YA – The Auschwitz Photographer: The Forgotten Story of the WWII Prisoner Who Documented Thousands of Lost Souls

Crippa, Luca, & Maurizio Onnis. The Auschwitz Photographer: The Forgotten Story of the WWII Prisoner Who Documented Thousands of Lost Souls. Penguin Random House, 2021. $16.99. 978-1-728-24220-0. Grades 7-12.

Based on an obscure obituary and an interview in a BBC documentary filmed in 2009, the authors of  The Auschwitz Photographer: The Forgotten Story of the WWII Prisoner Who Documented Thousands of Lost Souls develop a story of life in Auschwitz Concentration Camp focusing on the young, talented photographer, Wilhelm Brasse. A political prisoner for five years in Auschwitz, Brasse clings to his mother’s Polish heritage rather than his father’s Austrian one and refuses to join the Wehrmacht. After a year or so of crematorium duty, Brasse and several other political prisoners are selected to man the Identification Services. Twenty-three year old Brasse stands out as a leader and the tactful liaison between the photography studio and the Nazi commandants. Slowly and meticulously, the book chronicles his photography sessions starting with the incoming Jewish prisoners, political prisoners, and those marked “A” for anti-social behavior. He treats his subjects humanely, knowing he can do nothing to deter their inevitable deaths. Eventually, the SS enlist Basse in particular to photograph the unethical medical practices of Mengele, Clauberg,and Wirths, whose experiments on twins, tattoos, reproductive organs, eyes epitomized man’s humanity to man. Through the dense narrative, the reader learns of the fear, deprivation, and shame prisoners felt, but also their courage and sacrifice (Brasse recounts viewing the now Saint Maximillan Kolbe, a Fransciscan friar offering his life in place of a distraught prisoner). The Identification Service also becomes an agency for officers to have their portraits preserved for loved ones. Brasse coaxes his subjects to show a softer, other side by recalling childhoods in pastoral settings and dignifies the request of a beautiful female SS auxiliary officer to be photographed partially nude. In the latter years of his imprisonment, Brasse smuggled some photographs to the Resistance. When the coming of the Russians marks the impending doom of Auschwitz, Brasse defies the commandant’s orders to burn the photos in favor of a younger assistant’s suggestion to scatter thousands of photos and negatives around the office before jamming shut the building’s doors. His hope was to preserve them for whomever may find them when the war ended. Brasse survives the war, but the memories of the horror he documented are burned indelibly in his soul. Endnotes contain epilogue of major players in the narration, Readers’ Guide, and some photos of prisoners and the camp. All persons in the book are Caucasian.

THOUGHTS: Categorize this book with World War II, Holocaust materials because the reader learns little of Brasse’s past or future to classify it as a biography. The authors focus on Wilhelm Brasse’s activities as a political prisoner at Auschwitz, but in doing so, reveal a different view of camp life, the treatment of the SS and kapos toward Jewish prisoners, and a glimpse into the personalities of Nazi officers. The descriptions of the brutal medical experiments are graphic though not prolonged, but may be too much for sensitive middle school students. The text is very detailed and may find optimum use as a resource for research of that time period.

940.531 Holocaust           Bernadette Cooke, School District of Philadelphia
920 Biographical

Elem. – Let’s Play Outside

Rumbaugh, Pat. Let’s Play Outside. Star Bright Books, 2021. Unpaged. 978-1-59572-919-4. $6.99. Grades K-2.

Let’s Play Outside is a fun fiction book that focuses on all the fun things that children can do when they are outside. The descriptions are paired with action photographs that show what is being described. The end of the book has information for caregivers and parents on different things they can do with their children outside. There are also tips for fitting in time to play as well as suggestions on where children can play.

THOUGHTS: This is an adorable fiction book about playing outside that students will enjoy looking through, and parents/caregivers can appreciate giving them ideas of new things to do outside. There is also a mention of the website Let’s Play America at the end, which is a great resource for information outside this book.

