Elem. – The Voice That Won the Vote: How One Woman’s Words Made History

Boxer, Elisa. The Voice That Won the Vote: How One Woman’s Words Made History. Sleeping Bear Press, 2020. Unpaged. 978-1-534-11049-6. $16.99. Grades 2-5.

This picture book biography tells the lesser known story of an important contributor to women’s suffrage. Since 1848, women had been lobbying for voting rights and finally in 1918, Congress passed the 19th Amendment, giving women the right to vote. The final step in the process was state ratification and by 1920, it all came down to one last state-Tennessee. State lawmakers there were under pressure to reject the amendment, and one woman decided to do something about it. Febb Burn was a college educated woman from Tennessee, who loved to read and study lawmaking.  She knew the vote was close, so she wrote a letter to her son Harry, who was a state lawmaker. She asked him to support the amendment and not to “keep them in doubt.” Although Harry Burn had voted no in the first round, he surprised everyone by breaking the tie with his Aye vote, thus “freeing seventeen million women from political slavery.” By using her own voice, Febb Burn helped women gain the right to vote so their voices could be heard. The back matter contains details about the letter and a timeline of the suffrage movement. The author discusses the similarities between the anti-slavery movement and women’s fight for equality. Mildenberger has created charming illustrations with a folk art quality and includes a photograph of Febb in one of them.

THOUGHTS: Since 2020 was the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, this story is especially relevant. This book could be used in social studies or civics units to spark discussions about the Constitution and civil rights and would be a good read aloud during Women’s History Month. A worthwhile purchase.

324.623 Voting Rights          Denise Medwick, Retired, PSLA Member
Suffrage, Voting and Electoral Process
921 Biography

Elem. – Above the Rim: How Elgin Baylor Changed Basketball

Bryant, Jen, and Frank Morrison. Above the Rim: How Elgin Baylor Changed Basketball. Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2020. 978-1-4197-4108-1. Unpaged. $18.99. Grades 3-6.

“Whenever Elgin played, people stopped what they were doing and watched.” Elgin Baylor had that kind of effect on the game of basketball, but that was not all. As he grew and played, he also learned and watched what was happening in the world around him. He saw civil rights leaders bravely and peacefully standing up (or sitting down) for change. When Elgin finally made the NBA, he was still facing many forms of discrimination, and now it was his turn to act. “Sometimes you have to sit down to stand up.” The lessons from this poetic biographical picture book by the stellar Jen Bryant are sure to land with young sports fans; meanwhile, the stretched artistic oil paintings portray a man that seemed larger than life in an ever changing time. Just watch and see the impact this book could have on your young readers!

THOUGHTS: Elgin Baylor may not be a household name for young fans, but if they stop and discuss it, they will see how the work of LeBron James, Jackie Robinson, and others are intertwined with his leadership and talent. The timeline at the end offers its own intertwined path between civil rights events and Elgin’s career. A very worthy addition to picture book biographies.

Biography          Dustin Brackbill, State College Area SD

MG – Lifting As We Climb: Black Women’s Battle for the Ballot Box

Dionne, Evette. Lifting As We Climb: Black Women’s Battle for the Ballot Box. Viking, 2020. 9780451481542. 176 p. $19.99. Grades 5 and up. 

Evette Dionne’s Lifting As We Climb: Black Women’s Battle for the Ballot Box is a historical account of the struggle for the right to vote. Covering the lesser-learned about but powerful figures in history, the book provides a comprehensive look at the path it took to get where we are today. Activists Sojourner Truth, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, Mary Church Terrell, Fannie Barrier Williams, and Alice Paul (among many others) played key roles in the fight to vote but are frequently left out from the history books. Their arduous battle to earn the right to vote was fraught with struggles and setbacks from still on-going voter suppression to lynchings and voter intimidation. While suffragettes succeeded and the nineteenth amendment was ultimately ratified, voting rights are still jeopardized by unfair practices making this an extremely timely and relevant look at the way our country has and continues to function.

THOUGHTS: A succinct yet complete account, Lifting As We Climb highlights many lesser known figures in the fight for voting equality making this a key piece for any collection. 

