Tag Archives: biography

Alexander Hamilton by Teri Kanefield

Alexander Hamilton: The Making of America by Teri Kanefield. March 7, 2017. Harry N. Abrams, 208 p. ISBN: 9781419725784.  Int Lvl: 5-8.

The America that Alexander Hamilton knew was largely agricultural and built on slave labor. He envisioned something else: a multi-racial, urbanized, capitalistic America with a strong central government. He believed that such an America would be a land of opportunity for the poor and the newcomers. But Hamilton’s vision put him at odds with his archrivals who envisioned a pastoral America of small towns, where governments were local, states would control their own destiny, and the federal government would remain small and weak.

The disputes that arose during America’s first decades continued through American history to our present day. Over time, because of the systems Hamilton set up and the ideas he left, his vision won out. Here is the story that epitomizes the American dream—a poor immigrant who made good in America. In the end, Hamilton rose from poverty through his intelligence and ability, and did more to shape our country than any of his contemporaries.

Related subjects and concepts discussed in the book include:

Law and Legal Concepts
Due process
Bill of Rights
Freedom of Speech and the Press
Originalism / nonoriginalism (theories of Constitutional interpretation)

Government
Checks and Balances
Democracy
Electoral College
Republic

Financial Concepts
Capitalism
Credit
Inflation
Interest
Mercantilism
Securities: Stocks and Bonds
Tariffs
Taxes

Miscellaneous
Demagogues
Dueling
Pastoralism

Potentially Sensitive Areas: None

 

Reviews

Kirkus Reviews (February 1, 2017)
The contributions and eventful life of founding father Alexander Hamilton are examined and explained.The enthusiasm for Broadway hit and cultural phenomenon Hamilton, The Musical shows little signs of abating, and its popular cast album has generated interest in the country’s first treasury secretary among all ages. This brief biography seeks to answer questions about the talented founding father whose background was so unlike those of his peers. Beginning and ending with Hamilton’s duel with then–Vice President Aaron Burr, the remainder follows his life, focusing on many of the highlights that brought him to prominence. Of course, his efforts to determine the country’s economic system and the rivalry they spawned with Thomas Jefferson are prominent. Kanefield provides necessary context for the differing worldviews of the two men, cogently explaining the strong distrust between growing mercantile interests and the planter class. In much the same way, she compares the similarities between Hamilton and Burr as well as the political differences that eventually drove them to the duel. Given the target audience, there is no mention of the sex scandal that tarnished Hamilton’s public reputation, but there is some sense of his complicated personality. The strength of the book is the generous use of Hamilton’s own words, including a section with samples of his writings. Illustrations and sidebars add clarity to the readable narrative. A solid introduction to a charismatic founding father. (timeline, chapter notes, bibliography, index) (Biography. 10-14)

Publishers Weekly Annex (February 13, 2017)
Well-timed to tap into ongoing Hamilton-mania, Kanefield (The Extraordinary Suzy Wright) revisits America’s formative years in a lucid biography that illuminates the personality and politics of Alexander Hamilton, spotlighting his role in shaping the structure of the U.S. government and economy. Disinherited and shunned due to his illegitimate birth at a time when birthright paved one’s way to success, Hamilton emigrated from the island of St. Croix to New York City, determined to improve his financial and social status and find fame through his own achievements. Kanefield credibly reveals how Hamilton’s intelligence, high self-expectations, commitment to his beliefs, and skills as an orator and writer fueled his advocacy of a strong central government rooted in mercantilism and manufacturing. Details about Hamilton’s complex relationships with George Washington and Thomas Jefferson offer insight into the ideologies and character of all three statesmen, and add additional human dimension to this portrait of this nation’s beginnings. Excerpts from Hamilton’s writings, period art, and sidebars defining historical, political, and legislative terms further enhance this absorbing chronicle. Ages 10-14. (Mar.)

About the Author

Teri writes novels, short stories, essays, stories for children, nonfiction for both children and adults, and lots of appellate briefs.

Her stories and essays have appeared in publications as diverse as Education Week, Scope Magazine, The Iowa Review, Cricket Magazine, and The American Literary Review.

Teri’s law practice is limited to representing indigents on appeal from adverse rulings.

She lives in California near the beach.

Her website is www.terikanefield.com.

Teacher Resources

Alexander Hamilton “Grab and Go” Teaching Resources

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Alexander Hamilton on Amazon

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Alexander Hamilton Publisher Page

Eyes of the World by Marc Aronson and Marina Budhos

Eyes of the World: Robert Capa, Gerda Taro, and the Invention of Modern Photojournalism by Marc Aronson and Marina Budhos. March 28, 2017. Henry Holt and Co., 304 p. ISBN: 9780805098358.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

“If your pictures aren’t good enough, you aren’t close enough.” –Robert Capa

Robert Capa and Gerda Taro were young Jewish refugees, idealistic and in love. As photographers in the 1930s, they set off to capture their generation’s most important struggle―the fight against fascism. Among the first to depict modern warfare, Capa, Taro, and their friend Chim took powerful photographs of the Spanish Civil War that went straight from the action to news magazines. They brought a human face to war with their iconic shots of a loving couple resting, a wary orphan, and, always, more and more refugees―people driven from their homes by bombs, guns, and planes.

