Category Archives: Nonfiction

A Few Red Drops by Claire Hartfield

A Few Red Drops: The Chicago Race Riot of 1919 by Claire Hartfield. January 2, 2018. Clarion Books, 208 p. ISBN: 9780544785137.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 1120.

On a hot day in July 1919, three black youths went swimming in Lake Michigan, unintentionally floating close to the “white” beach. An angry white man began throwing stones at the boys, striking and killing one. Racial conflict on the beach erupted into days of urban violence that shook the city of Chicago to its foundations. This mesmerizing narrative draws on contemporary accounts as it traces the roots of the explosion that had been building for decades in race relations, politics, business, and clashes of culture.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Racial taunts, Discrimination, Violence



Booklist (November 1, 2017 (Vol. 114, No. 5))
Grades 7-10. This well-documented text outlines the events leading to the race riot in Chicago in the summer of 1919, which caused 38 deaths and more than 500 injuries. The prologue, the first two chapters, and the last three chapters (out of 20) address the riot; the rest provide a detailed and accessible history of the growth of Chicago as a meat-processing center, the formation and influence of trade unions, the influx of European immigrants, and the WWI-era black migration from the South. Quotes, statistics, and period photos help build background. An epilogue describes the partly successful results of a commission charged with instigating change and mentions other unhappy events of the “Red Summer” of 1919: 25 additional race riots across the U.S. The conclusion paints a positive picture of diverse, present-day Chicago, noting that the past century has brought many needed changes. This solid entry covers a topic not often mentioned in YA literature, and will support researchers looking for balanced coverage for history, civil rights, and economics reports.

Kirkus Reviews (November 1, 2017)
A clash on a hot summer’s day served as catalyst for a deadly race riot in 1919 Chicago.The deep racial and ethnic resentments that permeated Chicago in the early years of the 20th century exploded into violence when the death of a young African-American teen was caused by a rock-throwing young white man, whom a white policeman refused to arrest. The incident quickly escalated, and after days of unrest, 38, whites and blacks, were dead, and more than 500 were wounded. From the epigram taken from a Carl Sandburg poem, this detailed work is deeply grounded in Chicago history. Details about the actual riot bookend the narrative. In between, Hartfield introduces black Chicagoans from the middle of the 19th century as well as later arrivals who fled the racial violence of the South. She includes the role of the black press in articulating the demands of the black community as they became urban dwellers. The stories of white ethnic groups, their struggles to achieve the American dream, and their racial animosity are examined, as is the role of labor unions. Richly illustrated with contemporary photographs, the narrative is also carefully researched, drawing on accounts from the time. There is a great deal to digest, and it sometimes overwhelms the core story. However, it is successful in demonstrating that past conflicts, like current ones, have complex causes. A comprehensive, careful account. (source notes, bibliography, map, index) (Nonfiction. 12-18)

About the Author

Claire Hartfield received her B.A from Yale University and her law degree from the University of Chicago. As a lawyer, she has specialized in school desegregation litigation. More recently, she has been involved in setting policy and creating programs in a charter school setting on Chicago’s African-American West Side. She heard stories of the 1919 race riot from her grandmother, who lived in the Black Belt in Chicago at the time, and was moved to share this history with younger generations.

Ms. Hartfield lives in Chicago. Her website is

Teacher Resources

1919 Chicago Race Riots Lesson Plan & Materials

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A Few Red Drops on Amazon

A Few Red Drops on Goodreads

A Few Red Drops Publisher Page


When I Was a Turkey by Joe Hutto

When I Was a Turkey: Based on the Emmy Award-Winning PBS Documentary My Life as a Turkey by Joe Hutto. November 7, 2017. Henry Holt & Company, 192 p. ISBN: 9781627793858.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 5.7; Lexile: 910.

When I Was a Turkey is a middle-grade adaptation of the remarkable true story of a naturalist who raised a flock of wild turkeys using imprinting.

After a local farmer left a bowl of wild turkey eggs on Joe Hutto’s front porch, his life was forever changed. Hutto incubated the eggs and waited for them to hatch. Deep in the wilds of Florida’s Flatlands, Hutto spent each day living as a turkey mother, taking on the full-time job of raising sixteen turkey chicks. For two years, Hutto dutifully cared for his family, roosting with them, taking them foraging, and immersing himself in their world. In return, they taught him how to see the world through their eyes. Here is the remarkable true story of a man with a singular gift to connect with nature.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mentions of animal injury and death


Video Trailer


Booklist (October 15, 2017 (Vol. 114, No. 4))
Grades 4-7. In 1991, naturalist Joe Hutto obtained two clutches of wild turkey eggs. He incubated them and encouraged the 23 hatchlings to regard him as their mother. For a year, he lived with the growing birds almost full-time in a swampy, wildlife-rich area of Florida. Wanting to understand “what it is to be wild,” he tried to enter their world, communicating through the wild turkey sounds and gestures he knew, while learning others through observation. The young birds required constant attention, but as they grew, their needs and behaviors changed. Eventually, they went their own ways. The experience of living with them was transformative for their surrogate parent, whose tale is often fascinating. This book is based the PBS documentary My Life as a Turkey (2011), which was in turn inspired by Hutto’s Illumination in the Flatwoods (1995). Guiberson has written many good science books for children, including Life in the Boreal Forest (2007). Hutto’s precise, shaded pencil drawings illustrate his story along with two maps and a section of photos. An unusual, engaging choice for animal-lovers.

