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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Non-Fiction Monday, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 190
1. Brown Girl Dreaming

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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2. Colors of the Wind - a review


National Hispanic Heritage Month is September 15 - October 15. What a great time to celebrate the life and work of Mexican-American painter, George Mendoza.  

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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3. Hope for Winter - a review

First there was Winter's Tail: How One Little Dolphin Learned to Swim Again (a companion book to the movie, Dolphin Talethat 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)

 


Today is Nonfiction Monday.  See all of today's Nonfiction selections at the Nonfiction Monday blog.

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4. Eyewitness World War I by Simon Adams, photography by Andy Crawford

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:

Source: DK Eyewitness 

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:

Source: DK Eyewitness

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


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5. Above the Dreamless Dead - a review


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 is Nonfiction Monday.
See all of today's nonfiction posts at the Nonfiction Monday blog.

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6. What's New? The Zoo! - a review

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.

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7. The Star-Spangled Banner and We the People for kids

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.


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8. The Streak - a review


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."

Today is Nonfiction Monday.  Check it out.

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9. Pure Grit - a review

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.

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10. Fighting Fire! - a review

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.


Also included:
  • Table of Contents
  • Introduction
  • Fire Engines in American History
  • Fire Museums to Visit
  • Recommended Reading
  • Websites to Visit
  • Source Notes
  • Glossary
  • Bibliography
  • Index

See a slide show of images from Fighting Fire! at the publisher's website.


Check out other nonfiction book reviews on the Nonfiction Monday blog.

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11. Art Detective: Spot the Difference! a review

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!

Don't miss today's Nonfiction Monday postings, and be sure to catch up on all of the great posts on 
Kidlit Celebrates Women's History Month

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12. Baseball Animals - a review


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.




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13. Satchel Paige - a review

Well, baseball season is winding down, and my beloved Phillies have been all but statistically eliminated from any hope of the playoffs, but it was baseball season, and that's always good enough for me.  I'll wrap up the season with a baseball-themed book.  Below is my review of the book and CD, Satchel Paige, as it appeared in the September 2012, edition of School Library Journal.

Satchel Paige. By Lesa Cline-Ransome. CD. 21:14 min. Live Oak Media. 2012. CD with hardcover book, ISBN 978-1-4301-1088-0: $29.95; CD with paperback book, ISBN 978-1-4301-1087-3: $18.95

Gr 1-4 -- Leroy Paige was born into a poor family in Mobile, Alabama, around 1906. He earned the nickname "Satchel," while working at Mobile's train depot, carrying satchels for travelers. In his family of 12 children, money was always tight. A talented pitcher, he never considered baseball as a career until he landed in reform school for stealing. A coach suggested he focus on baseball; after that, there was no stopping him. His blend of talent and showmanship propelled him from semi-pro ball to stardom in the Negro Leagues to pitch in the newly integrated Major Leagues, earning a spot in Cooperstown's Baseball Hall of Fame. Baseball's greatest anecdotes usually have an air of tall-tale about them, and Satchel's winning ways and personality make for a biography that is as entertaining as fiction. Imagine facing his famous "bee ball," which would always "be" where he wanted it to be. Lesa Cline-Ransome writes in a folksy manner, and Dion Graham's relaxed Southern voice is a perfect complement, enhanced with sound effects and music. Though long on text, the book's large size and Graham's narration combine to offer children a chance to pore over visual details. Playing in the Negro Leagues was not always a bed of roses, but James Ransome's oil paintings highlight Paige's joi de vivre and joi de baseball. Page-turn signals are optional.
 
 

Copyright © 2012 Library Journals, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. Reprinted with permission.

 

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14. Nonfiction Monday

Welcome to Nonfiction Monday, the weekly meme highlighting nonfiction books for young readers!  I'm happy to be hosting today.  Please leave your link below using Inlinkz; and comment if you have the time.  I'll be visiting each site later in the day.  Thanks for participating.


 Today's big news for bloggers?  Nominations are open for the Cybils, the only book (and now apps, too!) awards given by the blogging community. 
Book bloggers, pick your favorite book published between October 16, 2011 and October 17, 2012, and submit it online at the Cybils site.

For those of you who are not book bloggers, keep an eye out for the winners, which are announced on February 14th.  The Cybils fill an important niche.  Unlike their better-known counterparts, the Cybils seeks to award books that meet high standards and have a high "kid appeal."

Since we're all about nonfiction on Mondays,  here are the nonfiction categories:
Nonfiction Picture Books and Nonfiction: Middle Grade & YA
  For more details, read the Contest FAQs.
 
