Two intrepid librarians

Two intrepid librarians review the best nonfiction books for children

Monday, April 30, 2018

Terrific Tongues! Blog Tour

Terrific Tongues!
by Maria Gianferrari
illustrated by Jia Liu
Boyds Mills Press, 2018
ISBN: 9781620917848

To write this review, the publisher sent us advanced copies of the book.

Today we are taking part in the Terrific Tongues! Blog Tour. As part of this blog tour, we are giving away one copy of Terrific Tongues! donated by the publisher. Details and the entry form can be found at the bottom of this page.

In this engaging informational picture book, Gianferrari, the author of Coyote Moon, celebrates the wonders of the tongue! A monkey is our host as we are taken through the many terrific things a tongue can do.

Gianferrari blends two writing styles: narrative and expository to make an informative and interesting story for young readers. The narrative parts include similes and comparisons that illustrate the diversity of tongues found in the animal kingdom: "If you had a tongue like a nose, you might be..." and with a turn of the page, we learn it is ..."a snake!" Each comparison is accompanied by a paragraph containing details about the animal's tongue: "A snake's tongue helps it smell. It sticks out its forked tongue to collect chemicals in the environment. The chemicals are then absorbed by two pits on the roof of its mouth called the Jacobson's organ. The Jacobson's organ sends a message to the snake's brain, letting it know whether it's smelling food, danger, or a mate." 

Liu's digital illustrations are lively and very colorful, and the monkey narrator adds comic relief to the story. Terrific Tongues! would make story time very lively and fun; it would also enliven science classes for all ages.

One lucky reader will win a copy of Terrific Tongues! courtesy of Boyds Mill Press. 

Giveaway Rules

  • Complete the form below to enter the giveaway.
  • One entry per person.
  • You must be 13 years old or older to enter.
  • U.S. addresses only
  • The contest will end at 11:59 p.m. on Thursday, May 3, 2018.
  • The winner will be notified by email. 

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Trash Revolution: Breaking the Waste Cycle written by Erica Fyvie

Trash Revolution: Breaking the Waste Cycle
Written by Erica Fyvie; Illustrated by Bill Slavin
Kids Can Press. 2018
ISBN: 9781771360782
Grades 3 and up
 The publisher sent me a copy of this book to review.

Did you know…

  • Every day throughout the world, approximately 270,000 trees are cut down to make paper products? 10% of that amount (2700) is used to make toilet paper.
  •  It takes 1000 years for a pair of running shoes to decompose.
  • Love chips? Each year, most of the 17 billion potato chip bags produced in the United States end up in the trash.

Those facts and more are woven into an engaging narrative that enlightens readers on the everyday items we purchase and what we can do to stop the cycle of waste. Using the premise of items we might carry in a backpack, the book is divided into sections (Water; Food; Clothing; Paper; Plastic; Metals; Electronics). Within each section, the book takes a look at how that item is produced, and then what happens to it when it becomes waste. 

The section on Waste in Space, compares and contrasts the daily consumption and waste of the astronauts versus every day on Earth. On the whole, waste in space is less than on Earth (1 gal.(3.8L) of water waste is generated in space, while on Earth the average is about 75 gallons (287 L)).  Although, I found this fact very disturbing: “Space Clothing: Since washing machines aren’t an option in space, dirty space clothes are typically bundled and shot into Earth’s atmosphere to burn up. A six-person crew can generate 900 lb. (408 kg) of clothing per year.” 

The book’s design is colorful with cartoon-like illustrations giving a visual representation of what is being discussed on the page. Sidebars are placed throughout offering more detailed information. Wherever it applies, readers learn about countries or individuals who have come up with a way to have zero waste. 

The book closes with the hope of a zero-waste future. In Taiwan, a Zero-Waste Leader, manufacturers pay a fine for produce excess packaging. The money earned goes to recyclers. They also collect 30 different kinds of waste and recycling twice a week, including fluorescent tubes and clothing.

