Tag Archives: biography

Notorious RGB Young Reader’s Edition by Irin Carmon & Shana Knizhnik

Notorious RBG Young Readers Edition: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Irin Cameron & Shana Knizhnik. November 28, 2017. HarperCollins, 208 p. ISBN: 9780062748539.  Int Lvl: 3-6; Rdg Lvl: 7.4; Lexile: 1030.

The New York Times bestselling biography Notorious RBG—whose concept originated with a Tumblr page of the same name—is now available in a vibrant, full-color young readers’ edition.

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has become an icon to millions. Her tireless fight for equality and women’s rights has inspired not only great strides in the workforce but has impacted the law of the land. And now, perfect for a younger generation, comes an accessible biography of this fierce woman, detailing her searing dissents and powerful jurisprudence.

This entertaining and insightful young readers’ edition mixes pop culture, humor, and expert analysis for a remarkable account of the indomitable Ruth Bader Ginsburg: Heroine. Trailblazer. Pioneer.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: None

 

Author Interview

Reviews

Kirkus Reviews (December 15, 2017)
A tribute to the indefatigable Supreme Court justice—the only member of that esteemed bench ever to become a meme.Admiringly observing that “you don’t want to mess with her,” the authors open with Ginsburg’s devastating dissent following the court’s 2013 “gutting” of the Voting Rights Act, then look back over her childhood, education, and stellar legal career. This last is done with particular reference to the obstacles she had to overcome as a woman in the profession and to her work promoting women’s rights. The authors cast bright sidelights on her close relationships with her husband and with her great frenemy, Antonin Scalia, as well as on her legendary work habits and exercise routines. They also point to significant influences (notably African-American civil rights attorney Pauli Murray) as they describe how she became not just an inspirational figure, but a pop-culture icon. Collages of fans in RBG Halloween costume, of editorial cartoons, and even of needlepoint projects are interspersed with more-conventional photos of Ginsburg at various ages, images of documents and doodles, and inset featurettes with titles such as “The Jabot,” and “How to Be Like RBG.” This shaved-down version of the adult title shows signs of hasty preparation, from uncaptioned and misplaced photos to a partial list of “Things Women Couldn’t Do in the 1930s and 1940s” that includes “Become an astronaut.” It also ends abruptly with a generic 2017 quote (presumably) in response to the appointment of Neil Gorsuch to the court. Still, the prose is as trim and lively as its subject, and it makes a solid case for regarding the titular moniker, initially a joke, as truly just. A bit patchy productionwise, but vivacious and well-argued. (timeline, glossary, source list, index) (Biography. 10-14)

School Library Journal Xpress (February 1, 2018)
Gr 5-8-A tribute to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg that does more than catalog her achievements; it conveys her spirit, one that will leave readers in awe. Widely viewed as a champion for women’s rights, Ginsburg is quick to correct that she battles for “women’s and men’s liberation,” as best illustrated in the case of Stephen Wiesenfeld, who was prevented from collecting his dead wife’s social security due to his gender. Ginsburg accepted the case to argue that equality under the law benefits both sexes, and shrewdly, to set a precedent. Not only are her professional triumphs lauded, and our justice system explained, the authors do an excellent job of rounding out her rich life: wife in an egalitarian marriage, mother, and close friends with her polar opposite on the bench, Justice Scalia. The one misstep is the clumsy handling of the justice’s cancer, introduced as “her struggle.” Young readers may need more clarification. However, the book’s strengths far overshadow this stumble. This version shares the same knockout formatting as the adult edition: a plethora of photographs and images leaving nary a page unadorned, and slim informational inserts, such as “How to be like RBG” and “RBG’s workout,” that lend this serious subject a lighthearted tone. VERDICT Just as Ginsburg’s (sometimes) frilly jabot belies the quiet revolutionary, this lively biography of this esteemed justice whose influence straddles two centuries is to be taken seriously. Highly recommended.-Laura Falli, McNeil High School, Austin, TX

About the Authors

Irin Carmon is an Israeli-American journalist and commentator. She is a national reporter at MSNBC, covering women, politics, and culture for the website and on air. She is a Visiting Fellow in the Program for the Study of Reproductive Justice at Yale Law School.

In 2011, she was named one of Forbes‘ “30 under 30” in media and featured in New York Magazine as a face of young feminism. She received the November 2011 Sidney award from The Sidney Hillman Foundation recognizing her reporting on the Mississippi Personhood Initiative for Salon. Mediaite named her among four in its award for Best TV pundit of 2014.

