Tag Archives: biography

Soaring Earth by Margarita Engle

Soaring Earth: A Companion Memoir to Enchanted Air by Margarita Engle. February 26, 2019. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 192 p. ISBN: 9781534429536.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 1190.

In this powerful companion to her award-winning memoir Enchanted Air, Young People’s Poet Laureate Margarita Engle recounts her teenage years during the turbulent 1960s.

Margarita Engle’s childhood straddled two worlds: the lush, welcoming island of Cuba and the lonely, dream-soaked reality of Los Angeles. But the revolution has transformed Cuba into a mystery of impossibility, no longer reachable in real life. Margarita longs to travel the world, yet before she can become independent, she’ll have to start high school.

Then the shock waves of war reach America, rippling Margarita’s plans in their wake. Cast into uncertainty, she must grapple with the philosophies of peace, civil rights, freedom of expression, and environmental protection. Despite overwhelming circumstances, she finds solace and empowerment through her education. Amid the challenges of adolescence and a world steeped in conflict, Margarita finds hope beyond the struggle, and love in the most unexpected of places.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Discrimination, Harsh realities of war, Marijuana, Mild sexual themes, Racial insensitivity

 

Reviews

Booklist (February 1, 2019 (Vol. 115, No. 11))
Grades 9-12. Engle chronicles her high school, college, and post-college years—turbulent times for her, for the country, and for the world. She dreams of traveling to India, a place she imagines to be as enchanted as Cuba, where she can no longer visit due to the Cold War crisis. The poems in this memoir are terse, filled with the bleak imaginings of a teenager seeking emotional resonance. Despite the temporal difference, contemporary youth will find parallels with Engle as she seeks connection with a peer group, a close friend, or a lover—someone with whom she can make sense of her context. This companion to her award-winning Enchanted Air (2015) packs a historical wallop with references to Martin Luther King Jr., the Vietnam War, the Cold War, Second Wave Feminism, Watergate, Nixon’s secret bombing of Cambodia, and more. Engle lets all of this consume her, and she drifts for a while, living precariously. The memoir ends on a positive note, as she finds her place with nature, poetry, and a life partner.

Kirkus Reviews starred (January 15, 2019)
Young People’s Poet Laureate Engle (A Dog Named Haku, 2018, etc.) explores her tumultuous teenage and early adult years during the equally turbulent late 1960s and early 1970s. This companion memoir to her award-winning Enchanted Air (2015) is written mostly in free verse with a spot of haiku and tanka. This is a lonely dreamer’s tale of a wayward yet resourceful young woman who zigzags to self-discovery amid the Vietnam War, Delano grape strike, moon landing, and other key historical events. Dreaming of travel to far-off lands but without the financial resources to do so, she embarks on a formal and informal educational journey that takes her from Los Angeles to Berkeley, Haight-Ashbury, New York City, and back west again. With Spanish interspersed throughout, Engle speaks truthfully about the judgment she has faced from those who idealized Castro’s Cuba and the struggle to keep her Spanish alive after being cut off from her beloved mother’s homeland due to the Cold War. Employing variations in line breaks, word layout, and font size effectively, Engle’s pithy verses together read as a cohesive narrative that exudes honesty and bravery. While younger readers may not recognize some of the cultural references, themes of dating, drugs, and difficulty in college will resonate widely. Finding one’s path is not a linear process; thankfully Engle has the courage to offer herself as an example. Hopeful, necessary, and true. (author’s note) (Poetry/memoir. 13-adult)

About the Author

Margarita Engle is the national Young People’s Poet Laureate, and the first Latino to receive that honor. She is the Cuban-American author of many verse novels, including The Surrender Tree, a Newbery Honor winner, and The Lightning Dreamer, a PEN Literary Award for Young Adult Literature winner. Her verse memoir, Enchanted Air, received the Pura Belpré Award, a Walter Dean Myers Award Honor, and was a finalist for the YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction, among others. Her picture book Drum Dream Girl received the Charlotte Zolotow Award. Margarita was born in Los Angeles, but developed a deep attachment to her mother’s homeland during childhood summers with relatives. She continues to visit Cuba as often as she can.

Her website is www.margaritaengle.com/

Teacher Resources

Soaring Earth on Common Sense Media

Around the Web

Soaring Earth on Amazon

Soaring Earth on Barnes and Noble

Soaring Earth on Goodreads

Soaring Earth on LibraryThing

Soaring Earth Publisher Page

Advertisements

Dreaming in Code by Emily Arnold McCully

Dreaming in Code: Ada Byron Lovelace, Computer Pioneer by Emily Arnold McCully. March 12, 2019. Candlewick Press, 176 p. ISBN: 9780763693565.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

This illuminating biography reveals how the daughter of Lord Byron, Britain’s most infamous Romantic poet, became the world’s first computer programmer.

