Tag Archives: history

Sinking the Sultana by Sally M. Walker

Sinking the Sultana by Sally M. Walker. October 10, 2017. Candlewick Press, 208 p. ISBN: 9780763677558.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 8.1.

The worst maritime disaster in American history wasn’t the Titanic. It was the steamboat Sultana on the Mississippi River — and it could have been prevented.

In 1865, the Civil War was winding down and the country was reeling from Lincoln’s assassination. Thousands of Union soldiers, released from Confederate prisoner-of-war camps, were to be transported home on the steamboat Sultana. With a profit to be made, the captain rushed repairs to the boat so the soldiers wouldn’t find transportation elsewhere. More than 2,000 passengers boarded in Vicksburg, Mississippi . . . on a boat with a capacity of 376. The journey was violently interrupted when the boat’s boilers exploded, plunging the Sultana into mayhem; passengers were bombarded with red-hot iron fragments, burned by scalding steam, and flung overboard into the churning Mississippi. Although rescue efforts were launched, the survival rate was dismal — more than 1,500 lives were lost. In a compelling, exhaustively researched account, renowned author Sally M. Walker joins the ranks of historians who have been asking the same question for 150 years: who (or what) was responsible for the Sultana’s disastrous fate?

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language, War, Violence, Criminal culture, Graphic descriptions of burn victims

 

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Reviews

Booklist (September 1, 2017 (Vol. 114, No. 1))
Grades 7-12. It may surprise many to learn that the worst maritime disaster in American history was not the sinking of the Titanic. It happened 47 years prior, but the story begins during the Civil War, when the prisoner exchange system ended and the Andersonville prison camp swelled with Union soldiers. Once the war ended, these prisoners needed to be returned home, and transporting troops became a lucrative business for steamboats along the Mississippi River. Walker sets the scene for the Sultana disaster as she describes the captain’s greed (allowing 2,400 passengers when the legal capacity was 376), the chief engineer’s decision to repair rather than replace a deteriorating boiler, the flooded river, and other factors that would come into play. She tells the story through the lens of select soldiers and paying passengers, who each met different fates aboard the steamer. The author not only relates the aftermath of the tragedy that claimed 1,537 lives but also why it was almost forgotten. History buffs, and even adults, will be the biggest fans of this crossover YA title.

Kirkus Reviews (September 1, 2017)
The worst maritime disaster in American history, one that could have been easily prevented, is comprehensively recounted in this briskly paced narrative. On April 27, 1865, the Sultana, a Mississippi River side-wheel steamboat, exploded just north of Memphis on the Mississippi River. The boat, which had a capacity of 376, was carrying over 2,000 passengers, most of them Union soldiers recently released from prisoner-of-war camps. When the Sultana’s boilers exploded, passengers were bombarded with red-hot iron fragments, burned by scalding steam or fire, and flung overboard into the cold, churning Mississippi River. Despite rescue efforts, over 1,500 lives were lost. The narrative focuses on five survivors. Walker chronicles their experiences in battle and as prisoners of the Confederates, their ordeals in the disaster and rescue, and what became of them after. She also discusses the official investigation into the disaster. The cause of the explosion was a damaged boiler that had not been properly repaired. Bribery was responsible for the gross overcrowding aboard the Sultana, but no one was ever held responsible or punished. In addition to archival illustrative material, Walker makes extensive use of primary sources, such as diaries and newspaper reports, although it is surprising more use is not made of the survivors’ recollections Chester Berry collected and published in 1892. Quibbles aside, a finely detailed, well-researched chronicle of a little-known disaster. (maps, glossary, source notes, bibliography, index) (Nonfiction. 10-14)

About the Author

Sally M. Walker is the author of the Sibert Medal winner Secrets of a Civil War Submarine as well as many other nonfiction books, including Boundaries: How the Mason-Dixon Line Settled a Family Feud and Divided a Nation. Sally M. Walker lives in Illinois.

Her website is sallymwalker.com

Teacher Resources

Sinking the Sultana Discussion Questions

Sinking the Sultana Teachers’ Guide

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Flying Machines: How the Wright Brothers Soared by Alison Wilgus

Flying Machines: How the Wright Brothers Soared by Alison Wilgus. May 23, 2017. First Second, 128 p. ISBN: 9781626721401.  Int Lvl: 3-6; Rdg Lvl: 5.1.

Take to the skies with Flying Machines!