Her website is irincarmon.com

Shana Knizhnik is a civil rights attorney. While a student at NYU law school, she created the Notorious R.B.G. Tumblr, a feminist website dedicated to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and her lifelong fight for equality and social justice.

 

Around the Web

Notorious RBG Young Readers Edition on Amazon

Notorious RBG Young Readers Edition on Goodreads

Notorious RBG Young Readers Edition Publisher Page

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Facing Frederick by Tonya Bolden

Facing Frederick: The Life of Frederick Douglass, a Monumental American Man by Tonya Bolden. January 9, 2018. Harry N. Abrams, 208 p. ISBN: 9781419725463.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 8.6.

Frederick Douglass (1818–1895) is best known for the telling of his own emancipation. But there is much more to Douglass’s story than his time spent enslaved and his famous autobiography. Facing Frederick captures the whole complicated, and at times perplexing, person that he was. Statesman, suffragist, writer, and newspaperman, this book focuses on Douglass the man rather than the historical icon.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Racial taunts, Discrimination, Violence

Reviews

Booklist starred (October 15, 2017 (Vol. 114, No. 4))
Grades 7-12. Most folks know Frederick Douglass as an escaped slave turned abolitionist. Bolden’s insightful and impeccably researched biography reveals, instead, a multifaceted man who would travel many paths and constantly redefine himself. And instead of commencing with Douglass’ life as a slave, as many biographies do, this account begins after his escape, as he becomes one of the most in-demand speakers for the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society and launches his place in history as a great orator against the “twin monsters of darkness,” slavery and racism. It balances Douglass’ personal and financial successes and accolades with his frustrations, controversies, and setbacks, which only encouraged him to question the Constitution and fight harder for freedom, racial justice, and women’s suffrage. Framing the biography are more than a dozen photographs of Douglass from his early twenties to just before his death at age 77, with a note explaining his love for photography, because of its democratizing quality. Many other period photographs, colorful reproductions, and quotes from the media of the time add to the impressive visuals. Author, newspaper owner, lecturer, Underground Railroad conductor, Union army recruiter, abolitionist, and presidential campaigner are just some of Douglass’ roles described here. Bolden’s beautiful, sophisticated narrative demonstrates that throughout all of his responsibilities, Douglass never lost sight of his biggest role—humanitarian.

Kirkus Reviews starred (October 15, 2017)
The story of one of the most iconic and photographed figures in American history.Frederick Douglass wanted to be viewed as more than an escaped slave, and Bolden emphasizes that point by beginning his story when he makes the decision to break with abolitionist publisher William Lloyd Garrison to begin his own newspaper. Douglass’ history is nevertheless revealed as he contemplates changing his course. In his paper, the North Star, he pressed for an end to slavery and was outspoken in favor of women’s suffrage. Once the nation’s struggles between freedom and slavery led to armed conflict, he pushed President Abraham Lincoln to allow black men to fight in the Union cause. After the Civil War, Douglass remained tireless in seeking to improve the lives of African-Americans until the end of his life. This narrative about a well-known figure feels fresh due to Bolden’s skilled storytelling. It fully captures his outsized personality and provides clarity for nuanced episodes such as his disagreements with Garrison, his refusal to support efforts to colonize blacks outside of the United States, and his reservations about John Brown’s raid. Complications in his personal life are handled with sensitivity. In addition, Douglass was a celebrity at the dawn of photography and became the era’s most photographed figure, and this handsome volume includes many, as well as period illustrations. A spirited biography that fully honors its redoubtable subject. (author’s note, timeline, source notes, selected sources, index) (Biography. 10-14)

About the Author

Author and publisher Tonya Wilyce Bolden was born on March 1, 1959, in New York City to Georgia Bolden, a homemaker, and Willie Bolden, a garment center shipping manager. Bolden grew up in Harlem in a musical family and loved to read; she attended Public M.E.S. 146, an elementary school in Manhattan, and then graduated from the Chapin School, a private secondary school, in Manhattan in 1976. Bolden attended Princeton University in New Jersey, and, in 1981, obtained her B.A. degree in Slavic languages and literature with a Russian focus. Bolden was also a University Scholar and received the Nicholas Bachko, Jr. Scholarship Prize.

