Tag Archives: Nonfiction

How We Got to Now by Steven Johnson

How We Got to Now: Six Innovations That Made the Modern World by Steven Johnson. October 16, 2018. Viking Books for Young Readers, 160 p. ISBN: 9780425287781.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 7.7.

Did you drink a glass of water today? Did you turn on a light? Did you think about how miraculous either one of those things is when you did it? Of course not–but you should, and New York Times bestselling author Steven Johnson has. This adaptation of his adult book and popular PBS series explores the fascinating and interconnected stories of innovations–like clean drinking water and electricity–that changed the way people live.

Innovation starts with a problem whose solution sets in motion all kinds of unexpected discoveries. That’s why you can draw a line from pendulums to punching the clock at a factory, from ice blocks to summer movie blockbusters, from clean water to computer chips.

In the lively storytelling style that has made him a popular, bestselling author, Steven Johnson looks at how accidental genius, brilliant mistakes, and unintended consequences shape the way we live in the modern world. Johnson’s “long zoom” approach connects history, geography, politics, and scientific advances with the deep curiousity of inventors or quirky interests of tinkerers to show how innovation truly comes about.

His fascinating account is organized into six topics: glass, cold, sound, clean, time, light. Johnson’s fresh exploration of these simple, single-syllable word concepts creates an endlessly absorbing story that moves from lightning strikes in the prehistoric desert to the herculean effort to literally raise up the city of Chicago to laser labs straight out of a sci-fi movie.

In other words, it’s the story of how we got to now!

Potentially Sensitive Areas: None

 

Author Talk

Reviews

Booklist (October 15, 2018 (Online))
Grades 5-8. Adapted for young readers from an adult book and PBS series, this volume explains six innovations that have changed the world: glass, cold, sound, clean (water), time, and light. It explores how these building blocks have inspired technological breakthroughs that have transformed our lives. The discovery of glassmaking, for example, led to the creation of clear glass, eyeglasses, microscopes, telescopes, cameras, fiberglass, laser beams, and fiber optic cables. Readers may be surprised that some technologies common today were actually developed more than 100 years ago, even if they weren’t refined until more recently (electric cars were first developed in the 1890s). Although it mostly features contributions by men from North America and Europe, Ada Lovelace and Marie Curie are mentioned. Not only does this praise scientists’ successful undertakings but it also recounts their erroneous beliefs and failures. Vintage photographs, recommended resources, and further back matter are included. The intriguing information here (Louis XIII didn’t bathe at all until he was seven!) will inform and fascinate report writers and casual browsers.

Kirkus Reviews (September 15, 2018)
Beginning with ideas that emerged thousands of years ago, Johnson tracks a series of innovations that led world culture to where it is now. In an adaption for younger readers of his adult work of the same name (2014), he tracks six pathways arranged along the following themes (which also serve as chapter titles): glass, cold, sound, clean, time, and light. The chapter on glass begins with the discovery of natural glass in the Libyan desert about 10,000 years ago and tracks it through use as jewelry, the creation of windowpanes, the development of glass that was clear, the creation of eyeglasses (necessary as books became more common), the development of other types of lenses and the scientific advances they inspired, and finally to fiber-optic cables in the digital age and creation of a massive telescope in Hawaii. Each engaging chapter remains fully grounded in the fundamental concept that advances inspire further developments, serving to present history in a nutshell that is still shown as a grand sweep of progress. A single minor gripe is that in the chapter on time, a detail on early photography is off by a few years. Excellent backmatter rounds out a balanced and thoroughly engaging presentation. Altogether, a fine exploration of technologies emerging over the eons and their remarkable interconnectedness. (Nonfiction. 11-14)

About the Author

Steven Johnson is the bestselling author of ten books, including Wonderland, How We Got to Now, Where Good Ideas Come From, The Invention of Air, The Ghost Map, and Everything Bad Is Good for You.

The founder of a variety of influential websites, he is the host and co-creator of the PBS and BBC series How We Got to Now. Johnson lives in Marin County, California, and Brooklyn, New York, with his wife and three sons.