Picture Book          Mary Hyson, Lehigh Valley Regional Charter Academy

Elem. – Feel the Fog

Sayre, April Pulley.  Feel the Fog.  Beach Lane Books, 2020. 978-1-534-43760-9. Unpaged.  $17.99. Grades K-3.

Similar to her other works Best in Snow and Raindrops Roll, Sayre has created a beautiful photographic nonfiction book on the topic of fog. The images depict this “cloud, ground level” in a variety of settings, like the mountains, forests, valleys, and iceberg laden seas. Using spare rhyming text and personification, the author explains how fog develops, how it affects visibility and sound, as well as its appearance in different seasons. The reader also learns how animals like birds and deer adapt to their habitats when this phenomenon occurs. The words and images work together to provide a treat for the senses like this phrase, “Silhouettes sing from wires and fences,” which appears on a page with images of resting birds. The back matter contains additional information.

THOUGHTS: This lyrical and sensory depiction of this weather marvel is a first purchase. It works well as an introduction to weather units and also serves as a mentor text for the use of personification. Children will be fascinated by the images. After reading this book, they will experience fog in a different way the next time it rolls in.

551.575 Rainfall          Denise Medwick, Retired, PSLA Member
Moisture

MG – Lux: The New Girl

Woodfolk, Ashley. Lux: The New Girl. Penguin Workshop. 2020. 978-0-593-09602-4. 139 pp. $15.99. Grades 6-9.

Lux Ruby Lawson has had a default setting – pissed – ever since her dad left. She was kicked out of her old school for fighting, and her mom has put her on notice: if she messes up again, she’ll have to go live with the father who walked out on her, the same father who just welcomed a new baby girl. Lux wants to stay out of trouble, but when a classmate pushes her too far the ensuing scuffle is captured on multiple cell phone cameras. Lux is expelled and relocated to her dad’s apartment. Through a connection and a strong interview, she’s accepted at Augusta Savage School of the Arts in Harlem, to pursue her interest in photography. She makes friends with the “Flyy Girls,” Noelle, Tobyn, and Micah (each of whom takes center stage in subsequent installments of the Flyy Girls series). But Lux worries about what will happen if the videos of the fight resurface and her new friends discover the past she’s kept hidden. Ashley Woodfolk packs a lot into just 141 pages: family dynamics, friend drama, mild romance, school pranks, and even a photography assignment for the school paper. Each character’s personality is vibrant and distinct, and Lux is believably flawed. Her evolution, from a girl who settles scores with a punch to a more mature friend and daughter, is the endearing core of the novel.

THOUGHTS: Lux: The New Girl is an excellent hi-lo series starter to add to school library collections, and more importantly to read and discuss with students. It would pair well with Fights: One Boy’s Triumph Over Violence by Joel Christian Gill for a professional book study.

Realistic Fiction          Amy V. Pickett, Ridley SD

Elem. – Class Picture

Carlain, Noe, and Herve Le Goff. Class Picture. Kane Miller EDC Publishing, 2020. 978-1-684-64112-3. Unpaged. $12.99. Grades K-2.

The full classroom photo may be a thing of the past, especially in this day and age, but the concept of gathering students to try and pose for a picture will always be a memorable moment. So, replace squirmy Kindergarten kids with beavers, bears, monkeys, snakes, elephants, and more for a real laugh of a book! With some repetitive wording and hilarious visual gags, each class of animals arrives for their moment with the brave and mostly patient photographer. Whether the hippos are bending the bench or the beavers are eating it, there are group and individual personalities that shine, along with some cameos from other animals to keep things interesting. Young readers will enjoy saying cheese to this colorful fun read along!

THOUGHTS: With a dozen animal sets captured in this book, several research or creative writing extensions are naturally available. From adding captions or speech bubbles to the class characters to looking up habitats and group names for each page, learners will find fun ways to keep coming back to this book. Recommended.

Picture Book          Dustin Brackbill, State College Area SD

YA – Just Our Luck

Walton, Julia. Just Our Luck. Random House. 2020,  978-0-399-55092-8. $17.99. 272 p. Grades 9-12.

