Tag Archives: US history

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

 

The March Against Fear by Ann Bausum

The March Against Fear: The Last Great Walk of the Civil Rights Movement and the Emergence of Black Power by Ann Bausum. January 3, 2017. National Geographic Children’s Books, 144 p. ISBN: 9781426326660.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 1140.

James Meredith’s 1966 march in Mississippi began as one man’s peaceful protest for voter registration and became one of the South’s most important demonstrations of the civil rights movement. It brought together leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. and Stokely Carmichael, who formed an unlikely alliance that resulted in the Black Power movement, which ushered in a new era in the fight for equality.

The retelling of Meredith’s story opens on the day of his assassination attempt and goes back in time to recount the moments leading up to that event and its aftermath. Readers learn about the powerful figures and emerging leaders who joined the over 200-mile walk that became known as the “March Against Fear.”

Thoughtfully presented by award-winning author Ann Bausum, this book helps readers understand the complex issues of fear, injustice, and the challenges of change. It is a history lesson that’s as important and relevant today as it was 50 years ago.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Violence; Racism and racist epithets; Violent images; Harsh realities of slavery

 

Reviews

Booklist (December 1, 2016 (Vol. 113, No. 7))
Grades 9-12. Ask typical high-school students about the American civil rights movement, and many will mention Martin Luther King Jr. and his “I Have a Dream” speech. What they may not be so familiar with are the other influential individuals and momentous events that shaped the cause. This account of 1966’s 200-mile freedom march from Memphis to Jackson, Mississippi, written in accessible language and peppered with quotes and period photos that bring the action alive, tells how this momentous effort, initiated by James Meredith, united the five factions of the civil rights movement: the Southern Christian Leadership Conference; the Congress of Racial Equality; the National Urban League; the NAACP; and Stokely Carmichael of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. Chronological coverage conveys the fear and danger participants faced and documents Carmichael’s first use of the term black power. The brief chapters build on one another, creating a complete picture for readers with limited background knowledge. This compelling account will be equally engaging for classroom resource material or individual research.

Publishers Weekly (November 7, 2016)
In a powerful and timely book, Bausum (Stonewall) focuses her attention on the last great march of the civil rights era, the March Against Fear, from Memphis, Tenn., to Jackson, Miss., in June 1966. Initiated by James Meredith in an effort to make Mississippi a less fearful place for black Americans, the march swelled to 15,000 people and resulted in 4,000 black Mississippian voter registrations; it also splintered the major civil rights organizations of the day and gave rise to Stokely Carmichael’s Black Power movement. Bausum dissects these internal divisions with great sensitivity, lauding Martin Luther King Jr.’s peacemaking powers while illuminating the conditions that provoked others to more confrontational protest. Abundant details disclose the extent of segregation and racism, the pivotal role of law enforcement authorities, and how fraught protecting the marchers could be: state troopers used tear gas and physical assault to “suppress an act of racial defiance” when marchers tried to pitch their tents on public land. This exemplary look into civil rights history concludes with perspective and encouragement regarding ongoing struggles for social change. Archival photos and source notes are included. Ages 12-up. (Jan.)

About the Author

Ann Bausum writes about U.S. history for young people from her home in Beloit, Wisconsin. Her 2007 book Muckrakers earned the Golden Kite Award as best nonfiction book of the year from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Freedom Riders (2006) gained Sibert Honor designation from the American Library Association and With Courage and Cloth (2004) received the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award as the year’s best book on social justice issues for older readers. In addition, Ann has written about the nation’s chief executives and their spouses — Our Country’s Presidents (2005, 2nd edition) and Our Country’s First Ladies (2007) — as well as the intrepid explorer Roy Chapman Andrews (Dragon Bones and Dinosaur Eggs, 2000).

Her website is www.AnnBausum.com.

Teacher Resources

50th Anniversary of the March Against Fear

James Meredith Talks  about his 1966 March Against Fear

When Youth Protest

Around the Web

The March Against Fear on Amazon

The March Against Fear on JLG

The March Against Fear on Goodreads

 

How to Build a Museum by Tonya Bolden

How to Build a Museum: Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture by Tonya Bolden. September 6, 2016. Viking Books for Young Reader, 64 p. ISBN: 9780451476371.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 8.9; Lexile 1150.

Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture is truly groundbreaking!

The first national museum whose mission is to illuminate for all people, the rich, diverse, complicated, and important experiences and contributions of African Americans in America is opening.
And the history of NMAAHC–the last museum to be built on the National Mall–is the history of America.

The campaign to set up a museum honoring black citizens is nearly 100 years old; building the museum itelf and assembling its incredibly far-reaching collections is a modern story that involves all kinds of people, from educators and activists, to politicians, architects, curators, construction workers, and ordinary Americans who donated cherished belongings to be included in NMAAHC’s thematically-organized exhibits.

Award-winning author Tonya Bolden has written a fascinating chronicle of how all of these ideas, ambitions, and actual objects came together in one incredible museum. Includes behind-the-scenes photos of literally “how to build a museum” that holds everything from an entire segregated railroad car to a tiny West African amulet worn to ward off slave traders.

 

Reviews

Booklist (September 15, 2016 (Vol. 113, No. 2))
Grades 6-9. The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, opening on September 24, 2016, represents the fulfillment of a dream that took hold 100 years ago among a group of black Civil War veterans. After introducing the new museum’s director, this handsome book outlines the project’s history, the institution’s goals, and the design and building of a suitable home near the Washington Monument. The museum’s staff faced the challenge of assembling a large collection of suitable objects “from scratch.” Many items were donated, while others were purchased. Beautifully designed, the book’s intriguing color photos shine from the bright pages. These illustrations include photos showing the museum’s construction and many spotlighting noteworthy photographs, documents, and artifacts, such as a black soldier’s powder horn from the American Revolution, a railway passenger car from the Jim Crow era, a biplane flown by the Tuskegee Airmen, the ensemble worn by Marian Anderson at her Lincoln Memorial performance, and an Obama campaign banner. A well-organized and informative book introducing this significant new historical center.

Kirkus Reviews (September 1, 2016)
An account of how the “hundred-year hope” for a National Museum of African American History and Culture came to fruition, with glimpses of the new institution’s treasures.  Bolden looks past most of the friction and politics to focus on the heroically sustained effort to make this museum a reality—a campaign that began during a huge reunion of Civil War veterans in 1915 and at last reached the groundbreaking stage at a site near the Washington Monument in 2012 (this volume is scheduled to coincide with the building’s planned opening in September 2016). Along with discussing the ins and outs of designing, creating, and staffing a new museum of this magnitude, the author describes how the curators went about soliciting and gathering a collection of national stature. That collection ranges from an entire segregated railway car from the 1920s and a shawl worn by Harriet Tubman to “documents, dolls, diaries, books, balls, bells, benches, medals, medallions, and more.” In a second section organized along historical and topical lines, big, clear photos of some of these rarities, with explanatory captions, offer insight not only into the diversity of the museum’s holdings, but also into its broader mission to “drive home the point that black history is everybody’s history.” An inspiring tale as well as a tantalizing invitation to visit one of our country’s newest “must see” attractions. (source notes) (Nonfiction. 10-13)

About the Author

Author and publisher Tonya Wilyce Bolden was born on March 1, 1959, in New York City to Georgia Bolden, a homemaker, and Willie Bolden, a garment center shipping manager. Bolden grew up in Harlem in a musical family and loved to read; she attended Public M.E.S. 146, an elementary school in Manhattan, and then graduated from the Chapin School, a private secondary school, in Manhattan in 1976. Bolden attended Princeton University in New Jersey, and, in 1981, obtained her B.A. degree in Slavic languages and literature with a Russian focus. Bolden was also a University Scholar and received the Nicholas Bachko, Jr. Scholarship Prize.

Upon graduating from Princeton University, Bolden began working as a salesperson for Charles Alan, Incorporated, a dress manufacturer, while working towards her M.A. degree at Columbia University. In 1985, Bolden earned her degree in Slavic languages and literature, as well as a Certificate for Advanced Study of the Soviet Union from the Harriman Institute; after this she began working as an office coordinator for Raoulfilm, Inc., assisting in the research and development of various film and literary products. Bolden worked as an English instructor at Malcolm-King College and New Rochelle School of New Resources while serving as newsletter editor of the HARKline, a homeless shelter newsletter.

