Tag Archives: history

Apollo 8 by Martin W. Sandler

Apollo 8: The Mission That Changed Everything by Martin W. Sandler. September 19, 2018. Candlewick, 176 p. ISBN: 9780763694890.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

A nation in need of hope, the most powerful rocket ever launched, and the first three men to break the bounds of Earth: Apollo 8 was headed to the moon.

In 1957, when the USSR launched Sputnik I, the first man-made satellite to orbit Earth, America’s rival in the Cold War claimed victory on a new frontier. The Space Race had begun, and the United States was losing. Closer to home, a decade of turbulence would soon have Americans reeling, with the year 1968 alone seeing the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy as well as many violent clashes between police and protesters. Americans desperately needed something good to believe in, and NASA’s mission to orbit Earth in Apollo 8 and test a lunar landing module was being planned for the end of the year. But with four months to go and the module behind schedule, the CIA discovered that the USSR was preparing to send its own mission around the moon — another crucial victory in the Space Race — and it was clearly time for a change of plan. In a volume full of astonishing full-color photographs, including the iconic Earthrise photo, Martin W. Sandler unfolds an incredible chapter in U.S. history: Apollo 8 wouldn’t just orbit Earth, it would take American astronauts to see the dark side of the moon.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: None

 

Reviews

Booklist (September 15, 2018 (Vol. 115, No. 2))
Grades 6-10. With a computer less powerful than today’s handheld calculators, Apollo 8 was the first manned spacecraft to leave Earth’s orbit and circle the moon. Sandler captures Apollo 8’s significance on many levels with astonishing details and storytelling. Beginning with an overview of the Cold War and subsequent space race, he explains how Apollo 8’s original mission (to test a lunar lander capsule) was quickly changed to orbiting the moon, when the CIA learned that the Soviets were developing their own moon rocket. After introducing the three-man crew of Apollo 8 and the Saturn V rocket that would launch them, Sandler focuses on their flight, “the riskiest mission yet,” emphasizing that even the tiniest error could have trapped the astronauts in space forever. As the crew of Apollo 8 broadcast live from space on Christmas Eve 1968, they not only accomplished scientific and historical firsts but united the U.S. in wonder as a turbulent year came to an end. Stunning photographs, including the now iconic Earthrise, bring this awe to a new generation.

Kirkus Reviews (August 15, 2018)
In one of the most turbulent years in modern American history, the Apollo 8 mission to the moon served as a desperately needed morale boost for Americans. Sandler explains the historical significance of the mission in the broader context of the Cold War space race and the tumultuous events occurring in the United States. In 1968, the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy, riots in major cities across America, and growing protests against the Vietnam War left Americans needing something good to believe in. NASA’s mission to orbit the Earth in Apollo 8 and test a lunar landing module was scheduled for the end of the year, but this changed when the CIA discovered the Soviet Union planned to send its own mission around the moon. That would be another crucial victory for the USSR in the space race that began in 1957. Sandler describes how NASA decided Apollo 8 would be the first manned trip around the moon and offers a detailed chronicle of the difficult mission and the crew who successfully completed it. The book is abundantly illustrated with archival photographs, and a highlight of this informative, engaging text is Sandler’s discussion of the iconic Earthrise photograph and how it “became a symbol of the Earth’s fragility, a reminder of just how small and insignificant the Earth’s place in the universe truly is.” In its 50th-anniversary year, a compelling account of the historical significance of a lesser-known space mission. (photos, source notes, bibliography) (Nonfiction. 10-14)

About the Author

Martin W. Sandler has written more than seventy books for children and adults and has written and produced seven television series. He has twice been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize and has won multiple Emmy Awards. He lives in Massachusetts.

 

Teacher Resources

Mission Highlights:

Christmas Message:

 

Exploring the Moon Educators Guide

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Apollo 8 on Amazon

Apollo 8 on Barnes & Noble

Apollo 8 on Goodreads

Apollo 8 Publisher Page

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1968 edited by Marc Aronson and Susan Campbell Bartoletti

1968: Today’s Authors Explore a Year of Rebellion, Revolution, and Change edited by Marc Aronson and Susan Campbell Bartoletti. September 11, 2018. Candlewick Press, 208 p. ISBN: 9780763689933.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 1100.

Welcome to 1968 — a revolution in a book. Essays, memoirs, and more by fourteen award-winning authors offer unique perspectives on one of the world’s most tumultuous years.

Nineteen sixty-eight was a pivotal year that grew more intense with each day. As thousands of Vietnamese and Americans were killed in war, students across four continents took over colleges and city streets. Assassins murdered Dr. King and Robert F. Kennedy. Demonstrators turned out in Prague and Chicago, and in Mexico City, young people and Olympic athletes protested. In those intense months, generations battled and the world wobbled on the edge of some vast change that was exhilarating one day and terrifying the next. To capture that extraordinary year, editors Marc Aronson and Susan Campbell Bartoletti created an anthology that showcases many genres of nonfiction. Some contributors use a broad canvas, others take a close look at a moment, and matched essays examine the same experience from different points of view. As we face our own moments of crisis and division, 1968 reminds us that we’ve clashed before and found a way forward — and that looking back can help map a way ahead.