Leonidas –Leo- quirky knitter and sensitive photographer, has been successful staying under the radar for most of his high school years. Then Drake Gibbons a wise-cracking, hyperactive jock punches him, and their consequences are enduring each others’ company in the counselor’s office until they become amicable. Leo’s mother died years ago and now with his Greek grandmother Yia Yia’s death, the silence in their Greek household is deafening and the relationship between him and his father even more distant. When his father insists his gentle son take a martial arts course to improve his pugilistic skills, Leo gets scared off and signs up for a yoga master certification course. Turns out, the person taking his registration is Evey Paros, from another Greek family who just happened to have cursed Leo’s many generations ago. Though she seems aloof, Evey has her own agenda. She’s been wronged by the biggest, richest, most popular dude at school, Jordan Swansea. After their breakup, Jordan sent out nude pictures of Evey over social media. She enlists Leo as her assistant in wreaking revenge. What ensues is a light romance with a touch of humor. Leo unexpectedly finds love, friends, and self confidence. A bonus is that Evey, too, finds a powerful alternative to thwarting Jordan besides sophomoric pranks.

Realistic Fiction          Bernadette Cooke, SD Philadelphia

THOUGHTS: Librarians should be aware this quick read has a lot of curses and little diversity (Drake’s girlfriend Jenn seems to be Latinx). However, the characters are humorous, and the plot discusses generalized anxiety, a condition today’s teens may recognize. Both Leo and Evey also have an interest in writing, and Leo delivers his first-person narrative in journal format. Pull for reluctant readers.

MG – Saving Savannah

Bolden, Tonya. Saving Savannah. Bloomsbury, 2020. 978-1-681-19804-0. $17.99. Grades 6-8.

A prolific writer of nonfiction, Tonya Bolden (Maritcha, Cause: Reconstruction America 1863-1877, Take-Off: American All-Girl Bands During World War II to name a few) integrates her skill for facts into an interesting, less explored, narrative in Saving Savannah. Set in post-World War I Washington, D.C., the book focuses on Savannah Riddle, a fourteen-year-old Black girl whose family is part of the elite Black society. The story opens frivolously at a gala opulent with fashion and food and gradually builds to important period events and issues. This eye-opening ascent mirrors Savannah’s maturation from a popular, pampered schoolgirl to a woke young woman of substance. At a pivotal time, Savannah is searching for a more meaningful life connected to the world outside her social strata. She learns about Nannie Helen Burroughs’s School for Girls, a training school; and while volunteering there meets Lloyd, a young Black immigrant with socialist leanings. Lloyd introduces Savannah to the poverty and inequality suffered by some in her own city. She eventually gains the support and respect of her parents after the revelation of a family secret. Throughout Bolden’s book, her intense research is evident. Many of the locales and persons Savannah encounters are real or have a counterpart in reality. Saving Savannah shows the Black perspective during a tumultuous time that underscores discrimination in politics and society and culminates in the brutal riots of the Red Summer of 1919. Besides being a valuable history lesson about a period that resonates with the present, the main character’s transformation from a position of comfort to one of an invested citizen of the world and member of her race is a desire many of us hold today.

THOUGHTS: Like Harlem, Walter Dean Myers’s period piece, Saving Savannah allows students to experience the sights and people of a different time through the eyes of a likeable character. In a sizable appendix, the author supplies background with some photos on the significant movements and personages of the early 20th century Washington, D. C. Bolden touches on multiple issues: Woodrow Wilson’s color lines; the returning Black World War I veterans; the New Negro Movement spearheaded by Dr. Carter Woodson, Hubert Henry Harrison, and Marcus Garvey; the controversy around the Anthony Bill and women’s suffrage; colorism; and even cosmetics. Ideal companion piece for grade 8 American History classes. Teachers may want to use this book to approach discussions on racism and compare the historical perspective with current incidents.