Even by 1800s standards, Ada Byron Lovelace had an unusual upbringing. Her strict mother worked hard at cultivating her own role as the long-suffering ex-wife of bad-boy poet Lord Byron while raising Ada in isolation. Tutored by the brightest minds, Ada developed a hunger for mental puzzles, mathematical conundrums, and scientific discovery that kept pace with the breathtaking advances of the industrial and social revolutions taking place in Europe. At seventeen, Ada met eccentric inventor Charles Babbage, a kindred spirit. Their ensuing collaborations resulted in ideas and concepts that presaged computer programming by almost two hundred years, and Ada Lovelace is now recognized as a pioneer and prophet of the information age. Award-winning author Emily Arnold McCully opens the window on a peculiar and singular intellect, shaped — and hampered — by history, social norms, and family dysfunction. The result is a portrait that is at once remarkable and fascinating, tragic and triumphant.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: References to drug use

 

Reviews

Booklist (March 1, 2019 (Vol. 115, No. 13))
Grades 7-10. Interest in Ada Byron Lovelace and other female pioneers of science has soared of late. This young adult biography is a particularly exemplary example of the burgeoning genre and should find a home in all libraries. Caldecott medalist McCully is careful to show Lovelace as a complex, and sometimes troubled, child, teen, and woman whose love of math was as passionate as love of poetry was to her famous father, the Romantic poet Lord Byron. While Lovelace’s mother, a controlling figure who reviled Lord Byron, was rather distant, she did cultivate her daughter’s intellect. She also introduced Lovelace to Charles Babbage, a well-known figure in England who was developing a protocomputer called the Analytical Engine. It was Lovelace who foresaw its implications and who ultimately wrote “code” for its use. While her life was tragically short, she is now generally acknowledged as “the first computer programmer.” McCully’s work is eminently readable, with short chapters and lavish illustrations. It also includes meaty appendixes and source notes for teen scholars. A worthy addition to biography bookshelves.

Kirkus Reviews (February 1, 2019)
A biography of Ada Lovelace, widely celebrated as the first computer programmer. McCully juxtaposes the analytical genius of her subject with her humanizing flaws and personality, painting a portrait of a turbulent soul and a visionary intellect whose promise was cut short by early death. After the acrimonious end of Lord and Lady Byron’s relationship, the intelligent Lady Byron sought to distance Ada from both her father himself and his unstable tendencies by giving her a challenging education focused on rational pursuits, math, and science. Lady Byron’s portrayal is complex—she’s cold and self-centered but determined to provide academic opportunities for her daughter. The book follows Ada’s education with her marriage and death from uterine cancer, but both the book and Ada focus on her collaborator, Charles Babbage. A temporary textual shift to focus on Babbage provides necessary context, establishing how advanced and revolutionary Babbage’s Difference Engine and Analytical Engine designs were. And yet, Ada was able to see far beyond his visions, conceptualizing the potential of modern computers and predicting such programming techniques like loops. McCully demonstrates that although Ada had the potential to achieve more, she was hampered by sexism, ill health, and a temperament akin to her father’s. Appendices summarize Lovelace’s notes on the Analytical Engine and present the British Association for the Advancement of Science’s rationale for refusing to support its construction. A sophisticated yet accessible piece that humanizes a tragic, brilliant dreamer. (source notes, glossary, bibliography, index [not seen]) (Biography. 10-14)

About the Author

Emily Arnold McCully was born left-handed in Galesburg, Illinois. She was a dare-devil tree-climber and ball-player who loved to write stories and illustrate them. Her family moved to New York City and then to a suburb, where she attended school. After college at Brown University, she earned a Master’s degree at Columbia University in art history. She worked as a freelance illustrator for magazines, advertisements and book publishers until a radio station commissioned a series of posters showing children playing. The first appeared in subway cars, where it was seen by a children’s book editor. It launched a long career, first as an illustrator, then as author/illustrator of picture books. McCully won a Caldecott Medal in 1993. She has two grown sons, one grandson and lives in New York City and Columbia County, N.Y., where she grows flowers and vegetables.

Her website is emilyarnoldmccully.com

Around the Web

Dreaming in Code on Amazon

Dreaming in Code on Barnes & Noble

Dreaming in Code on Goodreads

Dreaming in Code on LibraryThing

Dreaming in Code Publisher Page

This Promise of Change by Jo Ann Allen Boyce and Debbie Levy

This Promise of Change: One Girl’s Story in the Fight for School Equality by Jo Ann Allen Boyce and Debbie Levy. January 8, 2019. Bloomsbury Children’s Books, 320 p. ISBN: 9781681198521.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 6.3.

In 1956, one year before federal troops escorted the Little Rock 9 into Central High School, fourteen year old Jo Ann Allen was one of twelve African-American students who broke the color barrier and integrated Clinton High School in Tennessee. At first things went smoothly for the Clinton 12, but then outside agitators interfered, pitting the townspeople against one another. Uneasiness turned into anger, and even the Clinton Twelve themselves wondered if the easier thing to do would be to go back to their old school. Jo Ann–clear-eyed, practical, tolerant, and popular among both black and white students—found herself called on as the spokesperson of the group. But what about just being a regular teen? This is the heartbreaking and relatable story of her four months thrust into the national spotlight and as a trailblazer in history. Based on original research and interviews and featuring backmatter with archival materials and notes from the authors on the co-writing process.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Discrimination, Racism, Violence

 

Reviews

Booklist (November 1, 2018 (Vol. 115, No. 5))
Grades 5-9. Students of school-desegregation history know of the Little Rock 9, but probably fewer are familiar with the Clinton 12, who integrated a Tennessee high school a full year earlier, in 1956. Boyce, one of the 12, recounts her story in a series of moving narrative poems that detail mid-twentieth-century segregation practices in the South; introduce her family and their place in the town; describe the early, relatively civilized integration of the school; and explain how the introduction of outside agitators heightened tensions and led to violence. Boyce’s positive attitude about her experiences invites reader identification. Yes, she and others endured unrelenting pressure and threats, but the cause was important and the results worthwhile. The poems (mostly free verse with a sprinkling of other forms) personalize this history, and interspersed newspaper headlines and quotes situate the response of the larger world. Generous back matter includes additional information about the Clinton 12, a time line, period photos, sources, and further reading. Engrossing, informative, and important for middle-grade collections.

