Category Archives: Nonfiction

Chasing Space: Young Reader’s Edition by Leland Melvin

Chasing Space: Young Reader’s Edition by Leland Melvin. May 23, 2017. Amistad, 240 p. ISBN: 9780062665928.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 6.6; Lexile: 1020.

Meet Leland Melvin—football star, NASA astronaut, and professional dream chaser.

In this inspiring memoir, adapted from the simultaneous version for adults, young readers will get to learn about Leland Melvin’s remarkable life story, from being drafted by the Detroit Lions to bravely orbiting our planet in the International Space Station to writing songs with will.i.am, working with Serena Williams, and starring in top-rated television shows like The Dog WhispererTop Chef, and Child Genius.

When the former Detroit Lion’s football career was cut short by an injury, Leland didn’t waste time mourning his broken dream. Instead, he found a new one—something that was completely out of this world.

He joined NASA, braved an injury that nearly left him permanently deaf, and still managed to muster the courage and resolve to travel to space on the shuttle Atlantis to help build the International Space Station. Leland’s problem-solving methods and can-do attitude turned his impossible-seeming dream into reality.

Leland’s story introduces readers to the fascinating creative and scientific challenges he had to deal with in space and will encourage the next generation of can-do scientists to dare to follow their dreams. With do-it-yourself experiments in the back of the book and sixteen pages of striking full-color photographs, this is the perfect book for young readers looking to be inspired.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Racism, Hazing, Murder

 

Book Trailer

Author Talk

Reviews

Kirkus Reviews (June 1, 2017)
Memoir of an astronaut whose road to space took an unusual twist—through the National Football League.Rewritten for younger audiences, this version of Melvin’s simultaneously publishing memoir for adults not only retraces his development from “a skinny black kid” who wanted to be the next Arthur Ashe to an engineer who flew on two space-shuttle missions, but is even capped with a trio of science projects. Though he pushes the conventional platitude that “hard work and dedication are all you need to succeed,” his experiences point more to the value of being ready to take full advantage of second chances when they come along—which they did in his (brief) NFL career, in college after he was suspended for (inadvertent, in his view) cheating, and later at NASA in the wake of a training injury that left him partially deaf. He has also enjoyed a second career as a speaker, educator, TV host, occasional poet, and songwriter with Pharrell and other musicians. Religious faith and racism sound occasional notes in his account, the latter underscored by a picture of his otherwise all-white astronaut class in one of the two photo sections, but he devotes warmer attention to tributes to his mentors, colleagues, role models—and, oddly, his dogs, whose lives and deaths make up much of what he has to say about his adult private life. A detailed picture of astronaut training and work, threaded on a decidedly unusual storyline. (Memoir. 11-14)

About the Author

A former wide receiver for the Detroit Lions, Leland Melvin is an engineer and NASA astronaut. He served on the space shuttle Atlantis as a mission specialist and was named the NASA Associate Administrator for Education in October 2010. He also served as the cochair on the White House’s Federal Coordination in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Education Task Force, developing the nation’s five-year STEM education plan. He is the host of the Lifetime show Child Genius and a judge for ABC’s BattleBots. He holds four honorary doctorates and has received the NFL Player Association Award of Excellence. He lives in Lynchburg, Virginia.

His website is www.lelandmelvin.com

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How Dare the Sun Rise by Sandra Uwiringiyimana

How Dare the Sun Rise: Memoirs of a War Child by Sandra Uwiringiyimana. May 16, 2017. Katherine Tegen Books, 304 p. ISBN: 9780062470140.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 790.

In this powerful memoir, Sandra Uwiringyimana, a girl from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, tells the incredible true story of how she survived a massacre, immigrated to America, and overcame her trauma through art and activism.

Sandra Uwiringiyimana was just ten years old when she found herself with a gun pointed at her head. The rebels had come at night—wielding weapons, torches, machetes. She watched as her mother and six-year-old sister were gunned down in a refugee camp, far from their home in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The rebels were killing people who weren’t from the same community, the same tribe. In other words, they were killing people simply for looking different.

“Goodbye, life,” she said to the man ready to shoot her.

Remarkably, the rebel didn’t pull the trigger, and Sandra escaped into the night.

