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|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:
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.
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"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."
Baseball Hall of Fame baseball player, Rogers Hornsby
|Jay Schyler Raadt CC-BY-SA-3.0|
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)
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 Baseball
Goodnight, mascot and goodnight, fans!
Goodnight, friends. Goodnight, cars.
Goodnight, stadium, under the stars ...
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)
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
Goldish, Meish. 2013. Surf Dog Miracles
. New York: Bearport. Advance Review Copy(This is my first review with a 2013 copyright date. And just like that, another year has passed.)
Part of the Dog Heroes
series, Surf Dog Miracles
is more than just a book about surfing dogs, though they are some fine
looking surfers! These dogs surf for fun with their owners, but they also assist people with disabilities and raise money for charities. Ricochet, a Golden Retriever, surfs in tandem with people having special needs, riding the back of the board to stabilize it in the waves. She has raised a whopping $150,000 for charities that benefit both people and dogs. Surfing dogs also compete against each other is contests like Del Mar, California's Surf Dog Surf-A-Thon. In 2011,
The money raised at the Surf Dog Surf-A-Thon went to the Helen Woodward Animal Center in Rancho Santa Fe, California. This organization provides many services, including taking care of homeless animals, running a hospital for horses, and delivering pet food to animal owners who are too old or weak to leave their homes.Surf Dog Miracles
contains twelve short chapters which offer the history and particulars of the sport (dogs have been surfing since the 1920s, but the first known solo
surfer did not appear until the 1980s) and an overview of what surfing dogs are accomplishing today. As would be expected, photos are plentiful; they are accompanied by text box insets and captions. Fun and informative, this slim, 32-page volume also contains a list of surf dog facts, a photo page of common surfing breeds, a glossary, bibliography, and sources for more information.
Like a viral YouTube video, kids will want to see this one again and again.For teachers:
Browse Surf Dog Miracles on the publisher's site.
- Dewey Decimal Number: 362
- Lexile®: 1000
- SRC Quiz Available: Yes
Be sure to check out English Bulldog, Sir Hollywood, quite possibly the most unlikely surfer dog you'll ever see.
And here's "Wet and Woofy." According to the book, it's the video that Steve Jobs showed when introducing the iPad in 2010. It features champion surf dog, Buddy.
Next week's roundup is here at Shelf-employed. See you next week!
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.
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
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
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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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.
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
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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.
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!
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
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
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Freedman, Russell. 2012. Abraham Lincoln & Frederick Douglass: The Story Behind an American Friendship
. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
The date is August 10, 1863. Frederick Douglass has arrived at the White House, taking a seat on the stairs, determined to speak with President Lincoln. Many others are waiting as well. Douglass stands out in the crowd, not just for his size. All the other petitioners are White. Douglass, a freed Black is an outspoken critic of Lincoln. The two men have never met. Douglass has no appointment. He is prepared to wait.
He does not wait long, however. The President does
see Frederick Douglass on August 10, 1863; and in Abraham Lincoln & Frederick Douglass: The Story Behind an American Friendship
, award-winning author, Russell Freedman tells us why.
Freedman is a master writer, and ingeniously sets up this story of friendship. Chapter One, "Waiting for Mr. Lincoln," sets the stage. The next three chapters detail the life of Frederick Douglass before his meeting with Lincoln. Three subsequent chapters do the same for the President. The final three chapters highlight the collaboration of the two men in pursuit of their mutual interest, abolition.
The extensive use of period photographs and artwork, as well as images of period realia (election poster, paycheck, editorial cartoons and the like) add interest to an already compelling story. The depth of Lincoln's regard for Douglass is cemented by the revelation that Mary Todd Lincoln sent Douglass a memento after Lincoln's death, knowing that Lincoln had "wanted to do something to express his warm personal regard" for Douglass.
Appendix: Dialogue Between a Master and Slave
, Historic Sites, Selected Bibliography, Notes (on the sources of more than one hundred quotes) and Picture Credits (including many from the Newbery Medal-winning Russell Freedman book, Lincoln: A Photobiography
) round out this extensively researched book.
