Elementary NF – Zaha Hadid; Europe’s Best Soccer Clubs; Harriet Tubman; Ruth Bader Ginsberg

Winter, Jeanette. The World is Not a Rectangle: A Portrait of Architect Zaha Hadid. Beach Lane Books, 2017. 978-1481446693. 32 pp. $17.99. Gr. Pre-K – 5.

As a child in Iran, Zaha Hadid grew up visiting natural places and ancient ruins. Throughout her life, the memories of these locations never leave her. Hadid travels to London to attend school and becomes an architect. The book presents the obstacles Hadid had to overcome, as a young female math-loving grade school student and as a Muslim at a Catholic school. Hadid was selected as the winner of an architecture contest twice, but the city refused to build the concert hall she designed because of her gender and ethnicity and the building’s unconventional style. Hadid perseveres and prevails, with the author showing in simple elegant images how seashells became sports stadiums and marsh grass inspired buildings that resembled waving. THOUGHTS: A valuable addition to any library collection, this well-told, inspirational story highlights the accomplishments of a woman who overcame great challenges because of her gender, her religion, where she came from, and her unconventional ideas.

Biography; Picture Book          Emily Woodward, The Baldwin School

 

Europe’s Best Soccer Clubs. ABDO, 2018. $22.95 ea. $183.60 set of 8. 48p. Gr. 3-6.
Avise, Jonathan. FC Barcelona. 978-1-5321-1131-0.
Carothers, Thomas. Juventus FC. 978-1-5321-1134-1.
Karpovich, Todd. Manchester United. 978-1-5321-1135-8.
Kortemeier, Todd. AC Milan. 978-1-5321-1129-7.
Kortemeier, Todd. Real Madrid CF. 978-1-5321-1136-5.
Marthaler, Jon. Arsenal FC. 978-1-5321-1130-3.
Marthaler, Jon. FC Bayern Munich. 978-1-5321-1132-7.
Seidel, Jeff. Chelsea FC. 978-1-5321-1133-4.
European soccer seemingly gains in popularity in the United States with every passing year. In an effort to better inform U.S. fans about their favorite teams, ABDO has recently released a new eight volume series entitled Europe’s Best Soccer Clubs. Each volume outlines the history of the club, highlights well-known players and matches from club history, and discusses club traditions. The volume received for review, Arsensal FC, spotlights one of England’s most popular football clubs. Not only does this volume explain the basic information about the club, it also includes information about the various leagues and cups present in European football. The text is supplemented by current and historical photos as well as fact boxes, a timeline, glossary, and a website to obtain further up-to-date informational links on the club. THOUGHTS: If your school has soccer fans, you will want to add this series to your collection. While biographies of individual European players are not uncommon for middle grade readers, books that focus on individual clubs fill a void in the soccer nonfiction market. Recommended.
796.334 Soccer     Elizabeth Henry, Lampeter-Strasburg SD

 

Cline-Ransome, Lesa. Before She Was Harriet. Holiday House, 2017. 9780823420476. Unpaged.Gr. 2-5.

Cline-Ransome takes us on a journey through the life of Harriet Tubman in this unique picture book biography. Told in reverse chronological order, the book describes the various roles that Tubman played as an important figure in American history.  Some of these may not be as well-known to young readers, such as nurse, Union spy, and suffragist. Each page discusses one of these roles in simple yet lyrical text and is accompanied by full bleed illustrations by the award winning illustrator James Ransome.   Most illustrations depict Harriet on a large scale, so that she is the main focus of each two page spread. The story comes full circle as it begins and ends with Harriet as an old woman. The concept of journey is conveyed even further by the metaphor of the train and other modes of transportation, such as the boat in the river and the soldiers riding horses.  Ransome includes an illustration of a train in the countryside before the title page.  On the title page itself, we see a woman waiting for this train.  At the end of the book, we meet this woman again, now knowing that this is Harriet, who is free to ride this train wherever she chooses.   The author is perhaps sending the message that Harriet is no longer “riding” the Underground Railroad as an oppressed person because she is now free. THOUGHTS:  This is a beautiful book that deserves a place in every library collection.  While not a detailed account of Tubman’s life, this tribute is a wonderful introduction.  Young readers will gain a better understanding of Tubman’s many accomplishments and how one person can change the world.

Biography; Picture Book         Denise Medwick, West Allegheny SD

 

Winter, Jonah. Ruth Bader Ginsburg: The Case of R.B.G. vs. Inequality. Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2017. 978-1419725593. 32 pp. $17.99. Gr. 2-5.