Kirkus Reviews starred (October 15, 2018)
An autobiographical account in verse of a teen pioneering school desegregation in the South. Jo Ann Allen lives up on a hill with the other black residents of Clinton, Tennessee. They travel to Knoxville to attend the black schools, but in 1956, two years after the Brown v. Board of Education decision, a judge in Knoxville tells Clinton officials that they must integrate immediately. Jo Ann is one of 12 black students who enroll in the all-white Clinton High School. With co-author Levy, she tells her story of that year in poems grouped by her relationship to her town (“Mine, Theirs and Ours”; “Fear,” etc.). Most of the white people who support the black students do so only out of civic duty to obey the law. Still, there are moments of hope, as when her white classmates elect her vice president of their homeroom; it seems she might make friends. But then hatred and violence overtake the town of Clinton, necessitating federal law enforcement to keep the peace. Readers will empathize with Jo Ann’s honest incredulity: “Mouths spewing insults. / (Do these mouths sing hymns on Sunday? / Do they say ‘I love you’?)” One timely poem remembers a local election in which “every single / white supremacist/ segregationist / candidate / lost.” Such gems relevant to today’s politics, along with the narrator’s strong inner voice, make this offering stand out. Powerful storytelling of a not-so-distant past. (epilogue, authors’ notes, photos, timeline, sources, bibliography, further reading) (Verse memoir. 9-14)

About the Authors

Jo Ann Allen Boyce was one of 12 students to desegregate Clinton High School in 1956. She has worked as a professional singer and a nurse. She lives in Los Angeles.

 

I (Debbie Levy) write books — nonfiction, fiction, and poetry — for people of all different ages, and especially for young people. Before starting my writing career, I was a newspaper editor; before that, I was a lawyer with a Washington, D.C. law firm. I have a bachelor’s degree in government and foreign affairs from the University of Virginia, and a law degree and master’s degree in world politics from the University of Michigan. I live in Maryland with my husband. We have two grown sons. Besides writing, I love to kayak, boat, fish, and otherwise mess around in the Chesapeake Bay region.

Her website is www.debbielevybooks.com

Teacher Resources

This Promise of Change on Common Sense Media

Around the Web

This Promise of Change on Amazon

This Promise of Change on Barnes and Noble

This Promise of Change on Goodreads

This Promise of Change on LibraryThing

This Promise of Change Publisher Page

Never Caught, the Story of Ona Judge by Erica Armstrong Dunbar & Kathleen Van Clive

Never Caught, the Story of Ona Judge: George and Martha Washington’s Courageous Slave Who Dared to Run Away by Erica Armstrong Dunbar. January 8, 2019. Aladdin, 272 p. ISBN: 9781534416178.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 8.0.

In this incredible narrative, Erica Armstrong Dunbar reveals a fascinating and heartbreaking behind-the-scenes look at the Washingtons’ when they were the First Family—and an in-depth look at their slave, Ona Judge, who dared to escape from one of the nation’s Founding Fathers.

Born into a life of slavery, Ona Judge eventually grew up to be George and Martha Washington’s “favored” dower slave. When she was told that she was going to be given as a wedding gift to Martha Washington’s granddaughter, Ona made the bold and brave decision to flee to the north, where she would be a fugitive.

From her childhood, to her time with the Washingtons and living in the slave quarters, to her escape to New Hampshire, Erica Armstrong Dunbar (along with Kathleen Van Cleve), shares an intimate glimpse into the life of a little-known, but powerful figure in history, and her brave journey as she fled the most powerful couple in the country.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Discrimination, Racism, Violence

 

Related Video

Reviews

Kirkus Reviews starred (December 15, 2018)
A young enslaved woman successfully escapes bondage in the household of George and Martha Washington. Ona Judge was the daughter of a white indentured servant, Andrew Judge, and an enslaved woman, Betty, on the Mount Vernon plantation, growing up to become Martha Washington’s personal maid. When George Washington was elected president, it was up to Martha to decide who among their enslaved would go with them. “The criteria were clear: obedient, discreet, loyal slaves, preferably of mixed race.” After the seat of government moved to Philadelphia, the Washingtons were subject to the Gradual Abolition Act, a Pennsylvania law that mandated freedom for any enslaved person residing in state for more than six months. The Washingtons chose to rotate their enslaved out of the state to maintain ownership. In 1796, Martha Washington decided to give Ona as a wedding present to her granddaughter—but Ona made her escape by ship to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, setting up years of attempts by allies of Washington to return Ona to slavery. Despite poverty and hardship, Ona Judge remained free, thwarting the most powerful man in America. Dunbar, whose adult version of this story was a National Book Award finalist, and co-author Van Cleve have crafted a compelling read for young people. Ona Judge’s determination to maintain control over her life will resonate with readers. The accessible narrative, clear context, and intricately recorded details of the lives of the enslaved provide much-needed understanding of the complexities and contradictions of the country’s founding. Necessary. (Biography. 9-13)