In 1990, Bolden wrote her first book, The Family Heirloom Cookbook. In 1992, Bolden co-authored a children’s book entitled Mama, I Want To Sing along with Vy Higginsen, based on Higginsen’s musical. Bolden continued publishing throughout the 1990s, releasing Starting a Business from your Home, Mail-Order and Direct Response, The Book of African-American Women: 150 Crusaders, Creators, and Uplifters, And Not Afraid to Dare: The Stories of Ten African-American Women, American Patriots: The Story of Blacks in the Military from the Revolution to Desert Storm and The Champ. Bolden became editor of the Quarterly Black Review of Books in 1994, and served as an editor for 33 Things Every Girl Should Know, in 1998. Bolden’s writing career became even more prolific in the following decade; a partial list of her works include:, Our Souls: A Celebration of Black American Artists, Maritcha: A Nineteenth Century American Girl, MLK: Journey of a King, Take-Off: American All-Girl Bands During World War II, and George Washington Carver, a book she authored in conjunction with an exhibit about the famous African American inventor created by The Field Museum in Chicago.

Her website is www.tonyaholdenbooks.com.

Teacher Resources

Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture

National Museum of African American History and Culture Video Tour via CNN

Around the Web

How to Bulid a Museum on Amazon

How to Bulid a Museum on JLG

How to Bulid a Museum on Goodreads

 

To Stay Alive by Skila Brown

To Stay Alive: Mary Ann Graves and the Tragic Journey of the Donner Party by Skila Brown. October 11, 2016. Candlewick, 304 p. ISBN: 9780763678111.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 5.3; Lexile: 860.

Told in riveting, keenly observed poetry, a moving first-person narrative as experienced by a young survivor of the tragic Donner Party of 1846.

The journey west by wagon train promises to be long and arduous for nineteen-year-old Mary Ann Graves and her parents and eight siblings. Yet she is hopeful about their new life in California: freedom from the demands of family, maybe some romance, better opportunities for all. But when winter comes early to the Sierra Nevada and their group gets a late start, the Graves family, traveling alongside the Donner and Reed parties, must endure one of the most harrowing and storied journeys in American history. Amid the pain of loss and the constant threat of death from starvation or cold, Mary Ann’s is a narrative, told beautifully in verse, of a girl learning what it means to be part of a family, to make sacrifices for those we love, and above all to persevere.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Domestic violence; Death; Murder; Cannibalism; Harsh realities of surviving in the wilderness

 

Book Trailer

Reviews

Booklist (September 15, 2016 (Vol. 113, No. 2))
Grades 6-9. Their land sold, livestock traded, and belongings bundled into groaning wagons, the Graves family has 1,900 miles to go. It’s spring 1846, and Franklin and Elizabeth Graves—along with their nine children—are headed west, trekking from their home in Lacon, Illinois, to Sutter’s Fort, California. Months into the expedition, the family merges with the Donner and Reed parties; there’s strength in numbers, and the Hastings Cutoff, a route south of the Great Salt Lake, is rumored to chop weeks from the increasingly backbreaking journey. That is, until winter falls early, notoriously trapping the families “less than one hundred miles” from their intended destination. In this concise collection of narrative poetry, Brown assumes the voice of 19-year-old Mary Ann Graves, nimbly straddling the unfathomably harsh realities of travel, starvation, and bloodshed through the imagined musings of a headstrong girl entranced by quilts, birds, and the beauty of the moon. With her refreshingly varied form and ever-earnest tone, Brown weaves a compelling story of suffering, sacrifice, and survival.

