Tag Archives: history

Higher, Steeper, Faster by Lawrence Goldstone

Higher, Steeper, Faster: The Daredevils Who Conquered the Skies by Lawrence Goldstone. March 28, 2017. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 256 p. ISBN: 9780316350235.  Int Lvl: 3-6; Rdg Lvl: 6.9; Lexile: 1150.

Discover the daring aviation pioneers who made the dream of powered flight a reality, forever changing the course of history.

Aviator Lincoln Beachey broke countless records: he looped-the-loop, flew upside down and in corkscrews, and was the first to pull his aircraft out of what was a typically fatal tailspin. As Beachey and other aviators took to the skies in death-defying acts in the early twentieth century, these innovative daredevils not only wowed crowds, but also redefined the frontiers of powered flight.

Higher, Steeper, Faster takes readers inside the world of the brave men and women who popularized flying through their deadly stunts and paved the way for modern aviation. With heart-stopping accounts of the action-packed race to conquer the skies, plus photographs and fascinating archival documents, this book will exhilarate readers as they fly through the pages.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: None

 

Reviews

Booklist (March 15, 2017 (Vol. 113, No. 14))
Grades 4-6. While the cautious, conservative Wright brothers get the credit for the first successful sustained flight, the stunt and exhibition pilots who followed in their wake really pushed the boundaries of aviation development and technology. Their need for sturdier, sleeker, faster planes ushered in a decade of innovation that stretched from airfields in the U.S. to, eventually, the battlefields of WWI Europe. Numerous figures are featured here, but the history is framed within the story of thrill-seeking, celebrated pilot Lincoln Beachey. There are plenty of names to keep track of, and the action moves back and forth across the Atlantic as American and European inventors try to outdo each other. Fortunately, clear writing and chronological storytelling makes it easy for the reader to follow. Original photographs, contemporary publicity, and newspaper articles provide visuals, while sidebars offer supplementary tidbits. This look at the early days of the industry highlights the thrill and awe of a watching public as well as the fact that the sky was no longer any sort of boundary.

Kirkus Reviews starred (February 1, 2017)
The author’s passion for his subject infuses this richly detailed history of the daredevil years in flying. The introduction opens in 1915 with 50,000 spectators at San Francisco’s Panama-Pacific International Exposition, watching Lincoln Beachey, “the greatest, most celebrated aviator in the world,” attempt his famous Dip of Death maneuver. The narrative then goes back to fill in history about gliders and balloons before moving to its focus, the years from Kitty Hawk in 1903 to the end of this era of exhibition flying in 1915. Set mainly in the United States, the graceful account highlights a steady stream of breathtaking flights, mostly by white men but also a few white women. Fliers continuously broke altitude, speed, and distance records in exhibition contests that took the place of test flights. To make performances more exciting, they eventually added dangerous stunts like spins and corkscrews. Many pilots became celebrities, attracting huge crowds, inspiring newspaper headlines, and competing for cash prizes. Hundreds died while performing, which only made exhibitions more popular. Numerous black-and-white photographs show fliers, feats, and progress in airplane design, while diagrams help explain the physics of flying. Short sidebars add pertinent facts and anecdotes. For those who love history, aviation, or stories of great daring, this is pure pleasure. (timeline, glossary, notes, bibliography, index) (Nonfiction. 11-15)

About the Author

Lawrence Goldstone is the author of fourteen books of both fiction and non-fiction. Six of those books were co-authored with his wife, Nancy, but they now write separately to save what is left of their dishes.

Goldstone holds a PhD in American Constitutional Studies from the New School. His friends thus call him DrG, although he can barely touch the rim. (Sigh. Can’t make a layup anymore either.) He and his beloved bride founded and ran an innovative series of parent-child book groups, which they documented in Deconstructing Penguins. He has also been a teacher, lecturer, senior member of a Wall Street trading firm, taxi driver, actor, quiz show contestant, and policy analyst at the Hudson Institute.

He is a unerring stock picker. Everything he buys instantly goes down. His website is www.lawrencegoldstone.com.

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Vincent and Theo: The Van Gogh Brothers by Deborah Heiligman

Vincent and Theo: The Van Gogh Brothers by Deborah Heiligman. April 18, 2017. Henry Holt & Co., 454 p. ISBN: 9780805093391.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 900.