Today, our screens are flooded with images from around the world. But Capa and Taro were pioneers, bringing home the crises and dramas of their time―and helping give birth to the idea of bearing witness through technology.

With a cast of characters ranging from Langston Hughes and George Orwell to Pablo Picasso and Ernest Hemingway, and packed with dramatic photos, posters, and cinematic magazine layouts, here is Capa and Taro’s riveting, tragic, and ultimately inspiring story.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: War; Violence; Antisemitism

 

Reviews

Booklist starred (November 1, 2016 (Vol. 113, No. 5))
Grades 7-12. The team behind Sugar Changed the World (2010) presents a fascinating look at the evolution of photojournalism during WWII by getting behind the lens with photographers Robert Capa and Gerda Taro. Beginning with a dramatic account of Capa snapping pictures during the Normandy landings, the book then backtracks to the Spanish Civil War, “the prelude” to WWII, where Capa and Taro—a romantic and professional team—made names for themselves with their daring and insightful pictures. Reproductions of these powerful black-and-white photos appear on almost every page, depicting the times and the photographers’ individual styles; political posters and magazine spreads further enhance the text. Rather ambitiously, Aronson and Budhos address the escalating tensions between socialist and fascist regimes, the emergence of photographic news magazines and compact cameras, and the lives of Capa and Taro into one seamless discussion. Readers not only get a strong sense of who these photographers were as people, they will understand what made their pictures so special. Thoroughly researched and cited, the text offers a unique perspective on WWII by focusing on two expatriates unaligned with a specific country. Detailed appendixes help clarify the myriad political parties and historical figures who grace the text, as well as some controversial topics raised. Dense but never dull, this book exposes art and humanity in history.

Kirkus Reviews starred (December 1, 2016)
This multilayered biography vividly introduces photographers Robert Capa and Gerda Taro, setting their careers in the context of the Spanish Civil War, the run-up to World War II, and the birth of modern photojournalism. The prologue grabs readers with scenes of Capa risking his life to photograph Allied troops landing on D-Day. The narrative then moves back to Paris in 1934, when Capa and Taro first met. The chronological chapters quickly shift to Spain, where the couple repeatedly faced danger to capture the civil war in images, hoping to bolster the anti-fascist Loyalist cause while establishing themselves in their profession. Chapters labeled “interlude” discuss the dawn of modern photojournalism and the international participation in the war. Going beyond details of the two lives, the complex account also explores issues surrounding refugees of war, the relationship between journalists and soldiers, the nature of artistic collaboration, and the overlap of photojournalism and propaganda. The writing offers clarity while also evoking emotions and the senses. The present-tense narrative gives a sense of immediacy, although it also leads to sometimes-awkward juxtapositions with the past-tense quotations from those who knew the couple. Black-and-white photographs, many of which are described in the text, grace nearly every page. Captivating, powerful, and thought-provoking. (cast of characters, timeline, authors’ note, sources, notes, bibliography, resources, index) (Nonfiction. 13 & up)

About the Authors

Marc Aronson has won many awards for his books for young readers and has a doctorate in American history. His lectures cover educational topics such as mysteries and controversies in American history, teenagers and their reading, the literary passions of boys, and always leave audiences asking for more.

His website is www.marcaronson.com.

 
Marina Budhos is an author of award-winning fiction and nonfiction.

She has published the novels, Watched (Random House/Wendy Lam Books, 2016), Ask Me No Questions (Simon & Schuster, 2006), an ALA Notable and winner of the first James Cook Teen Book Award, The Professor of Light (Putnam, 1999), House of Waiting (Global City Press, 1995) and a nonfiction book, Remix: Conversations with Immigrant Teenagers (Henry Holt, 1999). She and her husband Marc Aronson coauthored the acclaimed Sugar Changed the World: A Story of Magic, Spice, Slavery, Freedom & Science (Clarion/Houghton Mifflin, 2010). Their latest joint endeavor, Eyes of the World: Robert Capa, Gerda Taro & The Invention of Modern Photojournalism will be published in 2017 by Henry Holt & Co.

Her short stories, articles, essays, and book reviews have appeared in publications such as The Daily Beast, Quartz, The Kenyon Review, Ploughshares, The Literary Review, The Nation, Dissent, Marie Claire, Redbook, Travel & Leisure, Ms., Los Angeles Times, and in numerous anthologies.

Ms. Budhos has received an emma (Exceptional Merit Media Award), a Rona Jaffe Award for Women Writers, and a Fellowship from the New Jersey Council on the Arts. She has been a Fulbright Scholar to India, given talks throughout the country and abroad, and is currently on the faculty of the English Department at William Paterson University.

Her website is www.marinabudhos.com.

Around the Web

Eyes of the World on Amazon

Eyes of the World on Goodreads

Eyes of the World on JLG

Eyes of the World Publisher Page

The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui

The Best We Could Do: An Illustrated Memoir by Thi Bui. March 7, 2017. Abrams Books, 336 p. ISBN: 9781419718779.  Int Lvl: AD; Rdg Lvl: AD; Lexile: 600.