Kirkus Reviews (August 15, 2016)
A fictional account of the Donner Party’s ill-fated attempt to cross the Sierra Nevada in 1846.Looking for a better life in California, Franklin Graves decides to take his large family west from Illinois. Nineteen-year-old Mary Ann relates in verse their experiences on the wagon trail as they meet up with other families, including the Donners, and are eventually trapped in the mountains during a brutal winter. The historical Mary Ann Graves survived the ordeal, and her letters to a newspaper editor form the basis for the novel’s details. Across four seasons, Brown uses words and form effectively to evoke the hopeful idealism, love, joy, and life-or-death terror they feel along the way. Words scatter and shake across the page “Inside the Wagon.” As Franklin looks upon the Great Salt Lake, “a gloom of sour surrounds him.” Short verses over several pages depict the drawn-out anguish of the starving, desperate travelers. The trip’s horrific end is foreshadowed in “The Sound of Meat” when the last of the beef is gone and one man responds to a snapping branch: “He almost shot Charles / thinking he was food.” An author’s note puts the story in historical context, including the difference in the points of view of the white pioneers and the Native Americans whose land they were trespassing on. A solid introduction to a somber episode in American history. (dramatis personae) (Historical verse/fiction. 11-15)

About the Author

Skila Brown has an MFA in writing for children and young adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She has visited Guatemala numerous times in the last decade. She lives in Indiana with her husband and their three children.

Her website is www.skilabrown.com.

Teacher Resources

Donner Party & Westward Expansion Lesson Plan

Donner Party Full Documentary

Around the Web

To Stay Alive on Amazon

To Stay Alive on JLG

To Stay Alive on Goodreads

 

Fannie Never Flinched by Mary Cronk Farrell

Fannie Never Flinched: One Woman’s Courage in the Struggle for American Labor Union Rights by Mary Cronk Farrell. November 1, 2016. Harry N. Abrams, 56 p. ISBN: 9781419718847.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 7.3; Lexile: 1020.

Fannie Sellins (1872–1919) lived during the Gilded Age of American Industrialization, when the Carnegies and Morgans wore jewels while their laborers wore rags. Fannie dreamed that America could achieve its ideals of equality and justice for all, and she sacrificed her life to help that dream come true. Fannie became a union activist, helping to create St. Louis, Missouri, Local 67 of the United Garment Workers of America. She traveled the nation and eventually gave her life, calling for fair wages and decent working and living conditions for workers in both the garment and mining industries. Her accomplishments live on today.

This book includes an index, glossary, a timeline of unions in the United States, and endnotes.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Violence; Murder; Anti-Semitism

 

Book Trailer

Reviews

Booklist starred (October 15, 2016 (Vol. 113, No. 4))
Grades 5-8. The author may be addressing this stirring story of early union activist Fannie Sellins (1872–1919) to middle-schoolers, but the rigor of her approach yields a book with solid scholarly features: a non-condescending glossary, a time line for historical context, recommendations for further reading, and a helpful index. In 1902, Sellins was a widowed mother of four working in a St. Louis sweatshop to support her family when she first heard about the United Garment Workers of America, then in its infancy. She helped to organize her fellow seamstresses, most of whom were recent immigrants working 10 to 14 hours 6 days a week for the grand sum of $5 ($145 in today’s currency), into Ladies’ Local 67. The threat of a strike resulted in a grudging doubling of wages, and within a few years Sellins was traveling to hot spots around the country to spread the word. She ultimately landed in Pennsylvania coal country, the site of egregious abuses, where her fervor proved fatal: pegged as an agitator, she was shot in the back while trying to herd children away from a melee. Her story, richly illustrated with vintage photographs and documents, fairly leaps off the page, driving home the message that the work she fought for is far from over.

Kirkus Reviews (September 1, 2016)
Farrell chronicles Fannie Sellins’ life as a garment worker, organizer, and martyr for workers’ rights at the turn of the 20th century.After Fannie’s husband died, leaving her with four children, she sewed in a St. Louis sweatshop. Women and girls worked 10 to 14 hours daily, six days a week, locked in deafening factories where tuberculosis ran rampant. Hearing of the United Garment Workers of America’s successes elsewhere, Fannie began organizing co-workers during breaks. In 1902, she helped form the Ladies Local 67 of the UGWA. In 1909, a worker’s punishment engendered a walkout, a lockout, a strike, and a boycott. As the local’s president, Sellins traveled on the workers’ behalf, raising strike fund money in union halls and successfully advancing the boycott. Next, Sellins helped coal miners fight brutal owners in West Virginia, where she was arrested and jailed. Organizing in western Pennsylvania, she was murdered during a fight between strikers and armed deputies. Farrell’s text and annotated timeline demonstrate that the early struggle for fair wages, hours, and benefits was rife with setbacks and bloodshed, as owners, government officials, and law enforcement colluded to break strikes and unions. Acknowledging the paucity of material on Sellins, Farrell includes well-captioned period photos and primary documents that deepen readers’ context for the workers’ exploitation and resistance. A cogent, well-documented, handsomely designed treatment of a heretofore forgotten hero of labor. (author’s note, glossary, timeline, quotation notes, sources, websites, bibliography) (Nonfiction. 10-14)