The deep and enduring friendship between Vincent and Theo Van Gogh shaped both brothers’ lives. Confidant, champion, sympathizer, friend, Theo supported Vincent as he struggled to find his path in life. They shared everything, swapping stories of lovers and friends, successes and disappointments, dreams and ambitions. Meticulously researched, drawing on the 658 letters Vincent wrote to Theo during his lifetime, Deborah Heiligman weaves a tale of two lives intertwined and the love of the Van Gogh brothers

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild sexual themes, Prostitution, Sexually transmitted diseases

 

Reviews

Booklist starred (February 15, 2017 (Vol. 113, No. 12))
Grades 9-12. Vincent van Gogh is perhaps one of the best-known artists today, but it’s likely he wouldn’t be nearly as famous had it not been for his brother Theo, an art dealer who supported his troubled brother and championed his paintings until his own untimely death, only months after Vincent’s. While each brother had a pivotal career in his own right, Heiligman (Charles and Emma, 2009) plumbs their correspondence, both to each other and beyond, and zeroes in on their relationship, which was fraught with a brotherly combination of competition, frustration, and, ultimately, adoration. Structured as a sort of gallery of key moments in the brothers’ lives, the book covers their childhood and the influence of their tight-knit family; Vincent’s peripatetic, sometimes scandalous pursuit of a vocation; Theo’s dogged commitment to not only his own career but cultivating Vincent’s; and their ultimate demises, both of which are heartbreaking in their own ways. In fittingly painterly language, Heiligman offers vivid descriptions of Vincent’s artwork and life, which grow more detailed and colorful as Vincent’s own artistic style becomes richer and more refined, particularly during the intense, almost manic flurry of work he produced in his last few years. This illuminating glimpse into the Van Goghs’ turbulent lives and historical period will add compelling depth to readers’ understanding of the iconic painter. Art-­loving teens will be captivated.

Horn Book Magazine (March/April, 2017)
Heiligman (Charles and Emma, rev. 1/09) again examines the impact of a family member on her main subject, this time unpacking the friendship between artist Vincent van Gogh and his brother Theo. After vividly setting the stage with brief sections that introduce Vincent and Theo near the end of their lives, Heiligman takes readers back to their beginnings. We learn of other siblings and of supportive parents; we gain a sense of their childhoods in their father’s parsonage. Structured as a walk through an art museum, the book proceeds through the years, each section a gallery: “Gallery Two: Dangers (1873–1875)”; “Gallery Three: Missteps, Stumbles (1875–1879).” We see Vincent moving restlessly from one job to another, at times acting and dressing oddly, walking huge distances when short on funds, coping with unrequited love, and slowly embracing the life of an artist. We see Theo, the art dealer, struggling with his own trials, consistently supporting Vincent throughout his life. Heiligman mostly employs a present-tense, purposely staccato narration that effectively heightens the brothers’ emotional intensity, their sufferings and pleasures (physical, emotional, intellectual, aesthetic, and spiritual), and, most of all, Vincent’s wild and original art. The layout, which incorporates sketches, subheads, and a generous use of white space, is a calming counterpoint to the turbulent narrative. Documenting the author’s research involving visits to sites, along with academic and primary sources, the extensive back matter includes a list of significant people, a timeline, a bibliography, thorough citations, and an author’s note. The result is a unique and riveting exploration of art, artists, and brotherly love.

About the Author

Deborah Heiligman has been writing for children since she worked at Scholastic News soon after college. Since then she has written more than thirty books for children and teens. Her books include picture books, both fiction and nonfiction, and young adult nonfiction and fiction. Some titles: Charles and Emma: The Darwins’ Leap of Faith, a National Book Award finalist; The Boy Who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdos, a Cook Prize Winner and Orbis Pictus honor; Intentions, a Sydney Taylor Award winner, and a picture book series about Tinka the dog. Her latest book is Vincent and Theo: The van Gogh Brothers.

Her website is www.deborahheiligman.com.

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Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann

Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann. April 18, 2017. Doubleday, 352p. ISBN: 9780385534246.  Int Lvl: AD; Rdg Lvl: AD.

From New Yorker staff writer David Grann, #1 New York Times best-selling author of The Lost City of Z, a twisting, haunting true-life murder mystery about one of the most monstrous crimes in American history

In the 1920s, the richest people per capita in the world were members of the Osage Indian Nation in Oklahoma. After oil was discovered beneath their land, the Osage rode in chauffeured automobiles, built mansions, and sent their children to study in Europe.

