Tag Archives: US history

Sinking the Sultana by Sally M. Walker

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

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

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

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

 

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Reviews

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

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

About the Author

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

Her website is sallymwalker.com

Teacher Resources

Sinking the Sultana Discussion Questions

Sinking the Sultana Teachers’ Guide

Around the Web

Sinking the Sultana on Amazon

Sinking the Sultana on Goodreads

Sinking the Sultana on JLG

Sinking the Sultana Publisher Page

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The Radium Girls by Kate Moore

The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America’s Shining Women by Kate Moore. May 2, 2017. Sourcebooks, 480 p. ISBN: 9781492649359.  Int Lvl: AD; Rdg Lvl: AD; Lexile: 980.

The incredible true story of the women who fought America’s Undark danger.

The Curies’ newly discovered element of radium makes gleaming headlines across the nation as the fresh face of beauty, and wonder drug of the medical community. From body lotion to tonic water, the popular new element shines bright in the otherwise dark years of the First World War.

Meanwhile, hundreds of girls toil amidst the glowing dust of the radium-dial factories. The glittering chemical covers their bodies from head to toe; they light up the night like industrious fireflies. With such a coveted job, these “shining girls” are the luckiest alive – until they begin to fall mysteriously ill.

But the factories that once offered golden opportunities are now ignoring all claims of the gruesome side effects, and the women’s cries of corruption. And as the fatal poison of the radium takes hold, the brave shining girls find themselves embroiled in one of the biggest scandals of America’s early 20th century, and in a groundbreaking battle for workers’ rights that will echo for centuries to come.

Written with a sparkling voice and breakneck pace, The Radium Girls fully illuminates the inspiring young women exposed to the “wonder” substance of radium, and their awe-inspiring strength in the face of almost impossible circumstances. Their courage and tenacity led to life-changing regulations, research into nuclear bombing, and ultimately saved hundreds of thousands of lives…

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language, Mild sexual themes, Clinical description of the results of radium poisoning

 

Book Trailer

Author Interview

Reviews

Booklist starred (March 15, 2017 (Vol. 113, No. 14))
In 1917, the Radium Luminous Materials Corporation willingly employed young women, paid far better than most businesses, and had many enticing perks—including the glow. Radium girls, most in their teens and early twenties, painted watch dials with a luminescent paint mixed with radium dust, which clung to their hair and clothes and produced a telltale glow about them as they walked home each evening. At the time, radium was used in cancer treatments and touted in expensive tonics, so the girls didn’t question smoothing the radium-laden paintbrushes in their mouths, as instructed, or even painting their nails with them. But the women would soon suffer horrific pain and grotesquely shattered bones and teeth, and the company, it would be discovered, had known better. In 1928, just eight years after women had earned the right to vote, a group of former radium girls brought suit against the companies whose knowledge of radium’s hazards, and careless disregard for them, had endangered and harmed them. This timely book celebrates the strength of a group of women whose determination to fight improved both labor laws and scientific knowledge of radium poisoning. English author Moore, who directed a play about the girls, writes in a highly readable, narrative style, and her chronicle of these inspirational women’s lives is sure to provoke discussion—and outrage—in book groups.

Kirkus Reviews (June 1, 2017)
British author Moore (Felix the Railway Cat, 2017) takes a slice of ugly American history from nearly a century ago, telling a compelling narrative that could be ripped from recent headlines.A few years ago, while living in London, the author went online to search for “great plays for women,” and she found These Shining Lives, a play by Melanie Marnich about the radium poisonings and subsequent workplace-related deaths of factory employees, primarily in Ottawa, Illinois, and Newark, New Jersey, in the 1920s and 1930s. Eager to learn more, Moore traveled to the United States to research the deaths. She found two narrowly focused, quasi-academic books about the saga but nothing for general audiences. Deciding to focus on the employers, the United States Radium Corporation in New Jersey and the Radium Dial Company in Illinois, Moore alternates chapters focusing on more than 15 women employed in Newark and a dozen women in Ottawa. Each one of them became sick from their piecework painting numerals on clock faces using a radium-infused radioactive substance that allowed the products to glow in the dark. Many of the employees died while in their 20s and 30s after years of agonizing illnesses. The employers, as well as the scientists and physicians attending to the women, denied liability for the suffering and deaths. At first, the employers claimed that the radium was benign. Later, when the toxicity had been documented, the employers blamed the women workers for careless use even though the women were observing workplace protocols. Moore clearly separates the heroines from the villains throughout this deeply researched book, and she never masks her outrage. A handful of physicians, public health investigators, and lawyers obtained some monetary awards for the victims, but the money was far from sufficient for adequate justice.Moore offers such vivid portraits of suffering that certain passages can be difficult to read, but this is an important story well told.