Back matter includes a glossary of terms, resources for more information, and index.

This is a great book for families to share when making a plan to lower their carbon footprint. It will spark discussions and have readers seriously thinking about making wise purchases. (Is it really necessary to always upgrade your electronic devices?) Especially when they realize just how long an item lasts in a landfill.

Monday, April 23, 2018

All That Trash Written and illustrated by Meghan McCarthy

All That Trash: The Story of the 1987 Garbage Barge and Our Problem with Stuff
Written and illustrated by Meghan McCarthy
Paula Wiseman Books: an imprint of Simon & Schuster. 2018
ISBN: 9781481477529
Ages 4 thru 18

The publisher sent me a copy of this book to review.

In 1987, Lowell Harrelson, the owner of the National Waste Contractors in Alabama, came up with, what he thought, a perfect solution when he was told that a New York landfill was almost out of room. He would take the 3,186 tons of trash and dump it in North Carolina. “First, he rented a barge to carry the garbage. Second, he got a tugboat and crew to tow the barge.” 

Harrelson’s idea was to use the methane gas created from the decomposing garbage and turn it into energy! Unfortunately, no state in the U.S. would let him dump the stuff. After five months and more than six thousand miles later, a New York judge ordered that the rotten and stinky garbage was to be burned. It became 400 tons of ash. 

McCarthy’s comic style, big-eyed characters, rendered in acrylic paint, perfectly compliment the simple narrative. This informational picture book about the importance of recycling and protecting our environment is engaging.

In addition to a selected bibliography, back matter also includes facts on garbage barge, recycling, and ocean garbage. Readers also learn what the crew aboard the tugboat, Break of Dawn did during those five long months hauling the increasingly rotting (and very smelly) garbage.

This is a perfect book to share with any age when talking about recycling. 

Click here to listen to the 1987 NBC news report featuring Tom Brokaw about the barge. 

If using All That Trash with high school students, may I suggest The Story of Stuff Project. Their website offers many videos on environmental concerns and suggestions on how to become an advocate. According to their film, “The Story of Microfibers, “Every day, the world throws away billions and billions and billions of plastic bottles.”

Monday, April 16, 2018

Girl Running: Bobbi Gibb and the Boston Marathon

Girl Running: Bobbi Gibb and the Boston Marathon 
by Annette Bay Pimentel
illustrated by Michael Archer
Nancy Paulsen Books, 2018
Grades K-5

This morning 30,000 runners will compete in the Boston Marathon. The race is one of the oldest marathons in existence. When the Boston Marathon was established in 1897, women were not allowed to entered. This did not change until 1972. 

Girl Running, a new picture book biography of Bobbi Gibb chronicles the story of the first woman to compete in the Boston Marathon. After introducing readers to a young Gibb who loved to run, the story shifts to 1966 when Bobbi Gibb was denied entry to the Boston Marathon because of her gender. This didn't stop Gibb. She put on a large sweatshirt and joined the race near the start line.

Pimentel describes the excitement and of Gibb running the race in unofficially as she's cheered on by onlookers. The text is simple and accessible to young readers. Archer uses different textures and patterns using oil paint and collage to show movement and motion. Don't miss the Afterword which contains more information about Gibbs and the history of women running in the Boston Marathon. Read aloud Girl Running to children of all ages. It is sure to spark discussions about gender equity and how one person can make a difference.  

Monday, April 9, 2018

Born to Swing by Mara Rockliff

Born to Swing: Lil Hardin Armstrong’s Life in Jazz
Written by Mara Rockliff; Illustrated by Michele Wood
Calkins Creek. 2018
ISBN: 9781629795553
Grades 2 and up
The publisher sent me a copy of this book to review.

Born February 3, 1898 in Memphis, Tennessee, Lillian Hardin Armstrong came to the music scene when only men played music professionally. As a young girl she studied music, but when she heard jazz, that was it. She was hooked. 