Then, one by one, they began to be killed off. One Osage woman, Mollie Burkhart, watched as her family was murdered. Her older sister was shot. Her mother was then slowly poisoned. And it was just the beginning, as more Osage began to die under mysterious circumstances.

In this last remnant of the Wild West—where oilmen like J. P. Getty made their fortunes and where desperadoes such as Al Spencer, “the Phantom Terror,” roamed – virtually anyone who dared to investigate the killings were themselves murdered. As the death toll surpassed more than twenty-four Osage, the newly created F.B.I. took up the case, in what became one of the organization’s first major homicide investigations. But the bureau was then notoriously corrupt and initially bungled the case. Eventually the young director, J. Edgar Hoover, turned to a former Texas Ranger named Tom White to try unravel the mystery. White put together an undercover team, including one of the only Native American agents in the bureau. They infiltrated the region, struggling to adopt the latest modern techniques of detection. Together with the Osage they began to expose one of the most sinister conspiracies in American history.

In Killers of the Flower Moon, David Grann revisits a shocking series of crimes in which dozens of people were murdered in cold blood. The book is a masterpiece of narrative nonfiction, as each step in the investigation reveals a series of sinister secrets and reversals. But more than that, it is a searing indictment of the callousness and prejudice toward Native Americans that allowed the murderers to operate with impunity for so long. Killers of the Flower Moon is utterly riveting, but also emotionally devastating.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Racial taunts; Discrimination; Violence; Alcohol; Criminal culture

 

Book Trailer

Reviews

Booklist starred (February 15, 2017 (Vol. 113, No. 12))
During the early 1920s, many members of the Osage Indian Nation were murdered, one by one. After being forced from several homelands, the Osage had settled in the late nineteenth century in an unoccupied area of Oklahoma, chosen precisely because it was “rocky, sterile, and utterly unfit for cultivation.” No white man would covet this land; Osage people would be happy. Then oil was soon discovered below the Osage territory, speedily attracting prospectors wielding staggering sums and turning many Osage into some of the richest people in the world. Grann (The Devil and Sherlock Holmes, 2010) centers this true-crime mystery on Mollie Burkhart, an Osage woman who lost several family members as the death tally grew, and Tom White, the former Texas Ranger whom J. Edgar Hoover sent to solve the slippery, attention-grabbing case once and for all. A secondary tale of Hoover’s single-minded rise to power as the director of what would become the FBI, his reshaping of the bureau’s practices, and his goal to gain prestige for federal investigators provides invaluable historical context. Grann employs you-are-there narrative effects to set readers right in the action, and he relays the humanity, evil, and heroism of the people involved. His riveting reckoning of a devastating episode in American history deservedly captivates..

Kirkus Reviews starred (February 15, 2017)
Greed, depravity, and serial murder in 1920s Oklahoma.During that time, enrolled members of the Osage Indian nation were among the wealthiest people per capita in the world. The rich oil fields beneath their reservation brought millions of dollars into the tribe annually, distributed to tribal members holding “headrights” that could not be bought or sold but only inherited. This vast wealth attracted the attention of unscrupulous whites who found ways to divert it to themselves by marrying Osage women or by having Osage declared legally incompetent so the whites could fleece them through the administration of their estates. For some, however, these deceptive tactics were not enough, and a plague of violent death—by shooting, poison, orchestrated automobile accident, and bombing—began to decimate the Osage in what they came to call the “Reign of Terror.” Corrupt and incompetent law enforcement and judicial systems ensured that the perpetrators were never found or punished until the young J. Edgar Hoover saw cracking these cases as a means of burnishing the reputation of the newly professionalized FBI. Bestselling New Yorker staff writer Grann (The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession, 2010, etc.) follows Special Agent Tom White and his assistants as they track the killers of one extended Osage family through a closed local culture of greed, bigotry, and lies in pursuit of protection for the survivors and justice for the dead. But he doesn’t stop there; relying almost entirely on primary and unpublished sources, the author goes on to expose a web of conspiracy and corruption that extended far wider than even the FBI ever suspected. This page-turner surges forward with the pacing of a true-crime thriller, elevated by Grann’s crisp and evocative prose and enhanced by dozens of period photographs. Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

About the Author

David Grann is a staff writer at The New Yorker magazine. He has written about everything from New York City’s antiquated water tunnels to the hunt for the giant squid to the presidential campaign.
The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon, published by Doubleday, is Grann’s first book and is being developed into a movie by Brad Pitt’s Plan B production company and Paramount Pictures.

