YA – The Voting Booth

Colbert, Brandy. The Voting Booth. Hyperion, 2020. 978-1-368-05329-7. $18.99. 293 p. Grades 9 and up.

It’s election day, and Marva has been waiting for this day for her entire life. A passionate advocate for equality and democracy, her first election day is like a holiday for this high school senior in the running for valedictorian at her private prep school. Duke is less enthusiastic but is still getting up early to vote in his first election, too. His family’s passion about politics – particularly his activist brother’s who died two years ago – deems he participate in the democratic process. He knows it’s important to vote, but he’s more excited about his band’s first paying gig tonight. He learned to play drums as therapy after his brother’s death, but it turns out he’s really good at it. Marva is – of course – first in line at her polling place and casts her vote without issue. Just when she thinks she can head off to school and then relax on the couch tonight watching election results with her social media-famous cat Selma, she overhears Duke being rejected by the poll workers. Apparently he’s at the wrong polling place; he pre-registered at his dad’s address before his parents separated. Thus begins Marva and Duke’s adventure, a day exemplifying Murphy’s Law: everything that can go wrong does. First, Duke’s car won’t start as he tries to head to the correct polling place. Marva offers to drive him. Skipping school and driving around with a strange boy all morning probably isn’t the best idea, especially since Marva is sort-of fighting with her boyfriend of two years, but hey, this is important. Despite racism and voter suppression and parents and missing cats and an angry boyfriend and a gig Duke can’t miss, Marva and Duke can’t deny the positive thing resulting from this crazy day: that they found each other.

THOUGHTS: Another gem from award-winning author Brandy Colbert, The Voting Booth is a super cute romance that still manages to highlight serious issues. A very timely book that would pair well with another 2020 publication – Running by Natalia Sylvester – this book would serve as a fantastic independent or supplemental read in a Social Studies class discussing the voting process in America. Told in alternating points of view between Duke and Marva, so it appeals to both male and female readers. Highly recommended for all high school collections.

Realistic Fiction           Sarah Strouse, Nazareth Area SD

Elem. – I Voted: Making a Choice Makes a Difference

Shulman, Mark. I Voted: Making a Choice Makes a Difference. Neal Porter Books, 2020. 978-0-823-44561-5. $19. Unpaged. Grades K-3. 

A great introduction to voting! Author Mark Shulman guides young readers through the process of voting, from the basic concept that voting equals making a choice, to Election Day for adult voters. He uses excellent, applicable examples (“Some choices are easy to make: Ice cream or onions? Some choices are harder: Ice cream or cupcakes?” and “Imagine you’re choosing a classroom pet…”) and stresses the importance of talking to others about their opinions. No matter the outcome, “…your vote might be the one that makes a difference.” While Shulman’s text is great, it’s really Serge Bloch’s illustrations that set the book apart. There is generally one illustration for each sentence, which sounds like a lot, but Bloch’s cartoon illustrations really help young readers see and identify with examples. Back matter consists of sections on how our government works, five easy steps for voting, information on state and local governments, and a reminder that “You Can Start Now.”

THOUGHTS: A must-have for elementary school collections looking to beef up their government/election offerings.

324.6 Election Systems           Lindsey Long, Lower Dauphin SD

MG – A Thousand Questions

Faruqi, Saadia. A Thousand Questions. HarperCollins Children’s Books, 2020. 978-0-062-94320-0. 225 p. $16.99. Grades 6-8. 

In this East meets West friendship story, A Thousand Questions shows the disparity in lifestyles between the United States and Pakistan told alternately by the two main characters. Eleven-year-old Mimi Scotts and her mother travel from Houston, Texas, for summer vacation to visit her wealthy grandparents, Begum Sahib and Sahiba Ji, in Karachi for the first time. She is awed by the wealth and luxury of her grandparents’ home compared with her tiny apartment and stretched budget back in the United States. While Mimi’s mother reconnects with her school chums, Mimi forms a friendship with the servant girl, Sakina Ejaz. Too poor to go to school, Sakina assists her diabetic father cooking in the Ji’s kitchen. The two girls become fast friends. With the backdrop of the campaign season for new elections, Sakina shows Mimi the sites of Karachi, and Mimi agrees to tutor to Sakina for her English examination so that she can win a school scholarship. Mimi’s narration includes secret letters she writes to Tom Scotts, the father she has never met. When Mimi discovers her freelance journalist father is living in Karachi, she is determined to meet him and Sakina is a willing accomplice. Author Saadia Faruqi captures the richness of the Asian city from the delicious dishes and its atmosphere to the inequity of the caste system as well as the authenticity of the fully-drawn main characters: Sakina, mature beyond her years, cognizant of her integral role in providing for the welfare of her family; Mimi, an ordinary American girl of modest means, getting to know her grandparents and also her own mother in her childhood home and longing to connect with father.

