YA – Six Angry Girls

Kisner, Adrienne. Six Angry Girls. Feiwel and Friends. 2020. 978-1-250-25342-2. $17.99. 262 p. Grades 9-12.

Raina Petree got dumped by big crush boyfriend, Brandon. Emilia Goodwin got dumped by the pompous all-male Mock Trial Team. They join forces to salvage their senior year by forming an all-female Mock Trial Team in their Pittsburgh suburban high school of Steelton drawing on Raina’s drama skills and Millie’s knowledge of the law and research. Adapting the title of the 1950’s movie, Twelve Angry Men, these six angry girls (all but one Caucasian)–overcome heartbreak and self-esteem issues to create a strong challenge to their male counterparts and a serious threat to other Mock Trial Teams as they compete for Nationals. Told in alternating chapters narrated by either Raina or Millie, the book develops a girl power story with the message that people need to stand up for what is right and, especially, stand up for oneself. Author Adrienne Kisner also manages to weave in a subplot involving knitting. Raina searches for an outlet for her grief and joins the knitting group at The Dropped Stitch, a local yarn store. Not only does she learn to cast on and purl, she finds herself involved with activists trying to stop the election of a local magistrate because of his history letting off misogynists and blocking legislation for reproductive rights. Their rebellion manifests itself in yarn-bombing the courthouse with knitted female genitalia. In a twist, the targeted judge turns up volunteering in Mock Trial. At the knitting shop, Raina meets new student Grace who is happy to join an extracurricular activity. Millie falls for Grace and begins to value herself and her time, separating her needs from her helpless father who expects Millie to be chief cook and bottlewasher after her mother moves to Ohio. Though told in a light-hearted manner, the book addresses serious topics, contains a full-range of LBGTQ+ characters, and models the strengths and weaknesses of adults in young people’s lives. What begins as a revenge against the boys story builds with each club meeting, practice, and competition to a triumph of self-identity and self-worth.

Realistic Fiction          Bernadette Cooke, School District of Philadelphia

THOUGHTS: The cover illustration depicts a diverse group of girls, but the two main characters are white. Author Adrienne Kisner is emphasizing gender identity: Millie and Grace form a romantic relationship; Izzy, a minor character, is transgender; the Mock Trial court case for the win centers on gender discrimination. Some parts to be aware of: The Dropped Stitch crew are not shy about using anatomically correct terms, and a smattering of curses appear throughout the dialogue, making it more a high school choice than middle grade. This book has the same feminist fight tone of Moxie by Jennifer Matthieu; and if this suburban, western Pennsylvanian high school resembles yours, Six Angry Girls is an attractive purchase.

Elem. – Genius of the Ancients (Series Nonfiction)

Genius of the Ancients. Crabtree, 2020. $20.75 ea. $166.00 set of 8. 32 p. Grades 3-6.

Howell, Izzi. The Genius of the Ancient Greeks.  978-0-778-76572-1.
—. The Genius of the Anglo-Saxons. 978-0-778-76573-8
—. The Genius of the Maya. 978-0-778-76575-2.
—. The Genius of the Romans. 978-0-778-76576-9.
—. The Genius of the Stone, Bronze, and Iron Ages. 978-0-778-76577-6.
Newland, Sonya. The Genius of the Ancient Egyptians. 978-0-778-76571-4.
—. The Genius of the Benin Kingdom. 978-0-778-76574-5.
—. The Genius of the Vikings. 978-0-778-76590-5.

In the July 10, 2020, issue of School Library Journal article entitled, “Teaching Nonfiction? What You Need To Know About the Differences Between Expository and Narrative Styles,” author Melissa Stewart notes that a high percentage of children prefer books that deliver facts. Crabtree Publishers has mastered presenting expository writing in an appealing and accessible way, and this series is no exception. With the focus on the talents of ancient civilizations, the authors deliver interesting, fast facts on various aspects of those societies, particularly their discoveries or inventions. Some topics explored are architecture, government, inventions, weapons, transportation, and more. Highlighting each subject in well-designed, double-page spreads, the picture books lay out chunks of information in short, readable paragraphs punctuated with colorful graphics. Good use of text features enliven the pages. Quick pieces of information range from fun trivia (Vikings kept decorated, deer antler combs hanging from their belts for swift grooming) to sophisticated information (The Antikythera mechanism found in a Greek shipwreck is sometimes considered the first computer). Each of these slim volumes includes an extensive glossary, a timeline, a table of contents, and an index.