About the Author

Kate Moore is a New York Times best selling writer with more than a decade’s experience writing and ghosting across varying genres, including memoir, biography, and history. In 2015 she directed a critically acclaimed play about the Radium Girls called ‘These Shining Lives.’ She lives in the UK.

Her website is www.kate-moore.com

Teacher Resources

The Radium Girls Reading Guide

The Radium Girls Discussion Questions

Around the Web

The Radium Girls on Amazon

The Radium Girls on Goodreads

The Radium Girls on JLG

The Radium Girls Publisher Page

A Promising Life by Emily Arnold McCully

A Promising Life: Coming of Age in America by Emily Arnold McCully. July 25, 2017. Arthur A. Levine Books, 304 p. ISBN: 9780439314459.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 770.

For as long as he can remember, Jean Baptiste Charbonneau has been told that a promising future lies ahead of him. After all, his mother is the great Sacagawea, who accompanied Lewis and Clark on their expedition of discovery. And thanks to his mother, Baptiste’s life changes forever when Captain Clark offers him an education in the bustling new city of St. Louis.

There, his mother charges him to “learn everything” – reading, writing, languages, mathematics. His life becomes a whirl of new experiences: lessons, duels, dances, elections. He makes friends and undertakes unexpected journeys to far-off places.

But he also witnesses the injustices Clark, as a US agent for Indian Affairs, forces upon the Osage, the Arikara, the Mandan, and so many others. He sees the effect of what some call “progress” on the land and on the people who have lived there for generations. And he must choose what path he will take and what place he will have in a rapidly changing society.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language; Mild sexual themes

 

Reviews

Kirkus Reviews (May 1, 2017)
Jean Baptiste Charbonneau was born to a Frenchman, Toussaint, and a Shoshone woman, Sakakawea, who assisted Lewis and Clark on their legendary expedition. When Sakakawea’s husband’s post-expedition plans fall through, they decide to leave St. Louis behind, leaving their only son in the nominal care of Capt. Clark, who had offered to adopt the boy. Problem is, Capt. Clark is hundreds of miles away, and Jean is left to attend an all-boys school of “mixed bloods”—children of Native and white parentage. Jean adapts. When Capt. Clark finally makes it back to St. Louis, Jean learns that his place as Clark’s “son” has been taken by Clark’s natural-born newborn son. Though Clark continues to financially support Jean’s education, Jean is left to grow up on his own and becomes further immersed in “white” ways. This narrative distances readers from the harshness of life for Native American children who were forced to attend missionary schools. McCully creates a fictionalized character who interacts with apologetic yet complicit racists, including Clark himself, a slave owner who contributed to the western expansion that destroyed Native American nations. Sakakawea’s voice is muted as she permanently leaves her 7-year-old son behind, only wishing the young child well in his adaptation to the white world. The depth of Sakakawea’s experience is lost, her depiction merely that of a passive captive who lacks any real emotion. A slow read with an emphasis placed on the “benefits” of Jean’s Christianized education and a focus that glosses over the genocide that occurred among Native American people. (Historical fiction. 12-16)

Publishers Weekly (May 15, 2017)
As an infant, Jean Baptiste Charbonneau traveled with his mother, Sakakawea, and father, Toussaint, on Lewis and Clark’s expedition, after which Captain Clark offered to “raise this ‘beautiful and promising child’ as his own son.” McCully (Ida M. Tarbell) provides a fascinating fictionalized history of Baptiste’s life from 1810, when his parents delivered him to Clark’s care in St. Louis, through 1830, when he returned from European travels. His mother’s admonition-“You will have a different life…. White men are spreading their ways everywhere…. Learn!”-guides Baptiste to excel at school while observing America’s turbulent growth: treaties taking land from native tribes, the steamboat bringing “drastic change that favored a few and ruined others,” elections (in which he could not vote), Clark’s ownership and abuse of slaves, and the work of missionaries, blacksmiths, furriers, and adventurers. “I will always be pulled in two directions, an educated man of Shoshone and French blood, on the outside looking in,” Baptiste reflects. A tumultuous period in American history comes alive through the eyes of this compelling protagonist. Ages 12-up.