Historical Fiction          Bernadette Cooke, SD of Philadelphia

Elem – My Wild Life: Adventures of a Wildlife Photographer

Eszterhas, Suzi. My Wild Life: Adventures of a Wildlife Photographer. Owlkids Books, 2020. 978-1-771-47407-8. 31 p. $17.95. Grades 2-5.

Suzi Eszterhas always knew that she wanted to be a wildlife photographer. All of the hours she spent taking pictures of her cats in the backyard, observing squirrels and birds, and taking notes in her field book were great preparation for fulfilling that dream. Now, in a follow-up to her acclaimed 2017 release Moto and Me: My Year as a Wildcat’s Foster Mom, Eszterhas shares stories from over twenty years as a professional wildlife photographer. Two-page chapters on topics including “Prepping for Shoots,” “Living in the Field,” “Mothers and Babies,” and “Giving Back to Animals” feature plentiful full-color photographs. Meaningful captions add context and special behind-the-scenes information. In the final chapter, “Ask Suzi,” the author answers questions about the best part of her job, how to become a wildlife photographer, and her most memorable wildlife experiences. She also shouts out her organization, Girls Who Click, which helps girls fulfill their dreams of becoming wildlife photographers themselves. Moto and Me chronicled the year that Eszterhas spent fostering an orphaned serval and his growth from helpless kitten to independent cat. My Wild Life casts a wider net, featuring images of many different species and parts of the world.

THOUGHTS: With an eye toward conservation, Eszterhas presents a candid memoir of her wild life and career, acknowledging the challenges as well as the rewards. Young readers will love her story, and they will love her photographs even more!

770, Wildlife Photography          Amy V. Pickett, Ridley SD

Elem. – Leyla; Mr. Lemoncello’s All-Star Breakout Game; Why; Ginny Goblin Cannot Have a Monster For a Pet; Camp; Boy-Crazy Stacey; Find Momo Across Europe; A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Bernstein, Galia. Leyla. Abrams, 2019. 978-1-419-73543-1. 32 p. $16.99. Grades K-3. 

Leyla is a little baboon with a big family. Her troop includes not only her mother and father but also nine aunts and twenty-three cousins! Since she has such a large family, there is always someone around. Someone to hug her, kiss her, and groom her. And, there’s always someone talking – even when it’s her naptime. One day, Leyla can’t take it anymore, and she runs away from all the noise and all the commotion. She runs until she finds total peace and quiet. In the quiet place, she befriends a lizard who shows her how to simply “be.” The meditation does Leyla good, but it also makes her realize that she misses her boisterous family. Promising to visit the lizard again when she needs some peace and quiet, Leyla returns to her family. They welcome her with open arms and lots of kisses. When life gets noisy again, Leyla remembers her afternoon with the lizard and their strategy for finding inner peace. 

THOUGHTS: This title would be a good fit for elementary morning meetings since it focuses on what to do when one is feeling overwhelmed. It also validates the idea of taking a break from life’s chaos and doing nothing for a while. Leyla’s cool-down strategies can easily be replicated in the classroom, and her dilemma of how to deal with her feelings of life sometimes being too much will be relatable for many children. 

Picture Book          Anne Bozievich, Southern York County SD


Grabeinstein, Chris. Mr. Lemoncello’s All-Star Breakout Game. Random House: 2019. 978-0-525-64644-0. 261 p. $16.99. Grades 3-6.

Kyle and his friends at Alexandriaville Middle School are excited for the newest challenge from game mogul Luigi Lemoncello. The All-Star Breakout Game is limited to two teams from the middle school, and once again Kyle is pitted against arch-enemy Charles Chiltington, along with a team of stars from the Kidzapalooza TV network, in a contest to play their way out of Mr. Lemoncello’s fabulous library. The game features the library’s new Fictionasium, an interactive Virtual Reality world that allows the teams to create their own story as they collect clues to unlock five locks and be the first to escape the library. While much about this fourth entry in the entertaining Mr. Lemoncello’s Library series is familiar territory, Grabenstein also focuses on character development. As Kyle’s friend Sierra says, quoting Atticus Finch, “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” Kyle learns why Charles is driven to succeed at all costs, as well as gaining some insight into the lives of kid TV personalities. As always, Kyle’s loyalty to his friends and his innate fairness, contribute to the conclusion of the game. Grabenstein includes a game for readers as well: can you find the over 70 book titles mentioned throughout the novel? A complete list is at the end of the story and may lead readers to many other books.