School Library Journal (January 1, 2019)
Gr 5 Up-This young readers edition of Dunbar’s National Book Award-nominated title details the account of Ona Judge, who ran away from the household of George and Martha Washington. Born into slavery at Mount Vernon, Judge began working directly for Martha Washington by the age of 10. When the Washingtons left Mount Vernon for George’s political career, Judge was chosen to make the trip north, visiting and eventually living in Pennsylvania and New York. Away from the sheltered world of Virginia, Judge encountered free black people for the first time and learned about laws such as the Gradual Abolition Act in Pennsylvania. The Washingtons went to great lengths to prevent those they enslaved from benefitting from this law. In May of 1796, then 22-year-old Judge walked out of the Washington’s mansion in Philadelphia and onto the deck of a ship that would take her to New Hampshire. Although she was never able to live comfortably, she refused to go back to a life of slavery-no matter how determined George and Martha Washington were to reenslave her. This well-written story has been skillfully reconstructed from the sparse historical record available and delicately adapted for middle schoolers. Dunbar and van Cleve effectively and consistently convey the realities of being enslaved-and invite readers to empathize with Judge. VERDICT A brilliant work of U.S. history. Recommended for all collections.-Kristy Pasquariello, Westwood Public Library, MA

About the Author

Erica Armstrong Dunbar is the Charles and Mary Beard Professor of History at Rutgers University. She also serves as Director of the Program in African American History at the Library Company of Philadelphia. Her first book, A Fragile Freedom: African American Women and Emancipation in the Antebellum City was published by Yale University Press in 2008. She is also the author of Never Caught: The Washingtons’ Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave Ona Judge.

Her website is ericaarmstrongdunbar.com

Kathleen Van Cleve teaches creative writing and film at the University of Pennsylvania. She has written three books, including the award-winning middle grade novel Drizzle and lives in Philadelphia with her husband and sons.

Her website is www.kathyvancleve.com

Teacher Resources

Never Caught Curriculum Guide

Never Caught on Common Sense Media

Around the Web

Never Caught on Amazon

Never Caught on Barnes and Noble

Never Caught on Goodreads

Never Caught on LibraryThing

Never Caught Publisher Page

History vs. Women by Anita Sarkeesian and Ebony Adams

History vs. Women: The Defiant Lives That They Don’t Want You to Know by Anita Sarkeesian and Ebony Adams. October 2, 2018. Fiewel & Friends, 128 p. ISBN: 9781250146731.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 1230.

Rebels, rulers, scientists, artists, warriors and villains

Women are, and have always been, all these things and more.

Looking through the ages and across the globe, Anita Sarkeesian, founder of Feminist Frequency, along with Ebony Adams PHD, have reclaimed the stories of twenty-five remarkable women who dared to defy history and change the world around them. From Mongolian princesses to Chinese pirates, Native American ballerinas to Egyptian scientists, Japanese novelists to British Prime Ministers, History vs Women will re-frame the history that you thought you knew.

Featuring beautiful full-color illustrations of each woman and a bold graphic design, this standout nonfiction title is the perfect read for teens (or adults!) who want the true stories of phenomenal women from around the world and insight into how their lives and accomplishments impacted both their societies and our own.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Discrimination, Harsh realities of war, Racism, Violence

 

Reviews

Booklist starred (November 15, 2018 (Vol. 115, No. 6))
Grades 7-10. This collective biography of women who have boldly made their marks on a world that often took great pains to deny them makes a concerted effort to shine a spotlight on those outside of the white, Western canon. Readers may have encountered a handful of these women before (Ida B. Wells, Margaret Thatcher), but, generally, this focuses on introducing colorful, daring figures that history has been less fond of (Sikh warrior Mai Bhago; Bessie Stringfield, the first black woman to travel solo across the U.S. by motorcycle; etc.). The women are profiled chronologically within five sections: rebels, scholars, villains, artists, and Amazons. Of particular interest is the villains section: from British prime minister Margaret Thatcher and Spanish queen Isabel I, who inflicted damage on national and even global scales, to notorious lady pirate Ching Shih, these were women who, though strong and accomplished, were also ruthless and often criminal. But, as the text proclaims, “Putting women on a pedestal is really just another way to keep them in a box,” and this engaging, crisply designed book attempts to break barriers at every opportunity. Sketched portraits of the women accompany their detailed profiles, which are followed by a thorough afterword about the selection process and extensive source notes. A superbly well-rounded addition for collections looking to expand beyond recitations of the familiar.

