Elem. – Alma and How She Got Her Name; Hello Lighthouse; Goat’s Coat

Martinez-Neal, Juana. Alma and How She Got Her Name. Candlewick, 2018. 978-0-763-69355-8. Unpaged. $15.99. PreK-Gr. 3.

Alma Sofia Esperanza José Pura Candela thinks her name is way too long. One day, when she complains about the length of her name to her father, he sits her down and tells her all about the different family members after whom she was named–their likes, interests, hobbies, dreams, and beliefs. She soon discovers that she has much in common with her ancestors, and perhaps she likes her long, meaningful name after all. This is a sweet story that depicts a young girl’s connection to her father and to her ancestors, and it is one that is sure to elicit questions from young readers about their own names.

THOUGHTS: Reading this title aloud would be the perfect way to introduce a unit on ancestors. After reading it, students could talk to parents and/or other relatives about their own names, and they could even try to complete their own family trees. A 2019 Caldecott Honor book, this is a must-have for elementary library shelves.

Picture Book          Julie Ritter, Montoursville Area SD

Blackall, Sophie. Hello Lighthouse. Little, Brown and Company, 2018. 978-0-316-36238-2. Unpaged. $18.99. PreK-Gr. 3.

This book documents the daily routine of a lighthouse keeper from the time he begins his job until technology renders his job obsolete. Readers will be fascinated by all of the lightkeeper’s tasks, including polishing the lens, refilling the oil, trimming the wick, winding the clockwork, painting the rooms, writing letters to his wife, making dinner, writing in his logbook, ringing a warning bell when it becomes foggy, and even rescuing shipwrecked sailors. An intriguing look into the history of lighthouses, complete with an extensive author’s note that further explains many of the lightkeeper’s tasks, this is a must-have for all libraries who serve young readers.  

THOUGHTS: This book has so much potential for use in the classroom. Teachers and students could explore the obvious: the history of lighthouses. Teachers could have their students pretend to be lighthouse keepers and write their own letters to loved ones about daily life as a keeper. Depending on where they are located, they could possibly even take a field trip to tour a lighthouse. This book offers so much more, however, in addition to all of that. It is the perfect segue into a discussion about the impacts of technology on jobs and the economy. After reading this book and discussing technological advancements, students could research a specific invention and how it has impacted the world, or they could explore the pros and cons of technology. A fascinating read with plenty of learning potential, elementary school teachers and librarians alike will all want a copy of this title to add to their collections.

Picture Book          Julie Ritter, Montoursville Area SD

Percival, Tom. Goat’s Coat. Bloomsbury, 2018. 978-1-681-19901-6. Unpaged. $16.99. Gr. K-2.

Alfonzo the goat is very excited when he receives a new (and fashionable) coat. As he is out walking in the coat, he encounters other animals facing various troubles. Being a caring goat, Alfonzo wants to help out. As it turns out, the best way to help often involves Alfonzo using bits and pieces of his coat. For example, he uses fabric from his coat to bandage the injured tail of a cat and uses an additional piece of fabric to create a tent to provide shelter to a family of hedgehogs. As the weather turns colder, Alfonzo’s good deeds have resulted in him no longer having a coat. When a blizzard arrives, a freezing Alfonzo is surprised by all the animals he had helped. They gift him with a sweater to take the place of his coat and keep him warm.

THOUGHTS: This heartwarming tale about the importance of kindness and caring for others is sure to be a hit. The story is told rhyme, making it an ideal choice for a read aloud. The text is enhanced by Christine Pym’s illustrations, created with watercolor, pencil, crayon, and potatoes, which bring Alfonzo and his friends to life and feature great details and expression.

Picture Book          Elizabeth Henry, Lampeter-Strasburg SD

YA – Blacklisted; Attucks; Spooked

Brimner, Larry Dane. Blacklisted!: Hollywood, the Cold War, and the First Amendment. Calkins Creek, 2018. 978-1-620-91603-2. 171 p. $17.95. Gr. 7-12.

In Blacklisted!, Larry Brimner recounts the story of the 1947 House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) investigation of the film industry and the subsequent blacklisting of 10 Hollywood figures. As the Cold War intensified between the United States and communist Russia, many began to fear that Communists had infiltrated various parts of American society. The goal of the House Un-American Activities Committee was to investigate and root out these potential Communist threats. Their focus soon turned to to Hollywood, and actors, directors, producers, and screenwriters found themselves subpoenaed to face accusations that they were Communists. Ultimately, 10 Hollywood figures who were called before the committee refused answer questions, citing the protections afforded them by them by the Constitution (namely freedom of assembly and freedom of speech). Held in contempt of Congress, the men were sentenced to time in prison and were denied employment by Hollywood studios. In order to make ends meet, some were forced to work under pseudonyms for less pay, others moved out of the country or left the film industry altogether. This thoroughly researched work incorporates testimony and accounts from the HUAC hearings as well as numerous photos and documents.

THOUGHTS: An excellent examination of an event in American history that offers many parallels to current debates about civil liberties and the role of the government in investigating perceived threats.

384.8 Film History          Elizabeth Henry, Lampeter-Strasburg SD

Hoose, Phillip. Attucks!: Oscar Robertson and Basketball Team that Awakened a City. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2018. 978-0-374-30612-0. $19.99. Gr. 7-12.