The Contents page indicates an Index beginning on page 115, however, it was apparently not completed in time for the printing of the Advance Reading Copies.Abraham Lincoln & Frederick Douglas
is suggested for Grades 4-7, and is due on shelves June 19, 2012. It is a fascinating look at two of the most influential men of their time by one of the great children's authors of our time. Highly recommended.
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DK Publishing. 2012. Pocket Genius series
. New York: Dorling Kindersley.
I've always loved camping, hiking, plants and the outdoors, but was never much of a bird watcher. My husband, however, is a bird lover and can tell the difference between similar waterfowl or shore birds at a great distance. The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Birds
has been a fixture in our house for ages. After the addition of curious kids, we added the Field Guide to Seashore Creatures, North American Trees
, and North American Insects & Spiders
. There's something very satisfying about these little books - a modern, non-lethal form of hunting perhaps. I love that "Aha, I've found it!" moment when I discover the unknown bird in the yard or the little critter crawling on the windowsill. So, it was with pleasure that I received the set of DK Pocket Genius
guides for my branch.
Now granted, kids won't be able to spot a shark or dinosaur in the neighborhood and rush home to identify it, but the books are designed in much the same manner as adult field guides and will teach the same classification skills. For example, Sharks
begins with an overview of sharks, their common attributes, habitats and features. The guide is then divided into two sections: Sharks and Rays, skates, and chimaeras. Sections are then subdivided into types (e.g. Frilled and cow sharks) and then into the neat little photographic plates with which any fan of field guides is familiar.
Differing from adult guides, the informative text is presented in the same box as the photograph (no flipping to tissue paper thin pages in the rear). Similar to adult guides, icons appear in each box. These icons, however, are much more fun than a silhouette of a tree-clinging bird or coniferous tree! The shark icon depicts a swimmer with a proportionally sized shark swimming above. The Rocks and Minerals
guide shows a hand next to the average size of a found specimen. Animals
icons compare a human body to the featured creature.
Each book also contains fun facts, an index and a glossary. And while they don't have the flexible, te
American Sign Language (ASL) books for kids
As a general rule, unless I am under obligation to SLJ or LT, I don't write reviews of books that I don't like. The work of many committed people goes into the commercial publication of a book, and it would be the height of arrogance to assume that I am the best or only arbiter of good taste and quality. I offer my opinions here for the benefit of myself and those who may not have the time to read as extensively or expansively as I do. That being said, without referencing a particular book, I wish to offer a caveat regarding American Sign Language books for children.
I am very fortunate in that I work with a deaf woman who has been teaching me sign language for over a year. She and I often share books and discussion about deaf culture, ASL, and unrelatedly, our interest in star gazing. (We both loved Wonderstruck
Over the past few weeks, I've received numerous new ASL picture books at my branch. These recent additions depict ASL in simplistic drawings. This may make for a cute picture book, but the signs are nearly impossible to decipher and replicate with one's actual hands. Sign language is a fluid language. The required movements are very difficult to duplicate in pictures. If you must
rely on printed text and illustrations (which will
work fine for most
of the ASL alphabet), purchase or borrow books with photographs of hands rather than artistic renderings. A better suggestion, however, if you are seeking to teach ASL, is using one of the many kid-friendly DVDs, or YouTube tutorials. Purchasing books which rely on simple, hand-rendered illustrations of complex signs is, in my opinion, a waste of money. My co-worker did
use our new books to teach me something - the signs for "wrong picture." (I already knew the signs for "bad book.")
If you want to learn about deaf culture or ASL, check out the site for the National Association of the Deaf
, or the National Institutes of Health site
, or best of all, ask a deaf person.
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I haven't seen this entire series, but I think that the American Graphic
biographies by Capstone Press may fill two needed niches. The first, and probably the intended purpose is to fill the need for easy reading biographies that will interest older kids. A secondary benefit, however, is that these books can bring complex historical figures to a level where they can be understood by young elementary schoolers who so often express interest in people and things way "beyond their years."
First up, the King of Pop
Collins, Terry. 2012. King of Pop: The Story of Michael Jackson
. Ill. by Michael Byers. North Mankato, MN: Capstone Press.