His website is www.stevenberlinjohnson.com

Teacher Resources

How We Got to Now Classroom via PBS

Around the Web

How We Got to Now on Amazon

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How We Got to Now Publisher Page

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A Girl’s Guide to Missiles by Karen Piper

A Girl’s Guide to Missiles: Growing Up in America’s Secret Desert by Karen Piper. August 14, 2018. Viking, 336 p. ISBN: 9780399564543.  Int Lvl: AD; Rdg Lvl: AD.

A poignant, surreal, and fearlessly honest look at growing up on one of the most secretive weapons installations on earth, by a young woman who came of age with missiles

The China Lake missile range is located in a huge stretch of the Mojave Desert, about the size of the state of Delaware. It was created during the Second World War, and has always been shrouded in secrecy. But people who make missiles and other weapons are regular working people, with domestic routines and everyday dilemmas, and four of them were Karen Piper’s parents, her sister, and–when she needed summer jobs–herself. Her dad designed the Sidewinder, which was ultimately used catastrophically in Vietnam. When her mom got tired of being a stay-at-home mom, she went to work on the Tomahawk. Once, when a missile nose needed to be taken offsite for final testing, her mother loaded it into the trunk of the family car, and set off down a Los Angeles freeway. Traffic was heavy, and so she stopped off at the mall, leaving the missile in the parking lot.

Piper sketches in the belief systems–from Amway’s get-rich schemes to propaganda in The Rocketeer to evangelism, along with fears of a Lemurian takeover and Charles Manson–that governed their lives. Her memoir is also a search for the truth of the past and what really brought her parents to China Lake with two young daughters, a story that reaches back to her father’s World War II flights with contraband across Europe. Finally, it recounts the crossroads moment in a young woman’s life when she finally found a way out of a culture of secrets and fear, and out of the desert.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Strong language; Strong sexual themes

 

Reviews

Booklist (June 1, 2018 (Vol. 114, No. 19))
For designing and detonating missiles, China Lake was perfect—a desert wasteland within driving distance of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. But for Piper’s family, life at the military base was full of secrets and challenges, as she reveals in this fascinating memoir. The family moved there when Piper was a girl, so that her father, a WWII veteran, could work on the Sidewinder missile. Eventually, they all got into the missile business, her mother helping create circuit boards after taking a class for housewives and Piper herself working as a clerk in the summers. War surrounded them at China Lake, where streets were named after admirals, ships, and combat zones. But Piper was not allowed to know much of what went on there, even the work her own parents were doing, and years later she returned in search of answers. Here she offers an incredible view of a little-known community, from WWII all the way through 9/11, and examines how her family navigated life in a town built for war.

Kirkus Reviews starred (June 1, 2018)
A smart, self-aware memoir of life in a Cold War outpost.If you’re a government agency, there are three reasons to hide your activities from public view: because they really need to be kept secret, because the activities are fundamentally useless, or because “you want to rip the money bag open and get out a shovel, because there is no accountability whatsoever.” So an official told Piper (Literature and Geography/Univ. of Missouri; The Price of Thirst: Global Water Inequality and the Coming Chaos, 2014, etc.) in what amounts to a mantra for all of China Lake, a test facility in the hottest, most forbidding part of the Mojave Desert. The author writes of a childhood spent in a household headed by two project workers at China Lake. It was a world of missiles and launches and secrets in a time when the world seemed to be falling to bits—there was Vietnam, for one thing, and then the Manson family zipping around in the nearby desert in their dune buggies (“The Mansons even shopped at our 7-Eleven in Ridgecrest, where Christine and I bought our candy”). By Piper’s account, it was a preternaturally strange place in a strange time punctuated by Amway rallies and enlivened with unhealthy spats of interoffice politics. But interesting things happened there, too, including experiments to turn the weather into a weapon, to say nothing of the business of turning hardscrabble China Lake, a place of prewar brothels and hermits, into a place suitable for straight-arrow military personnel, civilian contractors, and their families. Piper’s account moves among the personal and the universal, with fine small coming-of-age moments. The narrative threatens to unravel a little when, following her father’s death, Piper acts on clues he left behind to follow his footsteps in other arenas of the Cold War, but she pulls everything into an effective—and affecting—whole meant to “ensure that history was not erased.” A little-known corner of the Atomic Age comes into focus through Piper’s skilled storytelling.