About the Author

Emily Arnold McCully was born left-handed in Galesburg, Illinois. She was a dare-devil tree-climber and ball-player who loved to write stories and illustrate them. Her family moved to New York City and then to a suburb, where she attended school. After college at Brown University, she earned a Master’s degree at Columbia University in art history. She worked as a freelance illustrator for magazines, advertisements and book publishers until a radio station commissioned a series of posters showing children playing. The first appeared in subway cars, where it was seen by a children’s book editor. It launched a long career, first as an illustrator, then as author/illustrator of picture books. McCully won a Caldecott Medal in 1993. She has two grown sons, one grandson and lives in New York City and Columbia County, N.Y., where she grows flowers and vegetables.

Her website is emilyarnoldmccully.com

Around the Web

A Promising Life on Amazon

A Promising Life on Goodreads

A Promising Life on JLG

A Promising Life Publisher Page

The Factory Girls by Christine Seifert

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

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

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

Potentially Sensitive Areas: None

 

Reviews

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

About the Author

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

Her website is christineseifert.com

Teacher Resources

Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire Resources & Lesson Plans

Around the Web

The Factory Girls on Amazon

The Factory Girls on Goodreads

The Factory Girls on JLG

The Factory Girls Publisher Page

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

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

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

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Violence, Racism, Antisemitism

 

Reviews

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

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

 

About the Author

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

Her website is deborahkops.com

Teacher Resources

Women’s Suffrage Lesson Plans

Around the Web

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

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

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

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

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

The Whydah by Martin W. Sandler

The Whydah: A Pirate Ship Feared, Wrecked, and Found by Martin W. Sandler. March 14, 2017. Candlewick, 176 p. ISBN: 978076368036.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 7.7.

The exciting true story of the captaincy, wreck, and discovery of the Whydah — the only pirate ship ever found — and the incredible mysteries it revealed.

The 1650s to the 1730s marked the golden age of piracy, when fearsome pirates like Blackbeard ruled the waves, seeking not only treasure but also large and fast ships to carry it. The Whydah was just such a ship, built to ply the Triangular Trade route, which it did until one of the greediest pirates of all, Black Sam Bellamy, commandeered it. Filling the ship to capacity with treasure, Bellamy hoped to retire with his bounty — but in 1717 the ship sank in a storm off Cape Cod. For more than two hundred years, the wreck of the Whydah (and the riches that went down with it) eluded treasure seekers, until the ship was finally found in 1984 by marine archaeologists. The artifacts brought up from the ocean floor are priceless, both in value and in the picture they reveal of life in that much-mythologized era, changing much of what we know about pirates.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language; Violence; Harsh realities of slavery and the slave trade; Murder

 

Reviews

Booklist (March 1, 2017 (Vol. 113, No. 13))
Grades 6-9. In December 1716, pirates led by Sam Bellamy captured the Whydah, a large, fast, and heavily armed slave ship. Loaded with treasure, it was a rich prize. Four months later, it sank in a storm off Cape Cod. In the 1980s, a team searching for the Whydah located the wreck on the ocean floor and began bringing the ship’s bell, cannons, gold bars, coins, and other artifacts to the surface. Just as intriguing as the ship’s story is Sandler’s description of the causes and practices of piracy. While acknowledging that pirates deserve their reputation for barbarous cruelty, he praises their spirit of democracy, noting that their captains were elected and all crew members, regardless of race or ethnicity, had an equal vote in decisions. The black-and-white illustrations include archival prints, maps, and documents as well as photos of the excavation process and the objects recovered. Though the text branches into side issues at times, Sandler’s broad research and his evident fascination with the subject result in a multifaceted story that many readers will find rewarding.

Kirkus Reviews (January 15, 2017)
Sandler tells the exciting true story of the only wrecked pirate ship ever found and the mysteries it revealed. Commissioned in 1715 in London and christened the Whydah after the West African slave-trading kingdom of Ouidah, the vessel was a galley ship configured as a heavily armed trading and transport ship for the Atlantic slave trade. In February 1717, the Whydah was attacked by pirates under the command of “Black Sam” Bellamy, who made the vessel his flagship. Bellamy and his newly captured ship menaced the coastlines of Colonial America until it was wrecked two months after capture in a nor’easter along the shoals of Cape Cod. The treasure-laden wreck was found in 1984 by marine archaeologists, and Sandler explains that 30 years of expeditions have “resulted in the discovery and retrieval of thousands of artifacts that increase our knowledge of the Whydah’s history and dramatically alter our perception of pirates and their way of life.” Sandler offers an insightful look at how different the realities of pirate life were compared to how it has been mythologized in popular culture. Instead of finding eye patches, wooden legs, rum bottles, and parrot remains, archaeologists discovered artifacts such as medical syringes, surprising for “an age when medical knowledge and practice were primitive at best.” A fascinating, vivid look at what one shipwreck reveals about the realities of the “Golden Age of Piracy.” (maps, 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