Kirkus Reviews (September 15, 2017)
A naturalist recalls his year as a turkey “mother.”In 1991, wildlife lover Hutto hatched, imprinted, and raised two clutches of wild turkey eggs, entering their wild world for over a year. He later published a book about this experience, Illumination in the Flatwoods: A Season Living Among the Wild Turkeys (1995). A re-creation of his experience by actor Jeff Palmer became a PBS documentary, My Life as a Turkey, the basis for this chronologically told account, which is chock-full of details about turkey life and even some deaths. Co-written with Guiberson, the third-person narrative reflects Hutto’s thoughts at the time. It’s both a record of an intense experience and a reflection on human relationships with the natural world. After the eggs hatched, the new “mother” spent most of his daylight hours watching and exploring with his turkey family, seeing his Florida fields and forest through their eyes. He was especially surprised to discover how much more wildlife he saw as part of the flock. After his jakes and hens had matured and left, he missed the window they offered. He was thrilled when one, Turkey Boy, returned to share a few more months with him before disappearing for good. The author’s drawings and a section of photographs complete the package. Young nature lovers will gobble this up. (glossary, bibliography, index) (Nonfiction. 9-14)

About the Author

Joe Hutto is a nationally recognized naturalist and wildlife artist. He lives in the Wind River Mountains of Wyoming. He is the award-winning author of Illumination in the Flatwoods, the book that inspired the documentary film My Life As a Turkey.

Around the Web

When I Was a Turkey on Amazon

When I Was a Turkey on Goodreads

When I Was a Turkey Publisher Page

Tamba Hali by David Seigerman

Tamba Hali by Tina Connolly. November 21, 2017. Aladdin, 144 p. ISBN: 9781481482202.  Int Lvl: 3-6; Rdg Lvl: 5.8.

Long before he was sacking quarterbacks, Tamba Hali was facing bigger challenges. Learn about his life in this second book in a brand-new nonfiction series about the childhoods of your favorite athletes.

Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Tamba Hali’s story seems almost unbelievable. He and his seven siblings fled war-torn Liberia to the Ivory Coast during his youth and later joined their father, a chemistry and physics professor, in New Jersey.

There Tamba played both basketball and soccer, but he didn’t discover football until a coach finally persuaded him to try out in high school. And the rest, as they say, was history. Tamba discovered that he had a real talent for it, landing him an athletic scholarship to Pennsylvania State University and a coveted spot on their football team.

Tamba went on to play in the NFL and finally brought his mother to the US from Liberia. His drive, dedication, and athletic ability are inspiring.

Part of Series: Real Sports Content Network Presents

Potentially Sensitive Areas: War



Kirkus Reviews (September 1, 2017)
The story of NFL linebacker Tamba Hali’s path from a childhood in war-torn Liberia to becoming one of the Kansas City Chiefs’ all-time greats. After a just-the-facts–style rundown of Tamba Hali’s football career (and awards), this biography’s narrative proper opens early in the Chiefs’ 2006 season; they are winless after two games and down their starting quarterback. Their bright spot is seeing first-round draft pick Tamba (the book uses his first name) in action as the rookie achieves his first NFL sack along with a forced-fumble, right in front of his newly-arrived-to-America mother, whom he hasn’t seen in over a decade. After this charged anecdote, the rest of the story flows chronologically, taking readers through the Liberian civil war that started when Tamba was only 6. Brief historical explanations of Liberia’s origins and ethnic divides contextualize, and atrocities such as the use of child soldiers are mentioned without gruesome specifics, prompting only readers ready to handle the details to research it further. After escaping the country and a 2-year-long bureaucratic process, he and his brothers are allowed to join their father in America. A fearless, hard worker, Tamba tackles literacy and football, leading to high school and Penn State successes—with the dangling carrot of an NFL career that would enable him to bring his mother to safety in America. A companion title on soccer star Becky Sauerbrunn publishes simultaneously A positive, dramatic football biography likely to encourage global and historical research. (Biography. 8-15)