In 1955 and 1956 the Crispus Attucks Tigers boys basketball team from Indianapolis won the Indiana state high school basketball championship. But their story is more than one of athletic achievement. It is a story about the African American experience, the Great Migration, racism, poverty, community, and more. Since the founding of the segregated all-black Crispus Attucks High School in 1927, players had faced numerous obstacles including inferior basketball facilities, limited funding, finding schools willing to play them, biased referees, hostile crowds, and more. By the mid-1950’s, under the leadership of innovative coach Ray Crowe, and with the play of talented players such as future NBA Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson, the team had developed into an Indiana powerhouse. Attucks explores the journey of the team and it’s players, incorporating accounts of games that will keep readers on the edge of their seat. The text is supplemented by numerous photos, newspaper clippings, and supplementary back matter material.

THOUGHTS: This terrific title will appeal to sports fans or any reader looking for an engaging non-fiction read. Author Phillip Hoose does a great job of intertwining historical information with edge of your seat basketball action. If you are in a secondary library, this title deserves a spot on your shelves. 

796 Sports (Basketball)          Elizabeth Henry, Lampeter-Strasburg SD

Jarrow, Gail. Spooked!: How a Radio Broadcast and The War of the Worlds Sparked the 1938 Invasion of America. Calkins Creek, 2018. 978-1-629-79776-2. $18.95. Gr. 7-12.

On the evening of October 30, 1938, Orson Welles and the members of the Mercury Theatre group took their place in front of the microphones for their weekly nationwide radio program. On the schedule: a dramatic adaptation of H.G. Wells’s The War of the Worlds, a story recounting the invasion of Earth by Martians. Little did the actors know that their broadcast would strike panic and fear in some of their listeners. In an effort to update the story and engage the audience, the decision had been made to change the setting of the story to contemporary America and to incorporate news bulletins and eyewitness interviews as storytelling techniques. In addition, names of real places and political leaders were used. The effect was realistic–too realistic for some listeners, who mistakenly believed the dramatic play was a real news broadcast about actual events. The subsequent outcry made Orson Welles a nationwide celebrity and also led to a debate about “fake news” and the role and responsibilities of broadcast media. The text is supplemented by numerous photos, illustrations, a timeline, and numerous recommended websites where readers can listen to the broadcast and learn more about the event.

THOUGHTS: This timely exploration of a unique historical events is a worthwhile addition to library shelves. Readers will find themselves caught up in the retelling of the broadcast and the reactions of everyday citizens to the event. Highly recommended.  

791 Radio          Elizabeth Henry, Lampeter-Strasburg SD

MG – Eleanor Roosevelt; Buried Lives

Cooper, Ilene. Eleanor Roosevelt: Fighter for Justice. Abrams, 2018. 978-1-419-72295-0. 184 p. $17.99. Gr. 5-9.

This biography of Eleanor Roosevelt examines her life and accomplishments, with particular emphasis on her work and advocacy for social justice. Early chapters trace Eleanor’s lonely childhood, marriage to Franklin Roosevelt, and her growing political power as the wife of a prominent politician. A large portion of the book focuses on her advocacy for various causes during her time as First Lady. Roosevelt advocated publicly (as well as privately with her husband and other government officials) for numerous causes including civil rights, women’s rights, and children’s rights during the Depression and World War II years. Cooper also examines Roosevelt’s evolution on social justice issues. Due to her privileged upbringing, Roosevelt could occasionally be naive or insensitive about some topics. Over time, however, she learned to listen, learn, and more fully understand the struggles many Americans faced on a daily basis. Roosevelt’s post-White House years, during which she served as a delegate to the United Nations, is also discussed. The text is enhanced by the inclusion of numerous photographs.

THOUGHTS: This biography deserves a spot in your collection. Not only for researchers, this title will be of interest to history buffs and students interested in social justice and change.

921 Biography          Elizabeth Henry, Lampeter-Strasburg SD

McClafferty, Carla Killough. Buried Lives: The Enslaved People of George Washington’s Mount Vernon. Holiday House, 2018. 978-0-823-43697-2. 158 p. $24.99. Gr. 6-12

George Washington, the hero of the American Revolution and the first President of the United States, was a lifelong slave owner. He inherited his first slaves at the age of eleven and at the time of his death, 317 slaves lived on his estate. Clara Killough McClafferty explores the world of Washington’s slaves by relating the lives and experiences of six: William Lee, Christopher Sheels, Caroline Branham, Peter Hardiman, Oney Judge, and Hercules. McClafferty relies on extensive research, including numerous primary source documents as well as Washington’s own words to describe life at Mount Vernon and the Presidential residence, as well as explaining the role of six within the household and what their everyday life may have been like. The text is supplemented by numerous images, diagrams, maps, and primary source documents. Photos of present day interpretive displays at Mount Vernon also help to illustrate what life may have been like for those on the plantation. The closing chapters of the book examine what happened to Washington’s slaves after his death as well as a discussion about the ongoing work at Mount Vernon to remember the people enslaved there and the archaeological work currently taking place to locate the final resting places of those who were enslaved on the estate.

THOUGHTS: This title sheds much needed light on individuals often ignored by history. The text benefits from McClafferty’s extensive research and incorporation of primary source materials. Highly recommended for secondary collections.

306 Slavery (History)          Elizabeth Henry, Lampeter-Strasburg SD