Two intrepid librarians

Two intrepid librarians review the best nonfiction books for children

Thursday, June 28, 2018

A Glorious Freedom by Lisa Congdon

A Glorious Freedom: Older Women Leading Extraordinary Lives
by Lisa Congdon
Chronicle Books. 2017
ISBN: 9781452156200

It is really hard to be over 55 in our youth oriented society. Adjectives used to describe older people, mostly women, include outdated, irrelevant, unimportant. You become invisible. When reading children & teen fiction, more and more, or maybe I’m just noticing it more, older women are portrayed as silly, bothersome, out-of-touch, creepy, and often described as ugly because of gray hair and/or wrinkles.

In, A Glorious Freedom. Lisa Congdon celebrates women over the age of 40. “You might ask, Why make this book? Why are the lives of older women worth celebrating?” Because, getting older is liberating. One becomes less self-centered, more aware of the needs of those around you. You are more hardworking, determined, creative, willing to take risks. 

The book is a combination of profiles of well-known women, along with brief essays and question & answers with current women who found a more fulfilling path to their lives upon turning 40.

The profiles include writers, scientists, activists, both living and deceased who did not let age or gender discrimination stop them from doing what they were passionate about. Described as late bloomers, these women began their careers after turning 40. Included are: Beatrice Wood, Vera Wang, Louise Bourgeois, Sensei Keiko Fukuda, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Minnie Pwerle, Julia Child, Mary Delany, Sister Madonna Buder, Carmen Herrera, Helen Gurley Brown, Angela Morely, Eva Zeisel, Anna Arnold Hedgeman, Grandma Moses, Katherine Johnson, and Marguerite Duras. 

In the introduction, Congdon explains that the idea for this book came after she posted an essay on her blog about how getting older changed her life in a positive way. Receiving an overwhelming response, she asked followers who considered themselves late bloomers to submit essays about the process of aging, their relationship to aging, the struggles, the triumphs.”  She was astounded by the response.

Congdon is an illustrator and fine artist. Her black & white portraits accompanies each profile. Quotes from famous women (We turn not older with years, but newer every day. Emily Dickinson) in bold, hand drawn letters and her playful, colorful signature style art is scattered throughout the book. 

There is a bibliography, credits for quotes as back matter. 

A Glorious Freedom is a wonderful celebration of women and aging. It helps redefine what it means to grow older. When shared with students from middle school up, or given to parents with children in that age range, is a hopeful reminder that women get better with time. Growing older is natural and we can make it whatever we want it to look like. 

Watch a brief book promo by clicking here

Go here to see interior shots of the book.

I borrowed this book from my local public library to write this review.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Hawk Rising Blog Tour

Hawk Rising
by Marian Gianferrari
illustrated by Brian Floca
Roaring Brook Press, 2018
ISBN: 9781626720961
All ages

Today we are taking part in the Hawk Rising Blog Tour. 

Like she did in Coyote Moon, Gianferrari newest informational picture book offers younger readers a glimpse in a day in the life of a Red-Tail Hawk. The blend of poetic text and Floca’s realistic, watercolor illustrations make for a perfect pairing.

The book opens at daybreak, just as the first rays of sun are pinking the sky. “Father Hawk perch-hunts from a pole, silhouetted, as sunbeams scratch the sky. Red streaks spread. Black talons curving into wood. Hooked beak, sharp as a knife. Head turning. Eyes searching. Chicks waiting.” Will he catch the chipmunk? The sparrows as they flit in the bushes? Or maybe the squirrel?

Watching the hawk throughout the day is a mother and child. As the day ends, and Father Hawk finally has success with catching food, he flies off into the “navy-blue sky.” “Back in the nest he lands. Chicks screech and jostle, beaks wide open, no longer waiting. You yawning. Through the night, safe in your nests, you and the hawk family sleep…”

Atmospheric. Enlightening. Engaging. 

Gianferrari includes facts about the Red-Tailed Hawk, books for viewing reading, and websites to learn more.

To write this review, we were given Advanced Readers Copies by the publisher. 

Cathy and Louise

Thursday, June 21, 2018

#alaac18 in NOLA!