School Library Journal (October 1, 2017)
Gr 4-7-This biography focuses on the youth and early career of Tamba Hali, a linebacker for the Kansas City Chiefs. Hali, born in Gbarnga, Liberia, grew up during a devastating civil war. After years of enduring desperation and displacement, Hali and his brothers had to leave their mother behind in order to join their father in Teaneck, NJ. Assimilating into a U.S. school wasn’t easy, but it was there that Hali first encountered organized sports. He would eventually rise through the ranks of high school and college football to become a first-round NFL draft pick. Seigerman credits Hali’s success not only to his determination, but also to his coaches, from a middle school reading specialist to Pennsylvania State University football coach Joe Paterno (portrayed here as an inspiring figure, with no mention of the scandal that ended his career). The straightforward narrative drops off abruptly during Hali’s first season in the NFL, when he was finally able to bring his mother to the United States, but fans will know that his skills are still serving him well on the gridiron, where he’s recognized for his powerful sacks and tackles. VERDICT An accessible look at a dedicated athlete. Consider for collections serving football fans and those with an interest in refugee stories.-Rebecca Honeycutt, -NoveList, Durham, NC

About the Author

David Seigerman is a veteran sports journalist whose writing career began in newspapers (NewsdayThe Jackson Sun) and moved on to magazines (College Sports Magazine). In 1996, he moved from print to broadcast media, becoming a field producer for CNN/SI and later the managing editor at College Sports Television. Since 2003, he has been a freelance writer and producer, and in late 2016, he cofounded

He lives in Westchester County, New York, with his family.  His website is

Around the Web

Tamba Hali on Amazon

Tamba Hali on Goodreads

Tamba Hali Publisher Page

Dolphins: Voices in the Ocean by Susan Casey

Dolphins: Voices in the Ocean by Susan Casey. January 23, 2018. Delacorte Press, 197 p. ISBN: 9781524700867.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 6.6; Lexile: 1070.

A thrilling journey into the spiritual, scientific and sometimes threatened world of dolphins. Based on Susan Casey’s bestselling adult work Voices in the Ocean: A Journey into the Wild and Haunting World of Dolphins, this young readers adaptation, which includes an 8-page photo insert, explores the extraordinary world of dolphins in an interesting and accessible format that engages as well as entertains.

Inspired by an encounter with a pod of spinner dolphins off the coast of Maui, author Susan Casey embarked on a two-year global adventure to study these remarkable beings. Casey details the extraordinary connection between dolphins and humans, including shared characteristics such as capacity for emotion, playfulness, sociability, and intelligence, the sophisticated navigation ability innate in dolphins, and the dangers they face from people who aim to profit by putting them in captivity or far worse. Includes an 8-page photo insert that offers a glimpse of these magical creatures in their natural habitat.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Violence, Animal cruelty



Booklist (December 1, 2017 (Vol. 114, No. 7))
Grades 5-8. Reeling after the death of her father, Casey took to the sea, fleeing the oppressive concrete of Manhattan for the clear waters of Hawaii. It was in Maui that, while swimming alone, she encountered a pod of spinner dolphins that swam with her for a time before continuing on its way. Deeply moved, Casey traveled the world learning about the connections between dolphins and humans. Part memoir, part scientific exploration, this young readers’ adaption of Voices in the Ocean: A Journey into the Wild and Haunting World of Dolphins (2015) takes readers through both the highs and the lows of human-dolphin relationships. In Greece, Casey saw ancient artwork depicting dolphins; in Ireland, she met Fungie, the “Most Loyal Animal on the Planet,” that took up residence in Dingle Bay. In Taiji, Japan, however, she joined a group protesting the whaling town’s seven-month dolphin hunting season. For dolphin-lovers and aspiring marine biologists, this provides a fascinating look into a rarely seen world, and a glimpse of cultural differences around the globe.

Kirkus Reviews (November 15, 2017)
In this middle-grade adaptation of Voices in the Ocean: A Journey into the Wild and Haunting World of Dolphins (2015), Casey escapes her city life and journeys around the world to better understand how dolphins live, think, and relate to humans.After experiencing a life-changing swim with dolphins, Casey puts her job on hold and begins researching and writing about cetaceans. The book includes interviews with experts, her experiences traveling the world, and fascinating tidbits, including how dolphins evolved from “mammals that resembled small, hooved wolves.” She encourages readers to delight in the animals’ gifts by highlighting their brain science and complex personalities. With approachable prose and engrossing detail, she describes everything from how a dolphin pod saved a suicidal girl to how their sonar works. Casey is tough on the marine-park industry, poachers, man-made underwater acoustic smog, and humanity’s pollution of the Earth and its waters. She writes explicitly about the slaughter of dolphin populations at the hands of humans, candidly addressing their extermination in Taiji, Japan. The final chapter, on dolphins in Minoan art, is an unsatisfying tangent even though the overall book is a riveting look at the world of dolphins. A compelling and eye-opening story of the interconnected worlds of humans and dolphins that’s full of engaging detail and vivid language. (acknowledgments, selected bibliography) (Nonfiction. 10-14)

About the Author

Susan Casey is the author of the New York Times bestseller The Devil’s Teeth: A True Story of Obsession and Survival Among America’s Great White Sharks and is the editor in chief of O, The Oprah Magazine. She is a National Magazine Award–winning journalist whose work has been featured in EsquireSports IllustratedFortuneOutsideNational Geographic, and the Best American Science and Nature WritingBest American Sports Writing, and Best American Magazine Writing anthologies.