Written largely as a first-person account, ten short chapters chronicle Michael Jackson's life, focusing both on his genius and his pecularities, though not going in to great
detail regarding the latter. A two-page illustration of tabloid headlines offers the reader a glimpse into Michael's personal life, but "Thriller" and "Billy Jean" are also illustrated expansively - including his famous moonwalk. The book concludes on a positive note with a collage of the many faces of Michael Jackson and the following summation,
And in his heart, he was still a little boy who never grew up ...
... and the world is all the richer for it.
The panels are easy to follow and have easy to read text. This graphic novel biography concludes with two pages of standard text titled, "The Legacy of Michael Jackson," followed by a Glossary (which includes eccentric
, as well as innovation
), sites and books where more information can be found, and a small index.
I predict this one will be popular.
Next up, Hip-Hop Icon: Jay-Z
This book never even made it onto the shelf! Within minutes of receiving it, a young adult male spotted it on my desk and asked to borrow it. Sometimes, a little bit of information is enough - perhaps that's a third niche for these easy-reading comic style biographies.
Other titles in the American Graphics series include: ELVIS: A Graphic Novel, Obama: The Historic Election of America's 44th President, Sara Palin: Politcal Rebel, The Bambino: The Story of Babe Ruth's Legendary 1927 Season. A complete list of the American Graphic biography collection is available on Capstone's site
Also on the site are complete readability statistics - ATOS, Lexile, and GR. These high-interest, low-level biographies are suggested for grad
Enslow Publishers, Inc. has a new series titled, All About Nature. There are 6 titles in the series, and they're available in paperback and hardcover.
- Can You Find These Bugs?
- Can You Find These Butterflies?
- Can You Find These Flowers?
- Can You Find These Rocks?
- Can You Find These Seashells?
- Can You Find These Trees?
Living near the beach, I was immediately taken by Can You Find These Seashells?
, and planned to review it, but I couldn't justify taking it home for the weekend. I knew that if I put it on display, it would make its way home with a local child. It did, as did Can You Find These Flowers?
So, I'm left with my 2nd favorite of the bunch, Can You Find These Birds?
Bredeson, Carmen and Lindsey Cousins. 2012. Can You Find These Birds?
Berkeley Heights, NJ: Enslow.
|Table of Contents|
Regardless of where one lives in the country, it's probable that at least several of these beautifully photographed birds will look familiar - House Sparrow, Robin, Cardinal and Crow are just a few of the nine featured birds. A photograph of each bird is on the left side, with a simple, one page "chapter," on the facing page,
These birds zip through the air.
They catch bugs while they fly.
Barn swallows have long tails.
Their tails look like the letter V.
2 page spread
That's it! Short and simple - all that a young one needs to know.
Each concludes with "Read More," "Web Sites," "Index," as well as the book's Guided Reading Level and word count.
I don't think these are the perfect books for sharing with a large group, but I would definitely have wanted them at home when my children were small. At approximately 7"x 6", these simple nonfiction books are perfect for little hands and invite backyard and neighborhood discovery.
This series should inspire budding naturalists (and their parents!) to get outside and discover.
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Nobleman, Marc Tyler. 2012. Bill the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman
. Ill. By Ty Templeton. Watertown, MA: Charlesbridge.
Batman. Who doesn’t know Batman in one format or another? The 1960s TV show, the incredibly popular Dark Knight
movie series, cartoons, and of course, the original comic books which first appeared in 1939, bearing the name of Batman creator, Bob Kane.
Every Batman story is marked with the words “Batman created by Bob Kane.” Bill the Boy Wonder
For almost thirty years, fans did not suspect otherwise. But that is not the whole truth. Bob Kane himself said so.
A Finger had a hand in it, too.
is the story of that Finger, Bill Finger, the co-creator and long-time writer of Batman
First forced to hide his identity as a Jew (his real name was Milton) to obtain work during the Great Depression, later writing in obscurity while Batman illustrator, Bob Kane, rose to fame, and finally working (if only half-heartedly) to gain his duly deserved recognition, Nobleman chooses to present Bill, The Boy Wonder
as a story with three parts, "Secret Identity 1 – Bill," "Secret Identity 2 – Writer of Batman," and "Secret Identity 3 – Co-creator of Batman." This well-sourced and researched biography is as fascinating as it is entertaining,
Bill liked to ride through the city to think. As the bus picked up passengers, Bill picked up plots from street scenes and daydreams.