“I was born to swing, that’s all. Call it what you want, blues, swing, jazz, it caught hold of me way back in Memphis and it looks like it won’t ever let  go.” 

It seemed the music was so deep inside her, Lil couldn’t help but let it all come out whenever she played the piano. Growing up near Beale Street in Memphis, Mister W. C. Handy, the Father of Blues, would march his band right down the middle of the street. Lil longed to go listen, but her mother said, “Oh, no.” “Devil music.” She kept Lil far away.

When her family moved North, part of the Great Migration, they ended up in Chicago. There, she would meet Jelly Roll Morton and other Jazz greats. While working as the piano player for the New Orleans Creole Jazz Band, she met a fellow from New Orleans…Louis Armstrong. They married and would write together, play together, and formed a band, The Hot Five, and recorded together.  

In this lively picture book biography, Rockliff let’s Lil tell her story. Complementing the text are the illustrations of Michele Wood. Rendered in acrylic, the paintings are vibrant and capture the pulse of the music and the times.

Back matter includes a timeline, author’s note, and a bibliography of primary and secondary sources. 

Lil Hardin Armstrong performed in the days of the Big Bands. Duke Ellington and Cab Calloway. "I did it all. I wrote songs, I led bands. Men, women - oh, it made no difference to me, so long as they could swing those tunes." 

Go here and listen to Lil sing and play the piano. Be sure to play her music whenever you share this book with students of all ages, especially those who play in the school jazz band. 

Monday, April 2, 2018

New Nonfiction Releases- March and April

Don't miss these upcoming nonfiction titles for children and young adults.

March Releases

Siege: How General Washington Kicked the British Out of Boston and Launched a Revolution
 by Roxanne Orgill
Candlewick Press

Outrageous Animal Adaptations
 by Michael J. Rosen
Twenty-First Century Books

Meet My Family!: Animal Babies and Their Families
by Laurie Purdie Salas and Stephanie Fizer Coleman
Millbrook Press

by Penelope Bagieu
First Second

Blue Grass Boy: The Story of Bill Monroe, Father of Blue Grass Music
by Barb Rosenstock and Edwin Fortheringham
Boyds Mill Press

by Anita Sanchez and Gilbert Ford
HMH Books for Young Readers

Photographic: The Life of Graciela Iturbide
by Isabel Quintero
Abrams Books

Coco Chanel: Pearls, Perfume and the Little Black Dress
by Susan Goldman Rubin
Abrams Books for Young Readers

Champion: The Comeback Tale of the American Chestnut Tree 
by Sally M. Walker
Henry Holt and Co.

Drawn from Nature
by Helen Ahpornsiri
Candlewick Press

Dog Days of History: The Incredible Story of Our Best Friends
 by Sarah Albee
National Geographic Kids

April Releases

Boots on the Ground: America's War in Vietnam
by Elizabeth Partridge

Abraham Lincoln's Dueling Words
 by Donna Janell Bowman and S.D. Schindler
Peachtree Publishers

Terrific Tongues!
 by Maria Gianferrari and Jia Liu
Boyds Mill Press

Fossil by Fossil: Comparing Dinosaur Bones
by Sara Levine
Millbrook Press

They Lost Their Heads!
 by Carlyn Beccia

Chester Nez and the Unbreakable Code: A Navajo Code Talker's Story
 by Joseph Bruchac and Liz Amini-Holmes
Albert Whitman Company

Crash: The Great Depression and the Fall and Rise of America in the 1930s
by Marc Favreau
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Pride: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag
by Rob Sanders and Steven Salerno
Random House

Camp Panda: Helping Cubs Return to the Wild
by Catherine Thimmesh 
HMH Books for Young Readers

Sharks: Nature's Perfect Hunters
 by Joe Flood
First Second

Back from the Brink: Saving Animals from Extinction
 by Nancy F. Castaldo
HMH Books for Young Readers