MS/YA NF – Artificial Intelligence; Exploring Careers; Bernie Sanders

McPherson, Stephanie Sammartino. Artificial Intelligence: Building Smarter Machines. Twenty First Century Books, 2017. 978-1-5124-1826-2. 104 p.  $35.99. Gr. 7 and up.
This short but information-packed book reviews discoveries and milestones in computer science leading to the development of artificial intelligence. The early chapters provide information and facts about the efforts of computer science pioneers to create machines that mimic the functions of the human brain and details the current uses of AI technology in the fields of commerce, manufacturing, medicine and others. Later chapters explore the questions and concerns regarding the benefits AI can provide for human society as well as raising questions about potentially harmful effects with current scientists weighing in with their views. Includes glossary, bibliography and source notes.  Numerous informative and engaging text features include illustrations, photos and captions, and sidebars featuring profiles of famous figures in computer development. THOUGHTS: A solid choice to add a readable and accessible title on a STEM topic to a school or public library collection.
Computer Science; 006.3          Nancy Summers, Abington School District


Exploring Careers.  Reference Point Press. 2017. $29.95 per title, 23 volumes. 80 p. Gr. 6 and up. 

Roberts, Laura. Careers in Digital Media. 978-1-68282-197-8.

Mooney, Carla. Careers in Business Administration. 978-1-68282-194-7.

Mooney, Carla. Careers in Computer Science. 978-1-68282-192-3.

Kallen, Stuart. Careers in Entertainment. 978-1-68282-198-5.

Wilcox, Christine. Careers in Environmental Conservation. 978-1-68282-203-6.

McGhee, Leanne Currie. Careers in Medicine. 978-1-68282-200-5

This reference series on career exploration has 23 slim volumes providing concise information on a variety of careers.  Introductory chapters provide an overview of the field and subsequent chapters highlight eight or more specific job titles with salary information, education or training requirements, job expectations and conditions and more. Each chapter lists contact information for professional associations and links to websites with additional information. Also features a Q and A session with an individual who works in the highlighted field. Includes index. Thoughts: Perfect series for quick reference information to support the growing focus on career education.

Careers                 Nancy Summers, Abington School District


Sanders, Bernie. Bernie Sander’s Guide to Political Revolution. Henry Holt & Company, 2017. 978-1-250-13890-3. 226 p. $16.99. Gr 8-12.

In this young readers edition of Our Revolution, Bernie Sanders invites readers to make a change in their local and global community and to “stand up and fight back”. Each chapter focuses on a hot-button but relevant issue, such as living wage, tax reform, climate change, healthcare, higher education, and more, and provides statistics, quotes, and graphics alongside text. Senator Sanders presents his progressive (and to many, controversial) ideas that will appeal to liberal teens affected by and interested in today’s current political and social events. THOUGHTS: Chapters on living wage, tax reform, climate change, healthcare, high education, and more are informative but text heavy. Sanders book deserves to be in any public or school library but will likely polarize readers in the current political landscape.

322.4; Political Action     Vicki Schwoebel, Friends’ Central School 

YA NF – Girl Code; The 57 Bus

Gonzales, Andrea, and Sophie Houser. Girl Code: Gaming, Going Viral, and Getting it Done. Harper, 2017. 978-0-06-247250-2. 264 p. $17.99. Gr. 7-12.

Teenagers Andrea “Andy” Gonzales and Sophie Houser met at a summer camp called Girls Who Code, where they teamed up to create a video game called Tampon Run.  Much to their surprise, the video game became wildly popular, solidifying their celebrity status in the tech world.  This book, told in alternating perspectives between Andy and Sophie, gives readers an inside look into their lives, beginning before the invention of Tampon Run and continuing with the impact the game had on their lives after it went viral.  By the end of the book, the girls are heading off to college and sharing their hopes and aspirations for the future.  Also included in the back of the book is a coding appendix that provides readers with coding basics.  A solid addition for any school looking to add to their STEM collection.  THOUGHTS: I felt this title was geared more towards girls than boys.  Not only were there many details included about the menstrual taboo, but there were many references to the lack of female coders in the tech field.  These messages are empowering for young girls who wish to make the topic of menstruation less taboo or who wish to work in the STEM field, but may not speak as strongly to boys.  Pair this title with Reshma Saujani’s New York Times bestseller, Girls Who Code: Learn to Code and Change the World.

005.1; Computer Programming       Julie Ritter, Montoursville Area SD


Slater, Dashka. The 57 Bus: A True Story of Two Teenagers and the Crime that Changed Their Lives. Farrar Straus Giroux, 2017. 978-0-374-30323-5. 305 pp. $17.00. Gr. 8 and up.

