Written by Melisande Potter;
Illustrated by Giselle Potter.
Christy Ottaviano Books.
An imprint of Little, Brown and Company. 2022
Two intrepid librarians review the best nonfiction books for children
Maria Mitchell was a trailblazer. Born in 1818 on Nantucket Island, Maria was blessed to have parents, especially her father, an astronomer and mathematician, who encouraged her desire to learn. At night, he would spend hours on the roof showing Maria how to use a telescope, sextant, metronome, and chronometer. Because Maria could read and write, she kept all her learnings in her notebook.
Once she was an adult needing a job, Maria started her own school, became a librarian, and spent loads of time reading (Books carried her to new places) and studied the stars. It was when the King of Denmark offered a prize to the first person to find a new comet, Maria watched, too.
Finding the comet opened many doors for this curious young woman. The best, was being invited to be a professor at Vassar College for women in New York. Throughout her life, Maria encouraged girls/women to Question Everything!
A notable scientist who was the first woman member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, this exciting biography of a woman of firsts will encourage readers to also follow their dreams. The message of Patience, Practice, and Persistence something we all can embrace on our lifelong journey of learning.
Included is an author’s note, and bibliography.
The illustrations, rendered in collage, perfectly complement the text.
When Maria attended the weekly Quaker Meetings, “she sat still, her swirling thoughts settled like tea leaves at the bottom of a cup. Then she could see clearly. She knew herself. She was a dreamer. A wonderer. A collector.”
If you haven’t already guessed when reading my other reviews, I am a huge advocate of not confining informational picture books to a specific age range. I believe that all ages, particularly middle and high school students, will enjoy and benefit from being exposed to these books.
|Jack Knight’s Brave Flight: How One Gutsy Pilot Saved the U.S. Air Mail Service|
by Jill Esbaum; Illustrated by Stacy Innerst
Calkins Creek. An imprint of Astra Books for Young Readers. 2022
At 10:44 p.m., on February 22, 1921, in North Platte, Nebraska Jack Knight adjusted his goggles and took off in his open cockpit airplane with six sacks of the U.S. Mail. He thought he’d just have to fly as far as Omaha, but, when he reached Omaha at 1:10 a.m., Jack learned that his replacement couldn’t reach the airport. To save the U.S. Air Mail service, Jack Knight is their only hope. Will he be able to stay awake and fly 830 miles to Chicago?
In 1921, lawmakers decided to cut funding for the U.S. Air Mail Service as a reaction to the numerous plane crashes. Officials and pilots, outrages by this decision, hatched a plan to save the service. They would prove flying was the fastest way to move mail from coast to coast. What they didn’t expect was a blizzard, sub-zero temperatures. Lucky for them, and us, there was Jack Knight!
Each page is filled with Innerst’s historically accurate illustrations done in watercolor, ink, pencil, rubber stamps, and some digital (Photoshop). They certainly add much excitement to this already thrilling informational picture book. A real page-turner.
Included is an author’s note, timeline, bibliography, and illustrator’s note.
Even high school students would appreciate hearing this true story of grit and determination.
|Fashionopolis: The Secrets Behind the Clothes We Wear|
Young Readers Edition
By Dana Thomas
Dial Books for Young Readers. 2022
Writer, Dana Thomas began her career as a culture and fashion correspondent for the Style section of the Washington Post. Currently, she is a contributing editor for British Vogue, and a regular contributor to The New York Times Style section.
Based on the adult version, Thomas looks at fast-fashion and its overall impact each item of clothing has on our culture and the environment. Readers are encouraged to think about where their clothing comes from. What type of fabric is the item made from? Is it natural or synthetic? Where is that T-shirt made? What are the working conditions of the factory where that dress is made? Do the workers make a living wage or is it slave labor? In a study done in the UK, the average garment is worn only seven times before being thrown away. Clothing not sold are boxed up, shipped back to the company and shredded and burned.
The book is not all bad news. After a history about the fashion industry, starting with the Industrial Revolution, Thomas shares new trends from some well-known fashion designers (Patagonia. Stella McCartney) and how they are working to choose materials that have a smaller carbon footprint.
The book is advertised for Grades 4-6. However, the lack of any color photos or visual aids to break up the text makes this something to hand to older readers (Grade 7-12) with a particular interested in social justice.
I’ll end this review with a quote from Dana Thomas in the epilogue: “Today, the fashion industry is a complex and epic-sized mess, and it’s going to take all of their approaches, and many others, to tackle it and build a better, fairer fashion ecosystem. Everyone spotlighted in this book is, in their way, fighting a model that is completely unsustainable. One that celebrates endless consumption, even lower prices (whether achieved by stealing someone’s art or their human rights), and even larger profits. That purposely produces leftovers. That gives no thought at all to the destruction it cases the enviornment.”
Suggestions for ways to change our shopping patterns is included.
There are many excellent nonfiction titles scheduled to be released during the month of August, so I organized the list into two categories: STEM and Bio/Memoir/History.