Upon graduating from Princeton University, Bolden began working as a salesperson for Charles Alan, Incorporated, a dress manufacturer, while working towards her M.A. degree at Columbia University. In 1985, Bolden earned her degree in Slavic languages and literature, as well as a Certificate for Advanced Study of the Soviet Union from the Harriman Institute; after this she began working as an office coordinator for Raoulfilm, Inc., assisting in the research and development of various film and literary products. Bolden worked as an English instructor at Malcolm-King College and New Rochelle School of New Resources while serving as newsletter editor of the HARKline, a homeless shelter newsletter.

In 1990, Bolden wrote her first book, The Family Heirloom Cookbook. In 1992, Bolden co-authored a children’s book entitled Mama, I Want To Sing along with Vy Higginsen, based on Higginsen’s musical. Bolden continued publishing throughout the 1990s, releasing Starting a Business from your Home, Mail-Order and Direct Response, The Book of African-American Women: 150 Crusaders, Creators, and Uplifters, And Not Afraid to Dare: The Stories of Ten African-American Women, American Patriots: The Story of Blacks in the Military from the Revolution to Desert Storm and The Champ. Bolden became editor of the Quarterly Black Review of Books in 1994, and served as an editor for 33 Things Every Girl Should Know, in 1998. Bolden’s writing career became even more prolific in the following decade; a partial list of her works include:, Our Souls: A Celebration of Black American Artists, Maritcha: A Nineteenth Century American Girl, MLK: Journey of a King, Take-Off: American All-Girl Bands During World War II, and George Washington Carver, a book she authored in conjunction with an exhibit about the famous African American inventor created by The Field Museum in Chicago.

Her website is www.tonyaholdenbooks.com.

Teacher Resources

Collection of Frederick Douglass Lesson Plans

Around the Web

Facing Frederick on Amazon

Facing Frederick on Goodreads

Facing Frederick Publisher Page

 

Americanized by Sara Saedi

Americanized: Rebel Without a Green Card by Sara Saedi. February 6, 2018. Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers, 288 p. ISBN: 9781524717803.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 1030.

The hilarious, poignant, and true story of one teens’s experience growing up in America as an undocumented immigrant from the Middle East, perfect for fans of Mindy Kaling and Lena Dunham’s books.

At thirteen, bright-eyed, straight-A student Sara Saedi uncovered a terrible family secret: she was breaking the law simply by living in the United States. Only two years old when her parents fled Iran, she didn’t learn of her undocumented status until her older sister wanted to apply for an after-school job, but couldn’t because she didn’t have a Social Security number.
Fear of deportation kept Sara up at night, but it didn’t keep her from being a teenager. She desperately wanted a green card, along with clear skin, her own car, and a boyfriend.
Americanized follows Sara’s progress toward getting her green card, but that’s only a portion of her experiences as an Iranian-“American” teenager. From discovering that her parents secretly divorced to facilitate her mother’s green card application to learning how to tame her unibrow, Sara pivots gracefully from the terrifying prospect that she might be kicked out of the country at any time to the almost-as-terrifying possibility that she might be the only one of her friends without a date to the prom. This moving, often hilarious story is for anyone who has ever shared either fear.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language, Mild sexual themes, Drugs, Underage drinking, Smoking, Clinical discussion, Clinical discussions of sex and menstruation

 

Reviews

Booklist starred (November 1, 2017 (Vol. 114, No. 5))
Grades 9-12. Imagine finding out when you’re almost 13 that you’re an undocumented immigrant and can be deported from the U.S. at any time. This is just one of the secrets that Saedi, now 37, reveals in this often funny and deeply moving memoir based on entries from her teenage diary. Born in 1980 in Iran during the Iranian Revolution, Sara fled to the U.S. with her family when she was two. She humorously relates stories of angst over her high-school crush, confusion over her birth date, idolization of her “perfect” older sister, annoyance at being the surrogate mother of her younger U.S.–born brother, zit and “skin-shaming” issues, hatred of her large Iranian nose, embarrassment over her unibrow, obsession with acting, experimentation with smoking and alcohol, prom date dilemmas, and incidents from her parents’ and grandparents’ difficult lives. Black-and-white photos are interspersed with intriguing chapter titles (“Sporting the Frida Kahlo,” “I Am the Product of Incest”), while, at the same time, the narrative offers a brief look at the history of Iran (pronounced E-ron, she emphasizes, not I-ran, as many Americans say). Her encouraging advice for undocumented immigrants is invaluable, honest, and heartfelt. This irresistible and timely memoir is hard to put down.