Grann’s stories have appeared in several anthologies, including What We Saw: The Events of September 11, 2001; The Best American Crime Writing, of both 2004 and 2005; and The Best American Sports Writing, of 2003 and 2006. A 2004 finalist for the Michael Kelly award for the “fearless pursuit and expression of truth,” Grann has also written for the New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic, the Washington Post, the Boston Globe, the Wall Street Journal, The Weekly Standard, and The New Republic.

Before joining The New Yorker in 2003, Grann was a senior editor at The New Republic, and, from 1995 until 1996, the executive editor of the newspaper The Hill. He holds master’s degrees in international relations from the Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy as well as in creative writing from Boston University. After graduating from Connecticut College in 1989, he received a Thomas Watson Fellowship and did research in Mexico, where he began his career in journalism. He currently lives in New York with his wife and two children.

His website is www.davidgrann.com.

Teacher Resources

Killers of the Flower Moon Discussion Questions

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Strong Inside (Young Readers Ed.) by Andrew Maraniss

Strong Inside: The True Story of How Percy Wallace Broke College Basketball’s Color Line (Young Readers Edition) by Andrew Maraniss. December  20, 2016. Philomel Books, 272 p. ISBN: 9780399548345.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 1170.

The inspirational true story of the first African American to play college basketball in the deeply segregated Southeastern Conference–a powerful moment in Black history.

Perry Wallace was born at an historic crossroads in U.S. history. He entered kindergarten the year that the Brown v. Board of Education decision led to integrated schools, allowing blacks and whites to learn side by side. A week after Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, Wallace enrolled in high school and his sensational jumping, dunking, and rebounding abilities quickly earned him the attention of college basketball recruiters from top schools across the nation. In his senior year his Pearl High School basketball team won Tennessee’s first racially-integrated state tournament.

The world seemed to be opening up at just the right time, and when Vanderbilt University recruited Wallace to play basketball, he courageously accepted the assignment to desegregate the Southeastern Conference. The hateful experiences he would endure on campus and in the hostile gymnasiums of the Deep South turned out to be the stuff of nightmares. Yet Wallace persisted, endured, and met this unthinkable challenge head on. This insightful biography digs deep beneath the surface to reveal a complicated, profound, and inspiring story of an athlete turned civil rights trailblazer.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Racial taunts; Discrimination; Violence

 

Book Trailer

Interviews & Documentary

Reviews

Booklist starred (January 1, 2017 (Vol. 113, No. 9))
Grades 7-10. This is the inspiring true story of Perry Wallace, a member of Vanderbilt’s basketball team and the first black basketball player to play in the Southeastern Conference (SEC) during the 1960s civil rights era. The road was far from easy: he received aggressive fouls that went unchallenged, was kicked out of a church, lost his mother to cancer, and his best friend and teammate, also black, was forced to quit. Readers in today’s racially troubled times will recognize Wallace’s plight and the isolation and loneliness he experienced. But Wallace never gave up. After his signature slam dunk was outlawed, he forced himself to become a better player. Author Maraniss doesn’t shy away from the difficulties, not wanting to whitewash history by editing away the ugly epithets that plagued Wallace throughout his career. An author’s note about Wallace’s life after graduation, a bibliography, and black-and-white photos are all included (final source notes and index not seen). This moving biography, a young readers’ edition of Strong Inside: Perry Wallace and the Collision of Race and Sports in the South (2014), is thought-provoking, riveting, and heart-wrenching, though it remains hopeful as it takes readers into the midst of the basketball and civil rights action. Readers will celebrate Wallace’s refusal to back down, and cheer as he succeeds in paving the way for future players.