About the Author

Karen Piper is the award-winning author of The Price of Thirst, Left in the Dust, and Cartographic Fictions. She has received the Sierra Nature Writing Award and the Next Generation Indie Book Award and fellowships from the Huntington, Carnegie Mellon, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. She is currently a professor of literature and geography at the University of Missouri.

Her website is www.karenpiper.com.

Around the Web

A Girl’s Guide to Missiles on Amazon

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Proud: Living My American Dream by Ibtijah Muhammad

Proud: Living My American Dream by Ibtijah Muhammad. July 24, 2018. Little Brown Books for Young Readers, 304 p. ISBN: 9780316477000.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 960.

At the 2016 Rio Olympics, Ibtihaj Muhammad smashed barriers as the first American to compete wearing hijab, and made history as the first Muslim-American woman to medal. But it wasn’t an easy road–in a sport most popular among wealthy white people, Ibtihaj often felt out of place. Ibtihaj was fast, hardworking, and devoted to her faith, but rivals and teammates (as well as coaches and officials) pointed out her differences, insisting she would never succeed. Yet Ibtihaj powered on. Her inspiring journey from a young outsider to an Olympic hero is a relatable, memorable, and uniquely American tale of hard work, determination, and self-reliance.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Discrimination, Racism

 

Author Video

Short Biography via ESPN

Reviews

Booklist starred (July 2018 (Vol. 114, No. 21))
Grades 6-12. “Black but Muslim. Muslim but American. A hijab-wearing athlete.” Ibtihaj Muhammad, an Olympic medalist in fencing and the first Muslim woman to represent the U.S. in international competition, explores identity, her path to the 2016 Olympics, and their intersection in this eye-opening memoir adapted for young readers. Muhammad was always competitive, especially when it came to sports. Wearing a hijab and coming from a large family, she realized that fencing allowed her an easier way to maintain her faith than in other sports and work toward a scholarship for college. And it turned out she was excellent! More difficult than the rigorous physical and mental training, however, was trying to fit into a predominantly white, male sport. Muhammad describes her struggles with classmates, teammates, referees, and even the public at large, who only saw her as an outsider. She also relates how finding a community of fencers of color, supportive family and trainers, perseverance, and, above all, her faith helped her overcome adversity. As she succeeded and gained media attention, she recognized that she could be a role model for other young women, young Muslims, and young people of color. Indeed, Muhammad’s story is an inspiring one that will encourage readers to question what it means to be American.

Kirkus Reviews starred (June 1, 2018)
Muhammad, Olympic medalist for the U.S. fencing team, presents a memoir emphasizing the role of sports in her life. Muhammad, a black, Muslim American who grew up in New Jersey, was raised by loving, supportive parents in a stable home. Her parents had many expectations of her and her siblings, one of which was that they would always participate in a sport. Some readers know the general story of how Muhammad finally picked and stayed with fencing—a sport in which she could wear the team uniform without compromising the modest attire required of her faith—but there are surprises in the details. Muhammad’s experiences in schools, in sports, in social situations, and in national and international competitions include moments of joy and exhilaration as well as many periods of isolation and self-doubt. The honesty in her writing makes it easy to connect with her journey, so that even readers who are not interested in the details of fencing will want to keep going to see how she made it all the way. Her dedication is impressive, and the many other people populating the pages of her memoir create a portrait of what it takes to make a champion. Readers who are already fans of Muhammad will love her even more, and all readers will gain much inspiration from this heartfelt memoir of a true American hero. Like Muhammad herself, this book is a timely gift to us all. (glossary, interview) (Memoir. 10-18)

About the Author

Ibtihaj Muhammad, an American sabre fencer, is a 2016 Olympic medalist, 5-time Senior World medalist and World Champion in the sport of fencing. In August 2016, she became the first American woman to compete in the Olympics in hijab and is also the first Muslim woman to win an Olympic medal for the United States. Ibtihaj is a 3-time All American from Duke University, with a dual degree in International Relations and African Studies. In 2014, Ibtihaj launched her own clothing company, Louella, which aims to bring affordable modest fashion to the United States market.