With contributions by: 
Jennifer Anthony
Marc Aronson
Susan Campbell Bartoletti
Loree Griffin Burns
Paul Fleischman
Omar Figueras
Laban Carrick Hill
Mark Kurlansky
Lenore Look
David Lubar
Kate MacMillan
Kekla Magoon
Jim Murphy
Elizabeth Partridge

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

 

Reviews

Booklist (September 1, 2018 (Vol. 115, No. 1))
Grades 7-10. Authors explore the tumultuous global events of 1968 in this anthology. Covering protests, assassinations, racism, scientific discoveries, world politics, and even the state of humor, these contributions, written in a range of styles, offer a wide variety of perspectives on the year. Some essays, such as personal recollections of being a teenager in 1968, are less successful than the entries informed by in-depth research, but taken together, they present a nuanced picture. For instance, Kate MacMillan’s account of being a student protester in Paris in 1968 contrasts sharply with Lenore Look’s incisive essay about the impact of the Cultural Revolution on China’s poor, rural population. Even though all the essayists have essentially the same perspective—the Vietnam War was a mistake; civil rights protesters were doing immense good—the differences in their backgrounds make for a vivid, dynamic account of the complicated, intersecting politics behind brief accounts in history books. With an approach promoting critical thinking, this collection will likely help illuminate a deeply important year in world history and encourage fresh thinking about our current contentious moment.

Kirkus Reviews starred (August 15, 2018)
Fourteen authors, including Omar Figueras, Lenore Look, and editors Aronson and Bartoletti, write about the tumultuous events of 1968. On the 50th anniversary of the year that saw the continuation of the war in Vietnam, the deaths of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy, and riots in Paris, Prague, and Chicago, some writers recollect their childhoods while others tackle events that occurred before they were born. Biracial (black/white) author Kekla Magoon writes of King’s and Kennedy’s deaths from the perspective of the black community, describing the Black Panthers’ community service programs and discussing why the Students for a Democratic Society, an anti-war protest organization run by privileged white college students, did not represent black interests. Laban Carrick Hill, who grew up in an abusive white family in Memphis, remembers how even at age 7 his uncle’s racist response the day after King’s assassination made him start to question his family’s credibility since he knew firsthand what real violence was. Other chapters tell of African-American athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos’ protest at the Mexico City Olympics and their support from white Australian Peter Norman; the Chinese Cultural Revolution; the beginning of the end of Communism; and the origins of the computer age. The book’s strength lies in the way different voices and different angles come together into an integrated whole. Fascinating and accomplished. (author’s notes, source notes, bibliography, index)(Nonfiction. 12-18)

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.

 

Susan Campbell Bartoletti is an American writer of children’s literature. She was born in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, but eventually the family ended up in a small town in northeastern Pennsylvania. Susan started as an English teacher and inspired many students before deciding to pursue writing in earnest. She sold her first short story in 1989. Three years later in 1992 she published her first picture book, Silver at Night. She held a rigid routine, awaking early in the morning in order to write before she left to teach. In 1997 she turned to writing full time. Susan has since returned to inspiring future writers. She teaches writing classes at a number of MA and MFA programs, among them Spalding University in Louisville, Kentucky, and Hollins University in Roanoke, Virginia.

Her website is www.scbartoletti.com/

Around the Web

1968 on Amazon

1968 on Barnes & Noble

1968 on Goodreads

1968 Publisher Page

Talking to My Daughter About the Economy by Yanis Varoufakis

Talking to My Daughter About the Economy by Yanis Varoufakis. May 8, 2018. Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 224 p. ISBN: 9780374272364.  Int Lvl: AD; Rdg Lvl: AD.

In Talking to My Daughter About the Economy, activist Yanis Varoufakis, Greece’s former finance minister and the author of the international bestseller Adults in the Room, pens a series of letters to his young daughter, educating her about the business, politics, and corruption of world economics.

Yanis Varoufakis has appeared before heads of nations, assemblies of experts, and countless students around the world. Now, he faces his most important―and difficult―audience yet. Using clear language and vivid examples, Varoufakis offers a series of letters to his young daughter about the economy: how it operates, where it came from, how it benefits some while impoverishing others. Taking bankers and politicians to task, he explains the historical origins of inequality among and within nations, questions the pervasive notion that everything has its price, and shows why economic instability is a chronic risk. Finally, he discusses the inability of market-driven policies to address the rapidly declining health of the planet his daughter’s generation stands to inherit.