Check out the other categories as well and start nominating!

And now, on to Nonfiction Monday - add your link below, then click the "thumbnails" to visit each Nonfiction Monday review.  Thanks for stopping by.
 
Note: I attended my first KidLitCon Saturday.  Thanks to NYPL, Betsy Bird and everyone involved in planning a great (and free!) conference. Kudos!


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15. A Day with Librarians - a review


It's been a while since I've seen a new book about my profession.  When I learned that Scholastic was putting out a new book, I asked to see a copy, and they obliged.

Shepherd. Jodie. 2013. A Day with Librarians. New York: Scholastic.

Part of the Rookie Read-About Community series, this small (roughly 7"x7") "easy reader" contains basic facts about librarians, their varied duties, and their workplaces. Information is conveyed in simple black font on a white background with a photograph on the facing page.

The "front desk librarian," the one described as using a scanner to check out books and noting when they need to be returned, isn't too common in the public library system in which I work, but I imagine she may be more common in school media centers or smaller libraries.

Statistically, the photos depict a greater diversity in our profession than actually exists, but reflect the change that librarians (and other forward-thinking professions) are striving to create - a more diverse membership. Hopefully, young readers will see themselves in these pages and think about librarianship as a career (no, we're not becoming obsolete).

In addition to five small "chapters," A Day with Librarians includes tips on being a community helper, an index, additional facts, and an "about the author" section.

From the "Meet a Librarian" chapter,

 
Librarians have important jobs.  They can help you find a good book to read or some information about almost anything.

That about sums it up.  I'm good with that.

Other professions featured in the series are doctors, firefighters, mail carriers, paramedics and police officers.
 
Today's Nonfiction Monday roundup is at Wendie's Wanderings.

2 Comments on A Day with Librarians - a review, last added: 10/8/2012
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16. Meet Me at the Art Museum - a review

Goldin, David. 2012. Meet Me at the Art Museum: A Whimsical Look Behind the Scenes. New York: Abrams.

With a mixture of humor, photography, collage, cut paper, virtual realia, and some expressive and artfully-place eyeballs, David Goldin has created a book that takes children on a comprehensive and behind-the-scenes tour of an art museum.

Employing the friendly docent's helper, Daisy, and the unceremoniously discarded Stub, Goldin guides the reader from the practical,

"Now is a good time for a break," said Daisy.  "This is a cafe, where you can sit and rest your feet.  ... You need to get your energy back, because there's another whole floor of treasures.  You don't want to miss a single one!"

to the protective,

"Other high-tech equipment is also used to keep precious objects safe," said Daisy. "It's the conservator's job to make sure the air is not too humid, not too dry. "They control the temperature.  Not too hot, not too cold.  They control the lights, too.  You can't have it too dark or too bright.  Everything has to be just right.  The conservator also fixes damaged objects in the museum's workshop."

to the awe-inspiring,

Stub discovered ...  ancient writing   sculptures of wood, bronze, and stone   mobiles   paintings   costumes. It was thrilling! One day I'm gonna live in a museum, thought Stub.
The adorable Stub and Daisy provide the fun; and a surprise ending offers Stub the chance to live out his dream.

Back matter includes "Who's Who at the Museum" (archivist, conservator, curator, etc.), "What's What at the Museum" (exhibition, gallery, etc.), and "Art Titles" (a list of pieces depicted in the book).

The punctuation is a bit peculiar, with several instances of unclosed parentheses, but no matter, it's a book of art, not grammar.

If I were escorting a child or class to a museum, this book would be on my "must share" list.  Well worth the price of admission!




Today's Nonfiction Monday roundup is hosted by its organizer, Anastasia Suen, at her Booktalking blog.

 

 






3 Comments on Meet Me at the Art Museum - a review, last added: 12/3/2012
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17. Nonfiction Favorites 2012

As 2012 is quickly coming to a close, I'll use today's Nonfiction Monday event to feature my two favorite nonfiction books of the year - one for young listeners and one for older readers.

Without a doubt, my favorite nonfiction book for older readers was



Educational, inspirational, celebratory!


Though I first reviewed it in March, it has remained on the top of my list.  Click the title for my review.


For younger listeners, it was a difficult choice - You are Stardust, Eight Days Gone, so many great titles - but my favorite was
Rhyming, whimsical, gorgeous illustrations!

(click the title for my review)

If you haven't checked out these two nonfiction books yet, hurry to your library or bookstore!
They're not to be missed!


