MG – Fighting Forces of World War II (Series NF)

Miles, John C. Fighting Forces of World War II. Capstone Press, 2020. $21.54 ea. $85.16 set of 4. 32p. Grades 5-8.

Fighting Torces of World War II at Sea. 978-1-543-57481-4.
Fighting Forces of World War II in the Air. 978-1-543-57482-1.
Fighting Forces of World War II on Land. 978-1-543-57483-8.
Fighting Forces of World War II on the Home Front. 978-1-543-57484-5.

 

Fighting Forces explores the military forces of both allied and axis powers. With several primary sources and informative captions, history lovers will enjoy learning about specific units that fought during World War II. In every book, each unit is featured in chronological order with specific dates the units were formed, the strength, and the areas the units were active including Europe, the Pacific, Mediterranean, and the Eastern Front. Included is a Timeline and “Read More” section with credible books and websites.

THOUGHTS: Perfect for students who already have knowledge about World War II and for those wanting to learn about how both sides of the war contributed at sea, in the air, on land, and on the home front. Well organized and full of in-depth information, this is an excellent addition to a library that already has a full World War II collection and history buffs are begging for more.

940.54 World War II     Jaynie Korzi, South Middleton SD

YA – We Are Not Free

Chee, Traci. We Are Not Free. Houghton, Mifflin, Harcourt, 2020. 978-0-358-13143-4. $17.99. 384 p. Grades 9 and up.

Traci Chee’s National Book Award Finalist, We Are Not Free, takes the reader from the close-knit community of Japantown in San Francisco at the start of World War II to the gradual closing of the Japanese imprisonment camps at the end of the war. Told in first-person narrative, each teen—ranging from ages 14 to 19–brings a perspective of life as an American of Japanese descent, from the growing discrimination toward the Japanese after the bombing of Pearl Harbor to the injustices of the camps to the explicit racism displayed when their families return to their former neighborhood. In a novel where credible character development is critical, author Chee shows a wide range of astute writing ability inhabiting the minds of the varied group of young people inhabiting two camps, Topaz and Tule Lake. Sensitive Aiko Harano who at only 13 realizes not only the unfairness of the American government’s oppression of her family and friends, but also the repugnancy of her own parents’ abusive treatment of her older brother, Tommy. Intellectual Stan Katsumoto surrenders his hard-earned dream of continuing his college education when he sides with his parents in being a “No No” person: refusing to relinquish allegiance to the Japanese emperor when no allegiance had ever been formed. Perhaps the most impressive chapter is David “Twitchy” Hashimoto’s, the happy-go-lucky, ever-moving nineteen-year-old who, like several of his friends, volunteered to serve in the military, to go to war. The battle description Chee develops with Twitchy’s commentary is both action-packed and gut-wrenching. Though there are other selections telling of the imprisonment of the Japanese-Americans (in an afterword, Chee advises to delete the term, Japanese internment, in favor of more accurate terms like incarceration, imprisonment, forced removal), We Are Not Free dives deep into what it was like in the camps and how it affected a non-combative community. Works like Journey to Topaz  by Yoshiko Uchida, Weedflower by Cynthia Kadohata, or Paper Wishes by Lois Sepahban—to name just a few–give readers a glimpse into this ignominious period of American history, but We Are Not Free covers the full scope and does so through the voices of teens with whom young readers can relate. This book tells a powerful story, one that has not always been fully explored, but has a new resonance in today’s society. Contains further readings, some historical images.

Historical Fiction          Bernadette Cooke, School District of Philadelphia

THOUGHTS: After reading this book, I feel that all the other historical fiction books on this topic are just a prelude. If I had to choose one book to recommend on the experience in Japanese prison camps to a high school student, We Are Free would be the one. Chee is able to reveal the complications of feeling American and patriotic while also feeling unaccepted by and disheartened by one’s government. In literature lessons, students can examine the character development in a short chapter. In history class, the revelations of injustices and wrongs can be debated and discussed.

MG – War Stories

Korman, Gordon.  War Stories.  Scholastic Press, 2020.  978-1-338-29020-2.  231 p. $15.67. Grades 3-6.

No matter how many times his father tells him that war is not a video game, 12-year old Trevor Firestone refuses to believe it. Not when his video game seems to line up with what his great grandfather has told him about his experiences in World War II. So when his G.G. has an opportunity to return to France as the guest of honor at a celebration commemorating the seventy-fifth anniversary of the victory in Europe, Trevor can’t wait to tag along. But even before they leave the United States, there are hints that G.G.’s time in France was not as described.  It seems some people remember him differently and would rather he did not return for his hero’s welcome because they see him as anything but a hero. With chapters alternating between present day and 1944, Korman increases the tension the closer Trevor and his family get to Sainte-Régine. G.G.’s stories of war, which had always seemed so exciting to Trevor, start to turn somber, and when the truth is revealed, Trevor will have a better understanding of the price of war.