In November of 2013, teenagers Sasha and Richard didn’t have much in common. Sasha attended a small private high school, had a small circle of supportive friends, and identified as genderqueer (preferring they/them pronouns). Richard attended large, public Oakland High School and had already spent a year in juvenile detention. Their lives overlapped for a few short minutes each day on Oakland’s 57 bus. One afternoon, while Sasha was napping in the back of the bus, Richard flicked a lighter near Sasha’s skirt. It erupted in flames and left the teenager with second and third degree burns requiring surgery and months of rehabilitation. Sixteen-year old Richard, who admitted to being homophobic in a police interview, faced a potential life sentence if he was tried as an adult with a hate crime enhancement. Author Dashka Slater takes a remarkably even-handed look at the two young people, the crime, their respective support systems, and role of the justice system in what happened next. In particular, she examines whether a teenager can ever truly act as an adult, and whether adult prisons are an appropriate place for juvenile offenders to serve their sentences.  THOUGHTS: While not a typical true crime story, The 57 Bus is an extremely compelling portrayal of a hate crime and its aftermath. The author deftly illustrates how gender is not always binary, and neither is right/wrong, guilty/not-guilty, just/unjust.

364.15; True Crime     Amy Pickett, Ridley School District


Sasha, an asexual white teen from a middle-class background who attended a small private school in Oakland, California, was napping on the 57 bus one afternoon when Richard, an African American teen from a poorer neighborhood who attended a large public school, made the rash decision to light Sasha’s skirt on fire. The skirt went up in flames, and Sasha was hospitalized with severe burns while Richard was arrested and charged as an adult for committing a hate crime. Using interviews, documents, letters, videos, diaries, social media posts, and public records, the author pieces together the entire story in a very impartial manner.  Beginning with the incident itself and then backtracking to provide information on Sasha’s and Richard’s backgrounds, the second half of the book is dedicated to the outcomes and aftermath of the incident. This excellent title raises many timely questions about gender, race, class, hate crimes, and the justice system, and it, therefore, deserves a place in every junior and senior high school. THOUGHTS: Potential uses for this book in an educational setting are boundless.  It could be paired with other outstanding titles like Angie Thomas’s The Hate U Give or Nic Stone’s Dear Martin to explore the issues of race and justice.  Social studies teachers may choose to have students read this book and then write a response declaring whether or not they felt justice was ultimately served and why.  Alternately, a mock trial could be set up requiring students to use evidence from the book to defend either Sasha or Richard. The insightful discussions this book could spark about hate, impulsiveness, and forgiveness are sure to stick with students long after they have finished reading it.

364.15; Hate Crimes      Julie Ritter, Montoursville Area School District

MS – Girls Who Code; The Silver Mask

Saujani, Reshma.  Girls Who Code. Viking, 2017. 9780425287538. $17.99. 168 p. Gr. 5-8.

Written by the founder of the Girls Who Code foundation and website, an organization created to bridge the gender gap in technology, Reshma  Saujani encourages girls to take up code writing as a key for their own personal needs and entertainment but most especially as a path for their future careers.  Conversational in tone  and interspersed with original artwork, this informational guide explains in clear and simple language the vocabulary and elements  of coding, provides a brief history of computer developments, presents a Q and A with girls who participate in Girls Who Code activities and profiles the work and achievements of real women working in today’s tech fields. Includes glossary and index. Thoughts: Though aimed at a middle-grade audience, it is recommended for elementary, middle and high schools, a perfect title to encourage girls of all ages to explore tech as a hobby or an academic pursuit.  More resources available at for librarians or teachers who may be interested in starting a girls’ coding club at their schools.

005.1 Computer Science           Nancy Summers, Abington School District


Black, Holly and Cassandra Clare. The Silver Mask (Magisterium Bk. 4). Scholastic Press, 2017.  978-0-545-52236-6 232p. $17.99.  Gr. 5 and up.

Another solid book in the fast-moving Magisterium series, this books starts after Call has spent six months in prison, framed for a crime he did not commit. Even in prison, there are choices that Call has to make. Call is constantly asking himself, “Am I evil?” “If I do this, is it good or bad?”  There is a quick, suspenseful prison break that moves the story forward.  The action never stops, except for a few moments of possible romance.  THOUGHTS:   This series is great for middle-grade readers of fantasy.  It may satisfy Percy Jackson fans as well as Harry Potter fans.  Readers will come away pondering the demarcation between good and evil and wondering if there is a grey area.  

Fantasy     Toni Vahlsing, Abington Friends School