School Library Journal (January 1, 2017)
Gr 7 Up-Vanderbilt University made a strong statement in 1966 when they recruited Perry Wallace, a local teen basketball star who was African American. Students may not be familiar with Wallace, but after reading this poignant biography, they will not forget him. Readers meet him as a child whose loving family provided him with the care and attention he needed to thrive academically, then follow him onto the court, where he yearned-and then learned-to dunk. Maraniss speeds through Wallace’s senior year at Pearl High, in Tennessee, where recruiters from schools across the country were eager to add him to their rosters. His years at Vanderbilt, where he broke the color barrier in the Southeastern Conference, receive the most attention, with great sports writing meeting heartfelt interludes of Wallace’s efforts to bring about change for his fellow black students. Maraniss does not shy away from the ultimate truth: Wallace experienced vicious racism and countless death threats as well as racial slurs, discrimination, and unfair treatment on and off the court. Wallace is quoted abundantly throughout the text, and the bibliography is packed with primary sources, offering ample research opportunities for those compelled to dig deeper into the civil rights struggle of Wallace and other black athletes. VERDICT This portrait of the fortitude of a young athlete will make a huge impact on teens and is guaranteed to spark serious discussion.-Abby Bussen, Muskego Public Library, WI

About the Author

Andrew Maraniss is a partner at McNeely Pigott & Fox Public Relations in Nashville, Andrew studied history at Vanderbilt University as a recipient of the Fred Russell – Grantland Rice sportswriting scholarship, graduating in 1992. He then worked for five years in Vanderbilt’s athletic department as the associate director of media relations, dealing primarily with the men’s basketball team. In 1998, he served as the media relations manager for the Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays during the team’s inaugural season, and then returned to Nashville to join MP&F. Andrew was born in Madison, Wis., grew up in Washington, D.C. and Austin, Texas, and now lives in Brentwood, Tenn., with his wife, Alison, and their two young children.

His website is www.andrewmaraniss.com.

Teacher Resources

Supplement to Strong Inside

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Strong Inside Publisher Page

The Book of Chocolate by HP Newquist

The Book of Chocolate by HP Newquist. March 21, 2017. Viking Books for Young Readers, 160 p. ISBN: 9780670015740.  Int Lvl: 3-6; Rdg Lvl: 5.7; Lexile: 1120.

Chocolate . . .

– Its scientific name means “food of the gods.”
– The Aztecs mixed it with blood and gave it to sacrificial victims to drink.
– The entire town of Hershey, Pennsylvania was built by Milton Hershey to support his chocolate factory. Its streetlights are shaped like chocolate Kisses.
– The first men to climb to the top of Mount Everest buried a chocolate bar there as an offering to the gods of the mountain.
– Every twenty-four hours, the U.S. chocolate industry goes through eight million pounds of sugar.
– Its special flavor is created by a combination of 600 to 1000 different chemical compounds

Join science author HP Newquist as he explores chocolate’s fascinating history. Along the way you’ll meet colorful characters like the feathered-serpent god Quetzalcoatl, who gave chocolate trees to the Aztecs; Henri Nestle, who invented milk chocolate while trying to save the lives of babies who couldn’t nurse; and the quarrelsome Mars family, who split into two warring factions, one selling Milky Way, Snickers, and 3 Musketeers bars, the other Mars Bars and M&M’s. From its origin as the sacred, bitter drink of South American rulers to the familiar candy bars sold by today’s multi-million dollar businesses, people everywhere have fallen in love with chocolate, the world’s favorite flavor.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Violence

 

Reviews

School Library Journal Xpress (June 1, 2017)
Gr 9 Up-This comprehensive history of chocolate summarizes its evolution from its origins as a Mesoamerican spicy drink to its contemporary status as the worldwide confection of choice. Much of the book concentrates on the efforts to change that bitter drink into an edible sweet food, describing how entrepreneurs such as John Cadbury and Milton S. Hershey experimented for years to balance ingredients and create processes that resulted in a stable product with mass appeal, making fortunes and sparking development of further goods, such as chocolate chips, Reese’s peanut butter cups, and M & M’s. The passages on the business of chocolate (the formation of corporations, modern factory production, chocolate chemistry, and contemporary trends in chocolate products) are somewhat dry. Newquist discusses European exploitation of the regions where cocoa beans were and are grown and the role of historical and contemporary slavery and the mistreatment of workers in cocoa production but doesn’t explore these themes in depth. Illustrations are small and colorful, mostly consisting of reproductions of period art and advertising for chocolate products. This book is more attractive and positive about chocolate and those who produce it than Kay Frydenborg’s Chocolate: Sweet Science & Dark Secrets of the World’s Favorite Treat, which includes more coverage of slavery and the environmental and ecological costs of chocolate production. VERDICT Chocolate lovers may nibble at this book, but most won’t consume the entire thing.-Mary Mueller, Rolla Public Schools, MO

About the Author

HP Newquist’s books and articles have been published all over the world, and his writing has been translated into languages from kanji to farsi.