He recorded stray facts – the boiling point of mercury, the Chinese character for virtue, what happens when a dog’s nose get scold – in what he called his “gimmick book.” He routinely skimmed it for a spark that might ignite a story. In time he had a library of gimmick books at his Fingertips. He even let other writers – his competitors – hunt for story ideas in them.
Though brimming with details and quotes, Templeton moves the story along with the talent of a comic book writer. A six-page Author’s Note adds details and period photographs.
Ty Templeton, a Batman artist himself, was the perfect choice to illustrate this fascinating look at Bob Finger’s work and the work of other talented artists, writers and fans who struggled to garner for him the credit he deserved. The end papers are dramatic and inspired, and the illustrations are done, of course, in comic book style with white text box insets.
Even if you’re not a Batmanian, you’ll love this book. It's clear that it was a labor of love for the author.
(I'll be showin
Gutman, Dan. 2012. Election! A Kid's Guide to Picking our President.
New York: Open Road Media.Advance copy provided by NetGalley. Available in paperback on August 21.
Just in time for the fall election, perennial kids' favorite, Dan Gutman
, offers up some answers to questions about our wonderful, but often wacky process of choosing our nation's leader. In question and answer format, Gutman begins with a history of the office of President of the United States (This official title was chosen over the other suggested titles,"His Highness," "His Elective Majesty," "His Supremacy," or "His Mightiness.")
He continues with questions about early campaigns, candidates, Constitutional issues, the electoral process, voting and inauguration.
Why does the president get a twenty-one gun salute?
The number twenty-one represents the year 1776, when America declared its independence. Add it up: one plus seven plus seven plus six equals twenty-one.
More than a book of trivia, though, Gutman delves into our modern method of campaigning, noting many of the "dirty tricks" used in politics - "Politics can get ugly at times."
How do citizens know what to believe?
... Always remember that the candidate is trying to show himself in the best possible way. You cannot make a fair evaluation just by watching TV commercials.
(Amen to that, Mr. Gutman.)
The book concludes with sources for additional information, election vocabulary, and an informative listing of all the nation's presidents.
This is a timely book, uniquely suited to its middle-grade audience, though many teens and adults could benefit from the information as well!
My only criticism (and it is a minor one) is that there are frequent references to "lever pulling" in the voting booth. I've been voting for many years and I've voted in three different states, but I couldn't tell you the last time that I saw an old-fashioned voting machine with a lever - maybe in 6th grade social studies when one was brought in as a visual teaching aid? Anyone out there still use the levers? Just wondering ... And lest anyone wishes to complain about Gutman's persistent use of the male pronoun throughout the book, he addresses this issue in the forward,
No offense is intended to females, one of whom will surely be elected president of the United States sometime soon.
I hope he's right; and I wish every voter would read this 162-page book as a refresher course in her civic duty. (excuse the feminine pronoun - no offense intended)
Thanks so much for joining in today's roundup.
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Eighteen 8"x8" pages feature eighteen different eyes peering out at the reader. Each eye is on a flap nearly as big as the page with a narrow, brightly colored frame surrounding it. Open the flap to see "who's looking at you," and learn a few facts, focused, not surprisingly, on the eye.
How did this hungry snail find the leaf? Snails can't see very well - they mostly depend on touch and smell to find their way. But most snails do have eyes, right at the ends of two bendable tentacles called eyestalks.
The snail is actually one of the easier eyeballs to recognize. Very young children won't find many easy guesses as it's surprisingly difficult to determine some animals from a single eye, but slightly older kids will have fun with Who's Looking at You?
