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

YA NF – Come on In, America; Opioid Epidemic

Osborne, Linda Barrett. Come On In, America: The United States in World War I. Abrams, 2017. 978-1-4197-2378-0. $17.95. 170p. Gr. 6-12.
Published to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the United States entering World War I, Come On In, America explores not only the history of World War I, but also the war’s impact on the American homefront. An overview of events leading up to America’s involvement of the war is presented, as well as an examination of U.S. entry and participation in the war. Chapters explore issues weaponry, the war on the homefront, and African Americans and women and their role in the war. Also discussed are topics such as war propaganda, the treatment of immigrants in the U.S. during the war, conscious objectors, and more. The book closes with chapters outlining the end of the war and the legacy of World War I. The text incorporates numerous primary source accounts as well as photographs, posters, and other images. THOUGHTS: While slim (only 170 pages), this title manages to convey an excellent overview of World War I, and is appropriate for both the casual reader as well as the researcher. The first-person accounts and numerous photographs present throughout the text bring the time period to life. Highly recommended for secondary libraries.
940.373, World War I      Elizabeth Henry, Lampeter-Strasburg SD

 

Marcovitz, Hal. The Opioid Epidemic. Reference Point, 2018. 978-1-68282-299-9. $29.95. 80p. Gr. 6-12.
As the opioid crisis continues to sweep the nation, the need has arisen for additional informational resources on this topic for student readers and researchers. The Opioid Epidemic aims to help meet this need. In this slim, yet informative volume, author Hal Marcovitz explores the history of opioids and their use in treating pain and injury, types of opioids, and their effects on the human body. Also presented are the social and emotional effects of opioid addiction on opioid users, their friends, family and society at large. Addiction treatment options are also discussed. Present throughout the text are first hand accounts from addicts, family members and medical professionals. Numerous statistics illustrate the growing addiction crisis across the United States. THOUGHTS: This book offers a solid overview of the opioid epidemic, written in a manner that will be easy for students to understand. A good choice for student researchers or debaters. Recommended.
362.29, Substance Abuse     Elizabeth Henry, Lampeter-Strasburg SD

MS Nonfiction – Shark Week; Kindertransport; WWI Spies

Brockenbrough, Martha. Shark Week: Everything You Need to Know. New York: Feiwel and Friends, 2016. 978-1-250-09777-4. $19.99. 149 pp. Gr. 5-8.

Shark Week is one of the Discovery Channel’s highest rated programs each year, so it only makes sense that they would want to draw in younger viewers.  Shark Week: Everything You Need to Know will not only draw out the shark lovers, but may also create shark enthusiasts.  With life-like color photographs, Shark Week aims to please the middle school (and older/younger) reader.  Sectioned into chapters about life, predatory nature, types of sharks, “Shark Fight[s]”, and survivor stories, each topic is further explored in detail through general overviews and bold sections (a great text for textual analysis and reading for information).  Some fun shark facts include the fact that sharks don’t chew; in clear water sharks can see further than their prey; great whites enjoy death metal, and sharks can’t move if flipped over.  THOUGHTS:  This is a perfect addition to middle school nonfiction collections.  The text is easy to read and includes amazing photography and images throughout.  The information is accessible and not overwhelming for readers and will definitely spark further investigation.  

597.3; Sharks     Erin Parkinson, Beaver Area MS-HS

 

Berne, Emma Carlson. Escaping the Nazis on the Kindertransport. North Mankato, MN: Capstone Press, 2017. 978-1-5157-4545-7. $22.49. 112pp. Gr. 3-6.

The Kindertransport is perhaps the most famous children’s refugee program.  From December 1938 until May 1940, Jewish children were brought from Germany, German occupied countries, and the Netherlands to Great Britain to be cared for until the fall of Hitler when they could return home to their families.  With the onset of World War II in 1940, many of the children ended the war with no home or family to return to and limited memories of what had been.  This narrative nonfiction text intertwines the experiences of seven Kindertransport survivors with the history leading up to and during World War II.  Each chapter includes primary source text and images exploring both the individual refugee experience and the universal World War II experience.  This text ends with a timeline, glossary, information section, and bibliography for further exploration.  THOUGHTS:  Although recommended for grades 3-6, this text could easily extend into middle school, especially for reluctant or struggling readers.  The text is large with lots of white space on the page.  Any schools reading The Diary of Anne Frank or Boy in the Striped Pajamas or a similar World War II or Holocaust book would benefit from this purchase.  Even if World War II research is not completed, students would gain great knowledge just by flipping through this text.