Ibtihaj is a sports ambassador with the U.S. Department of State’s Empowering Women and Girls through Sport Initiative, and works closely with organizations like Athletes for Impact and the Special Olympics. Named to Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential list, Ibtihaj is an important figure in a larger global discussion on equality and the importance of sport. Her voice continues to unite both the sports and non-sports world

Her website is www.ibtihajmuhammad.com/

Around the Web

Proud on Amazon

Proud on Barnes and Noble

Proud on Goodreads

Proud Publisher Page

The Beloved World of Sonia Sotomayor by Sonia Sotomayor

The Beloved World of Sonia Sotomayor by Sonia Sotomayor. September 4, 2018. Delacorte Books, 352 p. ISBN: 9781524771157.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 6.4; Lexile: 1070.

Discover the inspiring life of Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the first Latina and third woman appointed to the United States Supreme Court, in this middle-grade adaptation of her bestselling adult memoir, My Beloved World
 
Includes an 8-page photo insert and a brief history of the Supreme Court.

Sonia Sotomayor was just a girl when she dared to dream big. Her dream? To become a lawyer and a judge even though she’d never met one of either, and none lived in her neighborhood.

Sonia did not let the hardships of her background—which included growing up in the rough housing projects of New York City’s South Bronx, dealing with juvenile diabetes, coping with parents who argued and fought personal demons, and worrying about money—stand in her way. Always, she believed in herself. Her determination, along with guidance from generous mentors and the unwavering love of her extended Puerto Rican family, propelled her ever forward.

Eventually, all of Sonia’s hard work led to her appointment as an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court in 2009, a role that she has held ever since.

Learn about Justice Sotomayor’s rise and her amazing work as well as about the Supreme Court in this fascinating memoir that shows that no matter the obstacles, dreams can come true

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Discrimination, Drugs, Racism, Alcoholism

 

Author Videos

 

Reviews

Booklist starred (June 1, 2018 (Vol. 114, No. 19))
Grades 7-10. After seven-year-old Sonia, recently diagnosed with diabetes, awakens to the sound of her parents arguing over who will give her a daily shot of insulin, she decides to take on that responsibility herself. It was the first of many decisions that would challenge her and move her forward. Judiciously pared down from Sotomayor’s My Beloved World (2013), this autobiography for young people records her memories of growing up with her father (who died when she was nine), her mother, her brother, and her extended Puerto Rican American family in the Bronx. She also discusses her education in Catholic schools, at Princeton, and at Yale, her pro bono advocacy work, and her career as an assistant district attorney and a partner in a private law firm. The story concludes as she begins working as a district court judge. Readers will come away with a strong sense of Sotomayor’s background, her steadfast values, and her ability to stand up for herself and for others. Written in a clear, direct manner and enriched with many personal stories, the book also conveys a sense of her gratitude to family, friends, teachers, and mentors. A lively autobiography of the third woman and the first Latina on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Kirkus Reviews starred (July 15, 2018)
The memoir of a woman who rose from the housing projects in New York City’s South Bronx to become the first Hispanic justice on the Supreme Court of the United States. This is the story of a woman who as a 10-year-old fell under the spell of Perry Mason, a fictional TV lawyer. Her life course was set: She would become a lawyer and, dare she dream it, a judge. With a clear vision, hard work, and determination she set out to make her dream come true. In a series of vignettes that help to illustrate her remarkable spirit and motivations, Sotomayor recalls some of the salient moments of her life. Readers are introduced to her close-knit family, friends, colleagues, and mentors that nurtured her along the way. She chronicles her academic and professional achievements and what it took to be successful. She also presents her core beliefs and struggles, never shying from coming across as human. The account of this exceptional trajectory, told with a storyteller’s talent, is filled with a candor and honesty that make her story eminently accessible to young readers. Adapted from her memoir for adults, My Beloved World (2013), in the hope of inspiring children to dream even the dreams they cannot at first imagine, this book should thoroughly achieve that goal. A must read. (glossary, Supreme Court overview) (Memoir. 10-18)