THOUGHTS:  A high-energy ode to libraries and books. Purchase where other titles are popular. While this book works as a stand-alone, readers of the complete series will enjoy reconnecting with the characters.  

Adventure          Nancy Nadig, Penn Manor SD


Seeger, Laura Vaccaro. Why? Neal Porter Books, 2019. 978-0-823-44173-0. Unpaged. $18.00. Grades PreK-2. 

Laura Vaccaro Seeger is well known to many of us, but this book’s illustrations stray from her typical fare as she uses lovely watercolors to show a curious rabbit with a never-ending stream of “Why?” questions. Friend bear patiently provides answers to rabbit’s questions focused on growing plants, beautiful summer weather, falling leaves, migrating birds, and other signs that seasons are changing in the forest. As snow starts falling and a sleepy bear reaches the end of his answers (and perhaps his patience!), rabbit begs bear not to go. “Why?” questions the bear, and roles reverse as rabbit explains that he will miss his friend. This story will surely resonate with parents of toddlers and curious kids with their own never-ending streams of why questions.

THOUGHTS: A simple friendship story with lots of discussion/prediction possibilities in a preschool or young elementary classroom. 

Picture book          Lindsey Long, Lower Dauphin SD


Goodner, David. Ginny Goblin Cannot Have a Monster For a Pet. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2019. 978-0-544-76416-3. Unpaged. $17.99. Grades PreK-2. 

Ginny Goblin wants a pet. The problem? She loves goats. The narrator explains to readers that goats are smelly and perhaps we readers can help Ginny Goblin find a different pet. The new problem? Ginny employs her powers of cunning and creativity to take each search to the extreme, turning a beachside hunt for a hermit crab into a deep sea dive to find a giant kraken and birdwatching during a forest stroll into a haunted forest basilisk hunt. After several failed attempts to bring a monster home, Ginny Goblin suggests a smaller, cuter option. A goat, of course! Children will delight in Ginny’s silly antics during pet hunting and will certainly giggle at Ginny’s final bit of trickery.

THOUGHTS: Read this to some kindergarteners in need of a good giggle. 

Picture book          Lindsey Long, Lower Dauphin SD


Miller, Kayla. Camp. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2019. 978-1-725-42526-2. 213 p. $24.99. Grades 3-5. 

Fans of Kayla Miller’s Click and readers new to the series will love Olive’s new adventure in Camp. Olive and pal Willow head to Camp Acorn Lake for two weeks in the bunny bunk, and Olive brings her typical enthusiasm for new friends and diverse activities, from jewelry making to softball to video. Willow is more of an “indoor-kid,” camp speak for kids who aren’t so into sports and nature activities. Olive dives into camp life and makes lots of new friends while Willow is homesick and clings tighter and tighter to Olive as the days pass. Olive is torn between being a good friend to Willow and wanting to branch out and enjoy her own time and interests that might not include Willow. After an eruption at the Halfway Day dance, Olive and Willow spend a few days apart. Without Olive to cling to, Willow finds her own niche (the drums–who knew!) and actually enjoys her last few days at camp, and Olive gets to try out some new activities like skateboarding. Ultimately, however, they patch things up after an honest heart-to-heart. Miller excels at realistic friendship stories and upper elementary/early middle school students will surely find something relatable at Camp Acorn Lake. Bonus–extra pages in the back of the book show a map of Camp Acorn Lake and how-to’s for some of Olive and Willow’s favorite camp activities.