4 Comments on Nonfiction Favorites 2012, last added: 12/18/2012
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18. The House Baba Built: An Artists Childhood in China by Ed Young

 About a year ago, I reviewed Allen Say's autobiographical work Drawing from Memory and the effect World War II had on his life growing up in Yokohama, Japan.  Ed Young's The House Baba Built is also an autobiographical work and describes his life in Shanghai, China during the war.

Ed Young's father was an engineer and realizing that war was coming to China, he decided he needed a safe place for himself, his wife and five children to live in.  The safest place would be around the foreign embassies in Shanghai, known as the International Settlement.  But land there was expensive and so Baba (an affectionate term for father) made a deal with a landowner - Baba would built a house on his land with the proviso that his family could live in it for 20 years.  The family moved into the house in 1935 and for the first few years that they lived in Baba's house, life was good.  There was a lovely swimming pool, where friends and family would gather in summer, there was lots of pretend playing, lovely gardens and even a roof that made a great roller skating area.  Life wasn't rich in goods, but it was rich in so many other ways.

But when the Japanese invaded Nanking in 1937, Baba had to build an apartment where the kids roller skated because relatives from there had escaped to Shanghai to live.  After that, the effects of the war began to be felt more and more.  And in 1940 a family who had escaped Hitler's Germany, the Luedeckes, also moved into Baba's house.

The three families living in Baba's house were very fortunate.  Even after things changed with the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the loss of British and American protection, the house that Baba built was able to withstand the war, and even when bombs were being dropped directly on Shanghai, they missed the house completely.

When the 20 years were up, the Young family honored their contract and turned the house over to the landowner.  By then, most of the children had grown, married and gone their own way.

It was during the war, living in Baba's house, that Young discovered his talent as an artist.  Given crayons and paper to use while recovering from a cold, his first attempt at drawing was a cowboy that didn't quite match what was in his mind.  But he sought guidance and the rest is history.  For The House Baba Built, he used a mixed media, which gives it depth and texture.  Young's family is shown in an interesting combination of old photographs and drawings, there are all kinds of collages (my favorite art form), and some of the pages fold out to reveal even more of the life of the Young family in Baba's house.

Most of the book consists of vignettes that are put together to resemble the collages, rather than a linear history of Young's early life.  However, there is a timeline at the end which can help orient the reader if needed.  And there is an extended section at the end of the book of later photographs, including Baba's house, as well as a diagram of the house and some facts regarding how the house was built to bombproof it.

All in all, The House Baba Built is an interesting book for all kinds of readers, but especially a reader who likes to explore each and every page of an illustrated book.  This is a work that proves itself to be an insightful look at some of the early influences on a beloved author/illustrator.

This book is recommended for readers age 8+
This book was borrowed from the Webster Branch of the NYPL


Facts First! Nonfiction Monday is hosted this week by ProseandKahn



9 Comments on The House Baba Built: An Artists Childhood in China by Ed Young, last added: 1/13/2013
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19. World War II Pilots: an Interactive History Adventure by Michael Burgan

Last April, I reviewed an interactive book from the YouChoose World War II series called World War II: On the Home Front by Martin Gitlin.  I found it to be an excellent book for introducing readers to life on the home front.

Now comes this latest YouChoose adventure, World War II Pilots.  The basic premise is that you are given a situation and the story unfolds based on the choices you make at certain junctures of the story.   In Chapter 1 of World War II Pilots, the reader is first given some historical information about the events that led to the war beginning at the end of World War I.

At the end of the chapter, you have 3 choices: to follow the path of a British pilot in the RAF, an American pilot fighting in the Pacific Ocean or a Tuskegee Airman - all very interesting choices.  So you choose your path and at the end of each chapter, more choices can be made regarding the fate of the chosen pilot.  In fact, there are 36 choices altogether, given each pilot 12 possible ways to go.  And in the end, there are 20 different possible endings - 7 for the RAF pilot, & for the American pilot and 6 for the Tuskegee Airman.

I know this all sounds complicated.  I also think that, too, whenever I start these kinds of books, but they are designed for young readers and really aren't difficult at all and in fact, they are quite informative without being overwhelming.  I actually enjoyed going back and forth and making choices to see where each path led.  I also liked the photographs that are included and relevant to the path I was following.  For example, when I picked the Pacific Ocean pilot, there were pictures of things like Bataan, or the carrier he might taken off from.  I also found that concepts that might not be familiar were clearly explained.