THOUGHTS: Korman does an excellent job of taking the glamour out of war for students who may experience it only through video games. Ultimately, this is a well-told story about the importance of family.

Realistic Fiction          Melissa Johnston, North Allegheny SD

MG – Real Revolutionaries (Series NF)

Real Revolutionaries. Compass Point Books, 2020. $25.99 ea. $207.92 set of 8. 64 p. Grades 6-8.

Braun, Eric. The Real Aaron Burr: The Truth Behind the Legend. 978-0-756-56250-2.
—. The Real George Washington: The Truth Behind the Legend.   978-0-756-55890-1.
—. The Real Thomas Jefferson: The Truth Behind the Legend. 978-0-756-55891-8.
Gunderson, Jessica. The Real Benedict Arnold: The Truth Behind the Legend. 978-0-756-55897-0.
—. The Real Alexander Hamilton: The Truth Behind the Legend. 978-0-756-55892-5.
—. The Real Benjamin Franklin:The Truth Behind the Legend. 978-0-756-55893-2.
Lassieur, Allison. The Real John Adams: The Truth Behind the Legend. 978-0-756-56251-9
Smith-Llera, Danielle.  The Real James Madison: The Truth Behind the Legend. 978-0-756-56252-6.

This series of brief biographies of famous American founding fathers focuses on presenting facts and dispelling myths surrounding their careers. Infamous for being a “traitor, turncoat, and spy,” Benedict Arnold becomes a more fleshed-out person in the well-researched, scaffolded explanations of author Jessica Gunderson. She succinctly tells of Arnold’s descent from riches to poverty as well as the resilience, skill, and ambition that enabled him to become an accomplished businessman, a shrewd businessman, and a cunning military strategist. Gunderson then sets forth valid arguments to support the claim, “His reasons for his treachery stemmed from personal frustration with the Continental Congress and the lack of recognition for is sacrifice” (26). Arnold’s absolute fall from grace is matched only by his initial desire to uphold the patriots’ cause. The book examines the slights Arnold felt from military leaders and the brilliance and fervor of his soldiering. It lays out the treasonous plot and describes Arnold’s ignominious life afterward. Each slim chapter layers the information nicely and builds on facts mentioned in the previous chapter, making it a simple but thorough resource for young researchers. Colored illustrations enhance the text. Includes timeline, glossary, source notes, bibliography, further reading, and an index.

THOUGHTS: At first read, The Real Benedict Arnold: The Truth Behind the Legend may seem repetitious. For example, the author relates a fact about Arnold’s battle injury in one chapter, then revisits it with a longer explanation or in connection to another point in a later chapter. However, for students first approaching serious research, this technique proves beneficial. The decision to layer in the information makes it easier to digest and understand while not distilling the truth. This slim volume can be used to demonstrate how to create and support a thesis for beginning researchers.

973.3 American Revolution            Bernadette Cooke, School District of Philadelphia

MG – War Machines Series NF

West, David. War Machines. Crabtree Publishing, 2020. $20.70 ea. $124.50 set of 6. Grades 5-9.

Combat Planes. 978-0-778-76666-7.
Combat Helicopters. 978-0-778-76679-7.
Rockets and Missiles. 978-0-778-76667-4.
Submarines. 978-0-778-76668-1.
Tanks. 978-0-778-76684-1.
Warships. 978-1-427-12412-8.

Combat Helicopters and Tanks is a comprehensive resource filled with information on combat helicopters and tanks. Using a historical timeline approach, this book informs readers of the development of the combat helicopter or tanks through various stages of its development and updates through several wars and battles that have occurred in history. Realistic photographs show the different types of helicopters and tanks, as well as the situations in which they were used. The back of the book contains a glossary and a page listing with the helicopters or tanks mentioned in this book. This book allows readers to see the way that combat helicopters and tanks have changed the way war is strategically planned throughout history.

THOUGHTS: Readers interested in the military will love this comprehensive guide to the specific machinery listed in this book. Readers will be able to receive a snapshot of history, while learning about specific war machines.

358.4 WES          Rachel Burkhouse, Otto-Eldred SD

Upper Elem. & MS Series NF – Recycled Science; History Hunters; Warrior Science

recycledscience

Recycled Science (series). North Mankato, MN: Capstone Press, 2017. 32 p. $84. Gr. 3-8.

Enz, Tammy. Awesome Craft Stick Science. 978-1-5157-0861-2.

Enz, Tammy. Cool Plastic Bottle and Milk Jug Science. 978-1-5157-0862-9.

Enz, Tammy. Incredible Snack Package Science. 978-1-5157-0863-6.