323.34 Women’s History          Samantha Helwig, Dover Area SD

MG – Clean Getaway

Stone, Nic. Clean Getaway. Crown Books for Children, 2020. 978-1-984-89297-3. $16.99. 240 p. Grades 6-8.

Nic Stone is typically a popular young adult writer (Dear Martin, Dear Justyce). Her debut in the middle school arena is the realistic, first-person narrative, Clean Getaway. William aka “Scoob” Lamar gets grounded when he shares a computer hack and plans to stay in his entire spring vacation. Until… his G’ma–grandmother–shows up in a RV she purchased with the profit from selling her house and asks him to accompany her on a road trip. Without telling his father, Will becomes G’ma’s wingman on this memorable ride retracing the route G’ma and his deceased grandfather Jimmy took from Georgia through the rest of the South during the segregated sixties. The pair follow the Green Book, a listing of acceptable accommodations for people of color. Will’s grandparents had the added burden of being a mixed race couple, against the law in many states at the time. Will experiences his African-American heritage firsthand, visiting important markers of the struggle for Civil Rights. At first, he is excited for the chance to share this adventure with his beloved grandmother, but then he notices G’ma’s strange behavior: she dines and dashes; switches license plates; steals jewelry. He discovers some things that make him suspect something else is afoot, but can’t quite connect the dots or even reach out to his father because G’ma keeps hiding or ditching their one cell phone. What keeps him going is the revealing conversations he has with his funny and candid G’ma. He realizes how much she loves her long incarcerated husband and suspects that his father may not be fair in his complete rejection of him. The pair’s joy ride comes to a halt when G’ma falls ill, but the experience prompts Will to question the absence of his own mother and the image of his grandfather and rejuvenates his relationship with his sometimes-distant father. Though not a difficult read lexile-wise, Clean Getaway does bring up serious issues of race, inequity, and discrimination. Nic Stone has proven she is a master storyteller for middle school students as well.

THOUGHTS: The intergenerational experience lends itself to history lessons of the Civil Rights era. The discrimination Will’s grandparents encountered in the sixties can be compared with the same displays of implicit bias Will and G’ma feel in their present-day travels. The reason for the grandfather’s imprisonment is also steeped in racial injustice and inequity. Will has little contact with his mother because she abandoned him as a baby–addiction is implied–but Will’s father is reluctant to have her re-enter twelve-year-old Will’s life just like he turned his back on Jimmy, his own father. This situation as well as the racism that necessitated the Green Book lays open talk about forgiving past wrongs, both personal and institutional. 

Realistic Fiction          Bernadette Cooke, School District of Philadelphia

Meet 11 year old William Lamar, aka Scoob. Unable to stay out of trouble at school, spring break is looking pretty boring. Until Scoob’s grandmother shows up and convinces Scoob to come along on an impromptu road trip across the American South in her RV. Scoob soon finds out that this trip is a re-creation of one his grandmother, who is white, and his African American grandfather took years ago. The South is changed since then, but G-ma’s crazy maps, her Traveler’s Greenbook (an African American guide to traveling safely in the 1960s), her changing of the license plate on the RV, and her refusal to take Scoob’s dad’s calls is adding up to some uneasy feelings the longer the trip continues. Add in the discovery that his G-ma may be a jewel thief, and Scoob is wishing he stayed home for that boring break!

THOUGHTS: Nic Stone’s first middle grade novel is an excellent read and one that readers will enjoy. There is enough historical fiction to peak the interest of the middle grade readers while satisfying the adventure reader as well.

Realistic Fiction                    Krista Fitzpatrick, Waldron Mercy Academy

YA NF – How Dare the Sun Rise; March Against Fear; Martin Luther; American Fire

Uwiringiyimana, Sandra, and Abigail Pesta. How Dare the Sun Rise: Memoirs of a War Child. Katherine Tegen Books, 2017. 978-0-06-247014-0. 288 pp. $19.99. Gr. 9 and up.