Cathy and I are headed to New Orleans for the American Library Association's (ALA) Annual Conference. It is quite the experience: educational, exhilarating, overly stimulating, exhausting, but, mostly, just plain fun. A chance to get recharged about being a librarian, hang out with colleagues, talk with publishers about upcoming titles, rub shoulders with authors, and, best of all, meet up with friends who also blog about books (Alyson Beecher/Kid Lit Frenzy), Mary Ann Scheuer/Great Kid Books, Travis Jonkers/100 Scope Notes). 

To get in the spirit of this grand adventure, we are listing a few titles that have a connection to New Orleans. That way, if you are not joining the thousands of librarians in the city of music, you can at least experience the weekend thru books. Personally, I can't wait to take a walk through the French Quarter. Music is everywhere in this friendly city.

Written by Mara Rockliff; Illustrated by Michele Wood
Calkins Creek, 2018

Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina & New Orleans (Graphic Novel)
by Dan Brown
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 2017

Freedom in Congo Square
by Carole Boston Weatherford; Illustrated by R. Gregory Christie
little bee books. 2016

Just a Lucky So and So: the story of Louis Armstrong
by Lesa Cline-Ransome
Holiday House. 2016

Molly the Pony: a true story
by Pam Kaster
Louisiana State University Press. 2008

by Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews; Illustrated by Bryan Collier
Abrams. 2015

On Friday, June 22, Cathy and I will be in the audience listening to Michelle Obama, 
the Opening General Session speaker on Friday, June 22

Who Is Michelle Obama?
by Megan Stine; Illustrated by John O'Brien
Scholastic. 2013
We will be sure to post new nonfiction sightings once we get back home.
Happy summer!

Monday, June 18, 2018

The Hyena Scientist

The Hyena Scientist 
by Sy Montgomery
photos by Nic Bishop
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2018
Grades 4 and up

The reviewer checked out a copy of the book from the public library.

Sibert Medal winners Sy Montgomery and Nic Bishop traveled to Kenya for their latest book in the Scientists in the Field series. This time the focus is a misunderstood mammal: the hyena.

Montgomery eloquently describes the behaviors, sounds, and habitat of  hyenas. The descriptive narrative text will pull in readers on the first page as the author dispels myths associated with hyenas.

"At the den, the fluffy spotted babies play like puppies, dashing and lunging, wrestling and spinning. Tiny infants, still coal black lacking their spots sit on opposite sides of a patient, older cub- each chewing gently on an ear of their tolerant sibling" (p. 1).

The book highlights the work of zoologist, Kay Holekamp and her team of researchers and assistants, as they track and observe hyenas in Masi Mara, Kenya. Bishop's stunning photographs capture hyenas in the wild and shows scientists as they weigh, measure and collect blood samples from hyenas. By embedding themselves with the research team, Bishop and Montgomery offer readers a first hand account of Holkamp's work and the important role hyenas play in the food chain. Readers will also learn how challenging it can be for scientists in remote locations to prepare food, shower and use the toilet. Despite the challenges, Holekamp and her team are enthusiastic about their mission to understand more about the complex mammal, the hyena.

Be sure to add The Hyena Scientist to your next book order. Read an excerpt from the first chapter on Sy Montgomery's site.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

New Nonfiction Releases- May and June

Look for these new nonfiction releases at the library or your local book store.


You Are Mighty: A Guide to Changing the World
 by Caroline Paul and Lauren Tamaki

How Sweet the Sound: The Story of Amazing Grace
 by Carole Boston Weatherford and Frank Morrison
Atheneum Books for Young Readers

by Maxwell Eaton III
Roaring Brook Press

The Brilliant Deep: Rebuilding the World's Coral Reefs
 by Kate Messner and Matthew Forsythe
Chronicle Books

More Deadly Than War: The Hidden History of the Spanish Flu and the First World War
by Kenneth C. Davis
Henry Holt and Co.

The Hyena Scientist 
by Sy Montgomery and Nic Bishop
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Water Land: Land and Water Forms Around the World
by Christy Hale
Roaring Brook Press

Sewing the Rainbow: The Story of Gilbert Baker and the Rainbow Flag
by Gayle E. Pitman and Holly Clifton-Brown
Magination Press


Hawk Rising
by Maria Gianferrari and Brian Floca
Roaring Brook Press

Otis and Will Discover the Deep: The Record-Setting Dive of the Bathysphere
by Barb Rosenstock and Katherine Roy
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

House of Dreams: The Life of L.M. Montgomery
by Liz Rosenberg and Julie Morstad
Candlewick Press

Counting on Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Saved Apollo 13
 by Helaine Becker and Dow Phumiruk
Henry Holt and Co.