This biography of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is told as a picture book court case. With unusual and eye-catching illustrations, this highly reviewed version of Bader Ginsburg’s life shows her courage and fortitude in the face of prejudice and gender discrimination. Starting with her father and continuing through her education and being a working mother, Bader Ginsburg proves to everyone that she wins against inequality.  THOUGHTS: This is a great introduction to any research project about overcoming hardships to succeed. Particularly appropriate in highlighting women in leadership roles.

Biography; Picture Book     Emily Woodward, The Baldwin School

Elementary – Hello, Spring; Sheep Won’t Sleep; Soldier Song; The Quest for Z

Rotner, Shelley. Hello Spring. Holiday House, 2017. 9780823437528. $16.95. 32p. Gr. K-2.

This book welcomes the arrival of spring with plenty of photographs on every page spread. The story progresses through early spring’s melting snow, to late spring’s arrival of dogwood blossoms, and all the way to the first day of summer and garden vegetables sprouting. Certain words are in a larger type size throughout the book (mostly verbs, but not always) and there is a small glossary on the last page. THOUGHTS: This picture book would be a nice addition to your library. It is similar to other season picture books you probably already have, but the children in the photographs in this book are diverse.

Picture Book                   Bridget Fox, Central Bucks SD

 

 

Cox, Judy. Sheep Won’t Sleep: Counting by 2s, 5s, and 10s. Holiday House, 2017. 978-0-8234-3701-6. Unpaged. $16.95. Gr. K-3.

No matter what she tries, Clarissa can’t sleep. Why not try the old standby, counting sheep? She counts 10 sheep and before she knows it they are hanging out in her bedroom! “Try pairs of alpacas,” advise the sheep, so Clarissa counts colorful pairs of alpacas in twos. When this still doesn’t work, she tries patterned llamas in fives and groups of yaks in tens who wear “…woolly coats of many colors…like a wardrobe of winter sweaters.” With a cast of characters crowding her room, Clarissa uses basic addition and subtraction skills to “unwind” for a night of sleep (she unravels the animals into a giant ball of colorful, patterned yard). What to do with a giant ball of colorful yarn? Why get out knitting needles of course! The last pages show Clarissa peacefully sleeping under a new brightly patterned quilt. Cox’s story and illustrator Nina Cuneo’s pen and digital ink illustrations create a fun, brightly colored math-themed bedtime read. THOUGHTS: Highly versatile–use in math class, at bedtime, or with any group of animal lovers.

Picture Book       Lindsey Long, Lower Dauphin School District

 

Levy, Debbie. Soldier Song. Disney Press, 2017. 9781484725986. $18.99. 80p. Gr. 2-5.

The Battle of Fredericksburg involved the largest number of soldiers of any battle during the Civil War. It was also a low point for the Union Army since more than 12,000 young men were wounded or killed with another 5,300 being wounded or killed on the Confederate side. After the battle, the soldiers camped on either side of the Rappahannock River to wait out the winter months neither side wanting to give up land. Due to the geography of the area, sounds carried very well from one side of the river to the other, especially the music that both sides used as both a time telling device (like, Reveille and dinnertime) and for entertainment. The divided armies could hear each other songs and would taunt each other by volleying back and forth between different patriotic songs. One day someone started playing the song, “Home, Sweet Home” and both sides joined in. That song and its message of home so touched the young men that they cheered for over half-an-hour. One soldier said in a letter sent home that if the river didn’t separate the two armies they would have come together after that song and settled the war right then. This story includes primary source Civil War letter snippets and song lyrics, in addition to the further information in the back of the book about The Battle of Fredericksburg and the history of the song, “Home, Sweet Home.” THOUGHTS: I loved this book. Not only did I learn facts about the Battle at Fredericksburg, but I walked away feeling hopeful about people. This book is great not just as a positive message about coming together even though we have differing opinions, but also the power of music to bridge the gaps between us. This is a great addition to any library or music teacher’s classroom library. The book includes web links to listen to the songs mentioned in the book.

Historical Fiction          Bridget Fox, Central Bucks SD

 

Pizzoli, Greg. The Quest for Z: The True Story of Explorer Percy Fawcett and a Lost City in the Amazon. Viking, 2017. 978-0-670-01653-2.  