Throughout, Varoufakis wears his expertise lightly. He writes as a parent whose aim is to instruct his daughter on the fundamental questions of our age―and through that knowledge, to equip her against the failures and obfuscations of our current system and point the way toward a more democratic alternative.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: None

 

Author Talk

About the Author

Yanis Varoufakis is a former finance minister of Greece and a cofounder of an international grassroots movement, DiEM25, that is campaigning for the revival of democracy in Europe. He is the author of the international bestseller Adults in the RoomAnd the Weak Suffer What They Must?, and The Global Minotaur. After teaching for many years in the United States, Great Britain, and Australia, he is currently a professor of economics at the University of Athens.

His website is www.yanisvaroufakis.eu.

Around the Web

Talking to My Daughter About the Economy on Amazon

Talking to My Daughter About the Economy on Goodreads

Talking to My Daughter About the Economy Publisher Page

The World Cup by Matt Doeden

The Negro Leagues: Celebrating Baseball’s Unsung Heroes by Matt Doeden. January 1, 2016. Millbrook Press, 64 p. ISBN: 9781512427530.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 7.0; Lexile: 1030.

After the Civil War (1861-1865), the earliest seeds of professional baseball began to sprout. While racism was rampant, some early teams featured black and white players competing side by side. But by 1900, segregation forced African Americans to form their own teams. Black players traveled around the country on barnstorming tours, taking on all challengers. In 1920, baseball’s Negro leagues started, and for more than three decades, they offered fans a thrilling alternative to Major League Baseball. Explore the riveting history of the Negro leagues, including some of baseball’s greatest (and most unheralded) players, biggest games, and wildest moments.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: None

 

Reviews

Booklist (November 1, 2016 (Vol. 113, No. 5))
Grades 5-8. After WWI, the competitive Negro leagues emerged, along with some of the greatest and most entertaining players in baseball history. This informative volume offers a thoughtful introduction to the players, teams, and leagues, which were formed in response to the segregation of professional baseball in the U.S. during the late 1800s. From the Spectacular Sports series, which includes Doeden’s The World Series (2014) and The College Football Championship (2015), the book has a large, square format that offers ample space for text and sidebars as well as archival photos of teams, players, and managers. Presenting a concise and very readable history of the Negro leagues, Doeden’s account is particularly strong in placing events within the broader social context of racial intolerance, segregation, and gradual integration, and his chapter on legendary players is not to be missed. The many well-chosen quotes are sourced in the back matter, which also includes a short list of books for further reading. This well-researched book will be a worthwhile addition to any baseball collection.

Kirkus Reviews (November 1, 2016)
A broad survey of African-Americans in baseball, from the end of the Civil War to the era of Jackie Robinson and the last of the barnstormers.Though far from “unsung” considering Kadir Nelson’s soaring We Are the Ship (2008) and the plethora of both general histories and individual biographies available, black players from Robinson, Satchel Paige, and Josh Gibson to less-prominent ground breakers such as Moses Fleetwood Walker, Rube Foster, and Toni Stone certainly merit another tip of the cap. Unlike Nelson, Doeden doesn’t pull readers out onto the field of dreams. Instead, mixing in notable games and spotlight player profiles, plus plenty of team and individual photos, Doeden offers a fluent if standard-issue chronicle of the rises and falls of significant Negro Leagues and independent teams in the wake of professional baseball’s exclusion of African-Americans. (Other minorities get no more than a few references and an intriguing group portrait of a diverse “All Nations” team from around 1915.) Also, in a closing “Legacy” chapter, he brings his account up to the present by analyzing, albeit in a superficial way, the modern decline in the percentage of African-Americans in the ranks of the modern major leagues. It’s conventional fare, but it’s systematic and at least a little broader in scope than older titles. (notes, further reading, index) (Nonfiction. 10-13)

About the Author

Matt Doeden was born in southern Minnesota and lived parts of his childhood in Golden Valley, Minnesota, and Madison, Minnesota. He studied journalism at Mankato State University, where he worked at the college newspaper for three years. In his senior year, he served as the paper’s Sports Editor, which put him in charge of the entire sports section, the sports writers, and the photographers. He covered mostly college sports, but also the Minnesota Vikings, who held training camp at MSU.

Teacher Resources

Lesson plans from the Negro Leagues Baseball eMuseum

Around the Web

The Negro Leagues: Celebrating Baseball’s Unsung Heroes on Amazon

The Negro Leagues: Celebrating Baseball’s Unsung Heroes on JLG

The Negro Leagues: Celebrating Baseball’s Unsung Heroes on Goodreads

 

 

Thrilling Thieves by Brianna DuMont

Thrilling Thieves: Liars, Cheats, Double-Crossers Who Changed History by Brianna DuMont. October 3, 2017. Sky Pony Press, 192 p. ISBN: 9781510701694.  Int Lvl: 3-6; Rdg Lvl: 6.0.

Caution: don’t look for the good guys in here.

What do Mother Theresa, Honest Abe, and Mahatma Gandhi have in common? They’re all too good for this book, that’s what.

Sure, you’ll find some familiar faces like Queen Elizabeth I and Thomas Edison in here, but you’ll learn that behind their angelic smiles were cunning con artists who stole their way to gold and greatness.