An intimate and poignant graphic novel portraying one family’s journey from war-torn Vietnam, from debut author Thi Bui.

This beautifully illustrated and emotional story is an evocative memoir about the search for a better future and a longing for the past. Exploring the anguish of immigration and the lasting effects that displacement has on a child and her family, Bui documents the story of her family’s daring escape after the fall of South Vietnam in the 1970s, and the difficulties they faced building new lives for themselves.

At the heart of Bui’s story is a universal struggle: While adjusting to life as a first-time mother, she ultimately discovers what it means to be a parent—the endless sacrifices, the unnoticed gestures, and the depths of unspoken love. Despite how impossible it seems to take on the simultaneous roles of both parent and child, Bui pushes through. With haunting, poetic writing and breathtaking art, she examines the strength of family, the importance of identity, and the meaning of home.

In what Pulitzer Prize–winning novelist Viet Thanh Nguyen calls “a book to break your heart and heal it,” The Best We Could Do brings to life Thi Bui’s journey of understanding, and provides inspiration to all of those who search for a better future while longing for a simpler past.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Strong language; Racial taunts; War; Violence; Realistic depiction of childbirth; Stillbirth; Child abuse

 

Reviews

Library Journal – web only (January 27, 2017)
[DEBUT] With her debut graphic memoir, Bui captivates readers with her recounting of the struggle her family faced as they emigrated from Vietnam to the United States after the war, leaving behind their way of life. Now, as a new mother, Bui starts to contemplate her parents’ lives and what events led them to their current situation. The narrative then rewinds to the author’s childhood in California and her desire to understand why her parents fled their home in the Seventies. Spanning her own experience as well as that of her parents in the French-occupied and ultimately war-torn country, this oral retelling takes readers down the path of three generations, presenting a firsthand glimpse into the history of Vietnam. Uncovering deeper insight into her heritage, which resonates for her as an adult, Bui creates a seamless transition between past and present, making for an accessible read, along with beautiful artwork that draws us in with every panel. Verdict Be prepared to take your heart on an emotional roller-coaster journey with this thought-provoking account that completely satisfies as the story comes full circle. Highly recommended for teens and adults; an excellent choice for book clubs.-Laura McKinley, Huntington P.L., NY

Publishers Weekly (December 5, 2016)
Tracing her family’s journey to the United States and their sometimes-uneasy adaptation to American life, Bui’s magnificent memoir is not unique in its overall shape, but its details are: a bit of blood sausage in a time of famine, a chilly apartment, a father’s sandals contrasted with his son’s professional shoes. The story opens with the birth of Bui’s son in New York City, and then goes back to Vietnam to trace the many births and stillbirths of her parents, and their eventual boat journey to the U.S. In excavating her family’s trauma through these brief, luminous glimpses, Bui transmutes the base metal of war and struggle into gold. She does not spare her loved ones criticism or linger needlessly on their flaws. Likewise she refuses to flatten the twists and turns of their histories into neat, linear narratives. She embraces the whole of it: the misery of the Vietnam War, the alien land of America, and the liminal space she occupies, as the child with so much on her shoulders. In this mélange of comedy and tragedy, family love and brokenness, she finds beauty. (Mar.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Thi Bui was born in Vietnam and immigrated to the United States as a child. She studied art and law and thought about becoming a civil rights lawyer, but became a public school teacher instead. Bui lives in Berkeley, California, with her son, her husband, and her mother. The Best We Could Do is her debut graphic novel.

Her website is www.thibui.com.

Around the Web

The Best We Could Do on Amazon

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The Best We Could Do Publisher Page

Isaac the Alchemist by Mary Losure

Isaac the Alchemist: Secrets of Isaac Newton, Reveal’d by Mary Losure. February 1, 2017. Candlewick Press, 176 p. ISBN: 9780763670634.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 7.4; Lexile: 1010.

A surprising true story of Isaac Newton’s boyhood suggests an intellectual development owing as much to magic as science.

Before Isaac Newton became the father of physics, an accomplished mathematician, or a leader of the scientific revolution, he was a boy living in an apothecary’s house, observing and experimenting, recording his observations of the world in a tiny notebook. As a young genius living in a time before science as we know it existed, Isaac studied the few books he could get his hands on, built handmade machines, and experimented with alchemy–a process of chemical reactions that seemed, at the time, to be magical. Mary Losure’s riveting narrative nonfiction account of Isaac’s early life traces his development as a thinker from his childhood, in friendly prose that will capture the attention of today’s budding scientists–as if by magic. Back matter includes an afterword, an author’s note, source notes, a bibliography, and an index.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: None

 

Book Trailer

Reviews

Booklist (December 1, 2016 (Vol. 113, No. 7))
Grades 6-9. Isaac Newton is known as one of the most brilliant scientific minds in human history, so what was he doing studying alchemy? Losure (The Fairy Ring, 2012) paints a vivid picture of the lonely, curious young Isaac, who grew up with an insatiable appetite for reading (particularly about alchemy), which ultimately fueled his scholarly pursuits. While teaching mathematics and formulating his famous theories, for instance, he simultaneously pored over crucibles of mercury, hoping to transmute lead into gold. Of course, we know now that alchemy is nonsense, but in Isaac’s seventeenth-century existence, it was a serious scientific study and thought to be the key to unlocking the universe’s secrets. In Losure’s engaging narrative, she compellingly ties Isaac’s desire to solve the world’s mysteries through alchemy to his groundbreaking theories, which actually did lead to solving many of those mysteries. Snippets of Isaac’s notebooks and period illustrations further enliven Losure’s already fascinating, energetic writing. More than just a picture of Isaac Newton’s life, this illuminates the historical context for his work and the sea change his discoveries ushered in.