All told, he has written more than two dozen books and hundreds of articles, along with numerous awards and citations.

His writing spans a vast array of interests and issues. In the late 1980s and 1990s he wrote extensively about artificial intelligence (AI), compiling a body of work that is arguably the most extensive coverage of the AI business created to date.

Newquist’s books cover the same array of topics as his magazine articles, from brain science and space exploration to legendary guitarists and the strangeness of the Internet. To date, he has written over two dozen books. And he’s already committed to writing many more.

His website is www.newquistbooks.com.

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California Dreamin’ by Pénélope Bagieu

California Dreamin’ by Pénélope Bagieu. March 7, 2017. First Second, 272 p. ISBN: 9781626725461.  Int Lvl: AD; Rdg Lvl: AD.

Before she became the legendary Mama Cass—one quarter of the mega-huge folk group The Mamas and the Papas—Cass Eliot was a girl from Baltimore trying to make it in the big city. After losing parts to stars like Barbra Streisand on the Broadway circuit, Cass found her place in the music world with an unlikely group of cohorts.

The Mamas and the Papas released five studio albums in their three years of existence. It was at once one of the most productive (and profitable) three years any band has ever had, and also one of the most bizarre and dysfunctional groups of people to ever come together to make music. Through it all, Cass struggled to keep sight of her dreams—and her very identity.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Strong language; Strong sexual themes; Drugs; Alcohol; Smoking; Nudity

 

Reviews

Booklist (April 15, 2017 (Vol. 113, No. 16))
Before she was Cass Elliot of the Mamas and the Papas, she was Ellen Cohen, whose parents ran a Baltimore deli and fostered her love of music. French graphic novelist Bagieu (Exquisite Corpse, 2015) tells Cass’ pre-fame story from the perspectives of many who knew her. Her little sister says it was her arrival that made Ellen eat and eat to please their parents. A classmate believes Ellen when, the day they met, she tells him she’s going to be a star. Later, Michelle Phillips wishes Cass saw her as a friend, not a rival, while John Phillips insists Cass has no place in their band—a fight he loses when a record executive declares it’s Cass who makes their sound complete. This testimonial approach—a woman’s story told by everyone but her—works, thanks to Bagieu’s fascination with her subject. Her pencil-sketched characters are distinctive and emotive (and occasionally high and big-eyed), while their lively world is storybook-cute and highly referential to the music Cass made so familiar. Have headphones at the ready.

Library Journal (June 1, 2017)
Ellen Naomi Cohen (1941-74), the self-dubbed Cass Elliot, spread her beautiful contralto and extravagant personality across the pop music scene of the 1960s and 1970s as part of The Mamas and the Papas and, later, as a solo act. Here, Bagieu (Exquisite Corpse) packs in all the relationship drama, body shaming, and bouts of intoxication (in multiple senses) that fed into Elliot realizing her dream to be a superstar. Large in body and personality as well as in vocal charm, Elliot gained fan adulation more readily than friendship or love. Today, her persistence and self-confidence encourages women-and men-to mobilize their talent despite setbacks. Narrating from the viewpoints of those close to Elliot, Bagieu drew the entire story in free-spirited black pencil that metaphorically references the spontaneity of those decades. The sassy, fluid art creates a slightly fictionalized yet paradigm-shifting portrait of the star as she might have wanted to be remembered. VERDICT Elliot’s story will charm boomers who remember the original songs as well as younger ages who can easily identify with Elliot, her starry eyes, and her struggles.

About the Author

Pénélope Bagieu, (born 22 January 1982 Paris), is a French illustrator and comic designer.

Penelope Bagieu graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Economic and Social studies, she spent a year at ESAT Paris, then at the National School of Decorative Arts in Paris and then at Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design. Multimedia and entertainment, where she graduated in December 2006.

Her website is www.penelope-jolicoeur.com.

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Jack London and the Klondike Gold Rush by Peter Lourie

Jack London and the Klondike Gold Rush by Peter Lourie. March 28, 2017. Henry Holt & Co., 208 p. ISBN: 9780805097573.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 6.9; Lexile: 1120.