Follow the trail of twelve troublemakers to learn what really made the Mona Lisa the most iconic painting in the world, meet the most powerful pirate from history (it’s probably not who you’re expecting), and watch empires rise and fall with the theft of a simple tea plant. Turns out our world owes a lot to those who dabble on the dark side.

If you’re not scared of crooks and criminals, take a peek at this new side of history . . .

Potentially Sensitive Areas: War, Violence, Drugs, Racism, Irreverent humor

 

Reviews

Booklist (July 2018 (Vol. 114, No. 21))
Grades 4-8. Just as she did in Fantastic Fugitives (2016), DuMont offers another exciting look at criminals—this time, thieves—throughout history. Beginning with the Venetians, she continues chronologically with 11 individuals, including Chinese pirate Madame Cheng, Thomas Edison, and spy Klaus Fuchs. In a conversational style, emphasized by over-the-top humor, each profile relates the time period, the thief’s conquest, and the thievery’s impact on history. For instance, when Vincenzo Peruggia stole the Mona Lisa from the Louvre in 1911, the painting was only a “B-list celebrity.” Its incredible return years later made it the star it is today—and, of course, influenced art museum security around the world. (Its first thief, Napoleon, is also featured in the book.) The term thief is used loosely with other individuals, such as Englishman Robert Fortune, who “stole” the tea trade from China in the 1800s and gave it to British-controlled India. And helping to steal the show in this rousing read are funny cartoons, period photos, reproductions, and interesting sidebars. Even reluctant nonfiction readers will become history buffs.

Kirkus Reviews (June 1, 2018)
Thieves of the highest magnitude—think Napoleon—get a good tattling from DuMont in a continuation of her Changed History series. These are thieves who really did change history by moving the stolen items around the globe, sometimes in a small span, around Paris, for example, and sometimes from one continent to another. DuMont starts with the Venetians, who not only stole St. Mark’s body, but made alarming gains during the Crusades. She moves on to Francisco Pizarro and his conveyor belt of gold and silver from the Incan Empire to Spain. It took Francis Drake six days to empty one of King Philip’s Spanish treasure ships of its gold and silver. That is the same Drake to whom Queen Elizabeth gave “more ships to cram more Africans aboard to sell in the West Indies.” DuMont can come off as glib, but for the most part she is just throwing sauce in the face of egregious greed. There is also one heroic con man: Robert Smalls, an African-American pilot who ran the Confederate blockade of Charleston to take freedom for himself and a good number of slaves. DuMont also names secondary characters, which is particularly satisfying, as in introducing Vivant Denon, Napoleon’s choice to direct his growing art hoard and inventor of the modern museum. A sassy, historically sound visit with some of the more (mostly) rudely audacious characters who have taken what wasn’t theirs. (Nonfiction. 11-16)

About the Author

Brianna DuMont is the award-winning author of numerous nonfiction books for middle grade readers and enjoys exposing the forgotten bits in history. She lives in Chicago, Illinois with her husband, two kids, and two cats.

Her website is www.briannadumont.com

Around the Web

Thrilling Thieves on Amazon

Thrilling Thieves on Goodreads

Thrilling Thieves Publisher Page

Brazen by Pénélope Bagieu

Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked the World by Pénélope Bagieu. March 6, 2018. First Second, 304 p. ISBN: 9781626728684.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 770.

Throughout history and across the globe, one characteristic connects the daring women of Brazen: their indomitable spirit.

With her characteristic wit and dazzling drawings, celebrated graphic novelist Pénélope Bagieu profiles the lives of these feisty female role models, some world famous, some little known. From Nellie Bly to Mae Jemison or Josephine Baker to Naziq al-Abid, the stories in this comic biography are sure to inspire the next generation of rebel ladies.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: None

 

Video Review

Reviews

Booklist starred (February 15, 2018 (Vol. 114, No. 12))
Grades 9-12. Step aside Susan B. Anthony and Joan of Arc! French graphic novelist Bagieu’s (California Dreamin’, 2017) latest turns standard feminist anthology fare on its head, introducing 29 lesser-known ladies of various backgrounds, time periods, skin colors, and sexualities. Kicking off with Clémentine Delait, a beloved bearded lady in early twentieth-century France, and concluding with Mae Jemison, the first black woman in space, Bagieu’s vivacious collection spotlights rebels such as Las Mariposas (revolutionary sisters!), Sonita Alizadeh (Afghan rapper!), and Nobel Peace Prize–winning Leymah Gbowee (Liberian activist!) along the way. Bagieu’s writing is clever and concise, and panels brim with sly subtleties; Bagieu delivers laugh-out-loud one-liners in bitsy speech bubbles, and summons tragedy with no words at all, and her fine-lined figures are by turns playfully expressive, fierce, and reverent. Additionally, each profile employs its own distinct color palette; Bagieu’s segment on Finnish illustrator Tove Jansson, for example, heavily features the bold blues, greens, yellows, and reds of Jansson’s signature Moomin comics. Bagieu’s dedication to Syrian activist Naziq al-Abid folds in the colors of the country’s flag. This dynamic paean to women’s flair for fearless resistance will have readers happily sifting through history—and tackling the future with renewed verve. Rock on, ladies.