Kirkus Reviews starred (December 1, 2017)
Saedi recounts her teen years growing up and coming of age in 1990s California while fearing deportation for herself and her undocumented family. Born in Iran, Saedi came to the United States at 2 with her secular family as “illegal aliens” fleeing the Iraq-Iran War. In Chapter 1 and with humor, candor, and accessibility, she breaks down historical and geopolitical facts about Iran and her family’s reason for leaving their home; in doing so, she debunks myths about Iran, its people, and Tehran—a city that looked less like Agrabah than New York City. Facing topics such as religion and tensions in the Middle East, handled with delicacy, Saedi asserts a fearless voice for Gen Xers and millennials. Saedi wields satire and hyperbole as she balances compelling points about world leaders and politicians with nostalgic references to Nancy Reagan’s “Just say no to drugs” campaign, celebrities, and music icons. Iranian women and families are depicted in all ways: religious, secular, strict, trusting, educated, independent, passionate, traditional, nontraditional. Zits, teenage angst, boy drama, drugs, alcohol, and sex are handled with humanity. No topic is off limits it seems, as she takes on illegal immigration protocols that bleed into today’s turbulent times, with mentions of DACA and the “Muslim ban.” Interspersed throughout are photographs, FAQs, and excerpts from the author’s diary from her teen years. With gumption, Saedi draws from her American-ness and Iranian-ness for a successful depiction of immigrant life in the U.S.: a must-read. (Memoir. 14-18)

About the Author

Sara Saedi was born in Tehran, Iran smack-dab in the middle of a war and an Islamic Revolution. She received a B.A. in Film and Mass Communications from the University of California, Berkeley and began her career as a creative executive for ABC Daytime. Since then she’s penned three TV movies for ABC Family and a pilot for the Disney Channel, won a Daytime Emmy for What If…, a web series she wrote for ABC, and worked as a staff writer on the FOX sitcom The Goodwin Games.

Her first novel for young adults, Never Ever, was published in 2016 and its sequel, The Lost Kids, will publish in spring 2018. Her memoir, Americanized: Rebel Without a Green Card was released in February 2018.

She currently resides in Los Angeles with her husband, son, and pug, where she writes for the hit CW show iZombie. Her website is www.sarasaediwriter.com

Around the Web

Americanized on Amazon

Americanized on Goodreads

Americanized Publisher Page

Streetcar to Justice by Amy Hill Hearth

Streetcar to Justice: How Elizabeth Jennings Won the Right to Ride in New York by Amy Hill Hearth. January 2, 2018. Greenwillow Books, 160 p. ISBN: 9780062673602.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 7.5; Lexile: 1120.

Amy Hill Hearth uncovers the story of a little-known figure in U.S. history in this biography. In 1854, a young African American woman named Elizabeth Jennings won a major victory against a New York City streetcar company, a first step in the process of desegregating public transportation in Manhattan.

One hundred years before Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama, Elizabeth Jennings’s refusal to leave a segregated streetcar in the Five Points neighborhood of Manhattan set into motion a major court case in New York City.

On her way to church one day in July 1854, Elizabeth Jennings was refused a seat on a streetcar. When she took her seat anyway, she was bodily removed by the conductor and a nearby police officer and returned home bruised and injured. With the support of her family, the African American abolitionist community of New York, and Frederick Douglass, Elizabeth Jennings took her case to court. Represented by a young lawyer named Chester A. Arthur (a future president of the United States) she was victorious, marking a major victory in the fight to desegregate New York City’s public transportation

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Racial taunts, Discrimination, Violence

 

Book Trailer

Reviews

Booklist (October 15, 2017 (Vol. 114, No. 4))
Grades 5-8. When Elizabeth Jennings, a young black woman on her way to church, refused to vacate a New York City streetcar and was literally torn off of it by its driver and roughed up by that driver and a police officer, there was no one around to photograph the event. Luckily, though, there were people who took up her cause for justice, including a young lawyer who went on to become a U.S. president (Chester Arthur). It was 1854, years before the Civil War and emancipation, and a century before Rosa Parks similarly stood her ground. But few people know about Jennings and how her case impacted discrimination laws in the northern city, where she lived as a free black gentlewoman. Hearth places this obscure gem of a story in context: illustrations from the era and extensive notes and references help readers follow the story. Those interested in the myriad origins of the civil rights movement will be fascinated by the case and how it galvanized the black community of its day.

