Two intrepid librarians

Two intrepid librarians review the best nonfiction books for children

Monday, January 22, 2018

Impact by Elizabeth Rusch

Impact! Asteroids and the Science of Saving the World
Scientists in the Field series
by Elizabeth Rusch; Photos by Karin Anderson
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 2017
ISBN: 9780544671591
Grades 4 and up

Note: Cathy is still on Sabbatical and will return March 2018. Until her return, Louise is managing the blog. 

Approximately sixty-five million years ago, a massive asteroid, “roughly six miles wide, smashed into Earth, sending iridium around the globe and the dinosaurs to their death.” Is it possible another asteroid is headed towards Earth and could end life as we know it? 

In this latest entry in the very popular Scientists in the Field series, award-winner nonfiction writer, Elizabeth Rusch investigates the probability of an asteroid colliding with Earth and what can be done to prevent it by interviewing scientists who study them.

Meteorite hunters are individuals who travel around the globe to areas where meteors have fallen to collect these important space rocks before they start to break down. Studying the actual fragments from an asteroid helps scientists get a more accurate picture of the meteor’s composition and where it might have come from. David Kring, a senior scientist at the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston, Texas has spent more than a decade studying an area in Arizona named, Meteor Crater. This “550 foot crater, 2.3 miles around, is believed to have been blasted out by an asteroid impact roughly fifty thousand years ago.” 

There are also scientists, and amateurs, who spend their evenings scanning the night skies, looking for moving objects that could be potential asteroids. The key is discovering whether its orbit is on a collision course with Earth. With this knowledge, scientists are making plans to destroy any asteroid on that trajectory. 

As with all books in this series, the writing is engaging and loaded with side bars giving more information on topics discussed within the text. Each page is illustrated with well-captioned, color photographs by Karin Anderson that mirror the text. Back matter includes a bibliography, glossary, source notes, and index.

What I liked is the What You Can Do! section that encourages readers to get involved in discovering, tracking, spotting an asteroid as a flash in the sky, tips for collecting meteorite fragments, and also helping NASA come up with ideas on how to search and destroy (or Deflect) an asteroid.

For science lovers of all grades, because of the chapter on how dinosaurs became extinct would make this book an easy sell to those who love anything about dinosaurs.

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

Thursday, January 18, 2018

How To Be An Elephant by Katherine Roy

How To Be An Elephant: Growing up in the African Wild
Written and illustrated by Katherine Roy
David Macaulay Studio: An imprint of Roaring Brook Press. 2017
ISBN: 9781626721784
Grades 1 thru 12

Note: While Cathy is on Sabbatical, Louise is responsible for all the blog's content.  Cathy will return March, 2018.

“They are born wearing wrinkles. They are friendly, but also fierce. They talk in deafening rumbles, and move around on soundless feet. Their noses have fingers, and they wave hello with their ears. They are wild, majestic, unmistakably marvelous, and – in many ways – so much like us.”

Roy has crafted a beautiful tribute to elephants, specifically those who live in Africa. Every aspect of an elephant’s development, from newborn to mature adult, is explained in language understandable to the youngest readers in this colorful nonfiction picture book.

Roy’s research included traveling to central Kenya in 2014 and spending several days with elephant experts in the field and took part on a 10-day safari through parks and reserves.

The text is complemented by Roy’s watercolor illustrations and detailed diagrams.

Back matter includes a heartfelt author’s note, selected resources, scientific articles, further reading, and resources of books, films, and websites. 

Click here to visit the author's web page and see a behind-the-scenes film.

An excellent resources for all ages. 

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

Monday, January 15, 2018

How Dare the Sun Rise: Memoirs of a War Child by Sandra Uwiringlyimana and Abigail Pesta

How Dare the Sun Rise: Memoirs of a War Child
by Sandra Uwiringlyimana and Abigail Pesta
Katherine Tegen Books, an imprint of HarperCollins. 2017
ISBN: 9780062470140
Grade 9 thru adult

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

In 2004, ten-year-old Sandra and her family were living in a refugee camp in Gatumba, Burundi after being forced to flee their lives in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. On the night of August 13, 2004, armed factions entered the camp and merciless slaughtered 166 people, maiming and injuring 116 others. Though Sandra, her mother, father and older brother were able to escape to safety, her little sister, Deborah was shot in the head and died that horrific night.  

In her powerful memoir, Sandra recounts her childhood in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, explaining the culture of her people - a tribe called Banyamulenge - and country. Though war was ever present (her older brother Heritage was kidnapped and forced to be a child soldier), there are many happy memories, too. 

Three years after the massacre in Gatumba, Sandra and her family are resettled in American. It’s not easy to leave all that is familiar and come to a place that is cold, you don’t know the language, and not many people are willing to make a stranger, a refugee, feel welcome. When she was a junior in high school, Sandra and her brother Alex designed a project that would change the course of her life. It was another opportunity to help people understand her experience as a refugee. 

How Dare the Sun Rise speaks honestly about how poorly Americans treat those new to our country or those who are different. By sharing her story, Sandra wants people to understand that refugees have stories and they should be comfortable sharing those stories so that we can all understand each other better. She hopes her book will help humanize refugees so the world will know that we are just like you. “We have the same goals to succeed and do what’s best for our children.” 