Even the adults at the library were enjoying this one! Some of the featured eyeballs are those of the gorilla, wolf, cuttlefish, chameleon, and blue-spotted grouper. The butterfly is a bit of stretch - the photo features the "fake" eye that some butterflies sport on their wings to fool predators. The inside back cover contains eight additional eyes for guessing, with small flaps hiding nothing more than the animal's name.
The photography is beautiful and the guessing is fun!
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Markel, Michelle. 2012. The Fantastic Jungles of Henri Rousseau
. Ill. by Amanda Hall. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.Review copies provided by LibraryThing and publisher.
I can't imagine many tasks more difficult than painting illustrations for a biography of a famous painter. In a book for adults, the artist's actual work speak for itself, but in a picture book for children, the art must not only speak for its creator, but it must help to tell a story. For The Fantastic Jungles of Henri Rousseau
, illustrator Amanda Hall eschewed her usual medium in favor of watercolor and acrylics, seeking to more closely mimic Rousseau's style in order to help tell his story. More than mere imitations, however, she uses Rousseau's style and perspective as the medium to illustrate the time and place in which he lived, his joyous spirit, his famous contemporaries, his wonder at the natural world, and most of all, his complete commitment to his craft - regardless of how it is received by others. Her illustrations are the perfect complement to Michelle Markel's prose, delivered in a present tense fashion that immediately engages the reader. In language that will speak clearly to children, Markel clearly conveys the transformative power of art,
By now Henri is used to the nasty critics. He knows his shapes are simpler and flatter than everyone else's, but he thinks that makes them lovely. He spends all he earns on art supplies, and pays for his bread and coal with landscapes and portraits. In the afternoon he takes off his frayed smock and gives music lessons. His home is a shabby little studio, where one pot of stew must last the whole week. But every morning he wakes up and smiles at his pictures.
Poverty and rejection have never sound so appealing. Henri Rousseau's life story is an inspiration. A toll collector who did not take up painting until his forties, Rousseau was untrained and largely unrecognized while living, but he was unfazed. He later became "the first "naïve
" artist to be recognized as a great master," and his works now hang in museums around the world.
Author's and Illustrator's Notes complete this stunning picture book biography for older readers.
Enjoy the book's trailer and "Spring," one of Rousseau's famous jungle paintings.
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Murphy, Jim. 2012. The Giant and How he Humbugged America
. New York: Scholastic.(Advance Reader Copy supplied by the publisher)
While many of us are most familiar with Charles Dickens' use of the noun
humbug as used by Ebeneezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol
, "Bah! Humbug!" where it is used to mean "nonsense," humbug is also a verb.humbug:
(verb) deceive, hoax, to engage in a hoax or deception
First known use of humbug 1751(from Merriam-Webster online)The Giant
is a story of how one man cooked up a scheme to humbug an entire nation.
By his own account, Jim Murphy originally toyed with the idea of telling the tale of the Bernie Madoff investment scandal, but decided that not enough time has passed to interpret the scandal objectively and completely. How then to tell a true and cautionary story of greed, excess, and gullibility? Why via the Cardiff Giant, of course! The Giant hoax began in earnest on a morning in October, 1869, on "Stub" Newell's farm in the small New York hamlet of Cardiff, when workers digging a well uncovered a stone body. Was it a petrified man, an ancient statue, proof of biblical giants? Scientists, reporters, scholars and average citizens flocked to Cardiff in droves to decide for themselves.
Demand was so great to see the statue while it was still in its hastily constructed home in upstate New York,
that the New York Central Railroad had trains stop for ten minutes near the hall so riders could run in for a quick view.
Eventually, the statue was moved in a specially-constructed wagon and toured the country. Accounts of the Cardiff Giant appeared in newspapers throughout America. Learned men debated competing theories about the giant's origin.
|An October 1869 photograph showing the Cardiff Giant being exhumed.|
This media file is in the public domain in the United States.
This applies to U.S. works where the copyright has expired,
often because its first publication occurred prior to January 1, 1923.
See this page for further explanation.
They need not have debated. The truth of the giant's origin was already known, but known only to Stub Newell and his several accomplices. It was a steadily growing hoax of gigantic proportions.
