Tag Archives: Nonfiction

Legends: The Best Players, Games, and Teams in Basketball by Howard Bryant

Legends: The Best Players, Games, and Teams in Basketball by Howard Bryant. December 20, 2016. Philomel Books, 368 p. ISBN: 9780399169052.  Int Lvl: 3-6; Rdg Lvl: 5.8; Lexile: 1130.

From Magic Johnson to Michael Jordan to LeBron James to Steph Curry, ESPN’s Howard Bryant presents the best from the hardwood–a collection of NBA champions and superstars for young sports fans! 

Fast-paced, adrenaline-filled, and brimming with out-of-this-world athleticism, basketball has won the hearts of fans all across America—yet it is particularly popular among kids and teens. Giants of the game like Steph Curry, LeBron, and Michael Jordan have transcended the sport to become cultural icons and role models to young fans. From the cornfields of Indiana and the hills of North Carolina, to the urban sprawl of New York City, Chicago and L.A., love of the game stretches from coast to coast.

Featuring Top Ten Lists to chew on and debate, and a Top 40-style Timeline of Key Moments in Basektball History, this comprehensive collection includes the greatest dynasties, from the Bill Russell-era Celtics, to the Magic Jonson-led Lakers, to the Jordan-led Bulls, right up to the Tim Duncan-led Spurs. All the greats take flight toward the hoop in this perfect book for young fans who dream about stepping on an NBA court.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: None

 

Reviews

Booklist (December 1, 2016 (Vol. 113, No. 7))
Grades 4-7. Bryant continues his series on the history of professional American sports with a decade-by-decade account of the rise of the NBA (and ABA) from the 1950s to the 2016 Finals this past June. Rather than present a rigidly systematic chronicle or an indigestible barrage of names and statistics, he begins chapters with highlight reels of each era’s leading players and teams and then follows with amplified tributes to select stars of the court, breathless tales of hard fought Finals, rosters of colorful nicknames, and tallies of top 10 teams, players, and epic performances—all with fulsome explanatory comments. Aside from brief glances at drugs and racial issues, the author rarely, if ever, looks past the court action to the players’ private lives or pre- and post-professional careers. Complete basketball newbies will flounder, but readers with a basic grasp of the game’s rules, jargon, and history will find this a trove of awesome athletic feats, game-changing stars of the past and present, and rich fodder for heated arguments.

School Library Journal (February 1, 2017)
Gr 4-7-This latest from ESPN and former Washington Post journalist Bryant alternates among overviews of each decade since the 1960s, profiles of particular players or accounts of high-profile matchups, and themed “Top 10” lists. It lends itself well to browsing, though the format also leads to frequent repetition as the same facts surface in multiple accounts. Along the way, readers learn about the founding of the American Basketball Association and its merging with the National Basketball Association in 1976, as well as the changes to the game in the face of public image problems in the early 1980s, and many long-running rivalries, especially those between the Boston Celtics and the L.A. Lakers. A huge number of great names are highlighted, including Bill Russell of the Celtics, the Detroit Pistons’ Isiah Thomas, and Philadelphia’s Allen Iverson. An entire chapter is dedicated to the storied career of Michael Jordan, including his six national championships, an Olympic gold medal with the 1992 “Dream Team,” and two years playing Minor League Baseball after the shooting death of his father. Bryant’s history continues through LeBron James’s triumphant championship with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Though plenty of historical narrative is provided, much of the text consists of statistics-heavy description of play; this book is definitely aimed at the basketball junkie. VERDICT An easy hook for serious sports fans seeking an exploration of the history of basketball.-Bob Hassett, Luther Jackson Middle School, Falls Church, VA

About the Author

Howard Bryant is a multi-award-winning author; sports journalist; and radio and television personality with ESPN and NPR. He is the author of the LEGENDS series for young readers; Shut Out: A Story of Race and Baseball in BostonThe Last Hero: A Life of Henry Aaron; and Juicing the Game. The only two-time winner of the prestigious Casey Award for baseball writing, Howard is a senior writer for ESPN.com and ESPN The Magazine, appears frequently on ESPN’s “The Sports Reporters” and on ESPN Radio, and is a regular contributor to NPR’s Weekend Edition.