Follow the famous aviators from their bicycle shop in Dayton, Ohio, to the fields of North Carolina where they were to make their famous flights. In an era of dirigibles and hot air balloons, the Wright Brothers were among the first innovators of heavier than air flight. But in the hotly competitive international race toward flight, Orville and Wilbur were up against a lot more than bad weather. Mechanical failures, lack of information, and even other aviators complicated the Wright Brothers’ journey. Though they weren’t as wealthy as their European counterparts, their impressive achievements demanded attention on the international stage. Thanks to their carefully recorded experiments and a healthy dash of bravery, the Wright Brothers’ flying machines took off.

Part of Series: Science Comics

Potentially Sensitive Areas: None

 

Reviews

Booklist (April 15, 2017 (Online))
Grades 5-8. The history of aviation gets enthusiastic treatment in this Science Comics series title. Narrated by Katherine Wright, sister to Orville and Wilbur, Wilgus and Brooks’ engaging account of the development of modern aircraft covers key historical moments and figures as well as some of the science behind the designs. While the spreads in which Katherine and other airplane designers explain concepts can get a little wordy, they add very helpful context for how each of the advancements, from the Wrights’ movable rudder to the invention of the aileron to modern turbojet engines, helped improve air travel. Brooks’ depictions of aircraft are detailed and nicely labeled, and they come to life as they zip (or stutter and lurch) through the panels. The Wrights’ competition with blustery European “aeronauts” both enlivens the story line and calls attention to the rapid pace of advancement once early airplanes finally got off the ground. With infectious enthusiasm, clearly articulated concepts, and an engrossing format, this should pique the interest of plane-obsessed kids.

Kirkus Reviews (April 15, 2017)
In this entry in the Science Comics series, Katharine, the younger sister of Orville and Wilbur Wright, explains the science behind flight and how her brothers invented and flew the first successful airplane.The Wright brothers were not the first to try to create flying machines, nor were they alone in their era in experimenting with them. In addition to chronicling their failures and successes, the narrative discusses the work of other pioneers in heavier than air flight, such as Otto and Gustav Lilienthal and Alphonse Pénaud. Scientific concepts including Newton’s laws of motion are clearly and concisely explained, as are technical components of the airplanes the Wright brothers invented and tested. Further innovations in flight are explained, ending with the invention of the jet engine. The text is informative and engagingly written, and the illustrations are colorful and appealing. A palette of brown, ocher, and blue-gray gives the graphic panels an appropriately antique feel. Unsurprisingly, they are almost exclusively populated by white people. Backmatter includes brief profiles of other aviation pioneers and a short biography of Katharine Wright. There is no bibliography or source notes and a surprising paucity of age-appropriate titles in the suggestions for further reading. An accessible and engaging introduction to the Wright brothers and how they ushered in the age of flight. (glossary, further reading) (Graphic nonfiction. 8-12)

About the Author

Alison Wilgus is a Brooklyn-based author of comics and prose. She got her start as an animation writer on Codename: Kids Next Door, and her work has since been published by Scholastic, Nickelodeon Magazine, Del Rey, Dark Horse, and Tor.com, among others.

Her website is www.alisonwilgus.com

Around the Web

Flying Machines on Amazon

Flying Machines on Goodreads

Flying Machines on JLG

Flying Machines Publisher Page

The Factory Girls by Christine Seifert

The Factory Girls: A Kaleidoscopic Account of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire by Christine Seifert. May 30, 2017. Zest Books, 178 p. ISBN: 9781942186458.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

The twentieth century ushered in a new world filled with a dazzling array of consumer goods. For the first time in American history, fashion could be mass produced. Even the poorest immigrant girls could afford a blouse or two. But these same immigrant teens toiled away in factories in appalling working conditions. Their hard work and sacrifice lined the pockets of greedy factory owners who were almost exclusively white men. The tragic Triangle Waist Factory fire in 1911 resulted in the deaths of over a hundred young people, mostly immigrant girls, who were locked in the factory.