About the Author

Sonia Sotomayor graduated summa cum laude from Princeton University in 1976 and from Yale Law School in 1979. She worked as an assistant district attorney in New York and then at the law firm of Pavia & Harcourt. She served as a judge of the US District Court, Southern District of New York, from 1992 to 1998, and from 1998 to 2009 served on the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. In May 2009, President Barack Obama nominated her as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court; she assumed this role on August 8, 2009.

Teacher Resources

Soina Sotomayor Biography Lesson Plan

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The Beloved World of Sonia Sotomayor on Amazon

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The Beloved World of Sonia Sotomayor on Goodreads

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How to Be an American by Silvia Hildago

How to Be an American: A Field Guide to Citizenship by Silvia Hildago. September 25, 2018. Harry N. Abrams, 128 p. ISBN: 9781419730757.  Int Lvl: YA.

The current political climate has left many of us wondering how our government actually operates. Sure, we learned about it in school, but if put to the test, how many of us can correctly explain the branches of government? The history of politics? The differences and connections between local government and federal government? Enter How to Be an American.

While author and illustrator Silvia Hidalgo was studying for her citizenship test, she quickly found that the materials provided by the government were lacking. In order to more easily absorb the information, Hidalgo started her own illustrated reference to civics facts and American history essentials. She’s collected her findings in How to Be an American, a freshly designed and illustrated two-color guide to all things America.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: None

 

Author Video

About the Author

Born in Costa Rica, Silvia Hidalgo moved to the United States in 1998. Currently an artist as well as a freelance graphic designer and illustrator, she has worked for corporations such as SRAM and Motorola. She lives in Chicago.

Teacher Resources

US Citizenship and Immigration Services Website

Around the Web

How to Be an American on Amazon

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How to Be an American on Goodreads

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Camino a las Estrellas by Sylvia Acevedo

Camino a las estrellas: mi recorrido de Girl Scout a ingeniera astronáutica (Path to the Stars: My Journey from Girl Scout to Rocket Scientist) by Sylvia Acevedo. September 4, 2018. Clarion Books, 352 p. ISBN: 9781328534811.  Int Lvl: 5-8.

The inspiring memoir for young readers about a Latina rocket scientist whose early life was transformed by joining the Girl Scouts and who currently serves as CEO of the Girl Scouts of the USA.

A meningitis outbreak in their underprivileged neighborhood left Sylvia Acevedo’s family forever altered. As she struggled in the aftermath of loss, young Sylvia’s life transformed when she joined the Brownies. The Girl Scouts taught her how to take control of her world and nourished her love of numbers and science.

With new confidence, Sylvia navigated shifting cultural expectations at school and at home, forging her own trail to become one of the first Latinx to graduate with a master’s in engineering from Stanford University and going on to become a rocket scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Spanish translation of Path to the Stars.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Discrimination, Racial insensitivity, Domestic abuse

 

Reviews

Kirkus Reviews (August 1, 2018)
Acevedo debuts with an inspirational autobiography detailing how she bucked expectations while growing up in 1960s New Mexico. Though born in faraway South Dakota, where her father was completing his service in the U.S. Army, Sylvia grew up in the southern New Mexico town of Las Cruces. Growing up in a tightknit community of extended family, church family, and fellow Mexican-Americans, Sylvia soon discovered that her interests did not align with many of her peers’. While the cultural expectation for young women, especially Mexican-American women, was to marry and stay home to raise a family, Sylvia longed for adventures. She found a community and home away from home with the like-minded girls within her Girl Scout troop. The skills she acquired selling cookies and earning badges gave her confidence and self-efficacy as she moved through school taking honors courses, refusing home ec, playing drums in the band, and ultimately pursuing higher education in engineering. Acevedo’s narration is frequently repetitive, and she breezes past the many instances of racism and sexism she experienced both within and outside of her home in a matter-of-fact tone. All’s well that ends well, she seems to say. Though the redundancies cause hiccups in the narrative flow, and at times it feels like a long-form advertisement for Scouting, those seeking stories of female STEM trailblazers will find much to love here. Encouraging and uplifting. (Memoir. 8-12)