Thus began a new life for her and her surviving family members. With no home and no money, they struggled to stay alive. Eventually, through a United Nations refugee program, they moved to America, only to face yet another ethnic disconnect. Sandra may have crossed an ocean, but there was now a much wider divide she had to overcome. And it started with middle school in New York.

In this profoundly moving memoir, Sandra tells the story of her survival, of finding her place in a new country, and of her hope for the future.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Guns, Mild language, Discrimination, War, Violence, Strong sexual themes, Graphic description of refugee-camp massacre, Racism

 

Book Info

Reviews

Booklist (March 15, 2017 (Vol. 113, No. 14))
Grades 8-10. As America’s doors threaten to shut against refugees, this memoir could not be timelier. As a 10-year-old in 2004, Uwiringiyimana (pronounced oo-wee-ring-GEE-yi-mah-nah) and her family fled conflict in their native Congo for a U.N. refugee camp over the border in Burundi. The stay, overcrowded and miserable as the sanctuary was, proved short-lived: on the night of August 13, armed rebels attacked the camp, slaughtering 166 people. Uwiringiyimana’s narrative starts with a terrifying moment-by-moment account of that horrific event. Her ability to summon the chaos and terror is extraordinary, but then, so is she. Plagued by PTSD and severe, recurrent depression in the years since—the U.N. succeeded in bringing the surviving members of her family to the U.S. in 2007—she has emerged as a powerful spokesperson for the plight of the dispossessed. Her account of the family’s first few years in upstate New York, where she was made to feel again unwanted and alien at school, is almost as heartbreaking as the memory of that one world-shattering night.

Horn Book Magazine (July/August, 2017)
Congolese refugee Sandra Uwiringi-yimana recounts life before, during, and after war. At ten, Sandra sees her sister gunned down along with others at the camp where she and her family were temporarily staying. Before readers can find out which of Sandra’s family members survived, she takes us back to her life in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where, as Banyamulenge people, they were considered stateless foreigners. Despite the discrimination, Sandra spent much of her childhood in a comfortable middle-class home, although frequent civil unrest would require the family to enter refugee camps for a time and then return home. After the night her sister was murdered, she and her surviving family members began the long process of applying for asylum in the United States. From there, Sandra recounts her American adolescence, trying to make sense of what race means in America and how she fits in as an African but not an African American. The prose may be workmanlike, but the politically and culturally complex picture of Africa that the author paints is welcome, and the complexities of black identity for recent immigrants versus that of diasporic black people are not often touched upon in YA literature. sarah hannah gómez

About the Author

Sandra Uwiringiyimana is originally from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

She came to America as a refugee with her family, and started middle school in New York. She has shared the stage alongside Charlie Rose, Angelina Jolie, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, and Tina Brown at the Women in the World Summit. She also addressed the United Nations Security Council. She is a graduate of Mercy College.

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Seven Wonders of the Solar System by David A. Aguilar

Seven Wonders of the Solar System by David A. Aguilar. May 30, 2017. Viking Books for Young Readers, 80 p. ISBN: 9780451476852.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 8.9; Lexile: 1070.

Travel the near and far reaches of the solar system in this lively, beautifully illustrated Smithsonian nonfiction book!

Ready for a wondrous celestial journey? How about a trip to our close neighbor Mars, home to the largest volcano in the solar system? Or to Europa, a watery lunar world with a really deep ocean? Or beyond the beyond to mysterious Planet 9, an unseen giant lurking in the far outer regions of space?

This extraordinary book puts you right there: breaking through colorful gaseous hazes; exploring the surface of red-hot or ice-cold planets; hurtling through rings of flying, frozen ice chunks; and rocketing on out to deep space. Astronomer David Aguilar is our navigator on these seven wonderful trips through our solar system—journeys that someday may actually happen!

Potentially Sensitive Areas: None

 

 

About the Author

David A. Aguilar  is an astronomer, artist, author of several notable books on space for children, including Cosmic Catastrophes: Seven Ways to Destroy a Planet Like Earth. He is the former Director of Science Information for the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. As a member of the New Horizons Spacecraft Team, he handled the media coverage of the Pluto fly-by. He lives with his wife outside Aspen Colorado, where he’s built his own observatory. Asteroid 1990 DA was named in his honor by the International Astronomical Union.