This excellent memoir relates how one “war child” went from stateless refugee to leading activist. Growing up in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sandra Uwiringiyimana enjoyed a happy childhood in a large, loving family. Her parents strongly valued education and envisioned a life for their daughters beyond an arranged marriage; her siblings were both her playmates and protectors. However, the possibility of war was a constant cloud on the horizon. When she was ten, Sandra’s family fled to a refugee camp in Burundi that was attacked by a rebel militia. With a gun to her head, Sandra said goodbye to life, but the rebel spared her and she escaped into the darkness. Miraculously, after the massacre she reunited with some of her family, and together they began a journey that would ultimately bring them to Rochester, New York. Sandra’s challenges continued as she learned to navigate American culture, race relations, and her flashbacks to the Gatumba massacre. Sandra’s passion for education and human rights have driven both her activism and her quest to heal from the trauma she suffered. THOUGHTS: Sandra Uwiringiyimana has written a moving account of her harrowing years as a child of war, and the strength and support she found to rebuild her life. It stands alongside other standout titles such as Bite of the Mango by Mariatu Kamara, Every Falling Star by Sungju Lee, and A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah.

In her closing Information and Resources section, the author highlights three organizations:

  • Jimbere Fund, whose mission is to revitalize distressed communities in rural Congo (www.Jimberefund.org)
  • The Maman Shujaa, a women’s movement for peace, women’s rights, rights of the indigenous, and nature (www.HeroWomenRising.org)
  • RefugePoint (www.RefugePoint.org) helps refugees in life-threatening situations find safety and rebuild their lives

92, Autobiography    Amy V. Pickett, Ridley SD

 

Bausum, Ann. The March Against Fear. National Geographic, 2017. 978-1-4263-2666-0. $19.99. 144p. Gr. 7 and up.

The March Against Fear is the story of the last great, but sometimes forgotten, civil rights march. James Meredith was one of the first wave of recruits into the newly integrated Air Force, and he was the first African American to successfully integrate the University of Mississippi. It was that courage and determination that gave him the idea of marching across his home state of Mississippi to encourage African Americans to register to vote. A year earlier the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was passed but still a majority of African Americans had not registered to vote. Meredith thought that fear of retaliation was holding people back from registering, and this Walk Against Fear would be the thing to inspire them to register. On the second day of the march Meredith was shot. Fortunately, he didn’t die, but with the shooting his walk turned into a march and his cause was taken up by civil rights leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr., and Stokely Carmichael. This march and the violent confrontations that the people who took part in it endured pitted King’s nonviolent response with Carmichael’s demand for “black power.” Following the march, all across the country there was growing unrest and frustration with racism and protests were held in at least 20 major cities. The media focused on what they thought was Carmichael’s call to violence and “black power” became the legacy of the March Against Fear.  THOUGHTS: Ann Bausum spoke to our students in support of the publication of this book. Our students and some teachers were mesmerized by this bit of history that they had never heard of. This book has powerful quotes and engaging photographs on solid black backgrounds that make it a pleasure to read. It would be an excellent book to use for Social Studies book clubs at the 7th through 9th grade level.

323.1196; Civil Rights      Bridget Fox, Central Bucks SD

 

Ciponte, Andrea Grosso and Dacia Palmerino.  Renegade: Martin Luther, The Graphic Biography. Plough Publishing House, 2017.  9780874862072. 160 p. $19.95. Gr. 8 and up.

Beautifully illustrated and well researched, this graphic novel follows the life of Martin Luther, the man who challenged the Catholic Church and inspired the Protestant Revolution. It is a fast read that captures the tumultuous times in Germany at the beginning of the 16th century, a time of poverty, plague and suffering. Martin was the son of hard working, strictly religious family. He excelled in school and was granted the opportunity to study at the University in Erfurt with the hopes of becoming a lawyer and improving his family’s lot. When caught in a violent storm, Martin has an epiphany which brings him to the church. Obsessed with salvation and faith he pores over the scriptures as he seeks to reconcile his growing doubts with the practices of the Holy Catholic Church. His major complaints against the Church over the sale of indulgences and the true meaning of faith and grace lead him to post the infamous 95 Theses on the door of the Cathedral. The novel presents Luther’s reasoning on the questions of faith, his friends and foes in his struggle to clarify his theology, and his efforts to bring the word of God closer to the people of Germany.  The good the bad and the ugly of Luther’s life is exposed, including his end of life tirades against Jews, Anabaptists and the peasants of Germany.  Ciponte’s drawings are gorgeous and colorful – evocative of some of the great masterpieces of the Renaissance.  THOUGHTS: Could be used as a companion text for students of world history to bring this revolutionary time period to life. Having a degree of background knowledge would help the reader understand the events in this retelling.

