Two intrepid librarians

Two intrepid librarians review the best nonfiction books for children

Monday, September 30, 2013

Farmer Will Allen and the Growing Table by Jacqueline Briggs Martin

Farmer Will Allen and the Growing Table
Written by Jacqueline Briggs Martin; Illustrated by Eric-Schabazz Larkin
Readers to Eaters. 2013
ISBN: 9780983661535
Grades 1 - 4
I borrowed this book from my local public library.

There is nothing that tastes so yummy than popping a tomato, cucumber, pepper or green bean into your mouth that has just been picked from your garden.  Mmmmmm! 

As more and more people strive to eat healthy as a way to combat obesity, many schools, day cares, and home gardens have sprung up. People want to eat foods grown organically, free of harmful chemicals. Throughout the United States, the local food movement is growing in popularity.  

In this picture book biography, Martin writes about a remarkable man, Will Allen, who has dedicated much of his life to bringing good food to everyone, especially those who live in the cities. As a young boy growing up, 
“bowls of peas, greens, and his favorite – lima beans with ham – covered the kitchen table. 
"My mother often fixed enough food for thirty,” Will says. “We never had a car or TV, but we always had good food.”" 
For Will, good food equaled good times.

Monday, September 23, 2013

The CYBILS 2013

Can you feel the excitement in the air? It's almost CYBILS season.  I'm pleased the share that I'm a Round #2 judge in the Book Apps category along with these talented bloggers:

Elisabeth LeBris from the LeBrisary blog

Helen Dineen from CAppTivated Kids

Carissa Kluger from The Digital Media Diet

Sarah Towle from Sarah Towle: History Turned On

Our fearless leader and Book Apps chair is Mary Ann Sheuer from Great Kid Books.

Nominations for the CYBILS open on October 1st, so start thinking about which books and book apps you want to nominate this year. Books and book apps must be published between Oct. 16, 2012 and Oct. 15, 2013 to be eligible for the 2013 CYBILS. Visit the CYBILS site for more information about the categories and the nomination process.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Pedal It! How bicycles are changing the world by Michelle Mulder

Pedal It! How bicycles are changing the world
Michelle Mulder
Orca Book Publishers. 2013
ISBN: 9781459802193
Grades 6 and up. Younger if shared with an adult.
I borrowed a copy of this book from my local public library.

True or False

Can bicycles power computers?
Sharpen knives?
Perform lab tests?

Mulder is an avid cyclist who does not own a car. In this book she traces not only the invention of the bicycle, but takes readers around the world to see the many different ways bikes are used for work and play. 

Mulder divides the book into four chapters and lavishly illustrates it with many well-captioned photographs and engravings showing different types of bicycles and their many uses. There is a photo of a man who lives in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam who is a riding pet shop, complete with plastic bags of live goldfish attached to a frame on his bike. 

Monday, September 16, 2013

From the Backlist:The Notorious Benedict Arnold

The Notorious Benedict Arnold: A True Story of Adventure, Heroism & Treachery 
by Steve Sheinkin
Roaring Brook Press, 2010
ISBN: 9781596434868
Grades 7 and up

The reviewer borrowed a copy of the book from her local, public library.

Louise and I started this blog in the spring of 2011 which means we missed reviewing some stellar nonfiction that was published before 2011. That includes The Notorious Benedict Arnold, winner of the YALSA Award for Nonfiction for Young Adults. After reading Bomb and hearing Steve Sheinkin speak at the American Library Association Annual Conference, I'm quite impressed with the research process he undertakes for his nonfiction projects. The Notorious Benedict Arnold is another example of Sheinkin's meticulous research methods. If there is a quote used in the book, you can rest assured that Sheinkin found it in a journal, letter, memoir or nonfiction text.

Sheinkin has a gift for hooking readers on the first page. The book begins with British officer, John Andre, facing his execution at the gallows in 1780. The next chapter transports readers back to 1741 when Benedict Arnold was born on a cold night in Connecticut. Sheinkin traces the life of Arnold, an apprentice to an apothecary who became a successful leader of the militia during the American Revolution. The story is told in an engaging narrative that reads like fiction at times. Sheinkin pieces together facts and interesting details that paint a picture for readers. There were times while I was reading the chapters describing Arnold's harrowing mission through the Maine wilderness into Quebec that I felt like I was reading a survival novel.

"The men were now boiling down their candles and eating them mixed with their last few grains of wheat. They boiled what was left of their shoes, drank the broth, and tried to chew the leather. With this for nutrition, the army paddled up the Dead River to the Height of Land, a ridge of mountains dividing Maine and Canada" (p. 71).

Sheinkin describes Arnold's rise in the Continental Army, his bravery in battle as well as his hot temper and conflicts with other generals. Readers will see Arnold's flaws; he was an angry man living outside his means, he took part in shady busy deals, and he often lacked interpersonal skills. Yet, the book also shows the keen sense of battle strategy Arnold possessed, and until 1779 he was loyal to General Washington. Sheinkin thoughtfully lays out the reasons why Arnold committed treason.

"He was going to be well paid, but that was just the beginning. As a British general, he planned to lead Great Britain to a quick victory, thus ending the unpopular war and reuniting Britain and America in one peaceful and glorious empire. Arnold would be hailed as a hero in both lands, earn a colossal reward from King George- perhaps knighthood or a title of nobility" (p. 250).