His website is www.HowardBryant.net.

Around the Web

Legends: The Best Players, Games, and Teams in Basketball on Amazon

Legends: The Best Players, Games, and Teams in Basketball on Goodreads

Legends: The Best Players, Games, and Teams in Basketball on JLG

Legends: The Best Players, Games, and Teams in Basketball Publisher Page

Alexander Hamilton by Teri Kanefield

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

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

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

Related subjects and concepts discussed in the book include:

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

Government
Checks and Balances
Democracy
Electoral College
Republic

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

Miscellaneous
Demagogues
Dueling
Pastoralism

Potentially Sensitive Areas: None

 

Reviews

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

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

About the Author

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

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

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

She lives in California near the beach.

Her website is www.terikanefield.com.

Teacher Resources

Alexander Hamilton “Grab and Go” Teaching Resources

Around the Web

Alexander Hamilton on Amazon

Alexander Hamilton on Goodreads

Alexander Hamilton on JLG

Alexander Hamilton Publisher Page

Girl Rising by Tanya Lee Stone

Girl Rising: Changing the World One Girl at a Time by Tanya Lee Stone. February 14, 2017. Wendy Lamb Books, 208 p. ISBN: 9780553511475.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 1050.

Worldwide, over 62 million girls are not in school.
But one girl with courage is a revolution.

Girl Rising, a global campaign for girls’ education, created a film that chronicled the stories of nine girls in the developing world, allowing viewers the opportunity to witness how education can break the cycle of poverty.

Now, award-winning author Tanya Lee Stone deftly uses new research to illuminate the dramatic facts behind the film, focusing both on the girls captured on camera and many others. She examines barriers to education in depth—early child marriage and childbearing, slavery, sexual trafficking, gender discrimination, and poverty—and shows how removing these barriers means not only a better life for girls, but safer, healthier, and more prosperous communities.

With full-color photos from the film, infographics, and a compelling narrative, Girl Rising will inspire readers of all ages to join together in a growing movement to help change the world.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Violence; Human trafficking; Sexual violence and slavery; Murder and genocide; Child brides; Harsh realities of poverty

 

Film Trailer

Reviews

Booklist starred (February 1, 2017 (Vol. 113, No. 11))
Grades 9-12. Much more than a companion volume to the 2013 semidocumentary of the same title, which portrayed nine girls around the globe overcoming daunting barriers to obtain an education, this vibrant book stands on its own as a source of inspiration. Going into greater detail than is possible in a cinematic format, the author tells the girls’ backstories with empathy and grace; she also provides heartening updates and illuminates the context of the struggle. In 50 countries, education is not free, and in many of these, education for girls is viewed as, at best, inessential, at worst, anathema—60 million girls receive limited or no schooling. Instead, they are required to work: in some of the cases described here, they’re sold very young by their families as virtual slaves (restaveks in Haiti, kamlari in Nepal). Child marriage—14 million cases yearly worldwide—represents essentially the same script. The closing chapter is a call to activism, and close-up full-color photos of the girls profiled will let young readers connect even more. Some of the stories contained here are perhaps too strong for younger readers, although it was a seven-year-old girl in Toronto who came up with the notion of Pencil Mountain, which ships school supplies to Ethiopia. Readers may be moved to initiate projects of their own.

Kirkus Reviews starred (December 1, 2016)
Although unfortunate circumstances in developing countries prevent girls from getting educations, nevertheless they remain resilient. Sibert Medalist Stone begins by explaining how the documentary Girl Rising inspired a book that further amplifies and explores the heartbreaking and inspiring stories of girls around the globe who are advocating for access to and freedom of education. Collected from over 45 hours of raw video interview footage, direct quotes from women and girls unveil a distressing web of hardships for girls as young as 5 and the unjust factors that prevent them from bettering their lives: poverty, human trafficking, modern-day slavery, child marriage, and, perhaps the most prevalent, gender discrimination. Around the world, the book zooms in on the struggles of girls from Afghanistan, Cambodia, Egypt, Ethiopia, Haiti, India, Nepal, Peru, Sierra Leone, among other countries. Both portraits and documentary-style photographs are numerous, and infographic designs will appeal to younger readers. Stone’s passionate, deliberate, and compelling narrative explores the culture of gender discrimination and induces a sense of urgency for a solution. The recounted interviews offer insight, candor, and emotion, sparing readers little.A moving account of hardships and triumphs that is bound to inspire future activists, this is a devastating but crucial read. (author’s note, appendix, bibliography, source notes) (Nonfiction. 14 & up)