Horn Book Magazine (January/February, 2017)
In 1936, economist John Maynard Keyes bought a set of Isaac Newton’s manuscripts at auction only to discover that many of the pages had nothing to do with science, but rather alchemy. Newton, Keyes reasoned, “was not the first of the age of reasonâç¦He was the last of the magicians.” Indeed, Newton grew up in a world where it was very difficult to tell where one field of study ended and another began, a world where alchemy and “chymistry” (as it was then spelled) seemed to be related disciplines. Losure faithfully hews to this worldview, communicating the sense of awe and wonder about the natural world that Newton must have felt. This immersive experience is enhanced by historical documents that are reproduced throughout the text, along with several appendices of additional information. Perhaps even more impressive than her re-creation of Newton’s world, however, is her re-creation of the man himself–or rather, the boy who became the man–without embellishing the historical record with speculation and conjecture. Thus, the reader is left with the bare facts of Newton’s life–his difficult and troubled childhood, his prodigious talent at Cambridge, his prickly and reclusive nature, and his famous Laws of Motion–but more importantly, Losure has communicated his very essence, recalling Albert Einstein’s assertion that “imagination is more important than knowledge.” Source notes, a bibliography, and an index are appended. jonathan hunt

About the Author

Mary Losure, author of The Fairy Ring and Wild Boy, writes both non-fiction and fantasy for children. Before she was a children’s book author, she was an award-winning reporter for Minnesota Public Radio. A long-time contributor to National Public Radio, she also reported from Mexico and South America for the independent production company Round Earth Media. She lives in Minnesota.

Her website is www.marylosure.com.

Teacher Resources

Isaac the Alchemist Teacher’s Guide

Around the Web

Isaac the Alchemist on Amazon

Isaac the Alchemist on Goodreads

Isaac the Alchemist on JLG

Isaac the Alchemist Publisher Page

Life in Motion by Misty Copeland

Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina Young Readers Edition by Misty Copeland. December 6, 2016. Aladdin Books, 186 p. ISBN: 9781481479790.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 5.5; Lexile: 890.

Determination meets dance in this middle grade adaptation of the New York Times bestselling memoir by the first African-American principal dancer in American Ballet Theatre history, Misty Copeland.

As the first African-American principal dancer at the American Ballet Theatre, Misty Copeland has been breaking down all kinds of barriers in the world of dance. But when she first started dancing—at the late age of thirteen—no one would have guessed the shy, underprivileged girl would one day make history in her field.

Her road to excellence was not easy—a chaotic home life, with several siblings and a single mother, was a stark contrast to the control and comfort she found on stage. And when her home life and incredible dance promise begin to clash, Misty had to learn to stand up for herself and navigate a complex relationship with her mother, while pursuing her ballet dreams.

Life in Motion is a story for all the kids who dare to be different, dream bigger, and want to break stereotypes in whatever they do.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Discrimination

 

Book Trailer

Reviews

Booklist (November 1, 2016 (Vol. 113, No. 5))
Grades 4-8. Copeland brings her adult memoir to a middle-grade audience with this young readers edition. Much of the nation has been captured by her power and grace as a principal dancer for the American Ballet Theatre (ABT), an incredible accomplishment made all the more notable because she’s the first African American to hold the position. The challenges of being a person of color in the traditionally white classical ballet world occupy much of the book, but just as resonant are the personal stories she tells of growing up with little money in an unstable home. Even with amazing natural ability and the “perfect” ballerina’s body, Copeland still had to work unbelievably hard to achieve her dream of joining the ABT, and the descriptions of hours-long rehearsals and painful injuries drive this home. Devoted to equal opportunities within the arts, the petite ballerina continues to make a sizable impact both on and off the stage. Dancers in particular will be drawn to Copeland’s story, but everyone will be inspired by her soaring spirit, caring heart, and fierce determination.

