Two intrepid librarians

Two intrepid librarians review the best nonfiction books for children

Monday, October 16, 2017

Twelve Days in May: Freedom Ride 1961 By Larry Dane Brimner

Twelve Days in May: Freedom Ride 1961
By Larry Dane Brimner
Calkins Creek: an imprint of Highlights. 2017
ISBN: 978-1629795867
Grades 7 and up

Note: While Cathy is on Sabbatical until February, 2018, Louise will be composing all the reviews.

“Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” - 
George Santayana, a Spanish philosopher, December 16, 1863- September 26, 1952

History does repeat itself, we witness it year after year after year. At times, our country seems to take big steps forward insuring that all citizens are treated fairly, recognizing the importance of affordable health care, clean air to breath, unpolluted water to drink, free access to the Internet, and a quality public education. But then it happens. After a period of forward-thinking, greed and profit overshadow these lofty goals. We stumble and find ourselves reversing these accomplishments, undoing laws and amendments that set us back years, or in some instances, decades. If history keeps repeating itself, then it is vital that we continue to read about the work that individuals deem important enough to sacrifice their lives to bring about change.

Winner of the 2012 Robert F. Sibert Honor Award for Black & White, Larry Dane Brimner adds another excellent title to his body of work highlighting the Civil Rights Movement. In Twelve Days in May: Freedom Ride 1961, Brimner focusing on the thirteen people, white and black, male and female, young and old, who participated in this historic twelve day bus trip that went from Washington, D.C. to New Orleans, Louisiana. Their goal was to draw attention the lack of enforcement to the law that banned segregation in buses that crossed state lines and at the bus stations.

Traveling in two buses, the riders left Washington, D.C. on May 4 and were met with minor resistance when challenging where they sat on the bus to being served in the stations. It was ten days later, when they arrived in Alabama, a state that openly flaunted their support of the KKK and Jim Crow Laws that this peaceful protest took a turn towards violence. Klan members threw rocks, broke windows and threw a glass bottle stuffed with gasoline-soaked rags into the bus. It exploded in flames. 

Meanwhile, on the second bus, several Klansmen board the bus like ordinary passengers. “As soon as the bus is underway, the Klansmen begin to verbally threaten the Freedom Riders.”  Trained in nonviolence, when the riders did not react to the verbal abuse, the Klansmen grew more violent; several riders are assaulted. 

The overall design makes this book an appealing and powerful read. Large black & white photographs, accurately captioned, complement the concise, finely crafted narrative. There is no excess here; Brimner choses each word deliberately, for their greatest impact. 

Back matter includes bibliography, source notes, index, and a brief bio of all thirteen Freedom Riders: James Farmer, James Peck, Genevieve Hughes, Joseph “Joe” P. Perkins Jr., Walter and Frances Bergman, Albert Smith Bigelow, Jimmy McDonald, Edward “Ed” Blankenheim, Henry “Hank” Thomas, Charles Person, Benjamin Elton Cox, and John Lewis (Cogressman Lewis and author of the March trilogy). 

As educators, both in schools and public libraries, despite shrinking materials budgets, maintaining a balance collection is of great importance. It can be a librarians form of activism to promote books that illuminate our past. 

To write this review, the publisher sent me a copy of this book.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Cybils 2017

It's Cybils time again! I am happy to announce I am a first round judge in the Junior/Senior High Nonfiction category along with these bloggers.

Rebecca Aguilar  Rebecca G. Aguilar

Anne Bennett  My Head is Full of Books

Heidi Grange GEO Librarian

Julie Jurgens Hi Miss Julie

Our fearless leader and Junior/Senior Nonfiction chair is...tada...Jennie Rothschild from Biblio File. 

Nominations are now open until October 15. Please, take a moment and think about which book you would LOVE to nominate. Here is the link to the Cybils nominations page. Keep in mind that books need to be published in the U.S. or Canada between October 16, 2016 and October 15, 2017. ONE BOOK PER CATEGORY PER PERSON. No exceptions. 

You can see a list of what has already been nominated by going here

Thanks, everyone. 

Note: Cathy is on Sabbatical this year and will return February, 2018. Louise is responsible for all reviews until she returns. 

Monday, October 2, 2017

Writing Radar by Jack Gantos

Writing Radar: Using Your Journal to Snoop Out and Craft Great Stories
by Jack Gantos
Macmillan. 2017
ISBN: 9781427291226
All ages
Note: While Cathy Potter is on Sabbatical, Louise is writing all the reviews. Cathy will return February, 2018.

In his new book, Jack Gantos, the hilarious, Newbery-Award winning author, offers his knowledge of writing in this creative writing guide that encourages any aspiring writer to find story ideas in their own lives. His step-by-step guide offers useful advice so that anyone can become a brilliant writer. Don't we all dream of seeing our name on the spine of a book?  

I could go on and on about this fabulous book, but let's listen to Gantos, who is one of the best storytellers around, promote his book,


"More than just a how-to guide, Writing Radar is a celebration of the power of storytelling and an ode to the characters who—many unwittingly—inspired Gantos’s own writing career." from Macmillan.
From adult to children, I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to be a writer. Be sure to have it on your library shelves. Teachers, use it as a guide when teaching creative writing. Like Gantos himself, Writing Radar is a gem. If only Writing Radar had been available when I was a kid maybe my parents might have understood my obsession and used this excellent writing handbook to channel my creativity.
To write this review, I borrowed the book from my local public library.

P.S. I am going to be hearing Jack Gantos speak today (Monday, October 2), at the Maine Library Conference. I am beyond excited.