About the Author

Tanya Lee Stone is an award-winning author of books for kids and teens. Her work, which includes YA fiction (A Bad Boy Can Be Good for a Girl), picture books (Elizabeth Leads the Way and Sandy’s Circus), and nonfiction (Almost Astronauts and The Good, the Bad, and the Barbie) has won national awards such as the ALA’s Sibert Medal, SCBWI’s Golden Kite Award, YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction, Jane Addams Book Award Honor, Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor, NCTE’s Orbus Pictus, and Bank Street’s Flora Steiglitz Award. 

Her website is www.tanyastone.com.

Teacher Resources

Girl Rising Educator’s Guide

Girl Rising Full Curriculum

Around the Web

Girl Rising on Amazon

Girl Rising on Goodreads

Girl Rising on JLG

Girl Rising Publisher Page

Girl Code by Andrea Gonzales & Sophie Houser

Girl Code: Gaming, Going Viral, and Getting It Done by Andrea Gonzales & Sophie Houser. March 7, 2017. HarperCollins, 272 p. ISBN: 9780062472502.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

Perfect for aspiring coders everywhere, Girl Code is the story of two teenage tech phenoms who met at Girls Who Code summer camp, teamed up to create a viral video game, and ended up becoming world famous. The book also includes bonus content to help you get started coding!

Fans of funny and inspiring books like Maya Van Wagenen’s Popular and Caroline Paul’s Gutsy Girl will love hearing about Andrea “Andy” Gonzales and Sophie Houser’s journey from average teens to powerhouses. Through the success of their video game, Andy and Sophie got unprecedented access to some of the biggest start-ups and tech companies, and now they’re sharing what they’ve seen. Their video game and their commitment to inspiring young women have been covered by the Huffington Post, Buzzfeed, CNN, Teen Vogue, Jezebel, the Today show, and many more.

Get ready for an inside look at the tech industry, the true power of coding, and some of the amazing women who are shaping the world. Andy and Sophie reveal not only what they’ve learned about opportunities in science and technology but also the true value of discovering your own voice and creativity.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: None

 

Author Interview

Reviews

Booklist (December 1, 2016 (Vol. 113, No. 7))
Grades 6-10. Here’s a welcome addition to STEM shelves. Teenagers Gonzales and Houser met at a Girls Who Code computer camp in 2014, and, for a final project, they created the game Tampon Run, which aims to break down menstruation taboos. To the girls’ surprise, the game took off, and soon they were minicelebs in both pop culture and the tech world, with lots of opportunities. Their experiences are recounted in alternating chapters. Sophie, the girl terrified of public speaking, finds her voice, while Andrea, who comes from a strict Filipino household, must deal with making her own choices. (Though their story lines are distinct, the girls tend to sound the same.) The paucity of women in computer science is a thread, but there are plenty of mentors here, women and men, urging the duo on. Readers who come to this knowing nothing about coding will get an introductory primer—and, at the book’s conclusion, the opportunity to try coding on their own. This shows both the ups and downs of success and celebrity, and the wisdom of keeping options open.