Kirkus Reviews (November 1, 2016)
A ballet milestone was reached when Copeland was named the first African-American principal ballerina at American Ballet Theater. Copeland begins her memoir with her difficult childhood of many stepfathers and little money. Recognized by local dance teachers as someone with great potential, she was encouraged to take lessons, apply for summer studies, and pursue what ultimately became her realized dream: a career as an elite dancer. Copeland is open about her mixed-race family’s difficulties and how “Dancing was my escape.” She is frank about discussing her enormous talent along with her conflicted feelings about her mother’s role versus those of her teachers who took her in and provided for her, leading to a court battle for emancipation. Famous black performers sought her out and were a source of strength and comfort; she even performed with Prince. Always present, of course, is the fact that the world of ballet is “full of ivory-skinned dancers.” Skin color, hair, and makeup needs set African-American ballet dancers apart, resulting in many instances of prejudice both overt and subtle. In this young readers’ edition of her 2014 memoir of the same name and with Colbert’s assistance, Copeland writes in a conversational tone. She devotes much space to her innate abilities, her ABT career, and her overwhelming desire to succeed and be an inspiration. As Copeland fiercely reminds herself, “This is for the little brown girls”—and any reader in need of inspiration. (Biography. 11-16)

About the Author

Misty Danielle Copelandis an American ballet dancer for American Ballet Theatre (ABT), one of the three leading classical ballet companies in the United States. On June 30, 2015, Copeland became the first African American woman to be promoted to principal dancer in ABT’s 75-year history.

Copeland was considered a prodigy who rose to stardom despite not starting ballet until the age of 13. By age 15, her mother and ballet teachers, who were serving as her custodial guardians, fought a custody battle over her.

In 1997, Copeland won the Los Angeles Music Center Spotlight Award as the best dancer in Southern California. After two summer workshops with ABT, she became a member of ABT’s Studio Company in 2000 and its corps de ballet in 2001, and became an ABT soloist in 2007. As a soloist from 2007 to mid-2015, she was described as having matured into a more contemporary and sophisticated dancer.

In addition to her dance career, Copeland has become a public speaker, celebrity spokesperson and stage performer.  In 2015, she was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time, appearing on its cover. She performed on Broadway in On the Town, toured as a featured dancer for Prince and appeared on the reality television shows A Day in the Life and So You Think You Can Dance.

Her website is mistycopeland.com.

Teacher Resources

Life in Motion Reading Group Guide

Around the Web

Life in Motion on Amazon

Life in Motion on Goodreads

Life in Motion on JLG

Life in Motion Publisher Page

Elon Musk and the Quest for a Fantastic Future by Ashlee Vance

Elon Musk and the Quest for a Fantastic Future: Young Readers Edition by Tina Connolly. January 24, 2017. HarperCollins, 288 p. ISBN: 9780062463289.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 6.6.

An in-depth look into the extraordinary life of the world’s most important entrepreneur, Elon Musk

This fascinating and easily accessible young readers’ adaptation of Ashlee Vance’s New York Times bestselling Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future features black-and-white photographs throughout and an epilogue. The version for adults has been praised as “riveting” (The Financial Times), “spirited” (The Wall Street Journal), and “masterful” (Vice). Now younger readers can read about this innovative leader who is revolutionizing three industries at once: space, automotive, and energy.

There are few people in history who could match Elon Musk’s relentless drive and vision. A modern combination of famous inventors and industrialists like Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, and Steve Jobs, Elon is the man behind companies such as SpaceX, Tesla Motors, SolarCity, and PayPal that are transforming the way we live.

Written with exclusive access to Elon, his family, and his friends, this book traces Elon’s journey from a kid in South Africa to a young man in the United States, his dramatic technical inventions, and his world-changing companies. Elon has sparked new levels of innovation in the world, and this book gives young readers a detailed but fast-paced look at his story.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: None

 

Reviews

Booklist (December 1, 2016 (Vol. 113, No. 7))
Grades 8-11. “I would like to die thinking that humanity has a bright future.” Elon Musk’s view on the world is unlike many others, and this version of the best-selling adult biography cites influences in Musk’s life that led to his work-centered, risk-laden, yet unparalleled success in the fields of space exploration, electric cars, and clean energy. Influences range from his mother’s father, an adventuresome pilot, to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Musk’s childhood featured plenty of reading and dreaming (and the occasional round of Dungeons & Dragons), but also its share of strife: his parents’ divorce; his father’s bullying, which often led to injuries and even hospitalization; and a personality and intellectual gift few truly understood. Today, Musk still deals with people’s skepticism, but his success supersedes his aloof personality and unprecedented ideas. As Vance reports, “It’s Elon’s world, and the rest of us live in it.” An informative and easy-to-follow biography of one of today’s top innovators for young readers.

Kirkus Reviews (November 1, 2016)
Vance slims down his 2015 portrait of an entrepreneur who has made and spent several eye-watering fortunes on the way to restarting our country’s space program and possibly revolutionizing the auto industry.In Vance’s view, Musk, afflicted with that vision thing, has always had his eyes on the prize—not of making bazillions but of providing humanity with the means to move beyond our confinement on a single, fragile planet. He has made bazillions nonetheless. Noting the big payoffs as well as his propensity to follow up compelling promises with scandalously late delivery dates, Vance takes readers through his booms and busts with several enterprises—notably PayPal, Tesla Motors, SolarCity, and what has the potential to shape up to be his grandest triumph of all, SpaceX. Along with views of youth and early geekdom (“It’s remarkable how many things you can get to explode,” Musk recalls), he relates suspenseful accounts of technical and financial crises, conducts tours of Musk’s factories (which are, pointedly, all in the U.S.), and brings his story up to early 2016. Overall, the author offers a picture of a brilliant, driven man: “He almost hypnotizes you,” says an associate. “He gives you the crazy eye, and it’s like, yes, we can get to Mars.” Illustrated with small, rare, dispensable photos. A modern American success story, neither overly earnest nor unreservedly adulatory. (timeline) (Biography. 11-14)

About the Author

Ashlee Vance is an award winning feature writer for Bloomberg Businessweek magazine. Vance is also the host of the “Hello World” TV show. Previously, he worked for The New York Times and The Register.