Casey lives in New York City and Maui. Her website is

Around the Web

Dolphins: Voices in the Ocean on Amazon

Dolphins: Voices in the Ocean on Goodreads

Dolphins: Voices in the Ocean Publisher Page

Becoming Kareem by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Becoming Kareem: Growing Up On and Off the Court by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. November 21, 2017. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 304 p. ISBN: 9780316555388.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 6.3.

The first memoir for young readers by sports legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

At one time, Lew Alcindor was just another kid from New York City with all the usual problems: He struggled with fitting in, with pleasing a strict father, and with overcoming shyness that made him feel socially awkward. But with a talent for basketball, and an unmatched team of supporters, Lew Alcindor was able to transform and to become Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

From a childhood made difficult by racism and prejudice to a record-smashing career on the basketball court as an adult, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s life was packed with “coaches” who taught him right from wrong and led him on the path to greatness. His parents, coaches Jack Donahue and John Wooden, Muhammad Ali, Bruce Lee, and many others played important roles in Abdul-Jabbar’s life and sparked him to become an activist for social change and advancement. The inspiration from those around him, and his drive to find his own path in life, are highlighted in this personal and awe-inspiriting journey.

Written especially for young readers, Becoming Kareem chronicles how Kareem Abdul-Jabbar become the icon and legend he is today, both on and off the court.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language, Racial taunts


Author Interview


Booklist starred (November 1, 2017 (Vol. 114, No. 5))
Grades 9-12. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is nearing 70, and from that vantage, he writes, he is able to see the big picture, which is comprised of the many details, observations, and revelations that comprise this autobiography. It begins with a name. Abdul-Jabbar was born Lewis Alcindor. It wasn’t until he was a 24-year-old student of Islam that he assumed the name the world knows, which signaled who he wanted to be—and is the substance of this fine, thoughtful memoir. More than a play-by-play sports story, it’s an honest, powerful exposition of what it means to be black in white America, offering a de facto history of the civil rights movement. But it’s also a celebration of education and the teachers who helped him become Kareem; teachers like his UCLA mentor Coach John Wooden; Dr. John Henrik Clarke of the Harlem Youth Action Project, who Abdul-Jabbar says was crucial to him in “understanding my path; sports legends Wilt Chamberlain and Muhammad Ali; and others. Most of all, this is a coming-of-age story that focuses entirely on Abdul-Jabbar’s childhood and young adulthood and demonstrates how this foundation would lead to his becoming one of the most successful and famous basketball players of all time. An inspiring and very human story.

Kirkus Reviews starred (November 1, 2017)
One of the greatest basketball players of all time reminisces on the lessons that pushed him into a life of personal reinvention.In our current moment when black athletes are joining the national confrontation with the nation’s overwhelming legacy of racial injustice, few are better suited to provide context than Abdul-Jabbar. At 24, the newly minted NBA Finals MVP publicly embraced his conversion to Islam by renaming himself, choosing to become the person he wanted to be. The reactions stretched from confusion to outrage and betrayal. For this Harlem native, the influence of the massive 1960s civil rights and ’70s Black Power movements and the examples set by Dr. Martin Luther King, historian John Henrik Clarke, Malcolm X, and Muhammad Ali had a lasting influence on the superstar and scholar. Abdul-Jabbar recalls them and more, including most significantly coach John Wooden of UCLA, where Abdul-Jabbar and the Bruins accumulated an awe-inspiring 88-2 record. Wooden’s lessons would extend well beyond the basketball court. Abdul-Jabbar lets his many other, worldly accomplishments sit in the background, choosing to focus on the long road of self-discovery, which included many blemishes, mistakes, and struggles. Wrestling with what it means to be black, determining his own responsibility and capacity to respond to injustice, and becoming the “kindest, gentlest, smartest, lovingest, version” of himself takes center stage in this retelling of the early part of his life. Like the author’s unstoppable sky hook, this timely book is a clear score. (Memoir. 10-16)

About the Author

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is the NBA’s all-time leading scorer and a Basketball Hall of Fame inductee. Since retiring, he has been an actor, a basketball coach, and the author of many New York Times bestsellers. Abdul-Jabbar is also a columnist for many news outlets, such as The Guardian and The Hollywood Reporter, writing on a wide range of subjects including race, politics, age, and pop culture. In 2012, he was selected as a U.S. Cultural Ambassador and in 2016 Abdul-Jabbar was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award which recognizes exceptional meritorious service.