School Library Journal (October 1, 2018)
Gr 7 Up-While many teens find inspiration for strength, courage, and guidance in feminist icons, such as Frida Kahlo, Amelia Earhart, or Maya Angelou, untold numbers of brave women have been lost to history. Sarkeesian and Adams have put together the incredible achievements of 25 women throughout the centuries. Each section explores the lives of five women from around the world, from the third century to the 21st. Students will be introduced to the heroics of LGBTQ+ trailblazer Lucy Hicks Anderson, the wisdom of Fatima al-Fihri, the imagination of Murasaki Shikibu, and the strength of Bessie Stringfield. Readers of all ages, across the globe and socioeconomic spectrum, can find an icon to look up to within these pages. Filled with strength, this collection is incredibly inspiring and will instill in teens a take-charge attitude and powerful mind-set. VERDICT This is a must for public library YA nonfiction collections.-Kimberly Barbour, Manatee County Public Library System, FL

About the Authors

Anita Sarkeesian is an award-winning media critic and the creator and executive director of Feminist Frequency, an educational nonprofit that explores the representations of women in pop culture narratives.Best known as the creator and host of Feminist Frequency’s highly influential series Tropes vs. Women in Video Games, Anita lectures at universities, conferences and game development studios around the world. Anita dreams of owning a life-size replica of Buffy’s scythe.

Her website is www.feministfrequency.com

 

Ebony Adams, Ph.D. is an author, activist, and former college educator whose work foregrounds the lives and work of black women in the diaspora. She lives in Los Angeles with a steadily-increasing collection of Doctor Who memorabilia. She writes widely on film criticism, social justice, and pop culture.

 

Around the Web

History vs. Women on Amazon

History vs. Women on Barnes and Noble

History vs. Women on Goodreads

History vs. Women on LibraryThing

History vs. Women Publisher Page

Cyrus Field’s Big Dream by Mary Morton Cowan

Cyrus Field’s Big Dream: The Daring Effort to Lay the First Transatlantic Telegraph Cable by Morton Cowan. September 11, 2018. Calkins Creek Books, 224 p. ISBN: 9781629795560.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 6.7; Lexile: 980.

In this nonfiction middle-grade title, award-winning author Mary Morton Cowan explores the extraordinary achievement of Cyrus Field and one of the greatest engineering feats of the 19th century: laying a transatlantic telegraph cable to create instant communication between two continents.

Cyrus Field had a big dream to connect North America and the United Kingdom with a telegraph line, which would enable instant communication. In the mid-1800s, no one knew if it was possible. That didn’t dissuade Cyrus, who set out to learn about undersea cables and built a network of influential people to raise money and create interest in his project. Cyrus experienced numerous setbacks: many years of delays and failed attempts, millions of dollars lost, suspected sabotage, technological problems, and more. But Cyrus did not give up and forged ahead, ultimately realizing his dream in the summer of 1866. Mary Morton Cowan brilliantly captures Cyrus’s life and his steadfast determination to achieve his dream.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language

 

Reviews

Booklist (June 1, 2018 (Vol. 114, No. 19))
Grades 6-10. Long before email and texting, Cyrus Field understood the value of instant communication. When the paper-merchant tycoon learned in 1854 about an opportunity to invest in the first transatlantic telegraph cable, which would reduce message delivery between Europe and North America from weeks to minutes, he couldn’t resist. This detailed biography, filled with archival reproductions, chronicles Field’s rise from a penniless paper-mill worker to one of the richest men in New York City. An interesting chapter on his hiatus from his paper company describes an adventure through South America with then budding artist Frederic Church. The bulk of the text focuses on Field’s 12-year endeavor to create a telegraph company, acquire investors, and procure 2,000 miles of cable, and the tension-filled methods of laying it. Cowan relates the scientific and historical events that shaped the process. While the topic seems most applicable to STEM readers, there is much for young entrepreneurs to learn. The project failed multiple times, but Field’s incessant determination finally succeeded with a telegraph from Queen Victoria to President Andrew Johnson.

Kirkus Reviews (July 1, 2018)
The relentless persistence of one man resulted in one of the greatest engineering feats of the 19th century and the transformation of international communication. Cyrus Field’s success in business enabled him to amass enough of a fortune to partially retire at the age of 34. His interest in telegraphy was sparked by Canadian engineer Frederic Gisborne, who aimed to establish a telegraph connection between St. John’s, Newfoundland, and New York City. Field formed a new company to take over Gisborne’s venture and convinced investors to lay a cable line from Newfoundland to Ireland. In 1857, after securing financing in England and backing from the American and British governments, Field’s Atlantic Telegraph Company established the first trans-Atlantic telegraph cable. The cable officially opened on Aug. 16, 1858, when Queen Victoria sent President James Buchanan a message in Morse code. Widespread jubilation over this feat was short-lived when the connection broke down and was not reconnected until 1866. Making extensive use of primary sources, Cowan admiringly chronicles how, in those intervening years, Fields endured delays and failed attempts, millions of dollars lost, suspected sabotage, technological problems, and public accusations of fraud and treason. Her well-paced, vivid account makes for a read that is at times gripping. The principal figures in her tale are white. An inspiring portrait of a man with a dream and his steadfast determination to achieve it. (charts, maps, diagrams, photos, timeline, source notes, bibliography) (Nonfiction. 10-14)

About the Author

Award-winning author, Mary Morton Cowan, writes for young readers. She is a native of Maine and a graduate of Bates College, where she concentrated her studies in English and Music. In addition to books, more than eighty of her articles, stories and activities have been published in children’s magazines, and several have been reprinted in textbooks and anthologies.