David and wife Shirley reside outside Aspen, CO.

His website is davidaguilar.org.

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Amazon Adventure: How Tiny Fish Are Saving the World’s Largest Rainforest by Sy Montgomery

Amazon Adventure: How Tiny Fish Are Saving the World’s Largest Rainforest by Sy Montgomery. July 4, 2017. HMH Books for Young Readers, 80 p. ISBN: 9780544352995.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 7.7; Lexile: 1050.

Considered the “lungs of the world,” the Amazon provides a full fifth of the world’s oxygen, and every year unsustainable human practices destroy 2.7 million acres. What can be done to help? That’s where Project Piaba comes in.
Join the award-winning author Sy Montgomery and the photographer Keith Ellenbogen as they traverse the river and rainforest to discover how tiny fish, called piabas, can help preserve the Amazon, its animals, and the rich legacy of its people. Amazon Adventure is an eye-opening—and ultimately hopeful—exploration of how humanity’s practices are affecting and shaping not only the Amazon, but our entire environment.

Part of Series: Scientists in the Field

Potentially Sensitive Areas: None

 

Reviews

Booklist starred (May 15, 2017 (Vol. 113, No. 18))
Grades 5-8. Sibert Medal–winning Montgomery returns to the impressive Scientists in the Field series with this narrative account of one little fish. The Amazon, an essential part of the earth’s ecosystem, is teeming with life; new species are still regularly discovered there. Montgomery and photographer Keith Ellenbogen join forces with Boston aquarist Scott Dowd in search of piaba, a bright, shy fish that plays a large role in the preservation of the Amazon. Sold as valuable pets, the gathering of these fish has led to a flourishing trade: piabeiros who gently fish for piabas from canoes. Removing the piabas from their natural habitat may seem detrimental, but overcrowding during the dry season means almost 90 percent of piabas are stranded. Furthermore, piabeiros rely on their trade and protect their industry, keeping this stretch of the Amazon free of the industries that pollute other areas; the fishery becomes not only sustainable but mutually beneficial. Montgomery thoroughly mines the social and economic effects the piabas have on locals, alongside an in-depth exploration of the Amazon River and its ecosystems. The science and sociology are interesting and unusual, and the narrative itself enthralling: a nerve-racking section detailing the most dangerous inhabitants of the Amazon River, just before Ellenbogen submerges himself, will have readers holding their breath (those dangers are, mostly, debunked several pages later). A true-to-form installment in a valuable series.

Horn Book Magazine (May/June, 2017)
Called piaba (“which roughly translates to ‘small-fry’ or ‘pip-squeak’”) by locals, several hundred fish species are harvested from the Amazon basin using methods that have developed into a model of environmental sustainability, organized to protect the critically important Amazon ecosystems while remaining economically viable. In Brazil, author Montgomery travels up the Río Negro to the town of Barcelos with a group organized by Project Piaba, a venture that has partnered with Barcelos’s residents to promote sustainable practices. Leading the tour is Scott Dowd of the New England Aquarium, a lifelong freshwater fish enthusiast. Montgomery shares her endless zeal and scientific curiosity with readers as she meticulously details her adventures: snorkeling to see fish that “dazzle and shimmer” in the tannin-stained river, the gorgeous and elaborate costumes and floats of the annual Festival of the Ornamental Fish, and the care taken by scientists to treat fish diseases as well as teach the fishers (piabeiros) best practices in keeping the fish healthy during transport to freshwater aquariums. Inviting photographs of people, fish, and the beautiful Amazon flora bring the experience to life. Text boxes interspersed throughout the main account include profiles of other animals of the Amazon (including dangerous piranhas, electric eels, and anacondas) and an extended look at how Ellenbogen manages to produce such beautiful photographs on and under such a dark and murky river. Appended with a bibliography, websites, and an index. danielle j. ford

About the Author

Part Indiana Jones, part Emily Dickinson, as the Boston Globe describes her, Sy Montgomery is an author, naturalist, documentary scriptwriter, and radio commentator who has traveled to some of the worlds most remote wildernesses for her work. She has worked in a pit crawling with 18,000 snakes in Manitoba, been hunted by a tiger in India, swum with pink dolphins in the Amazon, and been undressed by an orangutan in Borneo. She is the author of 13 award-winning books, including her national best-selling memoir, The Good Good Pig. Montgomery lives in Hancock, New Hampshire.