School Library Journal (September 1, 2018)
Gr 5 Up-A gem of an autobiography. As a girl growing up in New Mexico in the 1950’s, Acevedo recognized and confronted bias in many forms. She fought against the notions that girls should only become wives and mothers, and she strived to be a success in all aspects in her life: a focused student, a successful Girl Scout, a talented musician, and, above all, a young woman who never believed that her future was already written by someone else. Particularly touching is Acevedo’s recollection of her mother’s determination and dedication to her family: she acted as an advocate for her daughter’s success even as she and Sylvia faced domestic abuse. The text is accessible, and the story of Acevedo’s life touches upon a number of salient points for readers including racism, gender roles, and educational inequality. The importance of the Girl Scouts and of always being prepared resonates throughout. The author’s experiences working as a rocket scientist are fascinating, though these recollections come at the very end of the book.

About the Author

Sylvia Acevedo is a rocket scientist and award-winning entrepreneur who served on the White House Commission for Educational Excellence for Hispanics and is currently the CEO of the Girl Scouts of the US.

Her website is sylviaacevedo.org

Around the Web

Camino a las Estrellas on Amazon

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Camino a las Estrellas Publisher Page

The Schoolhouse Gate by Justin Driver

The Schoolhouse Gate: Public Education, the Supreme Court, and the Battle for the American Mind by Justin Driver. September 4, 2018. Pantheon Books, 576 p. ISBN: 9781101871652.  Int Lvl: AD; Rdg Lvl: AD.

An award-winning constitutional law scholar at the University of Chicago (who clerked for Judge Merrick B. Garland, Justice Stephen Breyer, and Justice Sandra Day O’Connor) gives us an engaging and alarming book that aims to vindicate the rights of public school stu­dents, which have so often been undermined by the Supreme Court in recent decades.

Judicial decisions assessing the constitutional rights of students in the nation’s public schools have consistently generated bitter controversy. From racial segregation to un­authorized immigration, from antiwar protests to compul­sory flag salutes, from economic inequality to teacher-led prayer—these are but a few of the cultural anxieties dividing American society that the Supreme Court has addressed in elementary and secondary schools. The Schoolhouse Gate gives a fresh, lucid, and provocative account of the historic legal battles waged over education and illuminates contemporary disputes that continue to fracture the nation.

Justin Driver maintains that since the 1970s the Supreme Court has regularly abdicated its responsibility for protecting students’ constitutional rights and risked trans­forming public schools into Constitution-free zones. Students deriving lessons about citizenship from the Court’s decisions in recent decades would conclude that the following actions taken by educators pass constitutional muster: inflicting severe corporal punishment on students without any proce­dural protections, searching students and their possessions without probable cause in bids to uncover violations of school rules, random drug testing of students who are not suspected of wrongdoing, and suppressing student speech for the view­point it espouses. Taking their cue from such decisions, lower courts have upheld a wide array of dubious school actions, including degrading strip searches, repressive dress codes, draconian “zero tolerance” disciplinary policies, and severe restrictions on off-campus speech.

Driver surveys this legal landscape with eloquence, highlights the gripping personal narratives behind landmark clashes, and warns that the repeated failure to honor students’ rights threatens our basic constitutional order. This magisterial book will make it impossible to view American schools—or America itself—in the same way again

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Drugs, Homophobic slur, Mild sexual themes, Racism, Strong language

 