Her website is www.marymortoncowan.com

Around the Web

Cyrus Field’s Big Dream on Amazon

Cyrus Field’s Big Dream on Barnes and Noble

Cyrus Field’s Big Dream on Goodreads

Cyrus Field’s Big Dream Publisher Page

Rising Out of Hatred by Eli Saslow

Rising Out of Hatred: The Awakening of a Former White Nationalist by Eli Saslow. September 18, 2018. Doubleday, 304 p. ISBN: 9780385542869.  Int Lvl: AD; Rdg Lvl: AD.

From a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter, the powerful story of how a prominent white supremacist changed his heart and mind

Derek Black grew up at the epicenter of white nationalism. His father founded Stormfront, the largest racist community on the internet. His godfather, David Duke, was a KKK Grand Wizard. By the time Derek turned nineteen, he had become an elected politician with his own daily radio show–already regarded as the “the leading light” of the burgeoning white nationalist movement. “We can infiltrate,” Derek once told a crowd of white nationalists. “We can take the country back.” Then he went to college.

Derek had been home-schooled by his parents, steeped in the culture of white supremacy, and he had rarely encountered diverse perspectives or direct outrage against his beliefs. At New College of Florida, he continued to broadcast his radio show in secret each morning, living a double life until a classmate uncovered his identity and sent an email to the entire school. “Derek Black…white supremacist, radio host…New College student???”

The ensuing uproar overtook one of the most liberal colleges in the country. Some students protested Derek’s presence on campus, forcing him to reconcile the ugliness his beliefs for the first time. Other students found the courage to reach out to him, including an Orthodox Jew who invited Derek to attend weekly Shabbat dinners. It was because of those dinners–and the wide-ranging relationships formed at that table–that Derek started to question the science, history, and prejudices behind his worldview. As white nationalism infiltrated the political mainstream, Derek decided to confront the damage he had done.

Rising Out of Hatred tells the story of how white-supremacist ideas migrated from the far-right fringe to the White House through the intensely personal saga of one man who eventually disavowed everything he was taught to believe, at tremendous personal cost. With great empathy and narrative verve, Eli Saslow asks what Derek’s story can tell us about America’s increasingly divided nature. This is a book to help us understand the American moment and better understand one another.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Discrimination, Racism

 

Book Trailer

Related Video

Reviews

Booklist (August 2018 (Vol. 114, No. 22))
As the son of infamous white supremacist Don Black, Derek Black was a rising star among white nationalists, preaching racial separatism from his own radio-show pulpit by the age of 19. After enrolling at the leftist-leaning New College of Florida in 2010, where Black reasoned he could work his subversive influence from the inside, his views about racial tolerance underwent a radical shift away from his elders’ philosophy. Pulitzer Prize–winning Washington Post reporter Saslow’s decision to recount Black’s transformation with politically neutral detachment makes his story no less captivating. Saslow notes that Black, unlike his father and fellow racist cohorts, chose to strip his rhetoric of inflammatory language and cleverly reframe the movement in terms of white persecution by Jews and minorities. Yet, while Black’s unearthed presence at the New College quickly triggered protests, his growing friendships with a Hispanic roommate and a Jewish student forced him to reexamine his formative indoctrination and eventually break with his family. Amid the current swirling controversies around racial issues, Saslow’s work is both timely and encouraging.

Kirkus Reviews (July 1, 2018)
Pulitzer Prize–winning Washington Post reporter Saslow (Ten Letters: The Stories Americans Tell Their President, 2011) delivers a memorable story of a prodigal son who broke with white supremacy thanks to the kindness of strangers.It is a small irony that Derek Black abandoned the nationalist, white power movement at just about the time that a president entered the White House who consciously put white nationalist rhetoric at the center of his campaign. Black came by his race hatred naturally, following his father’s ideology as the founder of Stormfront, the neo-Nazi clearinghouse, and that of his godfather, KKK stalwart David Duke. From his father, Black carried the urgent message that whites were being made victims of cultural genocide in their own country, a grievance of the loss of privilege. However, he had a different vision in which hooded, hidden supremacists would become respectable, persuading his father to outlaw “slurs, Nazi insignia, and threats of violence or lawbreaking” from the Stormfront website. Thus Charlottesville, with its clean-cut, polo shirt–wearing torchlight parade marchers. By then, though, Derek was long gone. Bright, well-read, and skilled in debate, he had gone off to college in Florida, and there, his home-schooling parents’ worst nightmare was realized: He formed a bond with a Jewish girl, though he continued his agitating, and when his identity as a white nationalist was exposed, a Jewish conservative invited him to exchange ideas. Black’s eventual renunciation of the nationalist cause threw his parents into turmoil; as Saslow writes, his father hoped that “maybe Derek was just faking a change in ideology so he could have an easier life and a more successful career in academia.” But absent widespread changes of heart, Black’s story is an anomaly, if an instructive one—and one that closes with a dark message that conflict is looming as the white nationalist movement appears to be mushrooming. A sobering book that deserves a wide audience among politics-watchers in an age of reaction.

About the Author

Eli Saslow is an author and a staff writer for The Washington Post, where he travels the country to write in-depth stories about the impact of major national issues on individual lives. He won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize in Explanatory Reporting for a series of stories about the rise of food stamps and hunger in the United States. He was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in feature writing in 2013, 2016 and 2017. An occasional contributor to ESPN the Magazine, four of his stories have been anthologized in Best American Sportswriting. He grew up in Denver, graduated from Syracuse University and now lives in Portland, Or., with his wife and three children.