Kirkus Reviews (January 15, 2017)
The teens behind the web video game “Tampon Run” tell how they got started in programming.This is a first-person account of how Filipina Andrea “Andy” Gonzales from the East Village and the Bronx and white Sophie Houser from the Upper West Side met at the Girls Who Code summer program and joined forces to create a video game that received viral media attention. The chapters are organized chronologically and, inside each, switch between the two authors’ lively narrations. First, they introduce themselves and their backgrounds with programming: Sophie was a high achiever crippled by self-doubt and terrified of public speaking who was drawn to the GWC program to learn a new way to express herself; Andy was a lifelong gamer and programmer’s daughter who had already attended coding programs by the time she attended GWC. What brought the two together for their project was a desire to combine social commentary with their coding, resulting in their successful game. The game (and networking opportunities from GWC) has brought them attention and many more opportunities, but it also took more time and energy than they had to spare. By book’s end, they find themselves evaluating their futures with technology. The psychology of self-doubt and value of persistence are well-presented—the co-authors stress that the greater the frustration, the better the payoff. Tech-centered empowerment for those who feel voiceless. (coding appendix with glossary, sample code, resources) (Memoir. 12-17)

About the Authors

Andrea “Andy” Gonzales is a graduate of Hunter College High School and is now attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as a Robertson Scholar. The summer before her freshman year of high school, Andy started learning to code. Since then, she’s been passionate about computer science and women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). When Andy attended Girls Who Code, she learned the power of working with other girls, and that led to the creation of the video game Tampon Run, which she co-built with Sophie Houser. Tampon Run’s success exceeded all expectations, and Andy was thrown into a world outside of her high school. Beyond her passion for computer science, Andy is a music, comic book, and video game enthusiast. She looks forward to remaining an active advocate for women in computer science.

Sophie Houser is a student at Brown University who learned to code at the Girls Who Code summer program. As her final project she co-created a game called Tampon Run with Andrea Gonzales to break down the menstrual taboo in society. The game went viral, throwing her into the limelight of the press, the public, and the tech world. In addition to coding, Sophie also enjoys laughing with her friends, wearing socks with interesting patterns, and Photoshopping funny scenes. She is pursuing all of these passions as well as many more at college and beyond.

Around the Web

Girl Code on Amazon

Girl Code on Goodreads

Girl Code on JLG

Girl Code Publisher Page

Eyes of the World by Marc Aronson and Marina Budhos

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

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

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

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

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

Potentially Sensitive Areas: War; Violence; Antisemitism

 

Reviews

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

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

About the Authors

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

His website is www.marcaronson.com.

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

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

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

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

Her website is www.marinabudhos.com.

Around the Web

Eyes of the World on Amazon

Eyes of the World on Goodreads

Eyes of the World on JLG

Eyes of the World Publisher Page

The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Reviews

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

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

About the Author

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

Her website is www.thibui.com.

Around the Web

The Best We Could Do on Amazon

The Best We Could Do on Goodreads

The Best We Could Do on JLG

The Best We Could Do Publisher Page

Isaac the Alchemist by Mary Losure

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

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

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

Potentially Sensitive Areas: None

 

Book Trailer

Reviews

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

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

About the Author

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

Her website is www.marylosure.com.

Teacher Resources

Isaac the Alchemist Teacher’s Guide

Around the Web

Isaac the Alchemist on Amazon

Isaac the Alchemist on Goodreads

Isaac the Alchemist on JLG

Isaac the Alchemist Publisher Page

Illusion of Justice by Jerome F. Buting

Illusion of Justice: Inside Making a Murderer and America’s Broken System by Jerome F. Buting. February 28, 2017. Harper, 352 p. ISBN: 9780062569318.  Int Lvl: AD; Rdg Lvl: AD.

Interweaving his account of the Steven Avery trial at the heart of Making a Murderer with other high profile cases from his criminal defense career, attorney Jerome F. Buting explains the flaws in America’s criminal justice system and lays out a provocative, persuasive blue-print for reform.

Over his career, Jerome F. Buting has spent hundreds of hours in courtrooms representing defendants in criminal trials. When he agreed to join Dean Strang as co-counsel for the defense in Steven A. Avery vs. State of Wisconsin, he knew a tough fight lay ahead. But, as he reveals in Illusion of Justice, no-one could have predicted just how tough and twisted that fight would be—or that it would become the center of the documentary Making a Murderer, which made Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey household names and thrust Buting into the spotlight.

