Two intrepid librarians

Two intrepid librarians review the best nonfiction books for children

Monday, December 11, 2017

Meet Cindy Sherman: Artist. Photographer. Chameleon By Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan



Meet Cindy Sherman: Artist. Photographer. Chameleon
By Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan.  
Roaring Brook Press. 2017
ISBN: 9781626725201

Note: While Cathy is on Sabbatical, Louise will be writing all the reviews. Cathy will return in March, 2018.
 
There was once a girl who loved playing dress up and pretending to be someone else. “She put tape on her face and pulled it into strange shapes to look like a ghoul. She painted herself with poster paint and took the train into New York city with her friends to spend an afternoon “fake” shopping as the paint peeled off her eyelids.”

In this absorbing biography, Greenberg and Jordan do an excellent job of highlighting the fascinating, creative process of Cindy Sherman. In her work, Untitled Film Stills, Sherman would dress herself up in various costumes and photograph herself in any spot that interested her. When she develop the film it would look cracked and grainy. Sherman wanted her photos to resemble black-and-white film stills that were used to promote movies. The project was done over four years and included sixty-nine images.

To this day, Sherman continues to do many interesting photograph series with herself as the main character. Her ability to totally transform herself is truly amazing.

The narrative is paired throughout with well-captioned color photographs of Sherman’s different art projects.

The book includes a section called Production Notes that takes a deeper look at the artist. One fact that stood out for me was that Sherman was the first woman artist in the world to sell a photograph for $1,000,000.  Other back matter: a bibliography, source notes, lists of artwork by Sherman.

Share this with middle and high school students.

Click here to visit the artist's website for more information about her work.

I borrowed a copy of this book from my local public library.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Many: The Diversity of Life on Earth by Nicola Davies



Many: The Diversity of Life on Earth
Nicola Davies; Illustrated by Emily Sutton
Candlewick Press. 2017
ISBN: 9780763694838

Note: While Cathy is on Sabbatical, Louise is writing all the reviews. Cathy will return March, 2018.

Everywhere you look, from big things like elephants to small things like mushrooms, our planet is teaming with life. We can start counting with one, but keep on counting and we get many species. In this engaging informational picture book, Davies explores the many different kinds of living things that live on Earth and how we are all dependent on one another for survival.

Each double-page spread has folk art style illustrations rendered in watercolor that mirror the simple narrative that is perfect for reading aloud. Some spreads offer captions of more detailed information in a smaller italicized font.  

Woven into the narrative is the message that it is up to us, humans, to save our world. “Human beings are part of the pattern, too, and we need to make sure it stays big, beautiful, and complicated…because we could not keep living on Earth if we had to count down instead of up…from MANY to one.


A perfect companion to Davies and Sutton’s earlier work, Tiny Creatures: the World of Microbes. Pair these with the Sunlight series by Molly Bang and Penny Chisholm.

To write this review, I borrowed a copy of the book from my local public library.

Monday, November 13, 2017

The 57 Bus: a true story of two teenagers and the crime that changed their lives By Dashka Slater



The 57 Bus: a true story of two teenagers and the crime that changed their lives

By Dashka Slater

Farrar Straus Giroux. 2017

ISBN: 9780374303235

Grades 7 and up
Note: While Cathy is out on Sabbatical, Louise is writing all the reviews. Cathy will return February, 2018.


Sasha and Richard were high school students living in Oakland, California. Sasha was middle-class and attended a small, private school. Richard lived in one of the poorer Oakland neighborhoods and attended a large public school. For eight minutes every day their paths crossed on the 57 bus. Then, one afternoon, Richard set fire to Sasha’s skirt. A reckless act that left Sasha with severe burns and Richard charged with two hate crimes and life imprisonment. 


Award-wining journalist, Dashka Slater, chronicles the true story of Sasha and Richard, one wearing a skirt; the other carrying a lighter, and how an implusive decision changed their lives forever. Slater compelling narrative examines race, class, gender, identity, morality, and forgiveness. Divided into four parts, readers are offered an in-depth look at both Sasha and Richard, the fire, and then ties it all together with the trial and aftermath. Chapters are short, but powerful and at times upsetting.


Back matter offers some gender-neutrality milestones, and statistics on US juvenile incarceration.


Highly recommended for libraries serving middle, high school students.

To write this review, I used an Advanced Readers Copy (ARC) from ALA Annual in Chicago.