He lives in Southern California.  His website is

Around the Web

Becoming Kareem on Amazon

Becoming Kareem on Goodreads

Becoming Kareem Publisher Page

The Monk of Mokha by Dave Eggers

The Monk of Mokha by Dave Eggers. January 30, 2018. Knopf, 352 p. ISBN: 9781101947319.  Int Lvl: AD; Rdg Lvl: AD.

The true story of a young Yemeni-American man, raised in San Francisco, who dreams of resurrecting the ancient art of Yemeni coffee but finds himself trapped in Sana’a by civil war.

Mokhtar Alkhanshali grew up in San Francisco, one of seven siblings brought up by Yemeni immigrants in a tiny apartment. At age twenty-four, unable to pay for college, he works as a doorman, until a chance encounter awakens his interest in coffee and its rich history in Yemen. Reinventing himself, he sets out to learn about coffee cultivation, roasting and importing. He travels to Yemen and visits farms in every corner of the country, collecting samples, eager to improve cultivation methods and help Yemeni farmers bring their coffee back to its former glory. And he is on the verge of success when civil war engulfs Yemen in 2015. The U.S. embassy closes, Saudi bombs begin to rain down on the country and Mokhtar is trapped in Yemen. This is a heart-pounding true story that weaves together the history of coffee, the struggles of everyday Yemenis living through civil war and the courageous journey of a young man–a Muslim and a U.S. citizen–following the most American of dreams.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Strong language, War, Mild sexual themes, Drugs


Video Review


Booklist starred (December 1, 2017 (Vol. 114, No. 7))
Journalism is integral to Eggers’ (Heroes of the Frontier, 2016) many-faceted, socially responsible literary life, and his nonfiction forte is telling the story of compelling individuals who have faced unfathomable adversity, as in Zeitoun (2009), the story of a Syrian American in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Here Eggers portrays Yemeni American Mokhtar Alkhanshali, who, after an unruly childhood in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood, a transformative stay in Yemen with his grandfather, and success as a car salesman, finally finds his calling, which proves to be quixotic and dangerous: he commits himself to restoring Yemen’s long-forgotten standing as the world’s first and best coffee producer. Eggers crisply recounts coffee’s delectably roguish history, into which Mokhtar’s Sisyphean struggles fit perfectly. Just as fast-talking, improvisational, kind, and monomaniacal Mokhtar attempts, against epic odds, to rekindle the lost art of quality coffee cultivation in Yemen, the country descends into a civil war made worse by al-Qaeda, Saudi bombings, and U.S. drone attacks. He repeatedly ends up in terrifying and dire situations, relying on his wits and bravado to save him and his companions. Readers will never take coffee for granted or overlook the struggles of Yemen after ingesting Egger’s phenomenally well-written, juggernaut of a tale of an intrepid and irresistible entrepreneur on a complex and meaningful mission. This highly caffeinated adventure story is ready-made for the big screen.

Kirkus Reviews starred (November 1, 2017)
For a son of Yemeni immigrants, the American dream takes the form of reawakening his ancestral homeland to its coffee legacy, the foundation for the industry he hopes to build.In his latest book, acclaimed novelist and McSweeney’s founder Eggers (Heroes of the Frontier, 2016, etc.) offers an appealing hybrid: a biography of a charming, industrious Muslim man who has more ambition than direction; a capsule history of coffee and its origins, growth, and development as a mass commodity and then as a niche product; the story of Blue Bottle, the elite coffee chain in San Francisco that some suspect (and some fear) could turn into the next Starbucks; an adventure story of civil war in a foreign country; and a most improbable and uplifting success story. The protagonist, Mokhtar Alkhanshali, not only made it back from Yemen after the U.S. Embassy had closed, leaving remaining American citizens to their own devices, but he was followed by a boatload of some of the richest, best coffee the world has known, “the most expensive coffee Blue Bottle has ever sold…$16 a cup.” One delicious irony is that neither the author nor his subject had been much interested in coffee exotica, with the former initially dismissing anyone “who waited in line for certain coffees made certain ways…[as] pretentious and a fool,” while the latter had only had a couple dozen cups of coffee in his life before he became a grader of beans and then an importer. But this book is about much more than coffee or Muslim immigrants or the conflicts in Yemen—it is about the undeniable value of “U.S. citizens who maintain strong ties to the countries of their ancestors and who, through entrepreneurial zeal and dogged labor, create indispensable bridges between the developed and developing worlds, between nations that produce and those that consume.” Eggers gives his hero a lot of thematic baggage to carry, but it is hard to resist the derring-do of the Horatio Alger of Yemenite coffee.