Wheeler-Toppen, Jodi. Amazing Cardboard Tube Science. 978-1-5157-0860-5.

Each book in this series focuses on an everyday object like a cardboard tube or a popsicle stick.  There are several step-by-step experiments and projects that can be completed using the objects.  Not only do these projects serve to recycle the materials, but they also teach scientific principles that will stick with the reader after the project is finished.  For example, readers will turn cardboard tubes into marshmallow shooters and learn about potential energy and kinetic energy in the process.  They will create harmonicas out of popsicle sticks in order to understand the concepts of sound waves, frequency, and pitch.  Complete with a glossary, index, color photographs, additional print and web resources, and critical thinking questions using the Common Core, this hands-on series is sure to entertain students as they learn about scientific principles.  THOUGHTS:  This is an excellent resource for elementary and middle school science teachers to incorporate into the classroom or Earth Day.  Full of great ideas for recycling everyday objects and hands-on projects designed to make learning fun, these books are a wonderful addition to any elementary or middle school library.

745.5; Crafts & Hobbies; Recycling              Julie Ritter, Montoursville Area High School

 

historyhunters

History Hunters. North Mankato: Capstone, 2017. $20.99 ea. $125.94 set of 6. 32p. Gr. 3-8.

Dickmann, Nancy. Ancient Egypt. 978-1-5157-2531-2.

Dickmann, Nancy. Ancient Greece. 978-1-5157-2535-0.

Dickmann, Nancy. Ancient Rome. 978-1-5157-2550-3.
Spilsbury, Louise. Ancient China. 978-1-5157-2525-1.

Spilsbury, Louise. The Mayans. 978-1-5157-2551-0.

Spilsbury, Louise. The Vikings. 978-1-5157-2552-7.

The History Hunters series uses archaeological discoveries to help illuminate and explain the history of several well known ancient civilizations. Numerous photos of archeological finds are used to supplement the text. Each volume covers topics such as religion, family life, work, housing, food, wars/conflict, and other basic information about the culture being presented. Sidebars entitled “Deadly Secrets” offer a photos, descriptions, and clues about specific finds in order to get the reader to correctly guess their purpose. A glossary is included in each volume.  THOUGHTS: Though each book in this set is a slim 32 pages, a great deal of knowledge is incorporated into the text. Readers will walk away with a basic understanding of the each civilization. Numerous photos of archaeological discoveries as well as historical images will add to the reader’s overall understanding. A great choice for history fans.

900s; Ancient Civilizations     Elizabeth Henry, Lampeter-Strasburg HS/MS

 

warriorscience

Warrior Science. North Mankato: Capstone, 2017. $20.99 ea. $83.96 set of 4. 32p. Gr. 3-8.

Lassieur, Allison. Gladiator Science: Armor, Weapons, and Arena Combat. 978-1-4914-8129-5.

Lassieur, Allison. Medieval Knight Science: Armor, Weapons, and Siege Warfare. 978-1-4914-8130-1.

Lusted, Marcia Amidon. Ninja Science: Camouflage, Weapons, and Stealthy Attacks. 978-1-4914-8115-8.

Lusted, Marcia Amidon. Samurai Science: Armor, Weapons, and Battlefield Strategy. 978-1-4914-8124-0.

Each volume of the Warriors Science series examines one of the most prominent and popular groups of fighters from world history. Types of weapons, protective gear and tactical strategies are discussed within the context of science. In order to emerge victorious, these historic warriors had to rely on scientific principles and knowledge to maximize the effectiveness of their weaponry and strategy. For example, medieval knights protected themselves with armor designed to disperse and absorb energy from the blows of enemy weapons. Knights also built weapons such as trebuchets, which relied on counterweights and the science of gravity. Each volume features numerous diagrams, photos and historical images designed to illustrate the science behind the history. In addition, phrases/words are defined throughout the text in order to increase clarity for the reader. THOUGHTS: These engaging reads are sure to be popular with upper elementary and middle school fans of military/weapons books. The science content is seamlessly and logically woven into the presentation of historical events and the soldiers/fighters under discussion.

Military Science, History    Elizabeth Henry, Lampeter-Strasburg HS/MS

Middle Grades Fiction – Beetle Boy; Winter’s Bullet; Goldi & the Three Vamps; US Spec. Forces

beetleboy

Leonard, M.G. Beetle Boy. New York: Scholastic, 2016. 978-0-545-85346-0. 270 p. $16.99. Gr. 5-8.