Buting’s powerful, riveting boots-on-the-ground narrative of Avery’s and Dassey’s cases becomes a springboard to examine the shaky integrity of law enforcement and justice in the United States, which Buting has witnessed firsthand for more than 35 years. From his early career as a public defender to his success overturning wrongful convictions working with the Innocence Project, his story provides a compelling expert view into the high-stakes arena of criminal defense law; the difficulties of forensic science; and a horrifying reality of biased interrogations, coerced or false confessions, faulty eyewitness testimony, official misconduct, and more.

Combining narrative reportage with critical commentary and personal reflection, Buting explores his professional and personal motivations, career-defining cases—including his shocking fifteen-year-long fight to clear the name of another man wrongly accused and convicted of murder—and what must happen if our broken system is to be saved. Taking a place beside Just Mercy and The New Jim Crow, Illusion of Justice is a tour-de-force from a relentless and eloquent advocate for justice who is determined to fulfill his professional responsibility and, in the face of overwhelming odds, make America’s judicial system work as it is designed to do.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Violence; Strong sexual themes; Criminal culture

 

Subject Trailer

Reviews

Kirkus Reviews (March 1, 2017)
A defense attorney from the trial made famous in Making a Murderer tells his story. From the beginning of his “Opening Statement,” first-time author Buting commands attention with his account of Steven Avery’s trial. The author recounts how, as he sat in the office of his co-counsel, Dean Strang, they received word that Avery’s nephew had confessed to helping Avery commit murder. It is in the context of this first phone call that Buting makes clear his passion as a defense lawyer and his justifiable anger with a system that does not, as he points out later, consider those accused of crimes as “innocent until proven guilty.” Avery had already spent 18 years in prison for a sexual assault that DNA evidence later proved he didn’t commit. Once charged with murder, Buting and Strang came to his aid believing that local law enforcement officials were biased against him. The author uses his expertise to make a convincing case, laying out shoddy police work, strange coincidences, and impossible-to-believe evidence that will have even the most anti–conspiracy theory readers thinking that it could have been a frame job. But he doesn’t stop with Avery’s case. Buting gives supporting evidence from other cases he’s worked or knows well, showing consistently how easy it is for police and prosecutors to fixate on the wrong suspect in a rush to solve crimes or without noticing their own bias. To his credit, while the author cuts the justice system no slack for its deep-seated problems, he also makes sure to repeat that it is a systemic issue and that most police, prosecutors, and judges are not out to hurt suspects. Without muddying the waters with excessive legalese, Buting presents a compelling portrait of the mechanisms of building a murder defense. A fantastic look behind the scenes of the U.S. justice system.

About the Author

Jerome F. Buting is a shareholder in the Brookfield, Wisconsin, law firm of Buting, Williams & Stilling, S.C. He received his undergraduate degree in forensic studies from Indiana University and his law degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He was board director of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, past president of the Wisconsin Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and chair of the Wisconsin State Bar Criminal Law Section. He lectures worldwide and is frequently sought for his legal expertise. He is also the recipient of the Fierce Advocate Award from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, the James Joyce Award from University College Dublin, and the Trinity College Dublin Praeses Elit Award.

His website is www.buting.com/Attorneys/Jerome-F-Buting.shtml.

Around the Web

Illusion of Justice on Amazon

Illusion of Justice on Goodreads

Illusion of Justice on JLG

Illusion of Justice Publisher Page

Life in Motion by Misty Copeland

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

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

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

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

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

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Discrimination

 

Book Trailer

Reviews

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

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

About the Author

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

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

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

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

Her website is mistycopeland.com.

Teacher Resources

Life in Motion Reading Group Guide

Around the Web

Life in Motion on Amazon

Life in Motion on Goodreads

Life in Motion on JLG

Life in Motion Publisher Page

Here We Are edited by Kelly Jensen

Here We Are: Feminism for the Real World edited by Kelly Jensen. January 24, 2017. Algonquin Young Readers, 240 p. ISBN: 9781616205867.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

LET’S GET THE FEMINIST PARTY STARTED!

Have you ever wanted to be a superheroine? Join a fandom? Create the perfect empowering playlist? Understand exactly what it means to be a feminist in the twenty-first century? You’ve come to the right place.

