl Spitzweg, the portly father in the forgery sports a Pinocchio nose and a baseball cap. Others are more subtle - the color of a parasol, insects in the tall grass. In all, nineteen paintings (and their accompanying "forgeries") are presented, including VanGogh, Gaugin, Rousseau, and Cézanne. Each has 15-25 differences.
What makes this book so wonderful is that it invites a deep exploration of each painting. Is greater realism produced by the blemish on a Cézanne melon? Does the addition of a bird in Passarro's "Place du Théâtre" detract from the hustle and bustle of Parisian citizens? These are not questions that kids will answer, but subconsciously, they may begin to see them. The reader cannot simply flip through the pages. If he does, the forger will not be found. By noting each mistake, he is compelled also to notice the aesthetic produced by the artist's choices.
The final pages offer thumbnails of each painting with the differences marked by X's. A note is included about each painting, it's painter, and noting its current location.
Enjoy the search!Note:This book is marked with the seal of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), indicating that its paper was derived from "responsible sources." This is the first time I've seen this logo. I hope to see it more often!
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Cooper, Michael L. 2014. Fighting Fire! Ten of the deadliest fires in American history and how we fought them. New York: Henry Holt.
From the "Great Fire of 1760," which destroyed 349 homes in Boston, to San Diego's "Witch Fire" of 2007, which destroyed 3,069 homes and buildings, burned half a million acres and killed 17 people, Fighting Fire! details ten of America's worst fires. Presented chronologically in individual chapters, Fighting Fire! combines an account of each fire with the evolution of fire fighting practices, and the public's evolving view of fires, fire safety, and firefighters.
With plenty of photographs, quotes, and illustrations, Fighting Fire! is an engrossing read. Consider this passage from "Fire on the Water, New York, 1904," which is accompanied by several photographs.
Some passengers saved themselves in grisly ways. "I didn't have no life preserver at all," said ten-year-old Henry Ferneissen. "I went down twice and I swallowed a whole lot of water, but pretty soon I caught hold of a dead woman and then somebody grabbed me with a hook. If it hadn't been for that dead woman I'd been drowned sure."
One hour after embarking, the General Slocum was a smoldering ruin and most of its thirteen hundred passengers were dead. One survivor said, "To my dying day I'll never forget the scene. Around me were scores of bodies, most of them charred and burned."
The General Slocum tragedy is the worse peacetime maritime accident in American history. It was New York's deadliest disaster until the twenty-first century.
Each tragic fire brought about some change or warning, albeit often small or initially unheeded, that informed future generations. Following the fire in Boston, 1760, building codes and street design were re-examined. Fire Prevention Week
, recognized each year in October, is in remembrance of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, which began on October 8. The San Francisco fire of 1906, highlighted the importance of reliable water supplies. The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire of 1911, prompted new workplace safety regulations. Out of each tragedy came knowledge that benefits us today.
Well-researched and documented, this is a perfect choice for school assignments or for anyone interested in becoming a firefighter. I'm even suggesting it to my husband, a career firefighter.
See a slide show of images from Fighting Fire! at the publisher's website.
- Table of Contents
- Fire Engines in American History
- Fire Museums to Visit
- Recommended Reading
- Websites to Visit
- Source Notes
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Today is a perfect day to highlight Mary Cronk Farrell's latest book which chronicles the actions of Army and Navy nurses serving in the Phillipines during WWII. Although amazingly, none of the nurses perished during their harrowing years on the forward battle lines and in prison camps, their service to their country and the fighting men was nothing short of heroic.
Farrell, Mary Cronk. 2014. Pure Grit: How American WWII Nurses Survived Battle and Prison Camp in the Pacific. New York: Abrams.
Pure Grit is a narrative nonfiction account, told with compelling human details. Photographs, quotes, correspondence, newspaper accounts, maps and military records were combined to create a gripping story that breathes new life into a little-known story that is fading from our collective memory. Farrell was very fortunate to have interviewed the last surviving nurse of the seventy-nine who were taken as POWs by the Japanese.