92, Graphic Biography               Nancy Summers, Abington SD

 

Hesse, Monica. American Fire: Love, Arson, and Life in a Vanishing Land. Liveright Publishing Corporation, 2017. 978-1-63149-051-4. 255 pp. $26.95. Gr. 10+.

Monica Hesse, author of the excellent young adult WWII mystery Girl in the Blue Coat, returns with a compulsively readable true crime case study. In American Fire: Love, Arson, and Life in a Vanishing Land, Hesse relates the story of Accomack County, part of Virginia’s Eastern Shore peninsula, where dozens of abandoned buildings were set ablaze in 2012 and 2013. The story hinges less on whodunnit (the arsonists are already serving time) than why-dunnit. American Fire’s subtitle teases the answer, which Hesse reveals through depictions of the county’s cultural history, the crime of arson itself, the painstaking efforts of law enforcement, and an intense but ill-fated love story. THOUGHTS: American Fire is narrative nonfiction at its best. Written for adults, it’s also a perfect choice for teens who are listeners of the S-Town podcast, readers of David Grann’s Killers of the Flower Moon, or simply enjoy puzzling out a seemingly random crime spree. One gripe: an Eastern Shore map would have been helpful! Hopefully one will be included when the paperback edition is released.

364.16; Crime     Amy V. Pickett, Ridley SD

YA Fiction – Loving vs. Virginia; The Cruelty; Frostblood

Powell, Patricia Hruby.  Loving vs. Virginia. Illustrated by Shadra Strickland, Chronicle Books, 2017. 978-1-4521-2590-9. 260 pp. $21.99. Gr. 7 and up.

“Here in Washington my name is Mrs.  Loving. / That is one good thing about Washington, D.C.” (181).  In 1963, at the height of the Civil Rights movement, 24 states had laws making interracial marriage illegal.  In 1958, five years prior, Mildred Jeter, a black woman, and Richard Loving, a white man, who grew up together on Passing Road, Central Point, Caroline County, Virginia, married in Washington D.C.  Upon their return to Caroline County, they were arrested in the middle of the night by the Sheriff.  They were found guilty of miscegenation and sentenced to one year in prison or a suspended sentence for 25 years so long as they left Caroline County and the Commonwealth of Virginia.  They returned to Washington D.C. but did not give up their fight.  For nine years they fought for the freedom to love one another publicly, through marriage, in their home, Caroline County, Virginia.  On June 12, 1967, Richard and Mildred Loving were granted the ability to return home when the United State Supreme Court ruled unanimously in favor of the Lovings.  “Upholding the Virginia laws amounted to ‘legalized prejudice’ and relegated the Negro to second-class citizenship” (232).  The Lovings’ 14th Amendment Right would no longer be denied.  THOUGHTS:  Loving vs. Virginia is one of the most amazing historical fiction/documentary novels/novel-in-verse available for young adults.  It beautifully captures the Lovings’ relationship and the prejudice and discrimination they fought daily while highlighting the love of family and spirit necessary to forge on in a fight that seemed hopeless.  This is a must-have for all high school libraries.

Historical Fiction (Novel-in-Verse/Documentary Novel)     Erin Parkinson, Beaver Area

This is the best historical, documentary novel I’ve read in awhile.  It literally gave me goosebumps as I read about Mildred and Richard Loving, especially when Mildred writes a letter to Attorney General Bobby Kennedy about their situation; all I could think was, “You Rock!”  It’s hard to imagine that interracial marriage was once a felony in almost half of the United States and that the last miscegenation law wasn’t abolished until 2000.  This novel is eye-opening and beautifully written and illustrated.  It shares the story of love overcoming all without being sappy or romantic.  It takes a little known court case that was crucial to Civil Rights and presents it in a very understandable setting: two people just want to be married and live in the home they’ve known all their lives.  The interspersed primary sources are excellent and add just enough for context and connections.  The timeline at the end and the notes add to reader’s understanding.  I read about the film Loving earlier in the year and thought it sounded interesting.  Now, I have to see it.  It’s a shame  the Lovings never lived to see the full impact they made on our society.