I especially like the back matter.  First, there is a timeline of events in the war relevant to the stories.  Next, there are suggestions for designing your own World War II pilot stories - a female pilot in the RAF or in the US, a German pilot during the Blitz, a POW held by the Japanese or Germans, all requiring so research and imagination.  To help this along, there are suggestions for further reading in print and the Internet, a glossary and an extensive bibliography.

World War II Pilots is an excellent book for leisure reading as well as home schooling and classroom use.

This book is recommended for readers age 9-12
This book was an E-ARC from Net Galley

Curious?  You can download a sample chapter of World War II Pilots at Capstone Young Readers.

Nonfiction Monday is hosted this week by Laura at laurasalas


11 Comments on World War II Pilots: an Interactive History Adventure by Michael Burgan, last added: 2/4/2013
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20. Play Ball! Baseball books for the very young

"People ask me what I do in winter when there's no baseball. I'll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring."
Jay Schyler Raadt CC-BY-SA-3.0
Baseball Hall of Fame baseball player, Rogers Hornsby
Source: Baseball Almanac

Yes, it's January and the temperatures have been in the teens, but soon catchers and pitchers will report to spring training, and on February 21, Spring Training games will begin.

Here are two new books for the littlest of fans:
  • Kawa, Katie. 2013. My First Trip to a Baseball Game. New York: Gareth Stevens.  (part of the My First Adventures series)
In three very simple chapters, this little book introduces children to a baseball game, offering information on the park, the food and the game.  From the chapter, "At the Baseball Park,"
My dad holds our tickets.  They tell us where to sit. We get food to eat. My mom and dad get hot dogs.
The illustrations are simple cartoon-style depictions of a family's trip to the game with a heavy focus on the family's activities.  If just a little bit of baseball is what you're seeking, this will do fine.
A Table of Contents, Index, and Words to Know make this one perfect for school use, however, it's also suitable for adding a little nonfiction to storytime.

Reading Level: Grade K 
Fountas & Pinell: C 
Dewey: 796.357 
Specifications: 7 5/8" x 7 1/8", 24 pages 
Lexile Level: 130

Less perfunctory and more enjoyable is Goodnight Baseball.

  • Dahl, Michael. 2013. Goodnight Baseball. N. Mankato, MN: Capstone. (Illustrated by Christina Forshay)
(Advance copy provided by NetGalley)

Beginning with a sing-song rhythm,
The great big stadium is outside of town.
Fans and friends come from miles around.
and ending with a nod to Margaret Wise Brown's Goodnight Moon,
Goodnight, popcorn boxes under the stands
Goodnight, mascot and goodnight, fans!
Goodnight, friends. Goodnight, cars.
Goodnight, stadium, under the stars ...
Goodnight Baseball takes the reader on a baseball outing with a small boy and his father. Snacks, caps, and even a foul ball are part of a winning day. Brightly colored full-bleed illustrations offer a broad view of the game, the fans, and the park with a focus not on the boy and his dad, but rather, on their place in the larger context of the day.  Expressive faces show the myriad expressions seen during a day at the park - excitement, determination, surprise (no sadness here - the home town wins). Creative endpapers evoke the Green Monster, the boy's favorite team, and tickets stuffed in the pocket of denim jeans.  Goodnight Baseball is a hit.
(Due on shelves March 1, 2013)



Today's Nonfiction Monday roundup is at author Laura Purdie Salas' blog, laurasalas.

1 Comments on Play Ball! Baseball books for the very young, last added: 1/28/2013
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21. His Name was Raoul Wallenberg: Courage, Rescue and Mystery During World War II by Louise Borden

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


6 Comments on His Name was Raoul Wallenberg: Courage, Rescue and Mystery During World War II by Louise Borden, last added: 2/12/2013
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22. Peace - a review

Peace.

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.
And we will have peace in our world.

Peace 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.


It's Nonfiction Monday.  This week's host is Wrapped in Foil.

4 Comments on Peace - a review, last added: 2/18/2013
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23. Courage Has No Color: The True Story of the Triple Nickles by Tanya Lee Stone

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.

6 Comments on Courage Has No Color: The True Story of the Triple Nickles by Tanya Lee Stone, last added: 2/22/2013
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24. Women's History Month is coming!


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.

4 Comments on Women's History Month is coming!, last added: 2/25/2013
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25. Bad Girls - a good review

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,

"Cleopatra"
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:
Be sure to read the conversation between Heidi and Jane that appeared on KidLit Celebrates Women's History Month! 


It's Nonfiction Monday.  Today's roundup host is Supratentorial.

4 Comments on Bad Girls - a good review, last added: 3/4/2013
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