Kirkus Reviews starred (February 1, 2018)
This French graphic novel offers a satisfying collection of minibiographies about bold women—some contemporary, others from centuries ago—who overcame fearsome odds to achieve a variety of goals, becoming the first black woman in space, a rapper in Afghanistan, a pioneering volcanologist, and more.The lives of 33 women of varying geographical, ethnic, religious, and cultural backgrounds are highlighted in about 10 pages each of colorful, expressive, and often humorous cartoon panels—enough to serve as a catalyst for learning more. Some names are relatively recognizable, such as Temple Grandin and Nellie Bly, while others may be less so, such as Las Mariposas, Dominican sisters who became revolutionaries and human rights activists; Naziq al-Abid, a Syrian humanitarian and feminist; Agnodice, a fourth-century B.C.E. Athenian who disguised herself as a man in order to practice gynecology; and Leymah Gbowee, a Liberian social worker who escaped an abusive marriage and assisted other female survivors of violence. Bagieu delivers a pièce de résistance that succinctly summarizes the obstacles and victories of these daring women. Insightful and clever, at times infuriating and disheartening, this serves as a reminder that the hardships women face today have been shared—and overcome—by many others. (Graphic collective biography. 14-18)

About the Author

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

Pénélope 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.

Around the Web

Brazen on Amazon

Brazen on Goodreads

Brazen Publisher Page

Renoir’s Dancer by Catherine Hewitt

Renoir’s Dancer: The Secret Life of Suzanne Valadon  by Catherine Hewitt. February 27, 2018. St. Martin’s Press, 480 p. ISBN: 9781250157652.  Int Lvl: AD; Rdg Lvl: AD; Lexile: 1170.

Catherine Hewitt’s richly told biography of Suzanne Valadon, the illegitimate daughter of a provincial linen maid who became famous as a model for the Impressionists and later as a painter in her own right.

In the 1880s, Suzanne Valadon was considered the Impressionists’ most beautiful model. But behind her captivating façade lay a closely-guarded secret.

Suzanne was born into poverty in rural France, before her mother fled the provinces, taking her to Montmartre. There, as a teenager Suzanne began posing for—and having affairs with—some of the age’s most renowned painters. Then Renoir caught her indulging in a passion she had been trying to conceal: the model was herself a talented artist.

Some found her vibrant still lifes and frank portraits as shocking as her bohemian lifestyle. At eighteen, she gave birth to an illegitimate child, future painter Maurice Utrillo. But her friends Toulouse-Lautrec and Degas could see her skill. Rebellious and opinionated, she refused to be confined by tradition or gender, and in 1894, her work was accepted to the Salon de la Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts, an extraordinary achievement for a working-class woman with no formal art training.

Renoir’s Dancer tells the remarkable tale of an ambitious, headstrong woman fighting to find a professional voice in a male-dominated world.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Strong sexual themes, Alcohol

 

Author Interview

Reviews

Booklist starred (January 1, 2018 (Vol. 114, No. 9))
Hewitt (The Mistress of Paris: The 19th-Century Courtesan Who Built an Empire on a Secret, 2017) continues her mission to tell the stories of covertly powerful, yet overlooked French women in this step-by-step, swerve-by-swerve biography of the artist’s model and muse, “revolutionary” artist, and mother of an artist, Suzanne Valadon (1865–1938). A wildly impulsive country girl who loved to draw, she was raised by her determined single mother, a hotel maid who boldly brought them to Paris, where beautiful and talented Valadon modeled for prominent artists and became one of few women artists whose work was shown in prestigious exhibitions. Valadon, who “danced to no one’s tune but her own” and reveled in Montmartre café life, provides Hewitt with a glorious cast, including Renoir, van Gogh, Toulouse-Lautrec, and Degas—ardent champions of Valadon’s work—and André Utter, Valadon’s much younger husband. Valadon lived a life of ceaseless tumult and trauma as her son (father unknown), a prodigy burdened with afflictions exacerbated by alcoholism, lurched from crisis to crisis, even as he attained fame and wealth as Maurice Utrillo, the great painter of Parisian street scenes. Hewitt’s straight-ahead telling of Valadon’s dramatic, many-faceted story captures this artist of “honesty and passion,” this “matriarch of creative rebellion and gutsy expressivity,” with precision, narrative drive, and low-key awe.

