MG – Mary Seacole: Bound for the Battlefield

Rubin, Susan Goldman. Mary Seacole: Bound for the Battlefield. Candlewick, 2020. 978-0-763-67994-1. 48 p. $17.99. Grades 5-8.

The true nursing hero of the Crimean War was born in Jamaica and wanted to help others with natural remedies, kindness, and good food since she was young. Mary Seacole is an unsung hero of the nursing world, and this book tells the story of Mary’s interest in medicine from a young girl, watching her mother, the doctress, and practicing on her dolls, pets, and herself to be able to follow in her mother’s footsteps. The frequent full-page illustrations are colorful and a way for a young reader to imagine what Mary’s life was like. Although her story has a lot of focus on healthcare, this book is just as much about prejudice in various countries during the 1800s. In 48 pages, the reader can learn about the tenacity of one person and her ability to help all in any way she could. There is a brief mention of the first modern war correspondent and how Mami Seacole’s fame spread through many countries. The book includes source notes and a bibliography.

THOUGHTS: If you have any biographical books on Florence Nightingale in your library, this needs to sit right beside it on the shelf. Mary Seacole’s story of determination and perseverance is one with which all students should be familiar. This book could find a home in elementary through high school libraries.

973 Biography          Samantha Hull, Ephrata Area SD

Elem. – The Oldest Student: How Mary Walker Learned to Read

Hubbard, Rita Lorraine. The Oldest Student: How Mary Walker Learned to Read. Schwartz & Wade Books, 2020. 978-1-5247-6828-7. $17.99. 40 p. Grades K-3.

As a child born into slavery, Mary Walker admires the freedom of birds that pass over the plantation. She spends her days toiling in the fields picking cotton, which leaves no time for schooling of any kind. After the Emancipation Proclamation sets her free at the age of 15, Mary works as a nanny and a maid to keep her family afloat. One day, she meets a group of evangelists who gifts her a Bible. Mary vows that she will read it one day, but today is not that day. Work consumes the next six decades of her life until she moves to Chattanooga, Tennessee. Having outlived her entire family, her life changes when she moves to a retirement home, and, at 116 years old, takes a reading class. Caldecott Honor illustrator Oge Mora uses paper, including sheet music and pages from books, to create beautiful collages in shades of brown, green, yellow, and blue. Readers should take care to notice how Mary’s dress changes throughout the book, especially once she learns to read.

THOUGHTS: Even though The Oldest Student is geared towards K-3 students, ALL students can take away the very important message of the book: No one is ever too old to learn. This inspiring book is a gentle way to ease into difficult conversations about slavery, race, and education in our society. With the current emphasis on growth mindset in the classroom, this is the perfect book to show that learning and growing continue long after school is over.

Picture Book          Danielle Corrao, Ephrata Area SD
921 WAL Biography

Mary Walker’s inspirational story, beautifully illustrated in this picture book biography, proves you’re never too old to learn. Born a slave in 1848, Mary never gave up on her lifelong dream of learning how to read. And, at age 116, she finally accomplished it. This book follows Mary from her childhood spent picking cotton on an Alabama plantation, through her emancipation at age 15, to her life spent working low-paying jobs and raising her three children. Mary always dreamed of learning to read, but there never seemed to be enough hours in the day. Finally, at age 114, after outliving her entire family, Mary attended her first reading class. From memorizing the alphabet and each letter’s sound to copying her name over and over again, Mary spent more than a year studying and practicing. Her dedication paid off when, at age 116, she finally learned to read. Friends and neighbors gathered around to hear her read aloud from her cherished family Bible. Oge Mora’s mixed media illustrations, composed of acrylic paint, china marker, colored pencil, patterned paper, and book clippings, bring Mary’s memorable story to life. Beautiful full-page illustrations feature a palette of primarily blues and greens and yellows. Endpapers include black and white photographs of Mary Walker celebrating some of her milestones.

THOUGHTS: Teachers will want to share this inspirational story with older students during morning meetings. It will also work well with lessons or units focusing on perseverance or the importance of working towards a goal.

Picture Book          Anne Bozievich, Southern York County SD
Biography

Elem. – Izzy Gizmo and the Invention Convention

Jones, Pip, and Sara Ogilvie. Izzy Gizmo and the Invention Convention. Peachtree, 2020. 978-1-682-63164-5. Unpaged. $17.99. PreK-3.

