Two intrepid librarians

Two intrepid librarians review the best nonfiction books for children

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Away With Words: the Daring Story of Isabella Bird by Lori Mortensen

Away With Words: the Daring Story of Isabella Bird
Written by Lori Mortensen; Illustrated by Kristy Caldwell
Peachtree. March 2019
Grades 2 and up

In the English countryside, in 1831, Isabella Bird was born. A sickly child until a doctor suggested she spend more time in the fresh air. The more time spent in the fresh air the more she saw, the more she saw the more questions she asked and the more Isabella flourished. The world was full of amazing places and thrilling possibilities. “What faraway places would she explore/ What stunning details would fill her letters?” But the expectation of women during the Victorian era, confined to a dull existence caring for a home, sent Isabella into another depression. 

The doctor’s advice? “A change of air – this time, a sea voyage.”  And travel she did. Mortensen’s picture book biography tells the story of Isabella Bird who had many adventures traveling around the world. She turned her amazing journeys into bestselling books. (My library system has most of her titles available). 

Caldwell’s digitally rendered color illustrations bring to life the sparse text about a fascinating, inspiring female explorer.  

Back matter includes an author’s note, a timeline of Isabella Bird’s travels and publications, source notes, and a bibliography.

The publisher sent me an ARC that I used to review this title.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Hedy Lamarr’s Double Life: Hollywood Legend and Brilliant Inventor by Laurie Wallmark

Hedy Lamarr’s Double Life: Hollywood Legend and Brilliant Inventor
Written by Laurie Wallmark; Illustrated by Katy Wu
Sterling Children’s Book. 2019

Hedy Lamarr (1914-2000) was an actress in Hollywood during the 1930’s and 1940’s. She was famous, not for her intelligence, but her beauty. “People seem to think because I have a pretty face I’m stupid…I have to work twice as hard as anyone else to convince people I have something resembling a brain.” Though acting was fun, and a nifty way to earn a living, Hedy’s passion was science and engineering. She loved inventing things. 

Wallmark presents to readers a glimpse of a very smart woman whose brain overflowed with ideas. Wu’s illustrations, rendered digitally, show many of Lamarr’s ideas – “An accordion-fold pocket on tissue boxes; glow-in-the-dark dog collar; a device with a few steps and handles to help people get in and out of the bathtub" –displayed all over the wall of her parlor.

The story hones in on Lamarr’s invention called “frequency hopping.” Though kept secret for over forty years, this one invention now allows us to use this technology in our most popular electronic devices. This technology is what helps keep cell phone calls and texts private. “it’s the trick that allows secure wireless communications between computers and the Internet.”

Back matter includes a timeline, an author’s note, selected bibliography, additional reading, and a listing of Hedy Lamarr’s films.

Add this to the growing list of wonderful picture book biographies celebrating the many accomplishments of women. It’s about time.

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

Friday, February 15, 2019

Just Right: Searching for the Goldilocks Planet

Just Right: Searching for the Goldilocks Planet
by Curtis Manley
illustrated by Jessica Lanan
Roaring Brook Press, 2018

Grades 2-6

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

Curtis Manley engages young readers with the narrative of Just Right by posing questions about the solar system and beyond.

"And if there are Earth-like exoplanets, do any of them have life?

And if there is other life, is it like us?"

The informational science picture book then introduces readers to the idea of a "Goldilocks Planet" that is not too hot or cold, not too big or small, and not too soft or hard.

Manley clearly explains to young readers what a planet would need to sustain life as well as how astronomers study exoplanets. The book is just the right amount of science combined with wonder. Lanan's watercolor illustrations capture the story from a young girl's point of view. Don't miss the detailed timelines on the endpapers.

Just Right is the kind of book that will inspire learners to read more about the topic and dream of someday studying the planets or traveling into space. Add it to your elementary school and public library collections.

Visit the publisher's site to view pages from the book.

Monday, February 11, 2019

New Nonfiction- February 2019

Here are some new titles on our radar this month.

by Deborah Hopkinson and Don Tate
On shelves Feb. 1

Yogi: The Life, Loves, and Language of Baseball Legend Yogi Berra
by Barb Rosenstock and Terry Widener 
On shelves Feb. 5

Let ‘Er Buck!: George Fletcher the People's Champion
by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson and Gordon C. James
On shelves Feb. 5

I Am Farmer: Growing an Environmental Movement in Cameroon
by Baptiste & Miranda Paul
illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon
 On shelves Feb. 5

by Laurie Wallmark and Katy Wu
On shelves Feb. 5

Bloom Boom!
by April Pulley Sayre
On shelves Feb. 5

Great Bear Rainforest: A Giant Screen Adventure in the Land of the Spirit Bear
by Ian M. McAllister and Alex Van Too
On shelves Feb. 12

Borrowing Bunnies: A Surprising True Tale of Fostering Rabbits
by Cynthia Lord, John Bald and Hazel Mitchell
On shelves Feb. 12

Missing!: Mysterious Cases of People Gone Missing Through the Centuries
by Brenda Z. Guberson
On shelves Feb. 12

You Are Enough: Your Guide to Body Image and Eating Disorder Recovery
by Jen Petro-Roy 
On shelves Feb. 19

Titanosaur: Discovering the World's Largest Dinosaur
by Dr. Jose Luis Carballido and Dr. Diego Pol
Illustrated by Florencia Gigena
On shelves Feb. 26

A Ray of Light 
by Walter Wick 
On shelves Feb. 26