Her website is symontgomery.com

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Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay

Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay. June 13, 2017. HarperCollins, 306 p. ISBN: 9780062362599.  Int Lvl: AD; Rdg Lvl: AD.

From the bestselling author of Bad Feminist: a searingly honest memoir of food, weight, self-image, and learning how to feed your hunger while taking care of yourself

I ate and ate and ate in the hopes that if I made myself big, my body would be safe. I buried the girl I was because she ran into all kinds of trouble. I tried to erase every memory of her, but she is still there, somewhere. . . . I was trapped in my body, one that I barely recognized or understood, but at least I was safe.

In her phenomenally popular essays and long-running Tumblr blog, Roxane Gay has written with intimacy and sensitivity about food and body, using her own emotional and psychological struggles as a means of exploring our shared anxieties over pleasure, consumption, appearance, and health. As a woman who describes her own body as “wildly undisciplined,” Roxane understands the tension between desire and denial, between self-comfort and self-care. In Hunger, she explores her own past—including the devastating act of violence that acted as a turning point in her young life—and brings readers along on her journey to understand and ultimately save herself.

With the bracing candor, vulnerability, and power that have made her one of the most admired writers of her generation, Roxane explores what it means to learn to take care of yourself: how to feed your hungers for delicious and satisfying food, a smaller and safer body, and a body that can love and be loved—in a time when the bigger you are, the smaller your world becomes.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Strong language, Strong sexual themes

 

Reviews

Booklist starred (May 15, 2017 (Vol. 113, No. 18))
More than once, Gay, author of essays (Bad Feminist, 2014), short stories (Difficult Women, 2017), and crime fiction (An Untamed State, 2014), refers to writing this memoir as the hardest thing she’s ever done. Readers will believe her; it’s hard to imagine this electrifying book being more personal, candid, or confessional. At 12, Gay survived a devastating sexual assault, a point on her time line that would forever have a before and an after. She focused the trauma inward, and, as a frequent refrain goes, she doesn’t know, or she does, how her body came to be “unruly,” “undisciplined,” and the kind of body whose story is “ignored or dismissed or derided.” The story of her body is, understandably, linked to the story of her life; she tells both, and plumbs discussions about both victims of sexual violence and people whose bodies don’t adhere to the ideal of thinness. In 88 short, lucid chapters, Gay powerfully takes readers through realities that pain her, vex her, guide her, and inform her work. The result is a generous and empathic consideration of what it’s like to be someone else: in itself something of a miracle.

Kirkus Reviews starred (May 15, 2017)
A heart-rending debut memoir from the outspoken feminist and essayist.Gay (Bad Feminist, 2014, etc.) pulls no punches in declaring that her story is devoid of “any powerful insight into what it takes to overcome an unruly body and unruly appetites.” Rather than a success story, it depicts the author, at 42, still in the throes of a lifelong struggle with the fallout from a harrowing violation in her youth. The author exposes the personal demons haunting her life—namely weight and trauma—which she deems “the ugliest, weakest, barest parts of me.” Much of her inner turmoil sprang from a devastating gang rape at age 12. “I ate and ate and ate in the hopes that if I made myself big, my body would be safe,” she writes. Gay painfully recalls the “lost years” of her reckless 20s as a time when food, the anonymity of the internet, and creative writing became escapes and balms for loneliness. The author refers to her body as a “cage” in which she has become trapped, but her obesity also presents itself as a personal challenge to overcome the paralyzing psychological damage caused by rape. Broken into clipped, emotionally resonant chapters, Gay details a personal life spent grappling with the comfort of food, body hyperconsciousness, shame, and self-loathing. Throughout, the author is rightfully opinionated, sharply criticizing the media’s stereotypical portrayal of obesity and Oprah Winfrey’s contradictory dieting messages. She is just as engaging when discussing her bisexuality and her adoration for Ina Garten, who taught her “that a woman can be plump and pleasant and absolutely in love with food.” Gay clearly understands the dynamics of dieting and exercise and the frustrations of eating disorders, but she also is keenly in touch with the fact that there are many who feel she is fine just as she is. The author continues her healing return from brokenness and offers hope for others struggling with weight, sexual trauma, or bodily shame. An intense, unsparingly honest portrait of childhood crisis and its enduring aftermath.