THOUGHTS: An excellent new graphic novel series, hand Camp to fans of the first book or readers who like Gale Galligan’s Baby-Sitters Club series for a surefire hit.  

Graphic Novel          Lindsey Long, Lower Dauphin SD


Galligan, Gale. Boy-Crazy Stacey (The Baby-Sitters Club). Graphix, 2019. 978-1-544-43492-6. 159 p. $25.00. Grades 3-6. 

Stacey and Mary Anne can’t wait to visit Sea City. They’re baby-sitting the Pike kids for two weeks while the family vacations in New Jersey, and that will mean fun on the beach, the boardwalk, and crazy days with lots of kids running around. It’s a baby-sitter’s dream! Unfortunately for Mary Anne, Stacey spies a cute lifeguard early in their trip and spends most of her time hanging around the stand talking to cute, older lifeguard Scott, leaving Mary Anne to do double baby-sitting duty. Two weeks fly by in a blur of Burger Garden dinners, boardwalk nights, sibling woes, and tension between the baby-sitters, but after Stacey spots Scott with another girl she snaps back to reality and realizes she’s been slacking. The baby-sitters patch things up and enjoy their last few days in Sea City with the kids and a few special new friends. Like the other books in the graphic novel series, Boy-Crazy Stacey holds true to Ann M. Martin’s original BSC book that many of us remember and love from years past, down to Stacey’s heart-topped i’s. Small updates make the book current–when Mary Anne gets terribly sunburned, the Pike kids bring items to help soothe her discomfort and Claire brings peanut butter (“It’s yummy”) rather than butter, an old-fashioned remedy for regular burns, which wouldn’t make much sense to kids in 2019. A solid addition to the series!

THOUGHTS: BSC fans will gobble up Galligan’s latest offering. 

Graphic Novel          Lindsey Long, Lower Dauphin SD


Knapp, Andrew. Find Momo Across Europe. Quirk Books, 2019. 978-1-683-69106-8. 134 p. $14.95. Grades 3+.

Andrew Knapp and his excellent-at-hiding border collie, Momo, are back! This time, their adventures take them on an extended road trip across Europe. Knapp documents their travels with hide-and-seek photographs of Momo in and amongst some of Europe’s most beautiful scenery and iconic tourist attractions. Every chapter in their “Road Map” (each featuring two or three countries) opens with some background and dog-friendly highlights from their time in that region. Their stops include Portugal, Italy, Albania, Croatia, Wales, and more. Readers will delight in spotting Momo as he peeks out from behind bushes, boulders, and bicycles!

THOUGHTS: The Find Momo books are a delight for all ages. They are a great choice for struggling readers and avid readers alike. They work especially well as a breather in between more text-heavy selections, or as a book club option for groups with varying reading levels. There are even more interactive hide-and-seek photographs at letsfindmomo.com.

793 Picture Puzzles, Dogs          Amy V. Pickett, Ridley SD


Rogers, Fred.  A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood: The Poetry of Mister Rogers. Quick Books, 2019. 141 p.  978-1-683-69113-6. $19.99.  Grades PreK-1.

This work is a collection of 75 songs that were performed on the TV show Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood as seen on PBS.  Although the title names them poems, they are actually songs written by either Fred Rogers or Josie Carey, a host of children’s shows and another Pittsburgh native. Per the index, the songs cover such topics as self-esteem, curiosity, fears and worries, feelings, making mistakes, and being special. Mister Rogers strove to reassure young children that each one of us is special in our own way. Each poem is accompanied by colorful illustrations by Luke Flowers. Sometimes the rhymes seem forced, but that is probably because they are better sung. The book itself might have been even more impressive if a CD recording of Rogers’ singing these songs himself was part of the package.  With the coming of the Mister Rogers’ movie starring Tom Hanks, this text will be of more interest.

THOUGHTS: This collections of songs/poems will be useful to preschool and kindergarten teachers who can use them in their lessons and activities.