Reviews

Kirkus Reviews (July 1, 2018)
A compendium of constitutional law as it relates to public schools.In his book-length debut, Driver (Law/Univ. of Chicago), an editor of the Supreme Court Review and former Supreme Court clerk for Sandra Day O’Connor and Stephen Breyer, assembles a coherent summary of court opinions governing a wide variety of topics bearing on public education. He contends that “the public school has served as the single most significant site of constitutional interpretation within the nation’s history.” This is because “the cultural anxieties that pervade the larger society often flash where law and education converge….Then we engage in an argument that is fundamentally about what sort of nation we want the United States to be.” Driver explores the strange twists of school desegregation law flowing from Brown v. Board of Education along with wide-ranging coverage of such topics as students’ freedom of expression; the place of prayer and religion in schools; school discipline, searches, and drug testing; and interdistrict funding disparities. The author accompanies the summaries of the decisions themselves with a survey of their receptions in the popular press and in legal academic circles. Driver often adds his own opinions of many of the decisions, but he is not overbearing about it, and his positions are generally well-grounded and well-argued. The topics are thoughtfully organized and presented in a style that is precise enough for lawyers while remaining lively for educators and concerned parents, always keeping in view the human stories behind the landmark cases. One of Driver’s major concerns is that students will get early and vivid impressions of their rights as citizens from their treatment at school, and he often finds that treatment wanting. Thorough, accessible, and always relevant, this is a valuable service and reference for legal practitioners, educators, parents, and citizens concerned about constitutional rights in the context of public education.

Publishers Weekly (June 18, 2018)
University of Chicago Law professor Driver, a former clerk for two Supreme Court Justices, examines the intersection of the Supreme Court and the public school system in this scrupulous study of two vital American institutions. Driver smartly analyzes how the Constitution applies to disciplinary actions, free speech, prayer in schools, and searches and seizures. In addition, Driver discusses less-understood constitutional issues including permissible mechanisms for school funding and complicated problems related to school integration arising from Brown v. Board of Education. Driver’s approach to each precedent includes a sophisticated legal discussion of the Court’s majority and dissenting opinions, a recounting of how the decisions were received by the media and legal commentators, followed by his own illuminating, often contrarian analysis of the case’s importance. This structure allows him to cohesively construct his argument that the balance between students’ rights and the right of school administrators and local governments has shifted too far away from the students, to the detriment of society as a whole. Readers with the ability to grapple with complex constitutional issues will find much to learn from Driver’s independent thinking and unique insights.

About the Author

Justin Driver is the Harry N. Wyatt Professor of Law at the University of Chicago Law School. A graduate of Brown, Oxford (where he was a Mar­shall Scholar), and Harvard Law School (where he was an edi­tor of the Harvard Law Review), Driver clerked for Supreme Court Justices Stephen Breyer and Sandra Day O’Connor. A recipient of the American Society for Legal History’s William Nelson Cromwell Article Prize, Driver has a distinguished publication record in the nation’s leading law reviews. He has also written extensively for lay audiences, including pieces in Slate, The Atlantic, The Washington Post, and The New Republic, where he was a contributing editor. A member of the American Law Institute and the American Constitution Society’s Academic Advisory Board, Driver is also an edi­tor of The Supreme Court Review. Before attending law school, Driver received a master’s degree in education from Duke and taught civics and American history to high school students.

Around the Web

The Schoolhouse Gate on Amazon

The Schoolhouse Gate on Barnes & Noble

The Schoolhouse Gate on Goodreads

The Schoolhouse Gate Publisher Page

Apollo 8 by Martin W. Sandler

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

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

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

Potentially Sensitive Areas: None

 

Reviews

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

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

About the Author

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

 

Teacher Resources

Mission Highlights:

Christmas Message:

 

Exploring the Moon Educators Guide

Around the Web

Apollo 8 on Amazon

Apollo 8 on Barnes & Noble

Apollo 8 on Goodreads

Apollo 8 Publisher Page

1968 edited by Marc Aronson and Susan Campbell Bartoletti

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

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

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

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

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

 

Reviews

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

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

About the Authors

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

His website is www.marcaronson.com.

 

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

Her website is www.scbartoletti.com/

Around the Web

1968 on Amazon

1968 on Barnes & Noble

1968 on Goodreads

1968 Publisher Page

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

Just Mercy: A True Story of the Fight for Justice (adapted for young adults) by Bryan Stevenson. September 18, 2018. Delacorte Press, 277 p. ISBN: 9780525580041.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 1130.