Her website is www.elisaslow.com

Around the Web

Rising Out of Hatred on Amazon

Rising Out of Hatred on Barnes and Noble

Rising Out of Hatred on Goodreads

Rising Out of Hatred Publisher Page

Anne Frank’s Diary by Ari Folman

Anne Frank’s Diary: The Graphic Adaptation by Ari Folman. October 2, 2018. Pantheon Books, 160 p. ISBN: 9781101871799.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 800.

The only graphic novelization of Anne Frank’s diary that has been authorized by the Anne Frank Foundation and that uses text from the diary–it will introduce a new generation of young readers to this classic of Holocaust literature. 

This adaptation of Anne Frank’s Diary of a Young Girl into a graphic version for a young readership, maintains the integrity and power of the original work. With stunning, expressive illustrations and ample direct quotation from the diary, this edition will expand the readership for this important and lasting work of history and literature.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Harsh realities of war, Strong sexual themes

 

Book Trailer

Reviews

Booklist starred (October 15, 2018 (Vol. 115, No. 4))
Grades 8-12. Adapting a remarkable primary source like Anne Frank’s diary is no small feat. How do you summarize and visualize such a remarkable document of the Holocaust? As if that weren’t challenge enough, how can you capture the inside of a young girl’s head, her insecurities, dreams, and fears? This graphic novel adaptation takes many risks. The first of many, and its saving grace, is its loyalty to Anne’s own voice. Often witty, ironic, even snarky, Anne’s writing has an acerbic sense of humor. This adaptation is first and foremost a remembrance of that Anne who, despite living a life marred by tragedy, tried by indignities, always held true to herself. Light touches of historical context, woven in through diary entries, provide necessary background without coming across as overly didactic. The whimsical nature of Polonsky’s illustrations, which play upon Anne’s active imagination during her time in hiding, are unexpectedly moving; though we never lose sight of the gravitas of Anne’s story, these forays into fantasy, which show Anne escaping from the harsh present into a future that will never come, serve to remind us of the truly human face of genocide. This is an exceptionally graceful homage to a story that deserves to be told for years to come.

Kirkus Reviews (July 15, 2018)
An illustrated abridgement of the Nazi-era classic.  Anne Frank (1929-1945) as graphic-history heroine? Adapter and composer Folman and illustrator Polonsky (Animation and Illustration/Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design) worked together on the Oscar-nominated, animated documentary Waltz with Bashir. According to Folman, they were approached by the Anne Frank Foundation about adapting the diary into both “an animated film for children” and a graphic novel that would introduce it to a new generation of readers. He then faced a “significant challenge”—to render the whole diary in graphic form might take a decade to complete and some 3,500 pages, while a more manageable “edit” could feature only 5 percent of the original text. Though he opted for the latter course, the abridgment retains the spirit of the whole as the perceptive and increasingly self-aware teenager navigates the usual tensions of adolescence—puberty, romance, family issues—within a nightmarish retreat from the Nazi atrocities intensifying outside their secret hideout. She feels guilty about any everyday cheerfulness she experiences in the face of so much death and destruction, and she succumbs to bouts of depression despite her typical resilience. “Even deep sleep brings no redemption,” she writes. “The dreams still creep in.” Those dreams bring out the best of the illustrations amid the depictions of the everyday confinement in which Anne, her family, and others are hiding. They were captured toward the end of the war, after the end of the diary, when the gas chambers were on the eve of being dismantled. Though she wasn’t aware of her fate, Anne writes with much awareness of not only herself, but a potential readership, with the literary aspirations of someone who feels she has “one outstanding character trait…a great deal of self-knowledge. In everything I do, I can watch myself as if I were a stranger.” A different format distills and renews Frank’s achievement.

About the Author

Ari Folman is an Israeli film director, screenwriter and film score composer.

He witnessed the aftermath of the 1982 Sabra and Shatila massacre as a 19 year old Israeli soldier. This would serve as the basis of Waltz with Bashir. The film follows his attempt to regain his memories of the war through therapy as well as conversations with old friends and other Israelis that were present in Beirut around the time of the massacre.

Since 2006 he has been the head writer of the Hot 3 drama series Parashat Hashavua.

Around the Web

Anne Frank’s Diary on Amazon

Anne Frank’s Diary on Barnes and Noble

Anne Frank’s Diary on Goodreads

Anne Frank’s Diary Publisher Page

Taking Cover by Nioucha Homayoomfar

Taking Cover: One Girl’s Story of Growing Up during the Iranian Revolution by Nioucha Homeyoomfar. January 1, 2019. National Geographic Society, 160 p. ISBN: 9781426333675.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

This coming-of-age memoir, set during the Iranian Revolution, tells the true story of a young girl who moves to Tehran from the U.S. and has to adjust to living in a new country, learning a new language, and starting a new school during one of the most turbulent periods in Iran’s history.