 

Bergstrom, Scott. The Cruelty. Feiwel & Friends, 2017. 978-1-250-10818-0. 384 p. Gr. 9 and up.  

With the roles reversed from the Taken movies, The Cruelty begins by building the backstory of Gwendoyln Bloom’s life with her father before he disappears. Upon her father’s disappearance, though not always believable, Gwendoyln transforms from average high school student to mafia/mob spy infiltrator after her father goes missing. Instead of trusting the authorities, Gwendolyn follows a series of clues left behind by her father. THOUGHTS:  Readers looking for a fast-paced, though not necessarily realistic, action-packed adventure around the world will enjoy The Cruelty. Though the ending is somewhat resolved, it absolutely sets up book two, and readers will anxiously await more of the story.  

Action/Adventure       Maryalice Bond, South Middleton School District

 

Blake, Elly. Frostblood. Little, Brown Books, 2017. 978-0-316-27325-1. 376 p. Gr. 9 and up.

With action, adventure, revenge, and a little bit of romance all set in a fantasy world of frost and fire, Frostblood does not disappoint! Readers will devour this book and won’t be able to wait for book 2, Fireblood, release!  The twists and turns of the story are unexpected, and one cannot easily predict how the story will end. There certainly is something for everyone in this genre-blending YA book!

Fantasy       Maryalice Bond, South Middleton School District

YA Nonfiction – Shadow of Liberty; Rad Women; March Bk 3; This Land is Our Land

shadowofliberty

Davis, Kenneth C. In the Shadow of Liberty: The Hidden History of Slavery, Four Presidents, and Five Black Lives. New York: Henry Holt & Company, 2016. 978-162779-3117. $17.99 286 pp. Gr. 7-12.

Davis shines light on five lesser-known individuals of American history in In the Shadow of Liberty.  They were five enslaved persons (Davis explains the preference for enslaved person rather than slave) who were owned by four presidents who espoused liberty for all.  Billy Lee served as George Washington’s valet.  Ona Judge worked as Martha Washington’s maid and successfully escaped.  Isaac Granger served at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello all his life.  Paul Jennings worked at both James Madison’s Montpelier and the White House. Finally, Alfred Jackson served Andrew Jackson’s household.  Davis gives a succinct history of slavery and its profitability before detailing each person’s story.  Between chapters, he skillfully places timelines to explain national events and how slavery was affected.  The research is thorough and though Davis could be judgmental, he opts instead for a factual perspective.  “It would be…simple to condemn them…and to call them hypocrites and negate all they did…But history is never a simple tale.  The story…is a complicated one.  At times, some of them agonized…some of their views and behavior changed, though never enough to make a difference.  We must take these hard, cold facts into account” (261-262).  This is a finely written history of interesting people in difficult, at times horrifying, circumstances.  Davis’ writing pulls in the reader and gives life to these five little-mentioned people.  THOUGHTS:  This history gives fuller understanding of the times and (often contradictory) views held by early American leaders.  Social studies courses could include the entire text or portions of it (consider chapter one, with its succinct history of slavery) to better understand the wide impact of slavery on individuals and a nation’s psyche.  This is accessible reading for middle and high school to give another view of colonial life and the abolitionist fight.  It serves as a fantastic example of biography and narrative nonfiction.  This could also be paired with Albert Marrin’s A Volcano Beneath the Snow: John Brown’s War Against Slavery (2014).

973; American History      Melissa Scott, Shenango High School

 

radwomen

Schatz, Kate, and Miriam Klein Stahl (illustrator). Rad Women Worldwide: Artists and Athletes, Pirates and Punks, and Other Revolutionaries Who Shaped History. New York: Ten Speed Press, 2016. 978-0-399-57886-1. 104 pp. $15.99. Gr. 6 and up.