That fire signaled a turning point in American history. This book looks at the events leading up to the fire, including a close look at how fashion and the desire for consumer goods – driven in part by the excess of the Gilded Age – created an unsustainable culture of greed. Told from the perspective of six young women who lived the story, this book reminds us why what we buy and how we vote really matter.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: None

 

Reviews

Kirkus Reviews (April 15, 2017)
The tragedy known as the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire marked a turning point in the development of the labor movement in the United States.Because many of the victims were just teenagers, the fire that killed 146 young workers has the potential to hold great interest for young readers. This effort focuses primarily on the Gilded Age’s economic expansion and decadence, immigration, and the labor movement that emerged to protect workers from the extreme exploitation that arose during the era. Although it includes the stories of several young workers who either survived or were victims of the fire, just three chapters describe the conflagration and its aftermath. Readers seeking a book that focuses on it should look elsewhere. The tone is often casual, often characterized by comments such as “Mechanized factory work paid squat” and describing horse manure accumulating in “big poop piles.” (“Poop” occurs frequently.) The book is marred by both poor research and poor writing. Booker T. Washington is incorrectly identified as founder of the NAACP, and noted photographer Lewis Hine (who spent years documenting child workers) is introduced thus: “a reporter by the name of Lewis Hine reported a story of kids who worked on farms.” There are few photographs. Sophisticated readers interested in the fire would do better to read David Von Drehle’s book for adults Triangle: The Fire That Changed America (2003). Neither fully accurate nor especially engaging. (Nonfiction. 12-18)

About the Author

Christine Seifert is a native North Dakotan, a professor at Westminster College in Salt Lake City, Utah, and a Young Adult writer. She is the author of the YA novel The Predicteds, as well as the nonfiction books Whoppers: History’s Most Outrageous Lies and Liars and The Endless Wait: Virginity in Young Adult Literature (2015). She writes for BitchMagazine and other publications, and has presented at academic conferences on such diverse topics as as Writing, Rhetoric, Twilight, and Jersey Shore.

Her website is christineseifert.com

Teacher Resources

Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire Resources & Lesson Plans

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The Factory Girls on Amazon

The Factory Girls on Goodreads

The Factory Girls on JLG

The Factory Girls Publisher Page

The Children of Willesden Lane by Mona Golabek

The Children of Willesden Lane: A True Story of Hope and Survival During World War II by Mona Golabek. March 28, 2017. Little Brown Books for Young Readers, 213 p. ISBN: 9780316554886.  Int Lvl: 3-6; Rdg Lvl: 6.2.

Fourteen-year-old Lisa Jura was a musical prodigy who hoped to become a concert pianist. But when Hitler’s armies advanced on pre-war Vienna, Lisa’s parents were forced to make a difficult decision. Able to secure passage for only one of their three daughters through the Kindertransport, they chose to send gifted Lisa to London for safety.

As she yearned to be reunited with her family while she lived in a home for refugee children on Willesden Lane, Lisa’s music became a beacon of hope. A memoir of courage, survival, and the power of music to uplift the human spirit, this compelling tribute to one special young woman and the lives she touched will both educate and inspire young readers.

Featuring line art throughout and B&W photos.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Violence, Antisemitism, Xenophobic epithets

 

Book Trailer

 

About the Author

Ms. Golabek is the founder and president of the non-profit organization Hold On To Your Music. She is an author, recording artist, radio host and internationally acclaimed concert pianist. Ms. Golabek was taught by her mother, Lisa Jura, who, along with Lisa’s mother Malka, is the subject of Ms. Golabek’s book, The Children Of Willesden Lane. The work of Ms. Golabek and her sister, the late concert pianist Renee Golabek-Kaye, has been inspired by the words their grandmother uttered to her daughter at the Vienna train station as Lisa boarded the Kindertransport for safety in London at the outset of World War II. “Hold on to your music,” Malka told her, “It will be your best friend.”

A Grammy nominee, Ms. Golabek has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the Avery Fisher Career Grant and the People’s Award of the International Chopin Competition. She has been the subject of several PBS television documentaries, including More Than the Music, which won the grand prize in the 1985 Houston Film Festival, and Concerto for Mona, featuring Ms. Golabek and conductor Zubin Mehta. She has appeared in concert at the Hollywood Bowl, the Kennedy Center, Royal Festival Hall and with major orchestras and conductors worldwide.

Around the Web

The Children of Willesden Lane on Amazon

The Children of Willesden Lane on Goodreads

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The Children of Willesden Lane Publisher Page

Alice Paul and the Fight for Women’s Rights by Deborah Kops

Alice Paul and the Fight for Women’s Rights by Deborah Kops. February  28, 2017. Calkins Creek, 216 p. ISBN: 9781629793238.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 1050.