About the Author

Dave Eggers is the author of ten books. He is the founder of McSweeney’s, an independent publishing company based in San Francisco that produces books, a quarterly journal of new writing (McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern), and a monthly magazine, The Believer. McSweeney’s also publishes Voice of Witness, a nonprofit book series that uses oral history to illuminate human rights crises around the world. Eggers is the co-founder of 826 National, a network of eight tutoring centers around the country and ScholarMatch, a nonprofit organization designed to connect students with resources, schools and donors to make college possible.

He lives in Northern California with his family. Her website is

Teacher Resources

The Monk of Mokha Reading Guide

Around the Web

The Monk of Mokha on Amazon

The Monk of Mokha on Goodreads

The Monk of Mokha Publisher Page

Maya Lin by Susan Goldman Rubin

Maya Lin: Thinking with Her Hands by Susan Goldman Rubin. November 7, 2017. Chronicle Books, 100 p. ISBN: 9781452108377.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Lexile: 980.

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., is one of the most famous pieces of civic architecture in the world. But most people are not as familiar with the reserved college student who entered and won the design competition to build it. This accessible biography tells the story of Maya Lin, from her struggle to stick with her vision of the memorial to the wide variety of works she has created since then. The carefully researched text, paired with ample photos, crosses multiple interests—American history, civic activism, art history, and cultural diversity—and offers a timely celebration of the memorial’s 35th anniversary as well as providing an important contribution to the current discussion of the role of women and minorities in society.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: None



Booklist starred (September 1, 2017 (Vol. 114, No. 1))
Grades 4-7. Though she leads, of course, with the Vietnam Veterans Memorial—submitted to a design competition when Maya Lin was still just a senior at Yale—Rubin’s thorough examination of this modern architect extends far past the memorial for which she is best known. After briefly discussing Lin’s childhood—an animal-lover, she grew up in Ohio to academic parents who had both been born in China—Rubin focuses on Lin’s thought process behind the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the challenges she faced entering into the architecture world as a young Asian woman. From there, she discusses Lin’s refusal to be typecast as a monument designer, and the exception she made for the Civil Rights Memorial. Projects less likely to be well known by students—Wave Field, Langston Hughes Library, Riggio-Lynch Chapel, the Confluence Project—are given equal page time. Lin’s exploration of her Chinese heritage is examined through her design of the Museum of Chinese in America, images of the Box House showcase her playful side, and her love of animals and conservation is still evident in her ongoing What Is Missing? multimedia project. Compact trim size, color-coded chapters, and frequent glossy photos make this a solid, well-researched, and well-rounded biography of a fascinating woman. A finely designed, endlessly compelling examination of the life and work of one of America’s most notable architects.

Kirkus Reviews (September 1, 2017)
One of the world’s most celebrated creators of civic architecture is profiled in this accessible, engaging biography. Similar in style and format to her Everybody Paints!: The Lives and Art of the Wyeth Family (2014) and Wideness and Wonder: The Life and Art of Georgia O’Keeffe (2011), Rubin’s well-researched profile examines the career, creative processes, and career milestones of Maya Lin. Rubin discusses at length Lin’s most famous achievement, designing the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. Chinese-American Lin was a reserved college student who entered and won the competition to design and build the memorial. Her youth and ethnicity were subjects of great controversy, and Rubin discusses how Lin fought to ensure her vision of the memorial remained intact. Other notable works by Lin, including the Civil Rights Memorial for the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Alabama, a library and chapel for the Children’s Defense Fund, the Museum of Chinese in America, and the outdoor Wave Field project are examined but not in as much depth as the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Attractively designed, the book is illustrated extensively with color photos and drawings. An engaging, admiring, and insightful portrait of an uncompromising, civic-minded, visionary artist. (bibliography, source notes, index) (Biography. 12-15)

About the Author

Susan Goldman Rubin has written art books for children of all ages, including middle grade biographies of Georgia O’Keeffe and the Wyeths. She lives in Malibu, California.

Her website is

Teacher Resources

Maya Lin Lesson Plans

Maya Lin Studio

Around the Web

Maya Lin on Amazon

Maya Lin on Goodreads

Maya Lin Publisher Page

Geoengineering Earth’s Climate by Jennifer Swanson

Geoengineering Earth’s Climate: Resetting the Thermostat by Jennifer Swanson. August 1, 2017. Twtney-First Century Books, 96 p. ISBN: 9781512415698.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 1150.

