YA – Kent State: Four Dead in Ohio

Backderf, Derf. Kent State: Four Dead in Ohio. Abrams ComicArts. 2020. 978-1-4197-3484-7. 288 pp. $24.99. Gr. 10+.

For many of us, “Kent State” is synonymous with one of the most indelible images of the Vietnam War era. John Paul Filo’s influential, award-winning photograph captured the aftermath of four days of antiwar protests and National Guard presence, and more specifically thirteen seconds of gunfire. Tragically, four students were shot and killed, and nine more were wounded. In this gripping and painstakingly sourced graphic narrative, comics artist Derf Backderf turns his inimitable skill to chronicling May 1-4, 1970, from the perspectives of the four students whose lives were lost. They played music, went on dates, studied, called their parents, protested President Nixon’s escalation of the war, and uneasily observed the presence of the Ohio National Guard on campus (called in to suppress the “radicals” and agitators, who were generally not part of the student body). Backderf portrays the exhaustion, confusion, unpreparedness, muddled leadership, and dishonesty of the Guard throughout the catastrophic operation, as well as the political pressures impacting their actions.

THOUGHTS: Backderf recreates these four days with such intimate immediacy that the panels depicting the deaths of Jeff, Allison, Sandy, and Bill are gut-wrenching, even 50 years later. Distinctive artwork, ample period details, and integrated exposition set the narrative firmly within the era and provide helpful context. Simply outstanding on every level!

Michael Burgan’s 2017 juvenile nonfiction title, Death at Kent State, and Deborah Wiles’ recent novel-in-verse, Kent State, would round out a text set on this topic for a range of readers.

Graphic Novel          Amy V. Pickett, Ridley SD

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