Vance was born in South Africa, grew up in Texas and attended Pomona College. He has spent more than a decade covering the technology industry from San Francisco and is a noted Silicon Valley historian.

His website is www.ashleevance.com.

Around the Web

Elon Musk and the Quest for a Fantastic Future on Amazon

Elon Musk and the Quest for a Fantastic Future on Goodreads

Elon Musk and the Quest for a Fantastic Future on JLG

Elon Musk and the Quest for a Fantastic Future Publisher Page

The Distance Between Us by Reyna Grande

The Distance Between Us: Young Readers Edition by Reyna Grande. September 6, 2016. Aladdin, 336 p. ISBN: 9781481463713.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 5.1; Lexile: 780.

When her parents make the dangerous and illegal trek across the Mexican border in pursuit of the American dream, Reyna and her siblings are forced to live with their stern grandmother, as they wait for their parents to build the foundation of a new life.

But when things don’t go quite as planned, Reyna finds herself preparing for her own journey to “El Otro Lado” to live with the man who has haunted her imagination for years: her long-absent father. Both funny and heartbreaking, The Distance Between Us beautifully captures the struggle that Reyna and her siblings endured while trying to assimilate to a different culture, language, and family life in El Otro Lado (The Other Side).

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Guns; Child abuse and neglect; Domestic violence; Harsh realities of poverty; Corporal punishment; Death of a child; Graphic description of a dead body; Allusions to suicide; Alcoholism; Gang violence; Shoplifting; Ethnic slurs

 

Book Trailer

Author Interview

Reviews

Booklist starred (September 1, 2016 (Vol. 113, No. 1))
Grades 5-8. Reyna’s parents have moved to El Otro Lado (The Other Side) and have left her behind. In this young readers edition of her memoir, Grande writes about a difficult time in her childhood when her parents moved to the U.S. and she stayed behind in Iguala, Mexico, with her older siblings. Grande shares a timely story of a transnational family and the economic and emotional hardships she endured—such as not being adequately taken care of by her grandmother and being called an “orphan” by other children. While her parents have left in search of work, Reyna just wants her family back together and does not entirely understand why they had to leave in the first place. Readers will be captivated by Grande’s beautiful and heart-wrenching story, from her detailed inner thoughts to the descriptions of the environment around her. Her longing to reconnect with her father, whom she refers to as the “man behind the glass,” because she only knows him through an old framed photograph, is one readers will avidly follow. Grande’s memoir offers an important account of the many ways immigration impacts children. Similar stories that touch on themes of immigration and family include the young-adult adaptation of Sonia Nazario’s Enrique’s Journey (2013) and Margarita Engle’s Enchanted Air (2015).

Kirkus Reviews (June 15, 2016)
This moving coming-of-age memoir by novelist Grande was a National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist in 2012. It has now been adapted for a younger audience.The grown-up Grande writes credibly in the voice of her younger self about growing up in Iguala de la Independencia in southern Mexico. The book starts as her mother is leaving for the United States to join her husband, who left two years before. Grande and her older siblings are left in their grandmother’s care. Life in Iguala is one of grinding poverty and abusive treatment. Their parents have left with the dream of earning enough money to build a house back in Iguala; meanwhile the children have their own dream of being reunited with their parents and once more being a family. As Grande’s parents’ marriage collapses, their mother returns only to leave again and again. Eventually, their father takes them to the U.S. The author describes a life that, though different, is not easy on the other side of the border. They must live in fear of deportation, learn a new language, cower under their father’s abusive treatment, and make do, always on the financial edge. Though redacted for young readers, this edition pulls no punches, and its frank honesty does not read “young” in any way. Read this along with Francisco Jimenez’s biographical series, starting with The Circuit (1997). This heartrending and thoughtful memoir puts a human face on immigration’s personal toll. (Memoir. 12-18)

About the Author

Reyna Grande is the author of the critically acclaimed memoir, The Distance Between Us, which the Los Angeles Times hailed as “the Angela’s Ashes of the modern Mexican immigrant experience.” A National Book Critics Circle Awards finalist, The Distance Between Us is about Grande’s life before and after coming to the U.S as an undocumented child immigrant. It is about what is lost and what is gained in the pursuit of a better life. The Common Reading book selection at colleges and universities across the nation, in September 2016, The Distance Between Us was republished for young readers ages 10-14.

Born in Mexico in 1975, Grande was raised by her grandparents after her parents left her behind while they worked in the U.S. She came to the U.S. at the age of nine as an undocumented immigrant and went on to become the first person in her family to obtain a higher education. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Creative Writing and Film and Video from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Antioch University. She is a sought-after speaker at middle/high schools, colleges and universities across the nation, and teaches creative writing workshops.