Another nonfiction winner from the author/illustrator who brought us Tricky Vic: The Impossibly True Story of the Man Who Sold the Eiffel Tower. Greg Pizzoli amazes readers with the life of Percy Fawcett, daring Amazonian explorer and man of mystery. Fawcett was born into a British family of adventurers and took on his own explorations after a military career and training with the Royal Geographical Society in London. He explored in Bolivia, Brazil, and Peru, charting then-unmapped territories and defining borders of r these nations. His South American travels met with many dangers, from aggressive anacondas to equally aggressive native groups, but Fawcett’s quick thinking and bravery usually won out and he completed several missions while making native allies along the way. It was from these people that he first heard of a legendary ancient city in the Amazon; Fawcett referred to the city as “Z” and imagined “…a paradise of grand temples and palaces carved from stone, hidden from modern man deep within the jungle.” In April 1925, Fawcett set off to find Z with only his son Jack, aged 21, Jack’s best friend Raleigh Rimell, basic provisions, a few local guides, and the financial support of several newspapers to whom he sold his story which was carried in snippets by local runners. Fawcett and his party were never seen again. Since Fawcett’s fateful trip in 1925, over 100 people have set off on quests to find Fawcett, or perhaps even Z. None have discovered his fate and some have even disappeared themselves. Pizzoli used a variety of sources including newspaper articles from 1925 and several books that have been written about Fawcett. It’s worth noting that one of Pizzoli’s sources, David Grann’s 2005 “New Yorker” article, is fascinating and would make excellent continued reading for mature readers. Pizzoli’s unusual and enjoyable illustrations provide some comic relief throughout the text. Back matter includes an Author’s Note, information on other Fawcett hunters, a glossary, and selected sources. THOUGHTS: So much more than just a biography, this book will be enjoyed by any reader who likes a little adventure.

910.92                  Lindsey Long, Lower Dauphin School District

MS/YA NF – Sachiko; Courageous Women; Dinosaurs

sachiko

Stelson, Caren. Sachiko: A Nagasaki Bomb Survivor’s Story. New York: Carolrhoda Books, 2016. 978-146788-9035. $19.99. 144pp. Gr. 5-8.
Sachiko Yasui holds memories of her close, loving family.  She also holds memories of a desperate war that turned horrific.  She lived with her family: mother, father, older brothers Aki and Ichiro, younger sister Misa, and youngest (doted upon) brother Toshi.  The war had taken its toll on Japan and food for everyone was scarce.  Urging her children to not waste a bit of food or drink, her mother would say, “Every sip is precious.”  When Sachiko’s father was drafted into the Japanese army, the family chose to return with him to Nagasaki.  It was a fateful decision, for soon thereafter the U.S. dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima then Nagasaki.  Sachiko survived to watch her siblings die, each in a different manner, each due to the effects of the bomb.  She endured thyroid cancer treatments and fought back for her physical ability to speak, learning that “every word is precious.”  This is her story, told in affecting detail, of the bombing and the aftermath.  Despite the horror, this story is un-put-downable and ultimately overflowing with a message of peace and understanding.  Over a lifetime of questioning and forming her own perspective on the bombings (informed by the teachings of Gandhi, Helen Keller and Martin Luther King, Jr), Sachiko finally has spoken to many about these events, always urging an end to hatred and war.  “Every word is precious.” Well-documented and complete with end notes, glossary, and an author’s note.  THOUGHTS: This is a book to promote peace.  It would pair well with John Hersey’s Hiroshima.
940.54 World War II      Melissa Scott, Shenango High School

 

sciencecomics

Reed, MK. Dinosaurs: Fossils and Feathers. New York: First Second, 2016. 978-1-62672-144-9. $19.99. Gr 6-12.

Science Comics second graphic novel is an excellent addition to the colorful, descriptive Coral Reefs comic published earlier this year. This volume explores the complex history of dinosaurs in beautiful color illustrations and an easy to read narrative that will appeal most to middle grade readers. The story begins with the history of paleontology, dating back to the discovery of many dinosaur bones during the Industrial Revolution. The scientific rivalries are dramatic enough to keep readers entertained, while the emergence of natural sciences as a discipline will ruminate with those studying the field. Readers will find various bits of trivia spread throughout the book, such as: how dinosaurs are named, where fossils are found, and much more. THOUGHTS: Use this graphic novel and the rest of the Science Comic series to add a fun addition to your nonfiction section; students will enjoy the opportunity to read a comic about science!

567.9; Dinosaurs      Vicki Schwoebel, Friends’ Central School

We have an 8th grade science class come in the library weekly for a sustained silent science reading block, so I have made it my mission to update our science nonfiction and add titles that middle schoolers want to read. I normally book talk a few titles at the beginning of this block, and I always make sure to highlight a variety of books that will appeal to different readers. We had a few nonfiction graphic novels that always seemed to get scooped up quickly, so I am excited that there will be more titles in the Science Comics series. We plan to add them all to our collection as they are published, and I imagine they will continue to circulate while we partner with the 8th grade science class in the future.