The book succeeds in painting a portrait of a complex and flawed man during a tumultuous time in our country's history. If you know a middle school or high school student who loves history, this is the book to put in his or her hands. Pair The Notorious Benedict Arnold with historical fiction novel, Sophia's War by Avi.

Other books by Steve Sheinkin:
Lincoln's Grave Robbers

Bomb: The Race to Build- and Steal- the World's Most Dangerous Weapon

Click here to listen to Steve Sheinkin discuss The Notorious Benedict Arnold.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Learn to Draw Amazing Animals

Learn to Draw Amazing Animals 
Edited by Jordan McGill
AV2 by Weigl, 2012
ISBN: 9781616908560
Grades 2-5

Our library's drawing section is usually a mess which means it gets a lot of traffic from the ages 8-10 crowd. So, I'm always on the hunt for quality drawing books for the students in my elementary school.

I'm impressed with the AV2 Learn to Draw series. Weigl Publishers currently offers eleven different titles in the series including Space, Dinosaurs, Military Vehicles, and Extreme Sports. The books begin with a introduction explaining to readers that drawing involves seeing shapes in objects.

Learn to Draw Amazing Animals instructs readers how to draw six different animals in a methodical manner that even the art-challenged (like me) can tackle. The editor who selected the animals knows what kids like. Budding artists will learn to draw alligators, dolphins, elephants, gorillas, lions and sharks. The format of the book is also appealing to kids to love nonfiction. A colorful photograph shows the side view of an animal with labels and facts related to each animal. Turn the page, and readers are instructed how to use shapes to draw each animal in a step-by-step format.

I found the directions to be clear and concise. For example, the second step in drawing an elephant instructs readers to "Join the head oval and body circle with a smooth curved line." Blue lines are used in the model sketches to show readers which lines to add to their drawings. Back matter includes an animal quiz and glossary of animal terms. Readers may use a special code provided in the book to access online games, activities, and web sites with related information.

The Learn to Draw series is sure to make everyone happy. Kids will be pleased with the opportunity to draw some of their favorite animals, vehicles, and more, and librarians will approve of the quality binding that should stand up during multiple check outs. Visit the Weigl Publishers Inc. site to view a sample page.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Why Do We Fight? by Niki Walker

Why Do We Fight? : Conflict, War, and Peace
By Niki Walker
OwlKids. 2013
ISBN: 9781926973869
Grades 9 and up
The book I reviewed was sent to me by the publisher.

Making sense of a global conflict can be kind of like trying to put together a thousand-piece jigsaw puzzle without looking at the picture on the box.

Conflicts are part of life. It is impossible for anyone to agree all the time. Conflicts that happen between individuals are often resolved quickly, without a fight. Other times there can be violence. Though not always, yet Global Conflicts, conflicts that happen between countries, do seem to involve some type of military force to bring about a solution. 

Why Do We Fight is an excellent resource for social studies classes. Walker does a terrific job helping students recognize the structure, factors, and complex histories that go into creating conflicts, whether personal or global – as well as similarities between both. The book also offers tools for understanding the questions to ask to make informed opinions, and encourages teens to respect those who may take the opposite point-of-view.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Follow Follow by Marilyn Singer

Follow Follow: a book of reverso poems

by Marilyn Singer; Illustraed by Josee Masse
Dial Books for Young Readers. 2013
ISBN: 9780803737690
Grades 3 and up
To review this book, I borrowed a copy from my local public library.

A companion to the celebrated Mirror Mirror, poet Marilyn Singer has again written a thoroughly engaging collection of reverso poems about classic fairy tales.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Saving Yasha by Lia Kvatum

Saving Yasha: The Incredible True Story of an Adopted Moon Bear
by Lia Kvatum; Photographs by National Geographic Young Explorer Liya Pokrovskaya
National Georgraphic Kids. 2013
ISBN: 9781426310515
Grades 1-4
I borrowed a copy of this book from my local public library.

Saving Yasha: the incredible true story of an adopted moon bear would find an audience in my library, since most children here in the northeast love reading about bears. Not a book of facts, instead author Lia Kvatum recounts how two young scientists found an orphaned bear in the Russian wilderness. 

Rough hands grabbed Yasha. Creatures with two legs instead of four put him in a box with bars so he couldn’t escape.

With painstaking care, they trained him and two other cubs on how to survive in their natural habitat so they could be returned to the wilderness. 

The scientists were always kind and gentle, but they wore special clothing to cover their smell and never talked or played with the cubs. They wanted to make sure the cubs would grow up to live as wild bears.

Partnered with the text are full-page color photographs by Russian scientist Liya Pokrovskaya. The pictures are stunning and will make readers feel as if they are right there in the woods working with the baby moon bears.

In the classroom, you can pair Saving Yasha with In Search of the Golden Moon Bear by Sy Montgomery.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Labor Day Books

In honor of Labor Day, we've compiled a list of books to share with children about the people who helped improve the lives of workers. 

Visit the U.S. Department of Labor site for more information about this history of Labor Day.

Books to Share with Children on Labor Day

Grades 2-5

(reviewed by Louise in 2012)
Grades 1-4

Harvesting Hope: The Story of Cesar Chavez by Kathleen Krull and Yuyi Morales
Grades 2-5

Harvesting Hope book trailer

Dolores Huerta: A Hero to Migrant Workers by Sarah Warren and Robert Casilla
Grades 2-5

Breaker Boys: How a Photograph Helped End Child Labor by Michael Burgan
Grades 5-7

Flesh and Blood So Cheap: The Triangle Fire and Its Legacy by Albert Marrin
Grades 6-12