Kirkus Reviews starred (November 15, 2017)
Suzanne Valadon (1865-1938) may not be a name most people mention when they discuss great artists. This biography should change that.One might wonder how Valadon, whom Hewitt (The Mistress of Paris: The 19th-Century Courtesan Who Built an Empire on a Secret, 2015) describes in this excellent biography as having “revolutionized the art world and irreversibly altered the place of women within that world,” hasn’t received more widespread recognition. One reason is that Valadon adhered to no school of painting; another is that she was “a victim of the company she kept.” Some may think of her only as the mother of cityscape painter Maurice Utrillo or the model who inspired Renoir’s Dance at Bougival and The Large Bathers or the muse of Toulouse-Lautrec. Born in rural France to a linen maid and a father she never knew, Valadon moved to Montmartre with her mother and sister after her father died. When she was older, she frequented clubs like Le Chat Noir, where young artists discussed their desire to depict “contemporary life, the sweat and odour of real men and women.” A self-taught artist, she started as a nude model. But when Edgar Degas saw her secret drawings, he said, “you are one of us,” and helped her become the first woman painter to have works accepted into the Salon de la Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts. Hewitt chronicles Valadon’s romances and her difficulties in raising Maurice, whose childhood fits led to his lifelong battle with alcoholism. More importantly, the author demonstrates that Valadon’s works were revolutionary not just because of her style—“sharp, almost crude contours,” with the use of single lines for profiles—but because of the subject matter, such as children who, far from looking like the cosseted offspring of impressionist works, were naked, awkward, and “lonely, so incredibly lonely.” Hewitt sums up Valadon’s achievement perfectly: “Other artists showed what viewers wanted to see. Suzanne showed them what was true.” A well-researched tribute to and resurrection of a master of fin de siècle art.

About the Author

Catherine Hewitt studied French Literature and Art History at Royal Holloway, University of London and the Courtauld Institute of Art. Her proposal for her first book, The Mistress of Paris, was awarded the runner-up’s prize in the 2012 Biographers’ Club Tony Lothian Competition for the best proposal by an uncommissioned, first-time biographer.

She lives in a village in Surrey. Her website is www.catherinehewitt.co.uk

Around the Web

Renoir’s Dancer on Amazon

Renoir’s Dancer on Goodreads

Renoir’s Dancer Publisher Page

Votes for Women! by Winifred Conkling

Votes for Women!: American Suffragists and the Battle for the Ballot by Winifred Conkling. February 13, 2018. Algonquin Young Readers, 312 p. ISBN: 9781616207342.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 1100.

For nearly 150 years, American women did not have the right to vote. On August 18, 1920, they won that right, when the 19th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified at last. To achieve that victory, some of the fiercest, most passionate women in history marched, protested, and sometimes even broke the law—for more than eight decades.

From Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who founded the suffrage movement at the 1848 Seneca Falls Convention, to Sojourner Truth and her famous “Ain’t I a Woman?” speech, to Alice Paul, arrested and force-fed in prison, this is the story of the American women’s suffrage movement and the private lives that fueled its leaders’ dedication. Votes for Women! explores suffragists’ often powerful, sometimes difficult relationship with the intersecting temperance and abolition campaigns, and includes an unflinching look at some of the uglier moments in women’s fight for the vote.

By turns illuminating, harrowing, and empowering, Votes for Women! paints a vibrant picture of the women whose tireless battle still inspires political, human rights, and social justice activism.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Racial taunts, Discrimination, Violence, Domestic violence

 

Reviews

Booklist (March 1, 2018 (Vol. 114, No. 13))
Grades 7-10. Looking for a comprehensive, well-written history of women’s fight for the right to vote? You’ve found it. Conkling draws readers in with the dramatic story of how the nineteenth amendment’s ratification came down to a Tennessee state congressman who voted yes—because his mother told him to! She then goes on to detail—in great detail—how women’s suffrage evolved; the way the movement fought side by side, and then sometimes against, abolitionists; the prejudice, often topped with scorn and incredulity, that the suffrage movement suffered; and the incredible inventiveness, tenacity, and bravery it took to finally get women the right to vote. This history is filled with women who stepped up, most notably movement architects Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. Their enduring friendship (as well as their philosophical difference) is highlighted here. But other fascinating supporting characters, like flamboyant Victoria Woodhull and clear-headed Lucretia Mott, as well as many others, get their due. Illustrated with photographs and historical memorabilia, this is great for research as well as a good read.

Kirkus Reviews starred (November 15, 2017)
Spanning multiple centuries, this work may be the most comprehensive account for young readers about the founders, leaders, organizers, and opponents of the American suffragist movement. Conkling takes readers back to a time when giving birth to a girl elicited sighs of pity. Women did not have the right to own property, could not enter into contracts or sign legal documents, could not keep their wages, had limited options for work, and had few legal rights overall. Over half of this thorough account focuses on the first wave of the suffragist movement, exploring the lives—personal and activist—of key players; coverage of the second wave moves faster, as women protest nonviolently, march, picket in silence, and endure unjust prison sentences. From hunger strikes to cruel and deplorable jail conditions, women endured much to get Congress to consider their vote. History buffs won’t be surprised when reading about the multiple occasions in which suffragists would put their needs before others’, getting tangled in racial and class tensions with abolitionists and African-Americans who were fighting for similar rights. With black-and-white portraits, newspaper clippings, historical renderings, and photographs interspersed, the well-documented narrative is propelled by diary and autobiography accounts, speeches, newspaper articles, and conventions and court records. Almost a century after women’s right to vote was secured, Conkling delivers a tour de force—fairly neutral, at times infuriating, occasionally graphic, and reminiscent of disturbing news today. (selected sources, timeline, bibliography, notes) (Nonfiction. 12-16)

About the Author

Winifred Conkling studied journalism at Northwestern University and spent the next 25 years writing non-fiction for adult readers, including for Consumer Reports magazine and more than 30 books. As part of her transition to writing for young people, she is working toward her Master of Fine Arts in Writing for Children and Young Adults from the Vermont College of Fine Arts.