Publishers Weekly (October 16, 2017)
Hearth (The Delany Sisters Reach High) draws on her journalism roots to carefully piece together the story of a mostly forgotten figure in the struggle for racial equality in the United States. African-American schoolteacher Elizabeth Jennings vehemently fought back when she was refused streetcar service in 1854 Manhattan; her victorious court case against the streetcar company helped integrate public transportation in New York. Hearth grounds Jennings’s story in vivid sensory detail: “she would have walked around piles of horse manure and maybe even the bloated remains of a dead animal or two.” Fifteen chapters pack in contextualizing information, often in sidebars, educating readers on topics ranging from Jim Crow laws and de facto segregation in the north to Jennings’s contemporaries Frederick Douglass and Chester Arthur (Jennings’s lawyer and future U.S. president). Archival photos, newspaper clippings, and resources that include a timeline of Jennings’s life (she founded the first kindergarten for black children in New York City) augment a book that belongs in any civil rights library collection. Ages 8-12

About the Author

Amy Hill Hearth (pronounced HARTH) is a Peabody Award-winning journalist and New York Times bestselling author. Her topics include women’s history, forgotten stories, and elder wisdom.

Ms. Hearth and her husband, Blair, a native of Naples, Florida, live by the ocean in New Jersey, about an hour from Manhattan, with their rescued Boston Terriers. Her website is www.amyhillhearth.com

Around the Web

Streetcar to Justice on Amazon

Streetcar to Justice on Goodreads

Streetcar to Justice Publisher Page

Voices from the Second World War by Various

Voices from the Second World War: Stories of War as Told to Children of Today by Various. March 20, 2018. Candlewick Press, 320 p. ISBN: 9780763694920.  Int Lvl: 5-8.

In an intergenerational keepsake volume, witnesses to World War II share their memories with young interviewers so that their experiences will never be forgotten.

The Second World War was the most devastating war in history. Up to eighty million people died, and the map of the world was redrawn. More than seventy years after peace was declared, children interviewed family and community members to learn about the war from people who were there, to record their memories before they were lost forever. Now, in a unique collection, RAF pilots, evacuees, resistance fighters, Land Girls, U.S. Navy sailors, and survivors of the Holocaust and the Hiroshima bombing all tell their stories, passing on the lessons learned to a new generation. Featuring many vintage photographs, this moving volume also offers an index of contributors and a glossary.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: War, Violence

 

Reviews

Booklist (January 1, 2018 (Vol. 114, No. 9))
Grades 4-7. WWII ended more than 70 years ago, yet interest in it remains evergreen, as this fascinating work of living history evidences. The voices the title references belong to those who participated in and lived through the war. In many cases, their audience is the young people who are interviewing them, though some of the reminiscences come from sources other than interviews. The stories are arranged topically: “Evacuees,” “Women at War,” “The Resistance,” “The Holocaust,” and more. Originally published in England in cooperation with the children’s newspaper First News and the Silver Line, a confidential help line for older people, the voices belong primarily to British participants, though the contents are international in scope, featuring, for example, a handful of Americans, a small group of Germans, and one Japanese survivor, who recalls his experience of the bombing of Hiroshima. Though many of those featured are elderly—one is more than 100 years old—their memories are vivid and bring to light the realities of war in this valuable collection.

Kirkus Reviews (January 15, 2018)
Firsthand accounts of World War II, many collected by modern children. Though the second world war has been over for more than 70 years, its wide scope still comes most to life in the stories of those who lived through it. The British children’s newspaper First News began collecting these accounts; published here along with others, they offer a comprehensive picture of the war, from soldiers, civilians, and children on all sides, both Allied and Axis. Perhaps due to its British origins, the preponderance of contributions are British, and the war in the European theater dominates, but the African campaign and the war in the Pacific are covered. Resistance efforts and the experiences of women during the war are each covered in separate chapters. The white American navigator of the Enola Gay recounts what it was like to drop the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, while a Japanese man tells what it was like to be an 8-year-old boy in the city that morning. Because children conduct the interviews, most of the short accounts are honest but not brutally graphic. Vintage photographs illustrate every page, and indexes and a glossary allow the book to be used as a true reference resource. A fine tool for any child interested in history as well as for classroom, school, and public libraries. (Nonfiction. 10-14)

 

Teacher Resources

Teaching with Documents from the National Archives

Around the Web

Voices from the Second World War on Amazon

Voices from the Second World War on Goodreads

Voices from the Second World War Publisher Page

March Forward, Girl by Melba Pattillo Beals

March Forward, Girl: From Young Warrior to Little Rock Nine by Melba Pattillo Beals. January 2, 2018. HMH Books for Young Readers, 224 p. ISBN: 9781328882127.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 5.5; Lexile: 950.