THOUGHTS: This format of fact and pictures enhanced by text features enables struggling readers as well as fluent ones to gain information independently. Valuable additions for beginning research projects or just for students curious about the contributions of different civilizations. (Titles Reviewed: The Genius of the Ancient Greeks and The Genius of the Vikings)

900s Ancient Civilizations          Bernadette Cooke, School District of Philadelphia

YA Series Nonfiction – Cutting Edge: Science & Technology; Uncovering the Past


Cutting Edge: Science and Technology. Minneapolis: ABDO, 2016. 112 p. $24.95. Gr. 9 and up.

Abramovitz, Melissa. Brain Science. 978-1-62403-914-0.

Hand, Carol. Sustainable Agriculture. 978-1-62403-919-5.

Hulick, Kathryn. Artificial Intelligence. 978-1-68077-006-3.

Hulick, Kathryn. Energy Technology. 978-1-62403-915-7.

Kruesi, Liz. Astronomy. 978-1-62403-913-3.

Kruesi, Liz. Space Exploration. 978-1-62403-918-8.

Morris, Alexandra. Medical Research+Technology. 978-1-62403-916-4.

Slingerland, Janet. Nanotechnology. 978-1-62403-917-1.

Cutting Edge: Science and Technology is a very visual series, designed to draw readers in to explore multifaceted topics.  Each colorful book has ample eye-catching photos and sidebars on important people and events.  Well-drawn graphics explain scientific concepts simply.  The back of the book is chock full of helpful features such as an index, glossary, source notes, additional resources, and “essential facts.”  The text, while informative, is broken up with frequent subheadings, making research easier.  The books not only cover the history of each topic but also speculate on the future, prompting the reader to consider possible developments. THOUGHTS:  This series would be a fantastic resource for research, but few students would be likely to check them out based on general interest, except maybe space exploration. Purchase if there is a need for information about these topics for class assignments.

Science & Technology     Kristen Rowe, Plum Senior High School



Uncovering the Past: Analyzing Primary Sources (series). New York: Crabtree Publishing Company, 2015. 48 p. $23.54 ea. Gr. 6-12.

Flatt, Lizann. Immigration. 978-0-7787-1550-4.

Hyde, Natalie. The Underground Railroad. 978-0-7787-1551-1.

Peppas, Lynn Leslie. The Holocaust. 978-0-7787-1548-1.

Staton, Hilarie. Civil Rights. 978-0-7787-1549-8.

This stellar series examines key events in American history through various primary sources. Readers are given a clear, concrete definition of primary and secondary sources, with guiding text along the way. With each subject, the author finely guides students through the process of contextualizing, analyzing, and interpreting documents such as photographs, advertisements, receipts, diary entries, maps, paintings and more. Readers can also interact with media clips, such as songs or other voice clips, which are linked to in certain volumes. All volumes end with a fantastic timeline to help fully visualize the context of the topic examined. In addition to exploring the history of the event, readers will also find a section focused on recent findings, as well as a glossary of terms, an internet guidelines and analysis section, and additional online resources for more information.. THOUGHTS: A worthy addition to any school library collection, as titles focus on state standards in analyzing and interpreting primary and secondary sources for critical thinking.

304.8 (Immigration); 973.7115 (Underground Railroad); 323.119 (Civil Rights); 940.5318 (Holocaust)   Vicki Schwoebel, Friends’ Central School

Thinking Critically


Thinking Critically (series).  San Diego: Reference Point Press, 2015.  80 p.  $30.00 ea.  Gr. 9-12.

Allen, John. Thinking Critically: Legalizing Marijuana. 978-1-60152-782-0.

Nakaya, Andrea C. Thinking Critically: Biomedical Ethics. 978-1-60152-674-8.

Nakaya, Andrea C. Thinking Critically: Climate Change. 978-1-60152-732-5.

Nakaya, Andrea C. Thinking Critically: Euthanasia. 978-1-60152-680-9.

Mooney, Carla. Thinking Critically: Distracted Driving. 978-1-60152-780-6.

Wilcox, Christine. Thinking Critically: Online Privacy. 978-1-60152-734-9.

Focusing on issues that are highly controversial, the books in this series break down the arguments in a way that is accessible for any researcher.  Each title begins with an overview of the topic and then focuses on controversies surrounding the topic.  For each controversy, both pro and con arguments are presented.  Quotes, graphs, charts, facts, and statistics representing both sides of the issue are distributed throughout the books, giving researchers all the data they need to make an informed decision.  Each title ends with contact information for related organizations and websites, as well as a list of additional sources for further research.

100s; 300s; Controversial Issues       Julie Ritter, Montoursville Area High School

These books are wonderful sources for students who need to write pro-con research papers, as well as for students who are involved in debates.  The impartial way in which the books present issues will enable readers to fully understand the issues before developing a thesis or voicing an opinion.  The way the books clearly split up pro-con arguments make them easy to understand and easily accessible for any reader.