Her website is www.reynagrande.com.

Teacher Resources

The Distance Between Us Discussion Guide

The Distance Between Us Lesson Plans

The Distance Between Us Reading Guide

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Seriously Shifted on Amazon

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Seriously Shifted on JLG

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All Heart by Carli Lloyd

All Heart: My Dedication and Determination to Become One of Soccer’s Best by Carli Lloyd. December 6, 2016. HMH Books for Young Readers, 304 p. ISBN: 9780544978690.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 6.7; Lexile: 940.

In the summer of 2015, the U.S. women’s national soccer team won the World Cup behind an epic performance by Carli Lloyd. Carli, a midfielder, scored three goals in the first sixteen minutes—the greatest goal-scoring effort in the history of World Cup finals.

But there was a time when Carli almost quit soccer. She struggled with doubts and low confidence. In All Heart, adapted from When Nobody Was Watching specifically for younger readers, Carli tells the full inspiring story of her journey to the top of the soccer world—an honest, action-packed account that takes readers inside the mind of a hardworking athlete.

Includes two full-color photo inserts.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: None

 

Reviews

Booklist (January 1, 2017 (Vol. 113, No. 9))
Grades 6-10. Despite being named the FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year, winning two Olympic gold medals in women’s soccer, and being instrumental in clinching the 2015 Women’s World Cup, Lloyd’s successes did not come easy. In this memoir for young readers, adapted from her New York Times best-seller When Nobody Was Watching (2016), Lloyd highlights her constant struggles with self-criticism and her quest for perfection, which often leave her feeling like an underachiever. She begins with being cut in 2003 from the U.S. Under-21 soccer team and how it drove her more to become one the country’s best female soccer athletes. Her conversational narrative then takes readers step-by-step through her ups and downs both on and off the playing field, including her intense personal training, initial trouble fitting in among her teammates and with coaches, and troubled relationship with her parents. While soccer fans will especially enjoy the detailed descriptions of key matches from her career, there’s much to glean about teamwork and determination for any teen. An inspiring story of perseverance.

Kirkus Reviews (December 15, 2016)
Writing with sports journalist Coffey, Lloyd presents a play-by-play recap of her progress from elementary school soccer novice to World Cup player and winner of 2015’s FIFA Golden Ball and Silver Boot.In this young readers’ adaptation of her memoir for adults, When Nobody Was Watching (2016), Lloyd seems to remember with total recall every game she’s ever played, recapping them in a direct, detailed, blow-by-blow manner that is sure to confuse anyone who isn’t as into soccer as she is. Of course, her audience is likely to be a self-selected one. But soccer detail isn’t the only reason to read this book. All too often, it is easy to look at heroes of many stripes and think that success came to them easily. Lloyd makes it clear that her path was never easy, never without commitment, never without sacrifice, and, most of all, never without discipline and a lot of hard work. Her path covered a lot of ups and downs, and there were key people along the way who made her success the eventual inevitable goal…along with those who deserted and disappointed her. Narrating in the first person, Lloyd is frank about such difficulties as her estrangement from her family, telling readers, “I don’t hear from any of them after the [2012] Olympics, though they do send me a card. I can’t believe it has been four years since we’ve had any relationship to speak of.” True to real life, her story does not unfold neatly, with a clear narrative arc, but her character comes through loud and clear.Not for lovers of soccer only: readers after inspiration to keep playing, regardless of the odds, will find plenty here. (photos, index) (Memoir. 10-14)

About the Author

CarliLloyd is a co-captain of the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team and has been named the FIFA World Player of the Year for two years in a row (2015 and 2016). The midfielder led the U.S. team to World Cup victory in 2015 and also scored the gold-medal winning goals in both the 2008 and 2012 Olympics. She has played in three FIFA Women’s World Cup tournaments, helping the U.S. win bronze, silver and then gold. In 2015 she was also awarded the FIFA Golden Ball and the Silver Boot. The New Jersey native currently plays for the Houston Dash in the National Women’s Soccer League.

Her website is www.carlilloyd.com.

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I Got This by Laurie Hernandez

I Got This: To Gold and Beyond by Laurie Hernandez. January 24, 2017. HarperCollins, 240 p. ISBN: 9780062677310.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 7.2.

Gold medal-winning Olympic gymnast and Dancing with the Stars champion Laurie Hernandez shares her story in her own words in this debut book for fans of all ages—with never-before-seen photos!

At sixteen years old, Laurie Hernandez has already made many of her dreams come true—and yet it’s only the beginning for this highly accomplished athlete. A Latina Jersey girl, Laurie saw her life take a dramatic turn last summer when she was chosen to be a part of the 2016 US Olympic gymnastics team. After winning gold in Rio as part of the Final Five, Laurie also earned an individual silver medal for her performance on the balance beam. Nicknamed “the Human Emoji” for her wide-eyed and animated expressions, Laurie continued to dance her way into everyone’s hearts while competing on the hit reality TV show Dancing with the Stars, where she was the youngest-ever winner of the Mirrorball Trophy.