811.6 21st Century Poetry          Denise Medwick, Retired, West Allegheny SD

MS NF – Out of Wonder; Captured History; Quilts of Gee’s Bend

Alexander, Kwame and Chris Colderley and Marjory Wentworth. Out of Wonder: Celebrating Poets. Candlewick Press, 2017. 9780763680947. 41p. $16.99. Gr. 3-6.

A collection of poems by three different poets illustrated beautifully by Ekua Holmes. This compilation is separated into three different sections and all the poems are modeled after the author’s poet heroes. “Imitation is the highest form of flattery” as the saying goes, and this book has poems styled after legends from Emily Dickinson and Robert Frost to Langston Hughes and Nikki Giovanni. THOUGHTS: This is a diverse and modern collection to add to your poetry section. It would be a wonderful starting off point for a poetry unit to study any of the poets within.

Poetry          Emily Woodward, The Baldwin School

 

Captured Science History. Compass Point, 2018. $25.99ea. $103.96 set of four. 64 p. Gr. 5-9.
Burgan, Michael. Finding the Titanic. 978-0-7565-5642-6.
Nardo, Don. Hubble Deep Field. 978-0-7565-5643-3.
Smith-Llera, Danielle. Double Helix. 978-0-7565-5642-6.
Smith-Llera, Danielle. Mars Rover. 978-0-7565-5641-9.
The goal of the Captured Science History series is to show how photography captures moments that can affect science, influence scientists and average citizens and change history. Each volume spotlights an important scientific find/event with historical significance. This reviewer had the opportunity evaluate Finding the Titanic: How Images from the Ocean Depths Fueled Interest in the Doomed Ship. This volume offers a brief history of the Titanic and examines the search for the vessel and it’s ultimate discovery in 1985. The science behind the search and the search ships and submersibles is also discussed. The book concludes with information about ongoing exploration of the Titanic and a discussion of the public’s continuing fascination with the ship. Numerous photographs accompany the text, including historic photos of the ship, photos from the 1985 search and discovery of the Titanic, as well as more recent images. THOUGHTS: These titles will appeal to readers with an interest in science or history (or both!). Each volume features attractive, high quality photos and illustrations. Recommended for secondary collections.
500s, 900s, Science, History        Elizabeth Henry, Lampeter-Strasburg SD

 

Rubin, Susan Goldman. The Quilts of Gee’s Bend. Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2017. $21.95 56 pp. 978-14197-21311  Gr. 5 and up.

For the women of Gee’s Bend, Alabama, quilting has always been a part of life.  Rubin shares the history of the Pettway family from slavery in 1845, through tenant farmers striving for just-out-of-reach land ownership, through the Civil Rights Movement, to current day descendants of those farmers.  In each generation, quilts were made and often individually designed with skill–for remembrance and for warmth.  Materials included anything at hand: denim work shirts, flour sacks, corduroy couch cushions, and scraps of anything; “when I was growing up, you threw nothing away” (6).  Some quilters followed patterns such as “Housetop,” “Log Cabin,” “Bricklayer,” or “Star.”  Others designed based on what fabrics they had: “You find the colors and the shapes and certain fabrics that work our right, kind of like working a puzzle” explains quilter Mary L. Bennett (14).  In 1998, collector Bill Arnett saw a photo of a Gee’s Bend quilt and was determined to learn more.  The artistry of the works astounded Arnett, who founded a nonprofit “to collect and preserve the quilts” and in 2002 created an exhibit to show the quilts.  Soon, sales of the book brought income and pride to the quiltmakers.  Rubin has managed to succinctly tell a fascinating history that includes quilters’ words and time period photographs.  But it is the photographs of the quilts themselves that takes your breath away.   Bold colors, intricate designs, inventive shapes and varied fabrics make for stunning visuals.  Rubin includes simple instructions for how to make a quilt square, furthering this shared artistic endeavor.  THOUGHTS: An interesting and beautifully presented book that leaves the reader wanting to see more of the quilts.  Luckily for us, Rubin closes with notes and bibliography leading to more research.  

746 Quiltmaking     Melissa Scott, Shenango Area School District