How can we combat climate warming? Some scientists say geoengineering interfering with Earth’s systems to counteract climate change is the answer. Explore ideas such as reforestation, space mirrors, and carbon capture, and learn about the pros and cons of these controversial technologies.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: None



Booklist (October 15, 2017 (Online))
Grades 7-10. This book succinctly introduces ideas proposed by geoengineers to counteract climate change, and addresses each idea’s benefits and risks. The author states the science of geoengineering is relatively new, and none of these ideas are in widespread use, although some, like cloud seeding, have been used for years—sometimes with disastrous results. Besides reforestation and switching to renewable and alternative fuels, bioengineers are working to create large-scale technologies like chemically thickening clouds to reduce the amount of sunlight reaching the ground, or placing giant mirrors in space to reflect sunlight away from the planet. The author emphasizes that many of these suggestions many be cost prohibitive, impractical, and have uncertain outcomes, and that from moral or ethical standpoints, not everyone agrees they should be used. Practical ways young people can help to reduce climate change now are appended, and graphs, color illustrations, source notes, glossary, and a selected bibliography are also included. This much-needed resource for this age group will be useful for student research.

Kirkus Reviews (September 1, 2017)
How can we turn Earth’s temperature down? An author of nonfiction for young readers on a wide range of topics takes on the controversial subject of geoengineering: purposeful human efforts at global climate change. With clear, information-packed exposition organized into short chapters and broken up with subheadings, diagrams, and photographs, she moves from a general overview and history to a consideration of two specific areas: carbon-dioxide removal and sun shields. She explains the greenhouse effect, the biological, industrial, and geological carbon cycles, photosynthesis, and the effects of ocean acidification and algal blooms. She talks about the importance of balance: avoiding efforts that will tip the climate from too warm to too cold. She points out the possibility that large-scale solar-radiation management could lead to a de-emphasis on reducing the amount of greenhouse gases being added to the atmosphere. Most importantly, she states that these global solutions are extremely controversial. Methods suggested so far would be expensive, possibly wildly impractical, and likely to have unintended consequences. But, she argues, quoting some of the researchers she consulted, continuing to explore these possibilities is vital in the face of the overwhelming evidence that our climate is changing for the worse. Occasional proofreading slips don’t dampen the importance of this compact overview, a good starting place for teen readers and researchers on a critical issue. (source notes, glossary, selected bibliography, further information, index) (Nonfiction. 13-18)

About the Author

Jennifer Swanson began her writing career at the age of five when she wrote and illustrated books for her kindergarten class. A self-professed science geek, Jennifer started a science club in her garage at the age of 7. She used to gather leaves and flowers and look at them under a microscope. Much to her mother’s dismay, her prize possession was a cow skull that she found in a field down by the river. Her love of science continues to this day as when she is not writing, she loves to go out and notice the science all around her.

Jennifer lives in Jacksonville with her husband and two dogs. Her website is

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Geoengineering Earth’s Climate Publisher Page

Impact! by Elizabeth Rusch

Impact!: Asteroids and the Science of Saving the World by Elizabeth Rusch. November 14, 2017. HMH Books for Young Readers, 80 p. ISBN: 9780544671591.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 7.6; Lexile: 1070.

Asteroids bombard our atmosphere all the time. Some are harmless, burning up in a flash of light. But others explode with a great sonic boom, smashing windows and throwing people to the ground. Worst of all, some asteroids strike our planet, blasting out massive craters and destroying everything nearby on impact.

Follow the award-winning author Elizabeth Rusch into the field with scientists as they search for dangerous asteroids in space, study asteroids that have smashed into the ground, and make plans to prevent an asteroid strike if one ever threatens our planet.

Part of Series: Scientists in the Field

Potentially Sensitive Areas: None



Booklist (November 15, 2017 (Vol. 114, No. 6))
Grades 6-9. An asteroid crashes through the Earth’s atmosphere, hurtling toward the Russian town of Chelyabinsk, its blast injuring more than 1,500 people. This scene isn’t from the latest sf movie but the opening of this volume in the acclaimed Scientists in the Field series. With approximately 350 asteroids scattering meteorites across the Earth’s surface each year, scientists study asteroids and the dangers they pose. Each chapter looks at a related topic through the lens of a scientist and his or her work, such as Marc Fries, a meteorite hunter and curator of space rocks for NASA. Other chapters focus on how geologists deduced that an asteroid impact caused the extinction of dinosaurs and how astronomers search for asteroids from Earth and in space. The final and perhaps most riveting chapter looks at proposed approaches to stopping a potentially hazardous asteroid. Accompanied by photographs of scientists in action and requisite space shots, the book concludes with citizen science connections and resources and is sure to have an impact on young astronomers.