Forty-four writers, dancers, actors, and artists contribute essays, lists, poems, comics, and illustrations about everything from body positivity to romance to gender identity to intersectionality to the greatest girl friendships in fiction. Together, they share diverse perspectives on and insights into what feminism means and what it looks like. Come on in, turn the pages, and be inspired to find your own path to feminism by the awesome individuals in Here We Are.

Welcome to one of the most life-changing parties around!

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Strong language; Mild sexual themes; Clinical discussion of a female genital mutilation; Sexual assault; Images with stylized nudity

 

Reviews

Booklist starred (January 1, 2017 (Vol. 113, No. 9))
Grades 8-11. Earnest, conversational, and dauntlessly unapologetic in message, this collection of essays, cartoons, and interviews boldly celebrates and analyzes feminism as it exists today. More important, it reinforces the concept of intersectionality, encouraging a feminism that is open and accepting while continually reminding readers about the ways in which the experience of being a woman can vary widely for women of color, LGBTQ women, and women with disabilities. Some pieces here are reprinted from other texts (Roxanne Gay’s “Bad Feminist: Take Two,” Mindy Kaling’s “Don’t Peak in High School”), while others were commissioned exclusively for this publication. Most of the contributors are writers, often of YA novels and popular blogs, but this takes pains to include a wide array of perspectives, including essays by singer-songwriter Matt Nathanson, politician Wendy Davis, and ballet dancer Michaela DePrince and her sister Mia, as well as an interview with transgender actress Laverne Cox. The voices are wildly diverse: men and women, cis and trans, are included (although women, naturally, dominate), and contributors represent a number of different races, religions, and sexual orientations. The scrapbook-style layout makes this fun, and the intimate, informal tone makes it feel like a journal passed between friends. An education unto itself, the message of inclusion and strength is invaluable.

Horn Book Magazine (March/April, 2017)
This lively anthology, edited by Book Riot associate editor Jensen, broaches the subject of “feminism for the real world” through forty-four essays, comics, poems, interviews, and other material aimed at an adolescent audience. The collection combines previously published works with original content by a diverse group of contributors, including celebrities (Laverne Cox, Mindy Kaling), activists (Mia and Michaela DePrince, Wendy Davis), comics artists (Wendy Xu), and young adult authors (Malinda Lo, Nova Ren Suma, Daniel José Older). The accessible scrapbook-style format is organized into loose subject-area sections (“Gender, Sex, and Sexuality,” “Culture and Pop Culture”) with explanatory “FAQs About Feminism” and lists such as Kody Keplinger’s “Feminist Songs to Sing Along To” and Brandy Colbert’s “Top Ten Black Female Friendships” interspersed throughout. Topics range from the history of the word feminism to personal reflections on the intersections between feminism and race, gender, sexual orientation, and ability. Here We Are functions as an accessible collection of contemporary feminist writing and an introduction to twenty-first-century feminism. By embracing the voices of women, men, people of color, members of the LGBTQIA+ community, and myriad other identities, the book sends a strong message that feminism is for everyone. Appended with lists for further reading and contributor bios. molly saunders

About the Editor

Kelly Jensen is a former teen librarian who worked in several public libraries before pursuing a full-time career in writing and editing. Her current position is with Book Riot, the largest independent book website in North America, where she focuses on talking about young adult literature in all of its manifestations. Before becoming a fully-fledged adult-like person, she worked in the swanky Texas Legislative Library entering data into a computer while surrounded by important politicians, scooped gelato for hungry college students, and spent hours reading, annotating, and scanning small-town Texas newspapers into a giant searchable database.

Kelly lives in Wisconsin with her husband and three needy-but-awesome cats. In her free time, she does yoga, writes for her personal blog STACKED, drinks a lot of tea, and enjoys disappearing for days reading good books. Her writing has been featured on The Huffington Post, at Rookie Magazine, The Horn Book, BlogHer, and School Library Journal.

Her website is www.stackedbooks.org.

Around the Web

Here We Are on Amazon

Here We Are on Goodreads

Here We Are on JLG

Here We Are Publisher Page