Highly recommended. How Dare the Sun Rise should be required reading for everyone, from Grades 9 thru adulthood. Pair it with I Am Malala. 

Sandra spoke at the 2017 ALA Annual Conference in Chicago. 
Click here to listen to a short excerpt of her speech. 
Click here to watch an interview with Sandra and Abigail Pesta on CBS News.

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

Monday, January 8, 2018

Survivors Club: The True Story of a Very Young Prisoner of Auschwitz by Michael Bornstein and Debbie Bornstein Holinstat

Survivors Club: The True Story of a Very Young Prisoner of Auschwitz
by Michael Bornstein and Debbie Bornstein Holinstat
Farrar Straus Girous. 2017
ISBN: 97800374305710
Grades 7 and up

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

“In 1945, in a now famous piece of archival footage from the Holocaust, four-year-old Michael Bornstein was filmed by Soviet soldiers being carried out of Auschwitz in his grandmother’s arms.” 

Bornstein explains, “For a very long time, I did not talk about what happened to me during the war.  But then, one day, he was searching online and came upon a website that claimed the Holocaust was a lie. His photo, the one that is on the cover of this book, was being used to manipulate history by claiming that the Jews had lied when they said their young were killed on arrival in Auschwitz. 

I slammed my computer shut in disgust. I was horrified.”  But it helped Mr. Bornstein find his voice. “It made me realize that if we survivors remain silent, then the only voice left to hear will be those of liars and bigots.” 

The book is written in collaboration with his daughter, Debbie Bornstein Holinstat, a producer for NBC and MSNBC. Survivors Club tells the important story of what happened to Michael and his family before, during, and after the German invasion of Poland after 1939. The Bornstein’s used interviews with relatives, survivors who knew the family, primary sources, and Michael’s own recollections to recount one family’s inspirational story of survival. 

To hear more about the book, watch this movie.

Click here to learn more about Michael Bernstein and his book, Survivors Club.

An important addition to books on the Holocaust. Give this to students who ask for Diary of Anne Frank, Hanna’s Suitcase, and Maus I & II. 

In this growing climate of hate, Survivors Club is a story we must never forget. 

To write this review, I used an ARC and a final copy, both books supplied by the publisher.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

CYBILS Junior/Senior Nonfiction Short List


I recently had the wonderful opportunity to serve as first round panelist for Junior/Senior High Nonfiction for the Children's and Young Adult Bloggers' Literary Awards or CYBILS. 

For months I read, read and re-read the nominated titles. There were five panelists in my group with each person living in a different part of North America and each panelist hosting their own book review blog. Email and Google Docs were our primary modes of communication as we evaluated each book using the CYBILS criteria: literary merit and kid appeal.

After weeks of evaluating, discussing, and debating the nominated titles, our work is complete. Here is the short lists for junior/senior high nonfiction titles. (I linked each title that I reviewed in 2017) Click here to see it on the CYBILS blog

CYBILS Short List: Junior/Senior High Nonfiction (in alphabetical order)

A Dog in the Cave: the Wolves Who Made Us Human by Kay Frydenborg

How Dare the Sun Rise: Memoirs of a War Child by Sandra Uwiringlyimana

Isaac the Alchemist: Secrets of Isaac Newton Reveal'd by Mary Losure

Locked Up for Freedom: Civil Rights Protesters at the Leesburg Stockade 
by Heather E. Schwartz

March Against Fear : the Last Great Walk of the Civil Rights Movement 
and the Emergence of Black Power by Ann Bausum

Posion: Deadly Deeds, Perilous Professions, and Murderous Medicines 
by Sarah Albee

Queer There and Everywhere: 23 People Who Changed the World 
by Sarah Prager

Undefeated: Jim Thorp and the Carlisle Indian School Football Team
by Steve Sheinkin

Uprooted: the Japanese American Experience During World War II
by Albert Marrin

by Deborah Heiligman

The Whydah: a Pirate Ship Feared, Wrecked & Found
by Martin W. Sandler

The books on the short lists are now being evaluated by round two judges, and the winners will be annonced on Valentine's Day.
Click here to view all of the CYBILS short lists

Monday, January 1, 2018

Top 100 Children's Book Blogs

We would like to announce that our blog was selected as one of the Top 100 Children's Book Blogs for 2017 hosted by Feedspot. This recognition is a great honor for Cathy and I. We appreciate all the support from publishers, authors, and especially you, dear readers. 

Click here to pursue the entire list of fabulous bloggers. (We are number 62).

Thank you to Feedspot for this recognition.

I know we usually post our favorite titles for the year in December, but, since winners are announced during ALA's Midwinter conference and this year ALA Midwinter (#alamw18) is February 9-13, I decided to wait until the beginning of February. Be sure to tune in when winners are announced early Monday morning, February 12, 2018. I wonder how many titles you will have read? Will you agree with the winners? If not, what book do you think should have won?

Again, thank you for supporting our blog since we began it in 2011. 

Enjoy 2018.