About the Author

Roxane Gay’s writing has appeared in Best American Mystery Stories 2014, Best American Short Stories 2012, Best Sex Writing 2012, Oxford American, American Short Fiction, West Branch, Virginia Quarterly Review, NOON, The New York Times Book Review, Bookforum, Time, The Los Angeles Times, The Nation, The Rumpus, Salon, The Wall Street Journal’s Speakeasy culture blog, and many others. She is the co-editor of PANK and essays editor for The Rumpus. She teaches writing at Eastern Illinois University. Her novel, She is the author of three books–Ayiti, An Untamed State, and Bad Feminist. She very much wants a tiny baby elephant.

Her website is www.roxanegay.com

Teacher Resources

Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body Discussion Questions

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Hostage by Guy Delisle

Hostage by Guy Delisle. April 25, 2017. Drawn & Quarterly, 436 p. ISBN: 9781770462793.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

How does one survive when all hope is lost?

In the middle of the night in 1997, Doctors Without Borders administrator Christophe Andre was kidnapped by armed men and taken away to an unknown destination in the Caucasus region. For three months, Andre was kept handcuffed in solitary confinement, with little to survive on and almost no contact with the outside world. Close to twenty years later, award-winning cartoonist Guy Delisle (PyongyangJerusalemShenzhenBurma Chronicles) recounts Andre s harrowing experience in Hostage, a book that attests to the power of one man s determination in the face of a hopeless situation.

Marking a departure from the author s celebrated first-person travelogues, Delisle tells the story through the perspective of the titular captive, who strives to keep his mind alert as desperation starts to set in. Working in a pared down style with muted color washes, Delisle conveys the psychological effects of solitary confinement, compelling us to ask ourselves some difficult questions regarding the repercussions of negotiating with kidnappers and what it really means to be free. Thoughtful, intense, and moving, Hostage takes a profound look at what drives our will to survive in the darkest of moments.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Guns, Discrimination, War, Violence, Alcohol, Harsh realities of being held hostage

 

Author Interview

 

About the Author

Born in Quebec, Canada, Guy Delisle studied animation at Sheridan College. Delisle has worked for numerous animation studios around the world, including CinéGroupe in Montreal.

Drawing from his experience at animation studios in China and North Korea, Delisle’s graphic novels Shenzen and Pyongyang depict these two countries from a Westerner’s perspective. A third graphic novel, Chroniques Birmanes, recounts his time spent in Myanmar with his wife, a Médecins Sans Frontières administrator.

His website is www.guydelisle.com

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Stumbling on History by Fern Schumer Chapman

Stumbling on History: An Art Project Compels a Small German Town to Face Its Past by Fern Schumer Chapman. August 1, 2016. Gussie Rose Press, 56 p. ISBN: 9780996472524.  Int Lvl: 3-6; Rdg Lvl: 7.4.

“Who will remember?”

Edith Westerfeld, an 89-year-old Holocaust refugee, wonders if the memory of the Nazis murdering her parents, along with millions if other victims, will outlive the survivors. Now — 76 years after Edith’s parents saved their daughter’s life by sending her, alone and terrified, to America — she returns to the small German town where her family had lived for hundreds of years. Invited to witness the installation of a memorial to her family — part of an effort throughout Europe to confront the genocide of World War II — she experiences how art is helping today’s generation face and atone for crimes of the past.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Harsh realities of the Holocaust, Antisemitism, Anti-Romani sentiment, Xenophobia

 

 

About the Author

Critically acclaimed Chicago-based writer Fern Schumer Chapman has written several award-winning books. Her memoir, Motherland — a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection, a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award, and a BookSense76 pick — is a popular choice for book clubs. Her two other books, Is It Night or Day? and Like Finding My Twin, are used in middle and high school classrooms. In 2004, the Illinois Association of Teachers of English (IATE) named Chapman the “Illinois Author of the Year.” Twice, Oprah Winfrey shows have featured her books. Her latest work, Stumbling on History, was released in September 2016.