National Geographic Video:

The Whydah Lesson Plan

Around the Web

The Whydah on Amazon

The Whydah on Goodreads

The Whydah on JLG

The Whydah Publisher Page

Loving vs. Virginia by Patricia Hruby Powell

Loving vs. Virginia: A Documentary Novel of the Landmark Civil Rights Case by Patricia Hruby Powell. January 31, 2017. Chronicle Books, 260 p. ISBN: 9781452125909.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 720.

From acclaimed author Patricia Hruby Powell comes the story of a landmark civil rights case, told in spare and gorgeous verse. In 1955, in Caroline County, Virginia, amidst segregation and prejudice, injustice and cruelty, two teenagers fell in love. Their life together broke the law, but their determination would change it. Richard and Mildred Loving were at the heart of a Supreme Court case that legalized marriage between races, and a story of the devoted couple who faced discrimination, fought it, and won.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language; Violence; Mild sexual themes; Racism and racist language

 

Reviews

Booklist starred (November 15, 2016 (Vol. 113, No. 6))
Grades 7-10. Readers meet sixth-grader Mildred Jeter, known to her family as String Bean, walking to school in 1952. Descended from African slaves and Indians, the kids in the Jeter family attend segregated schools, though in their small, racially mixed rural Virginia community, all enjoy music and square dancing together. Richard Loving enters her life as a white friend of her older brothers. As the years go by and Mildred grows up, the couple’s story becomes one of love, courtship, marriage, tribulation, and triumph. The local sheriff hauls them off to jail in 1958 for violating a statute prohibiting interracial marriage. After court battles, the law is overturned in the landmark 1967 Supreme Court decision known as Loving v. Virginia. Written in free verse, Powell’s novel unfolds in a series of concise, evocative first-person narratives alternating between Richard and Mildred. Placing their personal stories within the broader context of the major events of the civil rights movement happening at the time, occasional sections feature archival photos as well as significant quotes. Powell’s thorough research includes 10 interviews. Not seen in final form, Strickland’s expressive illustrations draw on a mid-twentieth-century style. Fine, dramatic storytelling in a memorable verse format.

Kirkus Reviews starred (November 1, 2016)
A powerful and riveting account of an American couple in love when that love was ruled illegal in many American states.In the early 1950s a boy and a girl in rural Virginia fell in love and got married. Her family was “descended / from African slaves. / And their owners.” He was white. Their love was scorned and against the law in their state. The couple, Mildred and Richard Loving, alternate and sometimes join together to tell their stories in beautifully rendered free verse. Love, children, marriage, jail, flight to Washington, D.C., long court battles, and final unanimous vindication in 1967 from the Warren Supreme Court fill the pages, detailing every particle of their strong feelings for each other and the equally strong bigotry of the local sheriff and state judicial system. Full-page photographs of school segregation and civil rights demonstrations clearly set the time frame. Excerpts from court decisions, period headlines, and quotations from Dr. King strengthen the learning curve for readers. Strickland’s blue-, gray-, and yellow-toned illustrations have a strong retro feel and tenderly reinforce the written words. A song of love vs. a cacophony of hate—all in a beautiful model of bookmaking. (timeline, bibliography, credits and sources) (Historical verse fiction. 11-18)

About the Author

Patricia Hruby Powell’s previous book, Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker, won a Sibert Honor for Nonfiction, a Coretta Scott King Honor, and five starred reviews. She lives in Illinois with her husband and tree walker hound, Lil.

Her website is talesforallages.com.

Teacher Resources

The Loving Story from Teaching Tolerance

Loving vs. Virginia Teaching Guide

Around the Web

Loving vs. Virginia on Amazon

Loving vs. Virginia on Goodreads

Loving vs. Virginia on JLG

Loving vs. Virginia Publisher Page

The Spy Who Couldn’t Spell by Yudhijit Bhattacharjee

The Spy Who Couldn’t Spell: A Dyslexic Traitor, an Unbreakable Code, and the FBI’s Hunt for America’s Stolen Secrets by Yudhijit Bhattacharjee. November 1, 2016. Berkley, 304 p. ISBN: 9781592409006.  Int Lvl: AD; Rdg Lvl: AD; Lexile: 1200.