It is difficult today to understand the immensity of the "giant" hoax of 1869, but to place it in perspective, consider these numbers. The US Census of 1870
, (one year after the "giant" was first "found"), lists the population of the United States at just over 38 million. According to accounts in the book, an estimated six million people paid to view the famous Cardiff Giant, about one sixth of the entire population of the United States! Add in visitors to the several "fake" giants that appeared later, and the number is likely even higher. It is estimated that the architect of the scheme made the equivalent of nearly a quarter million dollars in today's money; and he owned only an "interest" in the Cardiff Giant.
So shady and complex were the financial machinations and deals involved with this deception, that "The Cast of Characters" which begins the book numbers sixty-six, and is peppered with names that will be familiar to many, including P.T. Barnum and "Boss" Tweed. Most of the cast were unaware that theirs were just bit parts in a monumental drama. In the end, fortunes were made and lost, lives were enriched and ruined, and in one tragic instance, a life was taken. Jim Murphy takes the reader deftly through the biggest swindle of its time.
Interestingly, some of the repercussions from the great hoax were beneficial - the birth of new professional associations including the American Medical Association, peer-reviewed journals, graduate programs to better train experts in various fields, and a reforming spirit in everyday Americans.
Told in twelve chapters from "The Discovery" to "The Final Resting Place," The Giant
is a fascinating look at many aspects of history through the lens of one "giant" swindle. Entertaining and impossible to put down, readers will be both impressed and apalled by the complex manuevers of the hoax's mastermind. (No spoilers here, you'll have to read it to find his identity.) A large number of period photos, posters and handbills are included, adding much to the story.
Also included are meticulous Source Notes, a Selected Bibliography, and a summary of other famous hoaxes. The Index and Photo Credits were not included in my Advance Reader Copy, but will be in the final version, due on shelves in October, 2012.
With many schools moving to a national core curriculum with a heavy focus on informational texts, The Giant
should be on the "must buy" list of school media specialists. What better way to teach critical thinking than to pore through the anatomy of one of America's most famous hoaxes!
Another review @A Fuse 8 ProductionNote: I saw the Cardiff Giant at the Farmer's Museum in Cooperstown, its final resting place, when I was visiting the Baseball Hall of Fame. I only wish I had read the book first!
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Millard, Anne. 2012. A Street Through Time: A 12,000-Year Walk Through History
. New York: DK. Illustrated by Steve Noon.
Though it was first published in 1998, this is the first time that I've seen A Street Through Time: A 12,000-Year Walk Through History
, and now that I've seen it, I wonder why DK waited so long to issue a revised edition.A Street Through Time
recounts the entire history of Western Civilization through a cross-section view of a single street along a river. From the "Stone Age" through "The street today," double spread illustrations show a changing street through each major period of Western history. Measuring roughly 12" x 10", this is an over-sized book so packed full of information that it could take days to absorb everything.
The illustrations are replete with detailed figures engaged from every walk of life engaged in every manner of activity. Because there is so much detail, important activities or information are enlarged with explanation in the white space margins, as in this example from "Iron Age (600BCE),"
After the warriors and the priests, the blacksmith is the most important man in the village.
The accompanying illustration may be found in smaller scale within the street's cross-section, offering the reader the opportunity to hunt (Where's Waldo
-style) and find the highlighted people within the larger picture. To add fun, a "time traveler" character is included on each spread.
It does not take a keen eye to see that the general landscape and the placement of important town features (places of worship, security and commerce or trade) change little over 12,000 years. Modern buildings are often located in the exact same place as those from hundreds or even thousands of years earlier. Churches are enlarged, amphitheaters decay, buildings are expanded and subdivided, but much remains from earlier days.
This is a fascinating way to look at history, and will make conceptual sense to children who are intensely familiar with their own streets.
I can't say that I know the proper audience for this book, but I loved it. The publisher suggests ages 10 and up, though I suspect some younger children will find it intriguing as well.
Includes prefatory information, contents, timeline, glossary, index, credits. One complaint - the descriptive phrases embedded within the illustrations are, given the small size and great detail of the artwork, extremely difficult to see.Amazon.com offers its "Look Inside!" feature for A Street Through Time. Check it out.