When five-year-old Nioucha Homayoonfar moves from the U.S. to Iran in 1979, its open society means a life with dancing, women’s rights, and other freedoms. But soon the revolution erupts and the rules of life in Iran change. Religion classes become mandatory. Nioucha has to cover her head and wear robes. Opinions at school are not welcome. Her cousin is captured and tortured after he is caught trying to leave the country. And yet, in the midst of so much change and challenge, Nioucha is still just a girl who wants to play with her friends, please her parents, listen to pop music, and, eventually, have a boyfriend. Will she ever get used to this new culture? Can she break the rules without consequences? Nioucha’s story sheds light on the timely conversation about religious, political, and social freedom, publishing in time for the 40th anniversary of the Iranian Revolution.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Use of the word “whore”

 

About the Author

An international citizen from a young age, Nioucha Homayoonfar was born in Brussels to an Iranian father and French mother, spent her earliest years in Pittsburgh, and became a teenager in Tehran. Homayoonfar grew up caught between two worlds: a free and Western life lived indoors, and a repressive life lived outside the confines of the family home. The family finally left Iran when Nioucha was nearly 17 years old. In the U.S., she studied art history and Spanish at the University of Pittsburgh. She now lives in the Washington, D.C., area with her husband, author and journalist Stew Magnuson, and their two children.

Around the Web

Taking Cover on Amazon

Taking Cover on Barnes and Noble

Taking Cover on Goodreads

Taking Cover Publisher Page

All You Can Ever Know by Nicole Chung

All You Can Ever Know by Nicole Chung. October 2, 2018. Catapult, 240 p. ISBN: 9781936787975.  Int Lvl: AD; Rdg Lvl: AD.

What does it mean to lose your roots―within your culture, within your family―and what happens when you find them?

Nicole Chung was born severely premature, placed for adoption by her Korean parents, and raised by a white family in a sheltered Oregon town. From childhood, she heard the story of her adoption as a comforting, prepackaged myth. She believed that her biological parents had made the ultimate sacrifice in the hope of giving her a better life, that forever feeling slightly out of place was her fate as a transracial adoptee. But as Nicole grew up―facing prejudice her adoptive family couldn’t see, finding her identity as an Asian American and as a writer, becoming ever more curious about where she came from―she wondered if the story she’d been told was the whole truth.

With warmth, candor, and startling insight, Nicole Chung tells of her search for the people who gave her up, which coincided with the birth of her own child. All You Can Ever Know is a profound, moving chronicle of surprising connections and the repercussions of unearthing painful family secrets―vital reading for anyone who has ever struggled to figure out where they belong.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Racism; Violence

 

Reviews

Booklist (September 15, 2018 (Vol. 115, No. 2))
Chung’s insightful memoir reveals her carefully considered ambivalence about adoption. Born extremely prematurely into a family that had immigrated from Korea, she was adopted by a white couple who lived in a small town in Oregon, where she was one of few nonwhite residents. Often mocked by her classmates, and feeling out of sync with her adoptive family, she clung to a belief that everyone involved was motivated by a desire to give her the best possible life. Once she was married and living on the East Coast, she began to investigate her origins, and she found a more complicated story than the one she had imagined. Her tentative reconciliation with her birth family and the touching bond she formed with her older sister are tempered by her persistent questions about the way her life would have differed had she not been put up for adoption. Chung’s clear, direct approach to her experience, which includes the birth of her daughter as well as her investigation of her family, reveals her sharp intelligence and willingness to examine difficult emotions.

Kirkus Reviews (July 15, 2018)
An essayist and editor’s account of her search for and reconnection with the parents who gave her up for adoption.Chung, the editor-in-chief of Catapult magazine, had always been obsessed with the Korean birthparents she had never met. Her adoptive mother and father told her a story that emphasized the birthparents’ loving selflessness and how “[t]hey thought adoption was the best thing for me.” But the “legend” they created was not enough to sate Chung’s curiosity about the past or ease her occasional discomfort at being the Korean child of white parents in a largely Caucasian Oregon community. A year after she graduated from college, Chung discovered a way to work around the legalities of what had been a closed adoption to find out more about her birthparents. However, it was not until she became pregnant a few years later that she decided to make contact. Eager to know why she had been given up for adoption but troubled that she was betraying the trust of her adoptive parents, the author quietly moved forward with her quest. Much of what she learned—e.g., that she had been born premature and had two sisters—she already knew. Other details, like the fact that her parents had told everyone she had died at birth, raised a host of new questions. Just before Chung gave birth, her sister Cindy made contact. She revealed that their mother had been abusive and that their father had been the one who had decided on adoption. Fear of becoming like her birth mother and anger at both parents gradually gave way to the mature realization that her adoption “was not a tragedy” but rather “the easiest way to solve just one of too many problems.” Highly compelling for its depiction of a woman’s struggle to make peace with herself and her identity, the book offers a poignant depiction of the irreducibly complex nature of human motives and family ties. A profound, searching memoir about “finding the courage to question what I’d always been told.”

About the Author

Nicole Chung has written for The New York TimesGQLongreadsBuzzFeedHazlitt, and Shondaland, among other publications. She is Catapult magazine’s editor in chief and the former managing editor of The ToastAll You Can Ever Know is her first book.

Her website is www.nicolechung.net

Around the Web

All You Can Ever Know on Amazon

All You Can Ever Know on Barnes and Noble

All You Can Ever Know on Goodreads

All You Can Ever Know Publisher Page