Containing a Foreward, Introduction, Glossary, List of Nurses, Select Timeline, Endnotes, Bibliography, Web Sites for More Information, Acknowledgments, Image Credits and an exhaustive Index, Pure Grit could easily be considered a scholarly treatise on the topic — but Farrell has chosen to present her topic in a manner that simply cannot be ignored: a gripping story with personal and human details that will appeal to anyone over age 12 with even a passing interest in history. Highly recommended.
Links of interest:
As you enjoy today's kick-off to the summer season, perhaps celebrating with friends or family or enjoying a well-deserved day off from work, consider participating in the National Moment of Remembrance.
From the U.S. Dept. of Veteran's Affairs:
...in December 2000, the U.S. Congress passed and the president signed into law “The National Moment of Remembrance Act,” P.L. 106-579 ...
The National Moment of Remembrance encourages all Americans to pause wherever they are at 3 p.m. local time on Memorial Day for a minute of silence to remember and honor those who have died in service to the nation.
Rosenstock, Barb. 2014. The Streak: How Joe DiMaggio became America's Hero. Honesdale, PA: Calkins Creek. Ill. by Terry Widener
(Advance Reader Copy)
If you know only one baseball statistic, you likely know its one "unbreakable" record - Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak. According to the Author's Note, its probability for occurrence is once every 746 to 18,519 years. It was the most talked about news story of 1941, even edging out news of the war raging in Europe.
Oil-painted illustrations evoke the bygone era; references to new immigrants and mention of the war in Europe place the story in the context of history. However, The Streak is essentially a story of baseball, one man, and his favorite bat, Betsy Ann.
When DiMaggio was up, he strolled to home plate. He didn't pull at his cap, scuff his feet, or make Betsy Ann dance behind his head. He rubbed dirt on his hands, tapped the plate just once, and set his wide-legged stance. For a minute, Joe stood perfectly still, then he and Betsy Ann went to work.
The book includes: Author's Note, Statistics, Source Notes, Bibliography, Acknowledgments
Baseball, it's my favorite season of the year. Enjoy The Streak: How Joe DiMaggio became America's Hero
, and be sure to take in a baseball game this summer. You may witness history in the making. You never know.
Other reviews at
If you're looking for another great picture book about Joe DiMaggio, the 1941 baseball season, or "the streak," be sure to check out The Unforgettable Season: The Story of Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams, and the Record-Setting Summer of '41
.This YouTube link will let you see Joe DiMaggio's famous swing and hear Les Brown's popular song of the day, "Joltin' Joe DiMaggio."
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Just in time for Independence Day, Doubleday Books for Young Readers (Random House Kids) has released two new titles by Caldecott Medalist, Peter Spier. He has taken the words of two of our nation's greatest symbols, the Constitution and "The Star-Spangled Banner," and created two sprightly illustrated, perusable picture books,
We the People: The Constitution of the United States and The Star-Spangled Banner.
In We the People
, it is the preamble to the Constitution that creates the story. Short phrases ("We the people of the United States") appear on each double-spread page, accompanied by many small pen and watercolor vignettes relating to the phrase. On many pages, such as "promote the general Welfare," the small paintings contrast our past and future. One set of images shows a man with a three-cornered hat delivering the post on horseback. The facing image is that of a U.S. mail truck stopping at a line of rural mailboxes.We the People
has a copy of the original document as its endpapers, and contains a brief history of the Constitution and its entire text in the back matter. Names and images of the Constitution's signers are also featured.
The Star-Spangled Banner features large, often double-spread paintings for each line in our national anthem. The illustrations depict the 1814 Battle of Baltimore which inspired the lyrics. The first two verses comprise the illustrated story, while the remaining two verses, along with the sheet music are included in the back matter. Also included is an image of the original hand-written poem, a receipt for the 30' x 40' flag that flew over Fort McHenry (made and sold by Mary Young Pickersgill for the sum $405.90), a photograph of the battered Fort McHenry flag when it arrived at the Smithsonian Museum in 1907, and of course, historical information regarding the flag and battle. The endpapers feature "A Collection of Flags of the American Revolution and Those of the United States of America, Its Government, and Its Armed Forces."
At 48 pages each, and a sizeable 12.5" x 9", these books offer young readers plenty of opportunity to peruse their many small characters and details. Both books should have a place in every school.