Darkus is sure that his father would not abandon him, but his father is missing nonetheless. As he lives with his uncle and navigates bullies at school, Darkus makes two good friends in Virginia and Bertolt. With his friends, Darkus sets off on a dangerous mission to protect special beetles and find his father. The villain, Lucretia Cutter, an avant garde designer and scientist studying beetles, could be a fiction best friend of Dodie Smith’s Cruella de Vil from The Hundred and One Dalmatians. At the end of the novel suspense is high as the villain escapes leaving an opening for the next book in the series. Included for readers, following the story, is an insect related dictionary.  THOUGHTS: It might be a good idea to ask students who have ever had a pet beetle to get their attention and then promote this novel. An ideal read-a-like is the book In Search of Goliathus Hercules, a book that I reviewed for PSLA in March 2014 – http://pslamediaselectionreview.edublogs.org/2014/03/01/march-2014-bob-fiction-reviews/.

Adventure; Mystery       Beth McGuire, Wendover Middle School

 

wintersbullet

Osborne, William. Winter’s Bullet. New York: Chicken House, 2016. 978-0545- 853446. $18.99. 221 pp. Gr. 5-8.

Fifteen-year old Tygo Winter is brave but alone since his Dutch parents were killed and his older sister was taken away (and likely dead). He is hated and hunted by the Resistance for his work for Oberst Kruger, chief of the Gestapo’s “Plunder Squad” of Amsterdam. The Nazis use the ruse of “safekeeping” to loot valuables from Dutch homes, but Tygo has no choice in the matter. His expert locksmith father had worked for Kruger rather than watch his family be killed. Now it’s Tygo’s turn, and the Resistance may kill him as they did his father. Kruger has fittingly named him “Frettchen” (ferret) and keeps careful tabs on everything Tygo does, says, or thinks. While searching yet another Dutch home, Tygo finds a girl hiding in the chimney. He keeps the knowledge to himself (or so he thinks) but returns when he realizes who she is and what she may have: the “Red Queen” diamond that Kruger wants for Hitler himself. Meanwhile, Tygo learns of a secret weapon Hitler has commissioned, a weapon that can destroy New York City. All of this comes together in the last days of the war, and Tygo is an important part of it all. THOUGHTS: This offers a look at an important time in World War II history, the gains and losses of the final days of the war. Tygo’s desperate situation sheds light on the Plunder Squad, the Resistance movement, the atomic bomb, and Argentina’s support of the Nazis. Readers get to know Tygo, but only scratch the surface with other characters, despite Osborne’s occasional narrative switch from Tygo to Kruger or Heinrich Muller. The fact that Osborne has long been a screenwriter explains the fact that this novel reads like a movie. Despite this, middle school readers will be drawn to the topic and enjoy the action.

Historical Fiction      Melissa Scott, Shenango High School

 

goldilocks

Sutton, Laurie, and C. S. Jennings. Goldilocks and the Three Vampires: A Graphic Novel. North Mankato, MN: Stone Arch , 2017. 978-1-4965-3783-6.  33 pp. $17.99. Gr 3-6.

This isn’t your grandparents version of Goldilocks, but it sure makes for an interesting adventure! In the Far Out Fairy tale, we find the spunky, dark skinned Goldi acting more like a tomb raider than a nosy porridge eater. She is searching for King Arthur’s treasure and cherishes the traps and tricks that await her. Finding three treasure rooms, Goldi begins to borrow some items when she hears some surprising voices just waking up from the dead. The vampires are historical, somewhat hysterical, and only slightly evil as they chase Goldilocks away. Though she certainly hasn’t learned her lesson, with more adventures likely ahead.  THOUGHTS: I think it’s worth getting the whole Far Out Fairy tale series for the crazy hybrid comparisons to the originals. The end pages after the story are also valuable, as they include the original tale and comparison to the new twist, plus some great visual questions and a glossary.

Graphic Novel; Fairytale       Dustin Brackbill, State College Area

 

ghostsofnight

Manning, Matthew K., and Jeremy Enecio. U.S. Special Forces: Ghosts of the Night. North Mankato, MN: Stone Arch,  2017. 978-1-4965-3475-0.  90 pp. $17.99. Gr 4-7.

Go behind a special ops mission in Afghanistan with this realistic military adventure. The story starts out of sequence, with the special forces team and its rescued reporters trapped in a possibly haunted house. Then, through various viewpoints, readers learn brief backstories and see the action unravel. There are several moments to consider military decisions and realize the danger and threats which affect soldiers and civilians every day in war zones. This eye opening narrative will end too quickly, with many unanswered questions for readers to ponder and discuss. THOUGHTS: There are nonfiction texts from Capstone to connect those who want more information. Also, readers and librarians should realize that there are casualties in this book. While not graphic, and fortunately glossed over, a pilot, a soldier, and several combatants are killed in action. Still, this story is a fair way to bring those realizations to life for early chapter book readers.

Action/Adventure; Military     Dustin Brackbill, State College Area