Two Truths and a Lie: Histories and Mysteries
by Ammi-Joan Paquette and Laurie Ann Thompson
Harper Collins

Acadia Files: Book One Summer Science
by Katie Coppens and Holly Hatam
Tilbury House
(blend of fiction and nonfiction)

Saving Fiona: The Story of the World's Most Famous Baby Hippo
by Thane Maynard
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Look at Me: How to Attract Attention in the Animal World
by Robin Page and Steve Jenkins
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Monday, June 11, 2018

Three books by Maxwell Eaton III

The Truth About Bears: Seriously Funny Facts About your Favorite Animals
Written and Illustrated by Maxwell Eaton III
A Neal Porter Book; Roaring Brook Press. 2018
ISBN: 9781626726673

The Truth About Dolphins: Seriously Funny Facts About your Favorite Animals
Written and Illustrated by Maxwell Eaton III
A Neal Porter Book; Roaring Brook Press. 2018
ISBN: 9781626726680

The Truth About Hippos: Seriously Funny Facts About your Favorite Animals
Written and Illustrated by Maxwell Eaton III
A Neal Porter Book; Roaring Brook Press. 2018
ISBN: 9781626726673
Preschool to Grade 5
If you have students/children who love animals, are fans of Captain Underpants and other humorous tales, then these titles are a perfect gateway book to facts about Bears, Dolphins, and Hippos. 

  • Did you know that bears can be found everywhere except Antarctica, Africa, and Australia?
  • And adult bear can weigh as much as a small car?
  • That dolphins are playful, excellent communicators, and are one of the few animals on earth that use echolocation?
  • That when a hippo goes to the bathroom, it flicks its tail back and forth, splattering everything that comes out?

These facts and more are found in these engaging, fact-filled books. Eaton’s full page illustrations, created using pen and ink with digital coloring, include facts along with colorful sidebars that offer a bit more details. The characters, both animal and human, have word bubbles that offer a bit of comic relief. 

Each book moves from introducing each animal (Dolphins look like fish. But they aren’t. Dolphins are actually mammals, like humans, bears, and cats. They breathe air” and ends with the threats each animal suffers from the hands of humans. “Hippos have big teeth, but that doesn’t keep them completely safe. Common hippos are threatened by hunting. And pygmy hippos are losing their quiet forests.”  Eaton states the importance of learning more about these interesting, incredible animals and sharing that knowledge with friends. Raising awareness might be the only way to save them.

Back matter includes facts on each animal presented as if held in a file folder. Complete with footprint, size, territory, and other interesting facts. A listing of books for further research is also included.

A fun way to engage a large crowd or draw in reluctant readers.

Click here to visit Eaton's website for a peek at these books. 

To write this review, I borrowed copies of the books from my local public library.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Joan Procter, Dragon Doctor by Patricia Valdez

Joan Procter, Dragon Doctor: the Woman Who Love d Reptiles
Patricia Valdez; Illustrated by Felicita Sala
Knopf. 2018
ISBN: 9780399557255

Joan Proctor (1897-1931), loved reptiles: lizards, snakes, and crocodiles.  In Valdez’s picture book biography, readers follow Procter’s interesting life. She was hired as curator at London’s Natural History Museum and became director of the Reptile House at the London Zoo. While at the Zoo, Procter was instrumental in upgrading the outdated Reptile House. “She cared for each and every creature in the Reptile House. From daily health checks to delicate surgeries, her dedication and talent could not be matched.”

Sala’s brightly colored illustrations are beautiful and are a perfect complement to Valdez narrative.

Back matter includes a lengthy author’s note and bibliography.

The other day, while at one of the primary schools promoting summer reading, Joan Proctor, Dragon Doctor was on display in one of the classrooms. When asked, the class of First Graders gave the book high fives.
“Love the pictures.”
“She was an interesting woman.”
“I’d like a Komodo dragon as a pet too.”

I used a copy from the my local public library to write this review