THOUGHTS: This book reminds the reader of When Heaven Fell  by Carolyn Marsden, a story that compares the life of  a struggling Vietnamese family with the life of an adult Vietnamese-American adoptee who visits her Vietnamese birth mother. There’s a part where Sakini asks Mimi if there are poor people in America and Mimi answers, “No,” at first until she remembers a homeless man and the kids at school who qualify for free lunch. Discussion of social justice issues, equity in education, and divorce can ensue.

Realistic Fiction          Bernadette Cooke, School District of Philadelphia

When Mimi and her mother arrive in Karachi, Pakistan for the summer, Mimi immediately misses air conditioning, soccer, and chicken nuggets, all staples of her American upbringing. Mimi is surprised to find that her grandparents live in luxury, employing servants and wearing fancy clothes, while Mimi and her mother can barely afford rent in their tiny Houston apartment. Mimi realizes there is so much she doesn’t know about her mother, her grandparents, and her father who left years ago without explanation. After learning that her father’s job brought him to Karachi, Mimi befriends a servant girl who agrees to help Mimi find him in exchange for English lessons. Sakina, a servant of Mimi’s grandparents, dreams of going to school like Mimi, but her servant status prohibits her from making her dreams a reality. After all, when would she find the time to go to school when she must keep her job to take care of her own family and ailing father? Going to school seems even more impossible when she takes a secret exam and fails the English portion, but when Sakina and Mimi strike up their deal, Sakina starts to hope for her future and a better life for her family. As their friendship blossoms, the inequities of the Pakistani class system are revealed, and the friends determine to make good in both of their worlds despite the challenges.

THOUGHTS: Instead of multiple perspectives from different time periods, this story highlights two contemporary perspectives in a country many readers will be unfamiliar with. Shining light on the class system that still exists today in Pakistan, readers may feel compelled to learn more about the living inequalities and hardships people face who live outside of the United States. This is a good #ownvoices addition to any library seeking to diversity their collection.

Realistic     Jaynie Korzi, South Middleton SD

MG – The Campaign

Sales, Leila. The Campaign. Amulet Books, 2020. 978-1-419-73974-3. 304 p. $16.99. Grades 3-7.

Seventh grader Maddie Polansky loves school for one reason, art class. A bit of an outcast and troublemaker with the other students and most teachers, Maddie shines when participating in art. When she finds out that the only candidate for mayor of her town wants to slash the art budget, Maddie decides to get political and recruit her 23 year old babysitter, Janet, to run for mayor. Since Janet just graduated from college and has never had a job other than babysitting, the campaign is facing an uphill battle! But campaign manager Maddie recruits her classmates and runs a campaign that winds up beating her former Olympian, experienced town council competitor. In today’s day and age, this book shows that being a troublemaker is exactly what Maddie’s town and school needs.

THOUGHTS: I loved this book! This illustrated novel is perfect for an election year.  It brings just enough of a political vibe for middle schoolers, while addressing issues such as educational funding, homelessness, and community issues such as understaffed Public Works Departments. Issues are brought to light through the eyes of voters, highlighting the fact that everyone votes for the issues that they care about.

Realistic Fiction          Krista Fitzpatrick- Waldron Mercy Academy

Series NF for Upper Elem. and MS from Capstone – Presidential Elections; Special OPS; Sports Stats

politicnumbers

Presidential Politics series. North Mankato, MN: Capstone Press, 2016. 48 p. $21.54 ea. Gr. 3-8.

Gunderson, Jessica. The Election of 1860: A Nation Divides on the Eve of War. 978-1-4914-8240-7.   