The thrilling, true-life account of the FBI’s hunt for the ingenious traitor Brian Regan—known as the Spy Who Couldn’t Spell.

Before Edward Snowden’s infamous data breach, the largest theft of government secrets was committed by an ingenious traitor whose intricate espionage scheme and complex system of coded messages were made even more baffling by his dyslexia. His name is Brian Regan, but he came to be known as The Spy Who Couldn’t Spell.

In December of 2000, FBI Special Agent Steven Carr of the bureau’s Washington, D.C., office received a package from FBI New York: a series of coded letters from an anonymous sender to the Libyan consulate, offering to sell classified United States intelligence. The offer, and the threat, were all too real. A self-proclaimed CIA analyst with top secret clearance had information about U.S. reconnaissance satellites, air defense systems, weapons depots, munitions factories, and underground bunkers throughout the Middle East.

Rooting out the traitor would not be easy, but certain clues suggested a government agent with a military background, a family, and a dire need for money. Leading a diligent team of investigators and code breakers, Carr spent years hunting down a dangerous spy and his cache of stolen secrets.

In this fast-paced true-life spy thriller, Yudhijit Bhattacharjee reveals how the FBI unraveled Regan’s strange web of codes to build a case against a man who nearly collapsed America’s military security.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language

 

Book Trailer

Author Interview

Reviews

Booklist (September 15, 2016 (Vol. 113, No. 2))
In his first book, Bhattacharjee, who writes for Science, the New York Times, and the Atlantic, will leave readers wondering whether classified information from the U.S. government is always vulnerable to being sold, for the right price. Before Edward Snowden’s data breaching or Julian Assange’s WikiLeaks, Brian Regan, a former American intelligence specialist, committed one of the most massive acts of espionage in American history, by selling U.S. classified and secret information to foreign governments. But, because Regan was arrested shortly before September 11, 2001, Bhattacharjee argues, his extraordinary story has never fully been told. Bhattacharjee now writes the true tale of the dyslexic man who became known as “the spy who couldn’t spell” and the FBI special agent who, along with a team of experts, identified Regan’s illegal activities, tracked his steps, and broke into his coded messages and letters (which were often riddled with misspellings). Readers interested in spy thrillers, cybercryptology, and the history of U.S. espionage will find this book to be both entertaining and helpful in understanding today’s complex landscape of leaked classified information.

Publishers Weekly (September 19, 2016)
Journalist Bhattacharjee skillfully touches all the bases in recounting the story of Brian Regan, who pilfered reams of top secret information from his job at the National Reconnaissance Office and offered to sell them to foreign governments. Regan stole more secrets than Edward Snowden would over a decade later, but few have heard of him because he was quickly caught and imprisoned. Bhattacharjee covers Regan’s unsatisfactory life. He was mired in debt and unpopular at the NRO. In 1999, after studying the techniques of other spies, Regan concocted a bizarre scheme. The result: in 2000 the Libyan consulate received three separate letters containing a sample of secret documents and pages of codes that, when deciphered, described his offer. Sadly for Regan, an informant forwarded them to the FBI, who soon identified him through bad spelling and several clumsy errors. Regan’s arrest was straightforward. Far more difficult was recovering his immense buried cache of documents and other materials, because he had forgotten many of the complex codes needed to locate them. Readers may skim the explanations of Regan’s codes, but they will thoroughly enjoy this fast-moving account of a failed spy who, despite his incompetence, easily filched thousands of secrets.

About the Author

Yudhijit Bhattacharjee is an award-winning writer whose features and essays on espionage, cybercrime, science and medicine have appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, National Geographic, Wired and other U.S. magazines. Yudhijit spent 11 years as a staff writer at the weekly journal Science, writing about neuroscience, astronomy and a variety of other topics in research and science policy. His work has been anthologized in the Best American Science and Nature Writing series. Yudhijit has an undergraduate degree from the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, and a master’s in journalism from The Ohio State University. He lives in a suburb of Washington, D.C., with his wife, his two children and a big red dog.

His website is www.yudhijit.com.

Around the Web

The Spy Who Couldn’t Spell on Amazon

The Spy Who Couldn’t Spell on Goodreads

The Spy Who Couldn’t Spell on JLG

The Spy Who Couldn’t Spell Publisher Page

Dive! World War II Stories of Sailors & Submarines in the Pacific by Deborah Hopkinson

Dive! World War II Stories of Sailors & Submarines in the Pacific by Deborah Hopkinson. September 27, 2016. Scholastic Press, 384p. ISBN: 9780545425582.  Int Lvl: 3-6; Rdg Lvl: 7.7; Lexile: 1090.