Here is a compelling middle grade nonfiction tale of how one classic writer drew upon a rugged life of adventure to create works of literature, punctuated by stunning black-and-white art by Wendell Minor and illustrative photographic material.

Swept up in the Gold Rush of 1897, young Jack London headed north to strike it rich in the Klondike and discovered something more precious than gold–the seeds of the stories that would flower into his classic novels The Call of the Wild and White Fang, and timeless short stories such as To Build A Fire. This gripping tale follows London as he treks up the ruthless Chilkoot Trail, braves the lethal Whitehorse Rapids, survives a bad case of scurvy, and conquers many more dangers of the Yukon during his quest for gold.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Violence; Suicide; Inhumane treatment of animals

 

Reviews

Booklist starred (November 15, 2016 (Vol. 113, No. 6))
Grades 4-8. Living in an economically depressed America in 1897, 21-year-old Jack London would become one of hundreds of thousands of stampeders who would try—and fail—to find gold in Canada’s Yukon Territory. In visceral descriptions, Lourie recounts the treacherous, backbreaking 500-mile trek up mountains and down rivers, on which London and his fellow cheechakos (a Native term for newcomers who were ignorant of the terrain and culture) risked their lives to reach the gold rush town of Dawson before winter. Once settled, London met more challenges in constant subfreezing temperatures as miners’ tempers flared, death took many forms, and hard work was met with disappointment. Yet Lourie tells how the budding writer countered the bleakness with observations of the Arctic land, animals, and people. Although London returned home one year later with only gold dust, Lourie explains how London’s real wealth was found in the characters and events that inspired White Fang, The Call of the Wild, and dozens of other books and short stories, making him the first author of the twentieth century to earn a million dollars from writing. Minor lends atmospheric sketches, but the numerous archival photos add a greater perspective of the time. Copious back matter, including information on First Nations of the area, provides more facts about London’s journey. Rich in details for social studies and language arts.
Publishers Weekly (January 9, 2017)
Lourie (The Polar Bear Scientists) delivers a vivid account of Jack London’s arduous trek, along with thousands of other Stampeders, to the heart of Canada’s Yukon Territory in 1897 in search of gold. London returned not with wealth but with the raw material for his best-known writings, which earned him both fortune and fame. Lourie intersperses his narrative with background on London’s boyhood, personality, and literary aspirations, and he quotes amply from the work of London and his contemporaries to convey the backbreaking rigors, awe-inspiring landscape, grime, isolation, dangers, and friendships of the journey. London’s mental and physical strength, sociability, and optimism seem at times almost superhuman: that winter, until felled by scurvy, he spent four hours a day collecting the wood needed to burn a fire to thaw eight inches of ground to dig for gold on his claim. Lourie’s captivating tale of the grueling experiences behind London’s crystalline prose testifies to his endurance. Minor’s windswept spot illustrations augment archival and modern photos and other supplemental material. Ages 8-12. Author’s agent: Susan Ramer, Don Congdon Associates.

About the Author

Peter Lourie was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and grew up in New England, Ontario, Canada, and New York City. He holds a BA in classics from New York University, an MA in English Literature from the University of Maine, and an MFA in nonfiction creative writing from Columbia University. He has taught writing for many years (Middlebury College, Columbia College, University of Vermont), and now makes his living traveling, writing and photographing. He also visits schools to share his adventures with students and teachers. He lives in Vermont where he is now working on an ongoing NSF-funded digital story-telling project about the Arctic, Arcticstories.net. He has been traveling on a Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker in the Beaufort Sea where he is recording multimedia stories for a National Science Foundation project. His new book for Henry Holt about Jack London and the Klondike Gold Rush will be published in March, 2017. And he is just beginning to work on a biography of a Norwegian polar explorer.

His website is peterlourie.com.

Teacher Resources

Jack London Lesson Ideas

Klondike Gold Rush Lesson Plans from the National Park Service

Around the Web

Jack London and the Klondike Gold Rush on Amazon

Jack London and the Klondike Gold Rush on Goodreads

Jack London and the Klondike Gold Rush on JLG

Jack London and the Klondike Gold Rush Publisher Page

Word by Word by Kory Stamper

Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries by Kory Stamper. March 14, 2017. Pantheon Books, 320 p. ISBN: 9781101870945.  Int Lvl: AD; Rdg Lvl: AD.