Krasner, Barbara. A Timeline of Presidential Elections. 978-1-4914-8239-1.

Scarbrough, Mary Hertz. Presidential Politics By the Numbers. 978-1-4914-8238-4.  

Students may be caught off guard that George Washington’s second inauguration speech was 135 words long and by other statistics detailed in Presidential Politics by the Numbers. Faster than it seems, another election is just around the corner. While Lincoln is regarded by many students and historians as a standout president, the book The Election of 1860: A Nation Divided on the Eve of War details the struggles Lincoln faced and the turmoil of the nation during that time period. A Timeline of Presidential Elections divides the history into ten chapters with clear date boxes. The series is ideal to display around elections and also to supplement topics related to presidents in the classrooms. The books contain chapters with elements that draw in readers including infographics, primary images, maps, critical thinking questions and sidebars. A detailed glossary, further reading suggestions and an index are also included. THOUGHTS: There is also a fiction book to tie into presidential elections called Tommy McKnight and the Great Election (Capstone, 2016). The fiction book is inspiring. The main character, Tommy, struggles with the effects of Polio. When he sees that the presidential candidate Franklin Delano Roosevelt does not let the disease stop him from political goals, Tommy is empowered to reach his goals. There is a great importance is having fiction and nonfiction pairings for students and this series provides this option. Presidential Politics is set highly recommended for upper elementary and middle school library collections.

900s; American History; Presidential Elections   Beth McGuire, Wendover Middle School

 

specialops

Simons, Lisa M. Bolt. Special OPS Mission Timelines series. North Mankato, MN: Capstone Press, 2016.  32 p. $19.54 ea. Gr. 3-9.

U.S. Navy Seal Missions: A Timeline. 978-1-4914-8703-7.   

U.S. Marine Raider Missions: A Timeline. 978-1-4914-8704-4.

U.S. Army Green Beret Missions. 978-1-4914-8702-0.  

U.S. Army Ranger Missions. 978-1-4914-8701-3.  

U.S. Navy Seal Missions and U.S. Marine Raider Missions, along with the other books in this series, are picture rich in their overview of elite military groups and their history. Terms are in bold with the definition on the same page in a caption box.  Events such as the Battle of Baltimore, Operation Detachment, Afghanistan Ambush, Operation Just Cause, and Operation Neptune Spear are presented. The time frame includes an overview of the event and a full page image. The ending material of the book includes a glossary, additional books to read, and information to access at Fact Hound for reviewed websites. The last page has ideas to incorporate Common Core with critical thinking and concludes with an index. THOUGHTS: The books have a balanced blend of images, history, and organized presentation of content. These books will help to provide students with current information along with the history. The books present subjects that matter to students in an engaging fashion.

359.9; Military History   Beth McGuire, Wendover Middle School

 

sportsstats

Sport Stats and Stories series. North Mankato, MN: Capstone Press, 2016.  48 p. $23.54 ea. Gr. 4-6.

Braun, Eric. Baseball Stats and the Stories Behind Them: What Every Fan Needs to Know. 978-1-4914-8215-5.   

Braun, Eric. Basketball Stats and the Stories Behind Them: What Every Fan Needs to Know. 978-1-4914-8216-2.

Frederick, Shane. Football Stats and the Stories Behind Them: What Every Fan Needs to Know.  978-1-4914-8214-8.  

Frederick, Shane.  Hockey Stats and the Stories Behind Them: What Every Fan Needs to Know. 978-1-4914-8701-3.  

Dramatic images from Sports Illustrated capture the excitement found in the respective sports from the past and current times. Numerous examples of mathematical breakdown of facts are detailed. One example is the 15 steps to determine the quarterback passing rating. The basketball stats includes mathematical directions for records including points per game and field goal attempts. Learn more of the phrases of sports like “Hack-a -Shaq.”  The content is presented in chapter format. Rankings of the top 5 athletes are devised for specific categories or positions. Terms are defined in a stat glossary. The books suggest additional books to read and directions to access Fact Hound for reviewed websites. THOUGHTS: The books provide an engaging read with facts extending the knowledge of history and breakthrough athletes. Also share these books with your physical education and math teachers for all of the cross-curricular topics.

796; Sports   Beth McGuire, Wendover Middle School