Her website is www.winifredconkling.com.

Teacher Resources

Women’s Suffrage Lesson Plans from the Library of Congress

Around the Web

Votes for Women! on Amazon

Votes for Women! on Goodreads

Votes for Women! Publisher Page

Bad Princess by Kris Waldherr

Bad Princess: True Tales from Behind the Tiara by Kris Waldherr. January 30, 2018. Scholastic Nonfiction, 128 p. ISBN: 9781338047981.  Int Lvl: 3-6; Rdg Lvl: 6.5; Lexile: 1030.

Forget everything you thought you knew about princesses…

Welcome to Bad Princess by Kris Waldherr (author of Doomed Queens), where you’ll discover what really happens after “Happily Ever After.” From the war-torn Dark Ages of Medieval Europe to America’s Gilded Age, and all the way up to Kate Middleton, Bad Princess explores more than 30 true princess stories, going beyond the glitz and glamour to find out what life was really like for young royals throughout history.
A mix of royal biography, pop culture, art, style, and pure fun, Bad Princess is a whip-smart, tongue-in-cheek spin on the traditional princess narrative, proving that it takes more than a pretty crown to be a great leader.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Irreverent humor

 

Reviews

Booklist (November 1, 2017 (Vol. 114, No. 5))
Grades 4-7. Packed with history and context, Waldherr uses an animated, well-rounded approach in this engaging look at princesses in life and lore. After an introduction exploring why princesses remain a source of fascination and influence, subsequent chapters present stories of princesses to examine what being a princess means, including their various characteristics and roles through time, stereotypes and controversies, and ever afters, happy and otherwise. Readers are introduced to sixth-century “Blood Countess” Elizabeth Báthory; opportunistic “Dollar Princesses,” who sought status by marrying royalty; and others who were political pawns, subservient heir-bearers, or depicted as damsels in distress. Along with these, Waldherr also profiles a diverse array of compellingly strong, self-determined princesses who challenged the status quo and endeavored to enact positive change and empower others, like modern-day Princess Sikhanyiso Dlamini of Swaziland. The conversational tone, droll commentary, and up-to-date pop-culture references (Disney, natch) make for vibrant, engaging reading, and the lively layout, incorporating sidebars, factoids, and tongue-in-cheek illustrations, further enhance the pages. This absorbing, thought-provoking, and intriguing exploration of a perennially popular topic will both entertain and inform.

Kirkus Reviews (October 1, 2017)
The author of Doomed Queens (2008) examines “princess backlash” and asks: what makes a princess?Vignettes about royals (primarily European) collected under wry chapter headings such as “Princess Wars,” “Those Revolting Royals,” and “When the Tiara Doesn’t Fit” will leave youngsters reeling. Love is not certain, nor are riches. Waldherr’s storytelling voice strikes a fine balance between snarky and sympathetic. Many princesses were political pawns, such as Lucrezia Borgia. Elizabeth Báthory of Slovakia, an accused serial killer, was “bad to the bone.” Some, most notably Princess Diana, got bad deals. Even European fairy-tale princesses such as Snow White and the Little Mermaid endured hardships, even horrors. Readers will marvel that anyone’s able to sell the myth of the happily-ever-after princess. Quotes, factoids, illustrations, and photographs complete the compendium and bring youngsters up to the current day, showing them that princesses willing to take the rei[g]ns can, in fact, achieve success. Modern-day examples of royalty include Princess Sikhanyiso Dlamini of Swaziland and Maitha bint Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum of Dubai, reflecting a more diverse mix of women who embody a new stricture all readers can embrace: “A princess can change the world.” Power to the princesses, right on! (further reading) (Nonfiction. 10-14)

About the Author

Kris Waldherr is an award-winning author and illustrator whose books for adults and children include Bad PrincessDoomed Queens, and The Book of Goddesses. The New Yorker praised Doomed Queens as “utterly satisfying” and “deliciously perverse.” The Book of Goddesses was a One Spirit/Book-of-the-Month Club’s Top Ten Most Popular Book. Her picture book Persephone and the Pomegranate was noted by the New York Times Book Review for its “quality of myth and magic.” Waldherr is also the creator of the Goddess Tarot, which has a quarter of a million copies in print.