Rad Women Worldwide contains forty mini-biographies, representing all seven continents and describing the achievements of truly radical women in lively, conversational profiles. The very helpful map on the book’s front endpapers will orient readers to this journey through time and around the globe. Rad Women Worldwide covers contemporary women such as Malala Yousafzai, Venus and Serena Williams, and primatologist Biruté Mary Galdikas. There are also plentiful entries on historical figures: Enheduanna (the world’s oldest known author), Hypatia (the first known female mathematician and scientist), Queen Lil’uokalani of Hawaii, and many more. Each chapter is accompanied by an iconic papercut portrait, created by illustrator Miriam Klein Stahl using paper, pencil, and an X-Acto knife. “The Stateless,” a poetic ode to the world’s 60 million displaced people (almost 80% of whom are women and children) is a fitting conclusion to this excellent collective biography. One small complaint: if the map and Table of Contents included keywords such as Educator, Environmentalist, or Musician next to each woman’s name, Rad Women Worldwide would be even more accessible to browsers and student researchers. THOUGHTS: It’s a must-have for every teen library and a strong companion read to Schatz and Stahl’s 2015 collection Rad American Women A-Z.

920; Collective Biography       Amy V. Pickett, Ridley High School Library

 

marchbook3

Lewis, John and Andrew Aydin. March Book 3. Art by Nate Powell. San Diego, Top Shelf Productions, 2016. 978-1603094023. 256 p. $19.99. Gr. 9 and up.

March Book 3 is a powerful conclusion to Congressman John Lewis’s graphic memoir of his experiences during the Civil Rights movement. Books One and Two focused on the lunch counter sit-ins and the March on Washington, respectively. The plot of the third book centers around the events and marches in Selma, Alabama.  Lewis also shares his experiences traveling to Africa and meeting Malcolm X, and the struggles within the different groups pushing for change at that time. The art, drawn in careful detail by Nate Powell, propels the story forward at a fast clip and engages the audience with stark black and white scenes. This series should be required reading in all high schools, not only because it is engaging in a way that textbooks generally are not, but also because the themes and events are, sadly, exceptionally relatable to the events occurring in our world today. THOUGHTS: Students and educators alike will be fascinated by Lewis’s story and experiences. This series should be in all high school libraries.

Graphic Novel; Memoir      Lindsey Myers, Shady Side Academy Senior School

I have eagerly awaited the final installment of this series, and it did not at all disappoint. Reading John Lewis’s graphic memoir has opened my eyes to the power of this form of literature, and how it can be used to engage readers and teach about different eras in history. I also had the opportunity to attend an event with Congressman Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell. The Congressman gave one of the most powerful speeches I have ever witnessed. Hearing his story in person, and the story behind the graphic novel, made me appreciate the venture even more than before. I hope that more famous and influential individuals will use this genre to tell their stories in order to reach a whole new audience and generation.

 

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Osborne, Linda Barrett. This Land is Our Land: A History of American Immigration. New York: Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2016. 978-1-4197-1660-7. 124p. $24.95. Gr. 7 and up.

Focusing on American immigration from the 19th century to the present, this title presents the experiences of immigrants who came to America to start new lives and examines the way Americans have responded to these immigrants over time.  Surprisingly, attitudes towards immigrants have remained remarkably similar and consistent throughout the history of America.  Osborne offers context and reasons for these attitudes while at the same time highlighting the benefits that immigrants have brought to our country and encouraging fairness and compassion towards all.  Numerous period photographs and quotes from immigrants themselves adds a personal touch to the work.  A timeline of immigration history, source notes, bibliography, and index are also included.  Overall, this is a very thorough and objective account of American immigration throughout history.  THOUGHTS: With the upcoming presidential election, immigration is a very timely topic.  This title provides a wonderful introduction to the topic and could spark excellent discussions about attitudes and responses towards immigration.  Another option would be to pair this title with fictional accounts of the immigrant experience, such as Melanie Crowder’s Audacity or Margaret Peterson Haddix’s Uprising.

304.8; Immigration      Julie Ritter, Montoursville Area High School

YA Graphic Nonfiction – Terrorist; March Book 2

terrorist

Rehr, Henrik.  Terrorist: Gavrilo Princip, the Assassin who Ignited World War I.  Minneapolis: Graphic Universe, 2015. 9781467772792. 225p.  $15.00. Gr. 9 and up.