In this young adult adaptation of the acclaimed bestselling Just Mercy, Bryan Stevenson delves deep into the broken U.S. justice system, detailing from his personal experience his many challenges and efforts as a lawyer and social advocate, especially on behalf of America’s most rejected and marginalized people.

In this very personal work–proceeds of which will go to charity–Bryan Stevenson recounts many and varied stories of his work as a lawyer in the U.S. criminal justice system on behalf of those in society who have experienced some type of discrimination and/or have been wrongly accused of a crime and who deserve a powerful advocate and due justice under the law.

Through the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), an organization Stevenson founded as a young lawyer and for which he currently serves as Executive Director, this important work continues. EJI strives to end mass incarceration and excessive punishment in the United States, working to protect basic human rights for the most vulnerable people in American society

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Criminal culture, Mild sexual themes, Racism

 

Author Video

Reviews

Booklist starred (September 1, 2018 (Vol. 115, No. 1))
Grades 9-12. Stevenson brought the topic of mass incarceration to the forefront in his critically acclaimed, Carnegie Award–winning Just Mercy​ (2014). In this adaptation for young people, Stevenson once again describes the difficult work he’s faced as a lawyer and founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, based in Mobile, Alabama. As he focuses on the case of Walter McMillian, a poor African American man wrongfully convicted of capital murder, he brings to light alarming racial and socioeconomic disparities in the criminal-justice system, particularly the overwhelming number of poor and black prisoners without adequate legal representation and on death row. The author also weaves in stories of mistreated prisoners with mental illness, female prisoners abused by male guards, and other atrocities. The stories that will resonate most with adolescent readers, however, are those of teens, even as young as 13 and 14, sentenced to life in prison in adult facilities. While calling out needs for prison reform, Stevenson asks readers to consider a just mercy for the prisoners mentioned in the book and those like them. A just mercy would see prisoners as human beings, taking into consideration their often trauma-filled backgrounds, realistic sentences for young teens, and rehabilitative services upon release, among other changes. Classrooms and book groups will find plenty to discuss and debate. Compassionate and compelling, Stevenson’s narrative is also unforgettable.

Kirkus Reviews starred (July 15, 2018)
“Each of us is more than the worst thing we’ve ever done,” proclaims Stevenson’s adaptation for younger audiences of his 2014 New York Times bestseller, a deeply moving collage of true stories dedicated to transforming the U.S. criminal justice system. The story begins in 1983, when 23-year-old Stevenson, a Harvard Law intern, found the moral resolve to join the pro bono defense team of a capital punishment case in Georgia. Throughout his journey, he highlights numerous cases that demonstrate unfair policies and practices throughout our criminal justice system. These examples form an incisive critique of mass incarceration resulting from state and federal policy changes in the late 20th century. He continues to lead the Alabama-headquartered Equal Justice Initiative, whose mission it is to protect basic human rights for the most vulnerable. Stevenson argues that, “The true measure of our character is how we treat the poor, the disfavored, the accused, the incarcerated, and the condemned.” These important stories put a human face on statistics and trends and give us tested strategies to reverse the oppressive consequences of racial and economic injustice in our country. This inspiring book will ignite compassion in young readers and show connections between the history of slavery, Reconstruction, and the present day. This is required reading, embracing the ideals that “we all need mercy, we all need justice, and—perhaps—we all need some measure of unmerited grace.” (notes, index) (Nonfiction. 12-18)

About the Author

Bryan Stevenson is the executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama, and a professor of law at New York University Law School. He has won relief for dozens of condemned prisoners, argued five times before the Supreme Court, and won national acclaim for his work challenging bias against the poor and people of color. He has received numerous awards, including the MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Grant.

Teacher Resources

Just Mercy Discussion Guide

Around the Web

Just Mercy on Amazon

Just Mercy on Barnes & Noble

Just Mercy on Goodreads

Just Mercy Publisher Page