Her website is www.kriswaldherr.com

Around the Web

Bad Princess on Amazon

Bad Princess on Goodreads

Bad Princess Publisher Page

Very, Very, Very Dreadful by Albert Marrin

Very, Very, Very Dreadful: The Influenza Pandemic of 1918 by Albert Marrin. January 9, 2018. Knopf Books for Young Readers, 208 p. ISBN: 9781101931479.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 1040.

From National Book Award finalist Albert Marrin comes a fascinating look at the history and science of the deadly 1918 flu pandemic–and the chances for another worldwide pandemic.

In spring of 1918, World War I was underway, and troops at Fort Riley, Kansas, found themselves felled by influenza. By the summer of 1918, the second wave struck as a highly contagious and lethal epidemic and within weeks exploded into a pandemic, an illness that travels rapidly from one continent to another. It would impact the course of the war, and kill many millions more soldiers than warfare itself.

Of all diseases, the 1918 flu was by far the worst that has ever afflicted humankind; not even the Black Death of the Middle Ages comes close in terms of the number of lives it took. No war, no natural disaster, no famine has claimed so many. In the space of eighteen months in 1918-1919, about 500 million people–one-third of the global population at the time–came down with influenza. The exact total of lives lost will never be known, but the best estimate is between 50 and 100 million.

In this powerful book, filled with black and white photographs, nonfiction master Albert Marrin examines the history, science, and impact of this great scourge–and the possibility for another worldwide pandemic today.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: War, Violence

Reviews

Booklist starred (October 15, 2017 (Vol. 114, No. 4))
Grades 9-12. Acclaimed for incisive explorations of America’s bleakest moments, from the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire (Flesh & Blood So Cheap, 2011) to WWII-era Japanese internment camps (Uprooted, 2016), Marrin homes in on the “most deadly disease event in the history of humanity.” Raging from early 1918 to mid-1920, the influenza pandemic, aptly dubbed the “devil virus,” crescendoed in three lethal waves, spanned continents, and claimed an estimated 50- to 100-million lives worldwide. In six riveting chapters, Marrin examines the virus’s precursors, including past plagues and prior medical breakthroughs, its aftermath, and its festering backdrop—the congested trenches and training camps of WWI. While the pandemic’s scope is broad and undiscerning, Marrin’s approach is the opposite. With razor-sharp precision, he carefully presents genetic mutations, coffin shortages, the disease’s devastating grip on colonized Africa, the direct correlation between women working as nurses and the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment, and much more. Marrin’s conclusion, too, pulls no punches; after all, when it comes to future pandemics, it’s not a matter of if one will occur, but when. Fusing hard science and “jump-rope rhymes,” first-person accounts and crystalline prose, cold reason and breathtaking sensitivity, Marrin crafts an impeccably researched, masterfully told, and downright infectious account—complete with lurid black-and-white photos throughout. This is nonfiction at its best.

Kirkus Reviews (October 15, 2017)
A comprehensive history of the influenza pandemic of 1918, the worst global killer that humankind has experienced. Historian Marrin (Uprooted, 2016, etc.) begins four years earlier, at the beginning of World War I. Liberally referencing research, partial statistics, diaries, medical records, newspaper articles, art, photographs, poetry, song, and literature, Marrin works to give an accurate depiction of the circumstances and ill-timed incidents that led to the global catastrophe, which killed at least three times as many people as the war worldwide. The author does not neglect the squalor around the globe: ill soldiers in trenches and overcrowded barracks, suffering families, orphaned children, hunger and undernourishment, and deaths so numerous that bodies are stacked upon bodies. Marrin reveals how scientists and doctors knew little about influenza a century ago, as surgeons and physicians didn’t practice routine hygiene or quarantine and were often rendered helpless; in fact, he argues (albeit briefly) that nurses turned out to be most useful against influenza, for they provided supportive care. He then brings the eye-opening narrative to the present, detailing the search for the origins of influenza; recent scientific breakthroughs; the emergence of the H5N1 strain; and how, without intending to, scientists have brought the virus to a risky, imminent pandemic. Not one to shy away from unnerving details, Marrin relays what researchers and scientist express today: another influenza pandemic will unquestionably strike again. (notes, bibliography, further reading, picture credits, index) (Nonfiction. 12-18)

About the Author

Albert Marrin is an award winning author of over 40 books for young adults and young readers and four books of scholarship. These writings were motivated by the fact that as a teacher, first in a junior high school in New York City for nine years and then as professor of history and chairman of the history department at Yeshiva University until he retired to become a full time writer, his paramount interest has always been to make history come alive and accessible for young people.

Winner of the 2008 National Endowment for Humanities Medal for his work, which was presented at the White House, was given “for opening young minds to the glorious pageant of history. His books have made the lessons of the past come alive with rich detail and energy for a new generation.”

His website is www.albertmarrin.com.

Teacher Resources

Great Pandemic Resource Lists

Around the Web

Very, Very, Very Dreadful on Amazon

Very, Very, Very Dreadful on Goodreads

Very, Very, Very Dreadful Publisher Page