Terrorist takes readers through a historical journey from 1863, leading up to World War I, and ending in 1918 when Gavrilo Princip died in prison partly from tuberculous and partly from maltreatment. Not many people know the causes for the Great War or even who key political figures were, but this dark and edgy graphic novel sets out to tell an often untold story.  Who was Gavrilo Princip, and what was his role?  Terrorist is a great way to introduce this side of World War I and give readers a deeper understanding of history.  Thoughts: This striking graphic novel entices history buffs to give a different genre of books a try while reeling in graphic novel enthusiasts.  I’m not really into graphic novels, but this one is a must for any collection.  It sheds a rich, and what I assume to be, historically accurate light on who killed Franz Ferdinand and why.  

Graphic Novel; 944    Laura Ward, Fox Chapel Area High School

 

marchbook2

Lewis, John. March: Book 2. Marietta, GA: Top Shelf Productions, 2015. 978-0-606-36547-5. $19.95. Gr. 8-12.

In this second installment of the planned graphic novel trilogy, Congressman John Lewis continues his incredible, heroic narrative of the fight for equal rights during the Civil Rights movement. Now travelling all over the south in the early 1960s, Lewis and the Freedom Riders focus on non-violent protests, only to find themselves countered with increasing hostility and violence in their “quest for human decency” (16). Juxtaposed against the inauguration of the United State’s first African-American President, Barack Obama, in 2009, almost 50 years later, Lewis recounts sit-ins, stand-ins, bus boycotts, and ultimately, the 1963 March on Washington. Many of these protests led to vicious, brutal attacks on the peaceful Riders, as well as jail time for many, including Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The artwork by Nate Powell is particularly moving, adding incredible depth to John Lewis’s compelling narrative while also humanizing many controversial political figures. THOUGHTS: Readers of all ages should pick up this novel as well as March: Book 1, and it should be required reading for all history classes teaching about the Civil Rights movement.

323.1 Civil Rights; Graphic Novel    Vicki Schwoebel, Friends’ Central School

YA Nonfiction – Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom and Science, Technology, and Society (series)

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Lowery, Lynda Blackmon.  Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom: My Story of the 1965 Selma Voting Rights March.  New York: Dial Books, 2015.  978-0-8037-4123-2. 127p. $19.99.  Gr. 7-12.

Lynda Blackmon Lowery was the youngest marcher on the 1965 Selma to Montgomery march for voting rights.  In this book, she recounts this experience as well as other key events during the civil rights movement to which she was a witness, including speeches by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., nonviolent sit-ins, and Bloody Sunday.  The text is broken up by both colorful  illustrations and black and white photographs from the time period.  The book also includes brief biographies of lesser known civil rights activists who lost their lives in the days before and after Bloody Sunday, as well as lyrics to a couple of freedom songs.  The author’s voice really comes out in the narrative, making the reader feel as though he or she is right there in the middle of the action.  THOUGHTS:A solid addition to any middle or high school history collection, this would be an outstanding choice for reluctant readers.  Not only is it a quick read, but it is very engaging and easy to follow.  Fans of Melba Patillo Beals’ Warriors Don’t Cry would also enjoy this title.

323.1196; Civil Rights Movement        Julie Ritter, Montoursville Area High School

 genetherapy

Science, Technology, and Society (series). San Diego, CA: ReferencePoint Press, 2016. 80 p. $160. Gr. 7-12.

Allen, John. How Gene Therapy is Changing Society. 978-1-60152-898-8.

Green, Robert. How Renewable Energy is Changing Society. 978-1-60152-904-6.

Henderson, Harry. How Mobile Devices are Changing Society.  978-1-60152-902-2.

Mooney, Carla. How the Internet is Changing Society. 978-1-60152-900-8.

Nardo, Don. How Robotics is Changing Society. 978-1-60152-906-0.