Her website is fernschumerchapman.com

Teacher Resources

Stumbling on History Teaching Guide

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Flying Machines: How the Wright Brothers Soared by Alison Wilgus

Flying Machines: How the Wright Brothers Soared by Alison Wilgus. May 23, 2017. First Second, 128 p. ISBN: 9781626721401.  Int Lvl: 3-6; Rdg Lvl: 5.1.

Take to the skies with Flying Machines!

Follow the famous aviators from their bicycle shop in Dayton, Ohio, to the fields of North Carolina where they were to make their famous flights. In an era of dirigibles and hot air balloons, the Wright Brothers were among the first innovators of heavier than air flight. But in the hotly competitive international race toward flight, Orville and Wilbur were up against a lot more than bad weather. Mechanical failures, lack of information, and even other aviators complicated the Wright Brothers’ journey. Though they weren’t as wealthy as their European counterparts, their impressive achievements demanded attention on the international stage. Thanks to their carefully recorded experiments and a healthy dash of bravery, the Wright Brothers’ flying machines took off.

Part of Series: Science Comics

Potentially Sensitive Areas: None

 

Reviews

Booklist (April 15, 2017 (Online))
Grades 5-8. The history of aviation gets enthusiastic treatment in this Science Comics series title. Narrated by Katherine Wright, sister to Orville and Wilbur, Wilgus and Brooks’ engaging account of the development of modern aircraft covers key historical moments and figures as well as some of the science behind the designs. While the spreads in which Katherine and other airplane designers explain concepts can get a little wordy, they add very helpful context for how each of the advancements, from the Wrights’ movable rudder to the invention of the aileron to modern turbojet engines, helped improve air travel. Brooks’ depictions of aircraft are detailed and nicely labeled, and they come to life as they zip (or stutter and lurch) through the panels. The Wrights’ competition with blustery European “aeronauts” both enlivens the story line and calls attention to the rapid pace of advancement once early airplanes finally got off the ground. With infectious enthusiasm, clearly articulated concepts, and an engrossing format, this should pique the interest of plane-obsessed kids.

Kirkus Reviews (April 15, 2017)
In this entry in the Science Comics series, Katharine, the younger sister of Orville and Wilbur Wright, explains the science behind flight and how her brothers invented and flew the first successful airplane.The Wright brothers were not the first to try to create flying machines, nor were they alone in their era in experimenting with them. In addition to chronicling their failures and successes, the narrative discusses the work of other pioneers in heavier than air flight, such as Otto and Gustav Lilienthal and Alphonse Pénaud. Scientific concepts including Newton’s laws of motion are clearly and concisely explained, as are technical components of the airplanes the Wright brothers invented and tested. Further innovations in flight are explained, ending with the invention of the jet engine. The text is informative and engagingly written, and the illustrations are colorful and appealing. A palette of brown, ocher, and blue-gray gives the graphic panels an appropriately antique feel. Unsurprisingly, they are almost exclusively populated by white people. Backmatter includes brief profiles of other aviation pioneers and a short biography of Katharine Wright. There is no bibliography or source notes and a surprising paucity of age-appropriate titles in the suggestions for further reading. An accessible and engaging introduction to the Wright brothers and how they ushered in the age of flight. (glossary, further reading) (Graphic nonfiction. 8-12)

About the Author

Alison Wilgus is a Brooklyn-based author of comics and prose. She got her start as an animation writer on Codename: Kids Next Door, and her work has since been published by Scholastic, Nickelodeon Magazine, Del Rey, Dark Horse, and Tor.com, among others.

Her website is www.alisonwilgus.com

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The Factory Girls by Christine Seifert

The Factory Girls: A Kaleidoscopic Account of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire by Christine Seifert. May 30, 2017. Zest Books, 178 p. ISBN: 9781942186458.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

The twentieth century ushered in a new world filled with a dazzling array of consumer goods. For the first time in American history, fashion could be mass produced. Even the poorest immigrant girls could afford a blouse or two. But these same immigrant teens toiled away in factories in appalling working conditions. Their hard work and sacrifice lined the pockets of greedy factory owners who were almost exclusively white men. The tragic Triangle Waist Factory fire in 1911 resulted in the deaths of over a hundred young people, mostly immigrant girls, who were locked in the factory.