From the legendary civil rights activist and author of the million-copy selling Warriors Don’t Cry comes an ardent and profound childhood memoir of growing up while facing adversity in the Jim Crow South.

Long before she was one of the Little Rock Nine, Melba Pattillo Beals was a warrior. Frustrated by the laws that kept African-Americans separate but very much unequal to whites, she had questions. Why couldn’t she drink from a “whites only” fountain? Why couldn’t she feel safe beyond home—or even within the walls of church?  Adults all told her: Hold your tongue. Be patient. Know your place. But Beals had the heart of a fighter—and the knowledge that her true place was a free one.

Combined with emotive drawings and photos, this memoir paints a vivid picture of Beals’ powerful early journey on the road to becoming a champion for equal rights, an acclaimed journalist, a best-selling author, and the recipient of this country’s highest recognition, the Congressional Gold Medal.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Strong language, Racial taunts, Discrimination, Violence, Sexual harassment

 

Reviews

Booklist (January 1, 2018 (Vol. 114, No. 9))
Grades 5-8. Beals (Warriors Don’t Cry, 1995) wastes no time getting into the deep, choking horror of living under Jim Crow in 1940s and 1950s Arkansas. Likening her fear of white people to an ever-growing monster consuming her nights, she reflects on how the Ku Klux Klan rode through her black neighborhood, plucking friends and neighbors from their homes to be lynched for minor infractions of the codes or for fun. That fear morphed into anger and motivation to find a way out, eventually helping her to become one of the Little Rock Nine. Beals has a way with short, powerful sentences that efficiently capture her roiling emotional inner life. She also outlines the interplay of racism and sexism in a harrowing recounting of the time she was herself a target of the Klan. The narrative stops short of the integration of Little Rock Central High School, featuring it instead in the epilogue. Young readers will be gripped by Beal’s personal courage and determination to march forward for civil rights at such a young age.

Kirkus Reviews (December 15, 2017)
One of the Little Rock Nine describes her childhood in the years leading up to the 1957 event.Beals’ moving adult memoir, Warriors Don’t Cry (1994), painted a harrowing portrait of her experience as one of the African-American students who integrated Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. Here she shares her memories of growing up in the segregated South and what led her to challenge Jim Crow laws. She describes a warm, loving family environment where church and education were highly valued. These positives are not always enough to outweigh the darkness she feels from witnessing and experiencing racism from whites in stores or even those doing business in and around her home. There are episodes involving the Ku Klux Klan and even the lynching of a family acquaintance, experiences that leave Beals with a desire for justice and an abhorrence of the treatment of blacks at the hands of whites. When she is among those chosen to integrate Central High School, the determination she needs has been building for years. This narrative is told in a conversational tone, full of personal stories and remembrances. Beals pinpoints clearly the injustices and pain of her early years and shows how they prepared her for the challenges of making history, intertwining these stories with more personal coming-of-age recollections. Archival photographs and Morrison’s drawings punctuate the pages. (Final art not seen.) A valuable addition to the stories of life in Jim Crow America. (Memoir. 10-16)

About the Author

Melba Pattillo Beals is the author of the bestselling Warriors Don’t Cry: A Searing Memoir of the Battle to Integrate Little Rock’s Central High and the recipient of the 1995 American Library Association Nonfiction Book of the Year award and the prestigious Robert F. Kennedy Book Award. Dr. Beals was given a Congressional Gold Medal for her role, as a fifteen-year-old, in the integration of Central High School, Little Rock, Arkansas.

Her website is http://melbapattillobeals.com/

Around the Web

March Forward, Girl on Amazon

March Forward, Girl on Goodreads

March Forward, Girl 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

 

Reviews

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 HowFarWouldYouGo.org.

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

Around the Web

Tamba Hali on Amazon

Tamba Hali on Goodreads

Tamba Hali 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

Reviews

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 kareemabduljabbar.com

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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

Reviews

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 www.mcsweeneys.net.

Teacher Resources

The Monk of Mokha Reading Guide

Around the Web

The Monk of Mokha on Amazon

The Monk of Mokha on Goodreads

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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

 

Reviews

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 www.susangoldmanrubin.com

Teacher Resources

Maya Lin Lesson Plans

Maya Lin Studio

Around the Web

Maya Lin on Amazon

Maya Lin on Goodreads

Maya Lin Publisher Page