Poignant and funny, Laurie’s story is about growing up with the dream of becoming an Olympian and what it took to win gold. She talks about her loving family, her rigorous training, her intense sacrifices, and her amazing triumphs. Be prepared to fall in love with and be mesmerized by America’s newest sweetheart all over again.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: None

 

Book Trailer

About the Author

Laurie Hernandez is an American gymnast, an Olympic gold medalist, and the youngest-ever champion on Dancing with the Stars. At the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, Laurie won silver in the individual balance beam competition and secured gold in the team all-around competition.

Laurie started gymnastics at the age of six because she wanted to experience the feeling of flying. She enrolled at Monmouth Gymnastics in New Jersey, where she met her coach, and they became a winning duo. The turning point in Laurie’s career came in 2014, when her progress was stalled due to multiple injuries. She returned stronger than ever by becoming the 2015 US junior national champion. Laurie’s other career highlights include all-around silver, beam gold, and floor exercise bronze at the 2016 US Olympic Trials, and bronze in all-around, floor exercise, beam, and uneven bars at the 2016 national championships.

Laurie is known for her dazzling floor exercise routines and for her grace and artistry on the balance beam. And she has been nicknamed “the Human Emoji” for her outgoing facial expressions.

 

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Krysia by Krystyna Mihulka

Krysia: A Polish Girl’s Stolen Childhood During World War II by Kystyna Mihulka. January 1, 2017. Chicago Review Press, 192 p. ISBN: 9781613734414.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 5.0.

As German troops and bombs descended upon Poland, Krysia struggled to make sense of the wailing sirens, hushed adult conversations, and tearful faces of everyone around her. Within just days, the peaceful childhood she had known would disappear forever.

Krysia tells the story of one Polish girl’s harrowing experiences during World War II as her beloved father was forced into hiding, a Soviet soldier’s family took over her house, and finally as she and her mother and brother were forced at gunpoint from their once happy home and deported to a remote Soviet work farm in Kazakhstan.

Through vivid and stirring recollections Mihulka details their deplorable conditions—often near freezing in their barrack buried under mounds of snow, enduring starvation and illness, and witnessing death. But she also recalls moments of hope and tenderness as she, her mother, her brother, and other deportees drew close together, helped one another, and even held small celebrations in captivity. Throughout, the strength, courage, and kindness of Krysia’s mother, Zofia, saw them through until they finally found freedom.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Xenophobia; Harsh realities of war; Starvation

 

Reviews

Booklist (December 1, 2016 (Vol. 113, No. 7))
Grades 5-8. Krystyna Mihulka was only nine when Germany bombarded her hometown in eastern Poland; soon after, Russian Communists took over the territory. After her beloved father was forced into hiding, she and her mother and younger brother, deemed political prisoners, were herded onto a cattle car and sent to a work farm in rugged, remote Kazakhstan. Her mother’s gift for barter and the friendships of similarly afflicted families sustained them for two years of extreme hardship and near starvation. Mihulka, now in her late eighties, does her best to convey the experience as perceived by a young girl. Her narrative has undeniable value as a document. As a story intended for a young audience, it does at times fall short and may not effectively keep younger readers hooked. Still, this memoir has power and does the necessary work of prompting readers to try to imagine what it’s like to be among the millions of children undergoing similar upheavals in the war zones of today.

Kirkus Reviews (November 1, 2016)
A young girl endures life as a political prisoner.In 1939, when Krystyna “Krysia” Mihulka was 9, Russia invaded Poland. Her straightforward first-person narration, crafted with the assistance of Goddu, is convincingly childlike though not without the occasional poetic flair. She recounts how her lawyer father went into hiding and Krysia, her mother, and her brother were arrested and forced to leave their beloved home in Lwòw, Poland (now Liviv, Ukraine), and made to take the long, difficult journey to a prison camp in Kazakhstan. As to be expected, life was harsh, but with her mother’s hope and determination to keep her children alive, they survived and left Kazakhstan in 1941, when Germany invaded Russia and amnesty was granted to Polish political prisoners like Krysia and her family. Her mother secured passage to Uzbekistan, where they reunited with family, following which Krysia, her mother, and brother sailed for Persia (modern-day Iran), where they lived in a Polish refugee camp in Tehran. Told in an easy narrative style, Krysia’s story is accessible; she is someone for whom readers will feel empathy while learning about the removal of more than 1.5 million Poles from their homeland. Additional material includes an afterword; an epilogue outlining Krysia’s life from her arrival in Persia to her eventual settling in California in 1969, where she lives today; a map of her journey from Poland to Persia; a Polish pronunciation guide; and an author’s note.Elegant, eye-opening, and memorable. (Memoir. 10-15)

About the Author

Born in 1930, Krystyna Mihulka was deported from Poland to a remote village in Kazakhstan in 1940, where she lived as a political prisoner under Communist rule for nearly two years. After several years in refugee camps in Iran and Africa, she settled in Zambia, where she married and had three children. In 1969 she and her family migrated to the United States. She lives in Pleasant Hill, California, under her married name, Christine Tomerson.

 

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Krysia on Amazon

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