That fire signaled a turning point in American history. This book looks at the events leading up to the fire, including a close look at how fashion and the desire for consumer goods – driven in part by the excess of the Gilded Age – created an unsustainable culture of greed. Told from the perspective of six young women who lived the story, this book reminds us why what we buy and how we vote really matter.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: None

 

Reviews

Kirkus Reviews (April 15, 2017)
The tragedy known as the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire marked a turning point in the development of the labor movement in the United States.Because many of the victims were just teenagers, the fire that killed 146 young workers has the potential to hold great interest for young readers. This effort focuses primarily on the Gilded Age’s economic expansion and decadence, immigration, and the labor movement that emerged to protect workers from the extreme exploitation that arose during the era. Although it includes the stories of several young workers who either survived or were victims of the fire, just three chapters describe the conflagration and its aftermath. Readers seeking a book that focuses on it should look elsewhere. The tone is often casual, often characterized by comments such as “Mechanized factory work paid squat” and describing horse manure accumulating in “big poop piles.” (“Poop” occurs frequently.) The book is marred by both poor research and poor writing. Booker T. Washington is incorrectly identified as founder of the NAACP, and noted photographer Lewis Hine (who spent years documenting child workers) is introduced thus: “a reporter by the name of Lewis Hine reported a story of kids who worked on farms.” There are few photographs. Sophisticated readers interested in the fire would do better to read David Von Drehle’s book for adults Triangle: The Fire That Changed America (2003). Neither fully accurate nor especially engaging. (Nonfiction. 12-18)

About the Author

Christine Seifert is a native North Dakotan, a professor at Westminster College in Salt Lake City, Utah, and a Young Adult writer. She is the author of the YA novel The Predicteds, as well as the nonfiction books Whoppers: History’s Most Outrageous Lies and Liars and The Endless Wait: Virginity in Young Adult Literature (2015). She writes for BitchMagazine and other publications, and has presented at academic conferences on such diverse topics as as Writing, Rhetoric, Twilight, and Jersey Shore.

Her website is christineseifert.com

Teacher Resources

Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire Resources & Lesson Plans

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The Children of Willesden Lane by Mona Golabek

The Children of Willesden Lane: A True Story of Hope and Survival During World War II by Mona Golabek. March 28, 2017. Little Brown Books for Young Readers, 213 p. ISBN: 9780316554886.  Int Lvl: 3-6; Rdg Lvl: 6.2.

Fourteen-year-old Lisa Jura was a musical prodigy who hoped to become a concert pianist. But when Hitler’s armies advanced on pre-war Vienna, Lisa’s parents were forced to make a difficult decision. Able to secure passage for only one of their three daughters through the Kindertransport, they chose to send gifted Lisa to London for safety.

As she yearned to be reunited with her family while she lived in a home for refugee children on Willesden Lane, Lisa’s music became a beacon of hope. A memoir of courage, survival, and the power of music to uplift the human spirit, this compelling tribute to one special young woman and the lives she touched will both educate and inspire young readers.

Featuring line art throughout and B&W photos.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Violence, Antisemitism, Xenophobic epithets

 

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About the Author

Ms. Golabek is the founder and president of the non-profit organization Hold On To Your Music. She is an author, recording artist, radio host and internationally acclaimed concert pianist. Ms. Golabek was taught by her mother, Lisa Jura, who, along with Lisa’s mother Malka, is the subject of Ms. Golabek’s book, The Children Of Willesden Lane. The work of Ms. Golabek and her sister, the late concert pianist Renee Golabek-Kaye, has been inspired by the words their grandmother uttered to her daughter at the Vienna train station as Lisa boarded the Kindertransport for safety in London at the outset of World War II. “Hold on to your music,” Malka told her, “It will be your best friend.”

A Grammy nominee, Ms. Golabek has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the Avery Fisher Career Grant and the People’s Award of the International Chopin Competition. She has been the subject of several PBS television documentaries, including More Than the Music, which won the grand prize in the 1985 Houston Film Festival, and Concerto for Mona, featuring Ms. Golabek and conductor Zubin Mehta. She has appeared in concert at the Hollywood Bowl, the Kennedy Center, Royal Festival Hall and with major orchestras and conductors worldwide.

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