Dive! World War II Stories of Sailors & Submarines in the Pacific tells the incredible story of America’s little known “war within a war” — US submarine warfare during World War II.

Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, the US entered World War II in December 1941 with only 44 Naval submarines — many of them dating from the 1920s. With the Pacific battleship fleet decimated after Pearl Harbor, it was up to the feisty and heroic sailors aboard the US submarines to stop the Japanese invasion across the Pacific.

Including breakouts highlighting submarine life and unsung African-American and female war heroes, award-winning author Deborah Hopkinson uses first-person accounts, archival materials, official Naval documents, and photographs to bring the voices and exploits of these brave service members to life.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Violent images and imagery; Harsh realities of war

 

Author Interview

Reviews

Booklist starred (June 1, 2016 (Vol. 112, No. 19))
Grades 5-8. Hopkinson’s gripping account of submarine warfare in the Pacific during WWII begins with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, as told through the eyes of 15-year-old Martin Matthews, who lied about his age to enlist in the U.S. Navy. As battleships were repaired, undamaged submarines with torpedoes became lone raiders in a vast ocean, decimating Japanese ships and cutting off lines of supply. Although Hopkinson (Courage & Defiance, 2015) continues her tried-and-true format of revealing history through firsthand accounts—ranging from a submariner and communications officer to an admiral and rescued nurse—she keeps it fresh with harrowing near misses, attacks, accidents, and rescues. Readers wait anxiously alongside crew members amid silence and dangerous heat and oxygen levels as the submariners narrowly escape enemy detection or brace for depth charge explosions that rattle bones, fray nerves, and signal possible death. An abundance of archival photos provide visual references, while short asides fill in gaps on such submarine-related topics as the treatment of African American crew members, the modern integration of female officers into the Submarine Force, and on-board living conditions—from bathrooms to ice-cream machines. Copious back matter provides even more facts and figures. With a fascinating blend of submarine mechanics and tales of courage, readers will dive in deep.

Kirkus Reviews starred (July 1, 2016)
Hopkinson’s writing plumbs the depths in relating the undersea exploits of American submariners during World War II. “The U.S. Navy fought the Pacific Ocean phase of World War II on a liquid chessboard,” according to Adm. Bernard A. Clarey, and while sailors and battleships island-hopped across the Pacific, the “Silent Service” of gallant submariners lurked below the surface, facing what naval historian Theodore Roscoe called “the overwhelming forces of the Unknown.” With an emphasis on first-person accounts—such as that of 15-year-old Martin Matthews, a young white man who lied about his age and joined the Navy just in time to be on the Arizona during the attack on Pearl Harbor—Hopkinson crafts a gripping narrative. It’s supplemented with three types of interspersed text: “briefings” with information about the war (including a section on African-American submariners), “dispatches” offering stories of interest and first-person accounts, and “submarine school,” about submarines and submariners. Numerous dramatic black-and-white photographs offer a parallel visual story. Told chronologically, from Pearl Harbor through the end of the war, with frequent news reports from above the surface, such as engrossing accounts of Bataan and Corregidor, the fascinating volume serves as a solid history of the war in the Pacific. Extensive backmatter includes a glossary, a timeline, facts and statistics about submarines, and links to resources. Fascinating World War II history for history buffs and browsers alike. (epilogue, bibliography, source notes) (Nonfiction. 8-14)

About the Author

Deborah Hopkinson is as award-winning of picture books, fiction, and nonfiction for young readers. In 2013 she received a Robert F. Sibert Honor and YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction Award honor for Titanic: Voices from the Disaster.

She has won the SCBWI Golden Kite Award for Picture Book Text twice, for A Band of Angels and Apples to Oregon. Sky Boys, How They Built the Empire State Building, was a Boston Globe/Horn Book Honor awardee. She lives near Portland, Oregon.

Her website is www.deborahhopkinson.com.

Teacher Resources

Submarines Lesson Plans

WWII Pacific Theater Lesson Plans from The National WWII Museum

WWII: The Pacific Lesson Plans

Around the Web

Dive! World War II Stories of Sailors & Submarines in the Pacific on Amazon

Dive! World War II Stories of Sailors & Submarines in the Pacific on Goodreads

Dive! World War II Stories of Sailors & Submarines in the Pacific on JLG

Dive! World War II Stories of Sailors & Submarines in the Pacific Publisher Page