This series gives an overview of five modern technological tools/scientific methods and discusses how each has impacted our society.  Each title focuses on one technological or scientific advancement and provides information about its history, use in society today, potential downfalls of its use, and its future.  Timelines, source notes, and additional resources are provided in each book.  The text is broken up by color photographs, magazine and newspaper excerpts, charts, graphs, and highlighted vocabulary words and definitions.  THOUGHTS:  These easily accessible titles provide up-to-date information and statistics on 21st century science and technology topics and are therefore useful for students conducting research on these innovations.  However, they will probably not be appealing to students looking for a leisurely read on these topics.

300s; 600s; Science and Technology              Julie Ritter, Montoursville Area High School

New Fiction for Middle Grades…Yard Wars; Magnus Chase Book 1

yardwar

Kitchings, Taylor. Yard War. New York: Wendy Lamb Books, 2015. 978-0-553-50754-6. $16.99. 216p. Gr. 4-6.

Even though twelve-year-old Trip Westbrook is growing up in Mississippi during the Civil Rights Era, his passion and interest are focused on the football field.  He has decided, under the strong encouragement of his mother, to take a year off and try out for the team next year after he’s had a chance to put on more muscle.  That doesn’t stop him from planning regular pickup games in his yard with all his buddies.  To his surprise, he discovers his maid’s son, Dee, can play football like a pro.  The other boys are a little skeptical at first, but Trip convinces them it’s all for the good of the game.  This seems to be enough until the neighbors begin driving by, stopping to watch with a critical eye, and then spreading rumors.  Living in Jackson, Mississippi, in 1964 brings Trip’s family under persecution and makes them a target for the bigotry and hatred running rampant among neighbors.  When Tom and Tim, local bullies, show up with reinforcements to carry out their threats, the boys could end up in an all-out yard war.  THOUGHTS: What first appears to be a straightforward sports story introduces the reader to the harsh realities, fears and prejudices of the civil rights movement and details how one outspoken, candid young boy stands up in the face of adversity.

Historical Fiction       Christine Massey, JWP Middle School

 

magnuschase

Riordan, Rick. The Sword of Summer (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard Book 1). New York: Disney Hyperion, 2015. 978-1423160915. 491p. $19.99. Gr. 5-8.

In a stunning series-opener, protagonist Magnus Chase dies. But he’s meant to, and it affords him a place in Valhalla, Norse paradise for warriors of Odin. Thankfully, the tree of life is the portal to the Nine Worlds, one of them back “home” to human Boston, and Magnus has picked up a few knowledgeable friends in his short-time dead. Two “homeless men” who looked out for Magnus on the streets turn out to be a dwarf and an elf, unswervingly loyal, and the Valkyrie who chooses Magnus for Valhalla not only defends his choice when he’s questioned but works beside him to prevent Ragnarok, the Norse version of the apocalypse. Magnus is just in time to fit into the tales long foretold and to change the course of that tale, that is, if he can locate, use, lose and regain the “sword of summer” that was his father’s.  With his beloved (human) mother gone, he learns his father is the Norse god Loki, and his mother died protecting her son. Riordan’s writing is enjoyable and humorous at the expense of both Norse mythology and Boston (where Riordan lives, conveniently the entrance to human world, or, “why do you think Boston is called the Hub of the Universe?” 118). The chapter titles alone reveal a light-hearted side to Magnus and the story, from “Good Morning! You’re going to die!” to “Four Million Channels and There’s Still Nothing On Except Valkyrie Vision.”

Readers unfamiliar with Norse mythology and the Nine Worlds should give attention to the helpful glossary. Book 2: The Hammer of Thor is planned for Fall 2016.  THOUGHTS: This is a not-to-be-missed series opener that will naturally lead to questions about the various gods, monsters, etc of Norse mythology, so get those books ready.

Fantasy, Mythology   Melissa Scott, Shenango High School

Count this the first Riordan book I’ve read, and count me a new fan. Riordan maintains masterful control of his story and an incredible number of characters, all the while injecting humor and humanity, even believability, to this great world. That it fits in with his previous writing—Magnus is Annabeth’s cousin, and she makes brief, important appearance—is icing on the cake for fans who have been clamoring for this anyway. I found myself not caring so much about the outcome as the journey with these characters, especially Magnus, who doesn’t take himself too seriously. Don’t assign this novel; just let readers read and love it.