Kirkus Reviews (October 1, 2017)
In space and on Earth, scientists study asteroids in hopes of avoiding a disaster like the one that befell the dinosaurs.In this latest title in the long-running series, the author of The Mighty Mars Rover (2012) introduces researchers investigating smaller solar-orbiting space rocks: asteroids. Opening with a gripping description of fourth-graders’ experience of an asteroid strike in Russia in 2013, she explains what and where asteroids are and how they threaten our planet. Subsequent chapters follow several scientists: meteorite hunters; an impact crater specialist who explores Meteor Crater near Flagstaff, Arizona; an astronomer who uses a major telescope in Arizona to look for unknown near-Earth asteroids; the (female) principle investigator for NASA’s Near Earth Object Wide Infrared Survey Explorer mission; and an Indian-American astronomer, also working in Arizona (and the only nonwhite scientist profiled), identifying the origin of meteorites. One, David Kring, is the man whose research led to the identification of the crater off Yucatan left by the asteroid that changed Earth’s climate, causing the extinction of 75 percent of plants and animals alive at the time, including dinosaurs. Rusch concludes with a short list of possible methods for dealing with an asteroid that actually threatens Earth and includes a long, useful list of books and websites for reader involvement and further research. Lavishly illustrated with Anderson’s photographs, this wide-ranging sample of asteroid science presumes quite a bit of previous knowledge but will reward the enthusiast. (Nonfiction. 12-16)

About the Author

Elizabeth Rusch is an award-winning book author, magazine writer, editor, writing teacher and speaker. Her wide-ranging passions include astronomy, volcanology, art, music, history, nature, waves, jokes, crayons, and mud — anything that catches her fancy. She is inspired by stories of exploration and discovery, stories that have been overlooked by history, and stories that grapple with persistent questions. Whether writing fiction or nonfiction for children or adults or teaching workshops, she hopes her work opens doors, opens minds, opens possibilities. Her website is

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Victoria by Catherine Reef

Victoria: Portrait of a Queen by Catherine Reef. November 7, 2017. Clarion Books, 256 p. ISBN: 9780544716148. Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 1030.

Catherine Reef brings history vividly to life in this sumptuously illustrated account of a confident, strong-minded, and influential woman.

Victoria woke one morning at the age of eighteen to discover that her uncle had died and she was now queen. She went on to rule for sixty-three years, with an influence so far-reaching that the decades of her reign now bear her name—the Victorian period. Victoria is filled with the exciting comings and goings of royal life: intrigue and innuendo, scheming advisors, and assassination attempts, not to mention plenty of passion and discord.

Includes bibliography, notes, British royal family tree, index.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: None


Booklist (September 15, 2017 (Vol. 114, No. 2))
Grades 7-10. Royalty seems to have a perpetual hold on young readers’ imaginations, and this biography brings the young nineteenth-century queen to the forefront. First, it skims her childhood in a palace, coronation, and fairy tale wedding before going beyond those highlights to shed light on Victoria’s long-lived importance at a time when England and its empire were rapidly changing amid spectacular technological advances. If the conditions of Her Majesty’s rule recalls that of great-great-granddaughter Elizabeth II’s reign, it won’t be lost on those absorbing Reef’s beautifully produced book. Full of color portraits, period engravings, and fascinating photographs of the queen, her consort, and her progeny, this endeavor is made to pore over again and again. Victoria’s personality is at the forefront and humanizes the bio. She is by turns hot-tempered and fair, hardworking yet emotional. Back matter includes a family tree that leads to newest royals George and Charlotte, as well as extensive notes. Anglophiles and history lovers should definitely enjoy this.

Horn Book Magazine (January/February, 2018)
Fans’ obsession with Victorian England seems never-ending, yet how much do young Victorianaphiles know about the real woman who gave the period its name? Coming to the rescue is veteran biographer Reef (Ernest Hemingway, rev. 9/09; Florence Nightingale, rev. 5/16) who, beginning with Victoria’s family background and her complicated and cruel upbringing, paints a vivid portrait of the feisty monarch who assumed the British throne at age eighteen and then ruled for over sixty years. Reef dexterously shows not only Victoria’s development as a person but also her evolution as a ruler within the social and political upheavals of her time, elegantly layering in details to provide a broader view of the era (including the misery of the desperately poor throughout the British Isles, and the brutal bloodshed tied to Britain’s empire-building in places like the Crimean region, Afghanistan, Turkey, and Victoria’s “jewel in the crown,” India). On the personal side, readers will be intrigued by the well-drawn descriptions of Victoria’s relationships with a range of individuals including prime ministers, her own children, other family members, and the various men in her life. These last include her beloved husband Albert and the Scotsman John Brown, a retainer who became (scandalously) close to Victoria after the prince consort’s death. Full of primary source material and spectacular paintings in full color as well as back matter that includes a Windsor family tree, source notes, and a rich bibliography, this is a biography for Victoriana and history lovers alike. monica edinger

About the Author

Catherine Reef is the author of more than 35 nonfiction books for young people. Her books for Clarion include the highly acclaimed John Steinbeck and Sigmund Freud, which was the recipient of the 2002 Sydney Taylor Award, presented by the Association of Jewish Libraries. She lives in College Park, Maryland.

Her website is

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Victoria on Amazon

Victoria on Goodreads

Victoria on JLG

Victoria Publisher Page