Two intrepid librarians

Two intrepid librarians review the best nonfiction books for children

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Zap! Nikola Tesla Takes Charge

Zap! Nikola Tesla Takes Charge 
by Monica Kulling
illustrated by Bill Slavin
Tundra Books, 2016
Grades K-6

The reviewer received a copy of the book from the publisher.

Nikola Tesla is the latest subject in Monica Kulling's Great Idea Series featuring innovators and inventors. The story of Nikola Tesla is sure to intrigue readers. The picture book biography begins with Tesla departing from a ship in New York Harbor in 1884. He is "excited and a little nervous" to begin life in the U.S. Tesla, a science prodigy from Croatia to work in Thomas Edison's lab. Edison turned out to be a terrible boss and didn't pay Tesla the $50,000 he promised for work on direct current. A rivalry formed between the two inventors and continued until the World's Fair in Chicago hired Edison to light the buildings in 1893. Kids will love Bill Slavin's charming pen and ink drawings. The crisp narrative text and engaging artwork make this a great read aloud for upper elementary readers.

Don't miss other titles in the Great Idea Series including Going Up!: Otis's Trip to the Top, To the Rescue: Garrett Morgan Underground, and Spic and Span!: Lillian Gilbreth's Wonder Kitchen

Monday, August 8, 2016

Nadia: The Girl Who Couldn't Sit Still

Nadia: The Girl Who Couldn't Sit Still 
by Karlin Gray
illustrated by Christine Davener
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016
Grades K-5

As I watched the Olympics on television Sunday evening a familiar face was in the crowd for the women's gymnastics competition: Nadia Comaneci was in Rio to cheer on the 2016 gymnasts. A new picture book biography introduces young children to the Romanian gymnast and her incredible accomplishments during the 1976 Olympics in Montreal.

The story begins with Nadia as a young girl full of energy and describes how she became involved with gymnastics at an early age. Colorful ink and colored pencil illustrations capture the action and excitement of the gymnastic competitions. The narrative effectively incorporates quotes from the gymnast, her family and coach. Readers will be interested to learn that after Comaneci's Olympic performance on the bars, the "scoreboard flashed a number: 1:00." Coach Bela Karolyi questioned the judges and learned that Comaneci actually scored a 10. The scoreboard could only register 9.99 since no gymnast had ever received a perfect 10 before. Comaneci became the youngest gymnast (age 14) to win a gold medal at the Olympics.

Be sure to read the author's note which explains how and why Comaneci defected from Romania to the U.S. in 1989. Back matter also includes source notes, a timeline and a selected bibliography. Pair Nadia: The Girl Who Couldn't Sit Still with Queen of the Track: Alice Coachman: Olympic High Jump.

The reviewer received a copy of the book from the publisher.