 

courageouswomen

Cordell, M.R. Courageous Women of the Civil War. Chicago: Chicago Review Press, 2016. 978-1-61373-200-7. $19.99. 230p. Gr. 7-12.

The often overlooked contributions that women made to the Civil War effort are the focus of this engaging title. Cordell profiles 16 Union and Confederate women who defied the expectations of the times and left their homes to become actively involved in the war. Some picked up arms, disguised themselves as men and joined up as soldiers. Other women served as spies, as nurses or as vivandieres (women attached to military units as sutlers and canteen bearers). The text is enhanced by sidebars that explain various aspects of the war. Also of note are the numerous historical photos, including photos showing many of the female soldiers in their male soldier disguises. THOUGHTS: This engaging title will appeal to all students, not just Civil War aficionados. The women profile led fascinating and action-packed lives and readers will find themselves drawn into their stories. The role of women in the war is not always discussed in history texts; this book helps to fill this void. Recommended for purchase in secondary schools.

973.7; Civil War       Elizabeth Henry, Lampeter-Strasburg HS/MS

A Volcano Beneath the Snow: John Brown’s War Against Slavery

volcano

Marrin, Albert.  A Volcano Beneath the Snow: John Brown’s War Against Slavery.  New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2014.  978-0-307-98152-3. 244 p.  $19.99.  Gr. 7 and Up.

John Brown, born in 1800, was a religiously devout white abolitionist.  Brown’s approach to ending slavery was different than many of his contemporaries. Most abolitionists of the time favored a peaceful approach and working through government to end slavery.  John Brown felt that slavery was an affront to the Lord and believed that slavery should be eliminated by any means possible, including violence.  Albert Marrin, author of A Volcano Beneath the Snow, argues that Brown had a major role in inciting the Civil War and was “the Father of American Terrorism.”

John Brown’s anti-slavery actions show that the title may have been earned.  In 1855-1856, the actions of pro-slavery “border ruffians” in the Kansas Territory angered Brown so much that he and his followers killed five pro-slavery settlers who were not actively involved in the Territory conflict.  Brown was even more infamous for his 1859 raid on Harpers Ferry (now West) Virginia when he and a group of followers raided the US Armory to obtain weapons for a mass slave rebellion.  Many of Brown’s followers deserted him, but Brown would not surrender and was hung for treason.

This book, aside from being a thorough documentation of historic events, gives the reader a real picture of John Brown’s personality and motives.  It is well-written and should be easy for most students to understand.  Albert Marrin puts John Brown’s life into context by including chapters on the history of slavery and Civil War events.  This book also features an abundance of primary source documentation (photographs, maps, drawings and diagrams) and an extended bibliography.  However, the one thing that sets A Volcano Beneath the Snow above other histories of the Civil War is its discussion of John Brown’s legacy.  The idea that violence is an acceptable way to achieve a Holy purpose (or justifiable revenge) is an integral part of modern terrorist thought.  Although Americans were horrified by the events of September 11, 2001, including the deaths of thousands of innocent people, the members of al-Qaeda viewed it as an act of Holy war against a Godless society, similar to Brown’s views.

This story is a thoroughly-researched and engaging study of a man who is significant to American history than it would first appear.  A Volcano Beneath the Snow is certainly a valuable addition to any secondary school collection.

 973.7; Civil War             Susan Fox, Washington Jr. /Sr. High School

I Remember Beirut…a graphic memoir

beirut

Abirached, Zeina. I Remember Beirut. Minneapolis:  Graphic Universe, 2014.  978- 1467738224. 96p. $29.27. Gr. 9-12.

Zeina Abirached wrote and illustrated a beautiful graphic memoir about her time growing up in Beirut, Lebanon, during the civil war between neighboring Christians and Muslims. Many of her memories are especially powerful because they are seen through the eyes of a child. Her view of ordinary life during extraordinary times is heartbreakingly real. One memory in particular that stands out is her brother’s collection of shrapnel from the bombings, and how he enjoyed finding new and unusual pieces.

The memoir is told using bold black and white beautifully drawn and detailed images. The language is also simple and real with many 1980s pop culture references. Although this graphic memoir is about one little girl’s view of the war around her, it can also be seen as a reflection of what so many children in the world face in their own lives as they wake up to the conflict around them and just try to live their lives and be safe with their families.  

Graphic Memoir     Marian Kohan, Erie School District