Do you have strong feelings about the word “irregardless”? Have you ever tried to define the word “is”? This account of how dictionaries are made is for you word mavens.

Many of us take dictionaries for granted, and few may realize that the process of writing dictionaries is, in fact, as lively and dynamic as language itself. With sharp wit and irreverence, Kory Stamper cracks open the complex, obsessive world of lexicography, from the agonizing decisions about what to define and how to do it, to the knotty questions of usage in an ever-changing language. She explains why small words are the most difficult to define, how it can take nine months to define a single word, and how our biases about language and pronunciation can have tremendous social influence. And along the way, she reveals little-known surprises–for example, the fact that “OMG” was first used in a letter to Winston Churchill in 1917.

Word by Word brings to life the hallowed halls (and highly idiosyncratic cubicles) of Merriam-Webster, a startlingly rich world inhabited by quirky and erudite individuals who quietly shape the way we communicate.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: None

 

Reviews

Booklist (December 1, 2016 (Vol. 113, No. 7))
Lexicography is not sexy, but in this spirited book about the science and art of making dictionaries, it is by turns amusing, frustrating, surprising, and above all, engrossing. Stamper is one of the lexicographers at Merriam-Webster, tasked with updating and creating dictionaries on an unforgiving editorial schedule. With wit and candor, she introduces us to the people behind the definitions, drinking terrible coffee made from orange foil packets as they labor away in near-total silence. It is perhaps unsurprising, given her line of work, that Stamper employs words with delightful precision in her writing. What is surprising is how enjoyable she makes reading about the drudgery of dictionary making. She illuminates the meaning and purpose of each portion of a dictionary entry and describes the pitfalls awaiting those who attempt to define an ever-changing language. Seen through Stamper’s eyes, a dictionary is not only a reference source, but also a living linguistic record and a window into history. Word by Word offers marvelous insight into the messy world behind the tidy definitions on the page.

Kirkus Reviews (January 1, 2017)
Strange words and how to find them.When Stamper first interviewed for a job at Merriam-Webster, she was excited. It was her dream job, and she got it. She was now a practicing lexicographer working at the oldest dictionary publisher in America. These “drudges at their desks” practiced a noble art, part creative process, part science. Her book is a “nitty-gritty, down-and-dirty, worm’s-eye view of lexicography.” Along with other “word nerds,” Stamper writes and edits dictionary definitions, thinks “deeply about adverbs, and slowly, inexorably” goes blind. To be successful, you must, first and foremost, possess something called sprachgefühl, or “a feeling for language.” If you don’t have it, you won’t last six months. Stamper goes into great detail describing the inner workings of how dictionaries come into being, with each chapter focusing on a specific task or topic. She provides a short history of grammar and then spends an entire chapter on how much lexicographers hate the word “irregardless.” The author also covers the history of dictionaries with a special shoutout to “His Cantankerousness,” Samuel Johnson, whose 1755 dictionary set the standard for all future dictionaries. “Bitch” discusses how crude, vulgar, and embarrassing words get included, and other chapters deal with defining, small words, etymology, and pronunciation. And then there’s the reading. After lexicographers answer all kinds of correspondence, they read everything, from magazines to TV dinner boxes to beer bottles and takeout menus. Stamper notes that the internet, which has put many dictionary publishers out of business, must be trolled for new words, too. She loves her work, and her enthusiasm adds a real zest to her tales of usage and the chase for words—e.g., “onymous,” “cromulent,” “vecturist,” and “dope slap.” Look them up. Those aficionados who love words and the language or who are big-time Scrabble fans will love this book, while others will feel like they’re in over their heads.

About the Author

Kory Stamper is a lexicographer (that is, a writer and editor of dictionaries) at Merriam-Webster (the dictionary). She has written and appeared in the “Ask the Editor” video series at Merriam-Webster, and has traveled around the world giving talks and lectures on language and lexicography. Her writing has appeared in a number of publications, including The Washington Post, The Guardian and The New York Times. A medievalist by training, she knows a number of languages, most of them dead. She drinks more coffee and owns more dictionaries than is good for anyone.

Her website is www.korystamper.com.

Around the Web

Word by Word on Amazon

Word by Word on Goodreads

Word by Word on JLG

Word by Word Publisher Page

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

Around the Web

Alexander Hamilton on Amazon

Alexander Hamilton on Goodreads

Alexander Hamilton on JLG

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