Here is the story of leader Alice Paul, from the women’s suffrage movement—the long struggle for votes for women—to the “second wave,” when women demanded full equality with men. Paul made a significant impact on both. She reignited the sleepy suffrage moment with dramatic demonstrations and provocative banners. After women won the right to vote in 1920, Paul wrote the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), which would make all the laws that discriminated against women unconstitutional. Passage of the ERA became the rallying cry of a new movement of young women in the 1960s and ’70s. Paul saw another chance to advance women’s rights when the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 began moving through Congress. She set in motion the “sex amendment,” which remains a crucial legal tool for helping women fight discrimination in the workplace. Includes archival images, author’s note, bibliography, and source notes.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Violence, Racism, Antisemitism

 

Reviews

Booklist starred (February 1, 2017 (Vol. 113, No. 11))
Grades 9-12. You might say that American Alice Paul (1885–1977) was born a feminist. Raised in the Quaker tradition, which from its outset embraced gender equality, she was further radicalized as a sociology doctoral candidate in England when she first heard suffragist Christabel Pankhurst address a hostile crowd. “I want to throw in all the strength I can give to help,” Paul determined. That she did in a pitched battle spanning six decades, from the struggle to pass the Nineteenth Amendment through the Second Wave attempt to append the still unrealized Equal Rights Amendment. Paul and her cohorts came up with ingenious means of infiltrating the bastions of power: in London, she and an ally disguised themselves as cleaning women in order to disrupt a guildhall banquet with shouts of “Votes for women!” The gambit occasioned her first imprisonment, leading to a hunger strike and forced feeding—a horrendous procedure rendered here factually and without sensationalism. Her health compromised by three such ordeals, Paul soldiered on, creatively. Young activists could learn a lot from this clear, engaging biography, which makes excellent use of primary sources and contains a number of black-and-white photographs. An extensive bibliography provides further resources for students interested in digging up more on the secret of Paul’s success: keep changing the delivery method while holding fast to the message.

Kirkus Reviews starred (December 15, 2016)
Alice Paul lacks the name recognition of fellow suffragists Susan B. Anthony or Elizabeth Cady Stanton, but this lucid, inspiring portrait reveals her noteworthy contributions to women’s rights. Paul absorbed the principle of gender equality during her Quaker childhood. While pursuing graduate studies in England, Paul joined the Women’s Social and Political Union, a militant suffrage group. Arrested repeatedly during demonstrations, Paul was treated brutally while serving three jail terms. After returning to the United States, Paul participated in National American Woman Suffrage Association rallies. She reignited the somnolent suffrage movement, creating provocative banners and organizing dramatic events, such as a 1913 protest march in Washington, which drew thousands of marchers from around the country. Disagreement over strategies and methods led Paul to break with NAWSA and formethe National Woman’s Party in 1916, which she led for 50 years. Following ratification of the 19th Amendment, Paul wrote the Equal Rights Amendment, which would make unconstitutional all laws discriminating against women. Kops’ engaging narrative is as insightful about the history of the fight for women’s rights as it is about Paul’s many remarkable achievements. She makes liberal use of primary-source material, giving Paul and her contemporaries voice and including plentiful photographs to accompany her account. A rich, fascinating, and inspiring account of a tireless champion for women’s rights. (photos, source notes, bibliography) (Biography. 11-18)

 

About the Author

Deborah Kops has written more than twenty nonfiction books for children and young adults. Her most recent work, The Great Molasses Flood: Boston, 1919(Charlesbridge), was a finalist for the 2013 Boston Authors Club’s Young Reader’s Prize, was on the National Council for the Social Studies’ list of Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People for 2013, and was also named to the New York Public Library’s 2012 list, 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing. She lives in Boston, Massachusetts.

Her website is deborahkops.com

Teacher Resources

Women’s Suffrage Lesson Plans

Around the Web

Alice Paul and the Fight for Women’s Rights on Amazon

Alice Paul and the Fight for Women’s Rights on Goodreads

Alice Paul and the Fight for Women’s Rights on JLG

Alice Paul and the Fight for Women’s Rights  Publisher Page

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.

Around the Web

Higher, Steeper, Faster on Amazon

Higher, Steeper, Faster on Goodreads

Higher, Steeper, Faster on JLG

Higher, Steeper, Faster Publisher Page

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.

Around the Web

Vincent and Theo on Amazon

Vincent and Theo on Goodreads

Vincent and Theo on JLG

Vincent and Theo Publisher Page

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.

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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

 

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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.

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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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