Young inventor Izzy Gizmo returns for a second outing (Izzy Gizmo 2018), showcasing her creative mind and determined spirit. Izzy is delighted to receive an invitation to Technoff Isle’s Invention Convention. She arrives at Technoff Isle with grandpa and pet crow, Fixer, in tow, and meets her fierce, determined competition. With only one day to create an amazing invention, Izzy gets to work, but is quickly stymied at every turn by the ultra-aggressive Abi von Lavish. Left with limited supplies, Izzy’s frustration grows as each idea is quickly discarded. However, watching (obviously spoiled) Abi discard broken tools and supplies, Izzy becomes inspired to build a tool-recycling machine and gets to work. As the hours tick down, her temper flares when the invention fails to work, and Izzy snaps at those attempting to help her. Eventually she gets the message, and Fixer’s advice saves the machine and the day. The book is a credible entry in the STEM market, nicely emphasizing the need for trial and error when inventing. Ogilvie’s illustrations are charming, imbuing all the characters with delightful personalities and clearly, amusingly, displaying Izzy’s emotions. While the story is cute, the narration is hindered by unnecessary rhyming; a prose text would better suit the theme and message of the story (like Ashley Spires’ The Most Magnificent Thing).

THOUGHTS: A fun addition to a STEM collection, introducing several themes, including recycling, creating, and accepting help. This book could generate discussion prior to starting a Maker Space unit.

Picture Book          Nancy Nadig, Penn Manor SD

New Nonfiction…Stingrays!, The Red Bicycle; The Book of Jonah

Stingrays

Gerber, Carole. Stingrays! Underwater Fliers.( A Step into Reading Science Reader, Level 3). New York: Random House, 2015. 978-0-449-81308-9. 48p. $3.99. Gr. 1-2.

Stingrays have fascinated humans for many years. The stingray is not only an expert at camouflage, but a cunning and quick creature . Stingrays hide to both hunt and hide from predators such as sharks and whales. There are hundreds of types of stingrays living in oceans and rivers.

This non-fiction beginner science book has lots of action and many illustrations and photographs of stingrays. The shark attack may be intense for some sensitive readers, but illustrates how stingrays use their skills to avoid their predators. This book would be a great non-fiction selection since many children may have visited the stingray touch pools that are common in aquariums and tourist sites and could actually make text–to-world connections about these beautiful creatures.

Animals       Donna Fernandez, Calvary Christian Academy

 

 

redbicycle

Isabella, Judith. The Red Bicycle; The Extraordinary Story of One Ordinary Bicycle. Tonawanda, NY: Kids Can Press, 2015. 978-1-77138-023-2. 32p. $18.95. Gr. 3-6.

Follow the journey of one small red bicycle from the moment a young North American boy spends his hard earned mowing money to buy it, to the shores of Ghana in Africa. This wonderful journey tells how the gift of a bicycle changed a young African girl’s life in Burkina Faso. The bicycle’s journey continues to a clinic, where it is fitted with an ambulance stretcher and used to save sick and injured villagers.

This tale is a wonderful moment to teach children about giving and how their generosity can change the lives of others. The global themes in the book open children’s eyes to the needs of others and how a bicycle can be used for so much more than entertainment. This would be a thoughtful addition to a unit on global citizenship or Africa. The back of the book lists several organizations that collect used bicycles and redistribute them to needy countries.

Social Studies Picture Book          Donna Fernandez, Calvary Christian Academy

 

 

jonah

Spier, Peter. The Book of Jonah. New York: Doubleday Books for Young Readers, 2015. 978-0-385-37909-0. $17.99. Gr. K-5.

Peter Spier’s retelling of Jonah was originally published in 1985. Jonah’s story is one of the more well-known Bible stories, and Spier’s version is excellent. When God asks Jonah to go to Ninevah and spread the message that the people need to change their ways, Jonah runs from God and boards a ship. God creates a powerful storm, and Jonah realizes that he cannot run from God and goes to Ninevah to tell the important message. The people take his message to heart, and he ultimately accepts God’s word.

Spier’s classic style involves lovely watercolors, and this story is told using both text and multi-paneled illustrations. One spread shows Jonah entering Ninevah and speaking to the people through a series of six illustrations spread over two pages. This updated version contains excellent end material. There are several pages detailing the historical aspects of Jonah’s voyage through the geography of his time, including maps of the Assyrian Empire in the 8th Century BC, a map of Ninevah’s ruins, and even a cross-section of a ship like the one he travelled on when fleeing from God. The material includes current news about the story including a mention of the July 24, 2014, bombing of the Tomb of the Prophet Jonah by a terrorist group. This updated version will make an excellent addition to your 200’s shelves.

221.9 Lindsey Long, Nye & Conewago Elementary Schools