940.53; World War II; Holocaust      Erin Parkinson, Beaver Area MS-HS

Lassieur, Allison. Courageous Spies and International Intrigue of World War I. North Mankato, MN: Compass Point Books, 2017. 978-0-7565-5499-6. $25.49. 64pp. Gr. 4-8.

Courageous Spies and International Intrigue of World War I is the first title in a new series from Compass Point Books that focuses on spies during war times.  This text begins with the story of the Black Hand, a Serbian national group solely focused on bringing Bosnia back to Serbia.  The Black Hand’s goal was to assassinate Archduke Franz Ferdinand, which, as history shows, was successful and ignited World War I.  Since most Black Hand members were teenagers, they were arrested, served prison sentences, and were later released.  Only those twenty and over were sentenced to death for their conspiracy and assassination crimes. This is just the first chapter of Courageous Spies and International Intrigue of World War I.  Later chapters explore the code breakers of Room 40, London (who cracked the Zimmerman telegram, the greatest code at the time, and then went back to normal lives at the end of WWI, but returned to Room 40 with the start of World War II); female spy, British nurse Edith Cavell; “Ace of Spies” Sidney Reilly, a Russian trying to overthrow Vladimir Lenin (Reilly was Ian Fleming’s inspiration for James Bond); Mata Hari, a famous dancer who is believed to have been a German spy, double agent, both, or nothing at all, and La Dame Blanche, a network of Belgium spies working for the Allied forces.  In addition to the intriguing stories, primary sources are scattered throughout the text, with a timeline, glossary, resources, and bibliography at the end. Additional titles in this series include Fearless Spies and Daring Deeds of World War II; Deep-Cover Spies and Double-Crossers of the Cold War, and Cyber Spies and Secret Agents of Modern Times, all set to release later this year.  THOUGHTS:  This is an excellent purchase for middle schools.  The excitement of spies has great appeal, and why not include some of the most famous spies from history.  If nothing else, this is a fun, quick read, especially for reluctant readers and conspiracy theorists :-), and it’ll help with Jeopardy answers!

World War I; Spies      Erin Parkinson, Beaver Area MS-HS

 

YA Graphic Nonfiction – Terrorist; March Book 2

terrorist

Rehr, Henrik.  Terrorist: Gavrilo Princip, the Assassin who Ignited World War I.  Minneapolis: Graphic Universe, 2015. 9781467772792. 225p.  $15.00. Gr. 9 and up.

Terrorist takes readers through a historical journey from 1863, leading up to World War I, and ending in 1918 when Gavrilo Princip died in prison partly from tuberculous and partly from maltreatment. Not many people know the causes for the Great War or even who key political figures were, but this dark and edgy graphic novel sets out to tell an often untold story.  Who was Gavrilo Princip, and what was his role?  Terrorist is a great way to introduce this side of World War I and give readers a deeper understanding of history.  Thoughts: This striking graphic novel entices history buffs to give a different genre of books a try while reeling in graphic novel enthusiasts.  I’m not really into graphic novels, but this one is a must for any collection.  It sheds a rich, and what I assume to be, historically accurate light on who killed Franz Ferdinand and why.  

Graphic Novel; 944    Laura Ward, Fox Chapel Area High School

 

marchbook2

Lewis, John. March: Book 2. Marietta, GA: Top Shelf Productions, 2015. 978-0-606-36547-5. $19.95. Gr. 8-12.

In this second installment of the planned graphic novel trilogy, Congressman John Lewis continues his incredible, heroic narrative of the fight for equal rights during the Civil Rights movement. Now travelling all over the south in the early 1960s, Lewis and the Freedom Riders focus on non-violent protests, only to find themselves countered with increasing hostility and violence in their “quest for human decency” (16). Juxtaposed against the inauguration of the United State’s first African-American President, Barack Obama, in 2009, almost 50 years later, Lewis recounts sit-ins, stand-ins, bus boycotts, and ultimately, the 1963 March on Washington. Many of these protests led to vicious, brutal attacks on the peaceful Riders, as well as jail time for many, including Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The artwork by Nate Powell is particularly moving, adding incredible depth to John Lewis’s compelling narrative while also humanizing many controversial political figures. THOUGHTS: Readers of all ages should pick up this novel as well as March: Book 1, and it should be required reading for all history classes teaching about the Civil Rights movement.

323.1 Civil Rights; Graphic Novel    Vicki Schwoebel, Friends’ Central School