About the Author

I’m an award-winning author of Children’s/YA books and former journalist with a passion for stories about people facing great adversity with courage. Writing such stories has shown me that in our darkest moments we have the opportunity to discover our true identity and follow an inner compass toward the greater good.

Both my fiction and non-fiction titles feature little-known true stories of history based on thorough research. Most include an author’s note, bibliography and further resources, but they are not dry, scholarly tomes! Confronting grief, adversity and failure in my own life, enables me to write stories with an authentic emotional core.

My books have been named Notable Social Studies Book for Young People, SPUR Award for Best Juvenile Fiction about the American West, Bank Street College List of Best Children’s Books, and NY Public Library Best Books for Teens. My journalistic work has received numerous awards for excellence from the Society of Professional Journalists and two Emmy nominations.

Her website is www.marycronkfarrell.net.

Teacher Resources

American Labor Studies Center Labor History Lesson Plans

Fannie Sellins Labor Marker & Biography Video

Around the Web

Fannie Never Flinched on Amazon

Fannie Never Flinched  on JLG

Fannie Never Flinched  on Goodreads

 

American Heiress by Jeffrey Toobin

American Heiress: the Wild Saga of the Kidnapping, Crimes, and Trial of Patty Hearst by Jeffrey Toobin. August 2, 2016. Doubleday, 384 p. ISBN: 9780385536714.  Int Lvl: AD; Rdg Lvl: AD; Lexile 1110.

On February 4, 1974, Patty Hearst, a sophomore in college and heiress to the Hearst family fortune, was kidnapped by a ragtag group of self-styled revolutionaries calling itself the Symbionese Liberation Army. The already sensational story took the first of many incredible twists on April 3, when the group released a tape of Patty saying she had joined the SLA and had adopted the nom de guerre “Tania.”

The weird turns of the tale are truly astonishing—the Hearst family trying to secure Patty’s release by feeding all the people of Oakland and San Francisco for free; the bank security cameras capturing “Tania” wielding a machine gun during a robbery; a cast of characters including everyone from Bill Walton to the Black Panthers to Ronald Reagan to F. Lee Bailey; the largest police shoot-out in American history; the first breaking news event to be broadcast live on television stations across the country; Patty’s year on the lam, running from authorities; and her circus-like trial, filled with theatrical courtroom confrontations and a dramatic last-minute reversal, after which the term “Stockholm syndrome” entered the lexicon.

The saga of Patty Hearst highlighted a decade in which America seemed to be suffering a collective nervous breakdown. Based on more than a hundred interviews and thousands of previously secret documents, American Heiress thrillingly recounts the craziness of the times (there were an average of 1,500 terrorist bombings a year in the early 1970s). Toobin portrays the lunacy of the half-baked radicals of the SLA and the toxic mix of sex, politics, and violence that swept up Patty Hearst and re-creates her melodramatic trial. American Heiress examines the life of a young woman who suffered an unimaginable trauma and then made the stunning decision to join her captors’ crusade.

Or did she?

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Strong language; Racial taunts; Violence; Strong sexual themes; Drugs; Alcohol; Criminal culture

 

Author Interview

Reviews

Booklist starred (July 2016 (Vol. 112, No. 21))
On February 4, 1974, two women and one man burst into the Berkeley, California, apartment that Patricia Hearst, heir to the fortune of newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, shared with her fiancé, Steven Weed. They clubbed Weed and dragged a thrashing, screaming, 19-year-old Hearst into the trunk of their car. This was the start of a prolonged, violent, and sometimes absurd cross-country odyssey that led from cramped, filthy safe houses to isolated rural farmhouses. The kidnapping, travels, and trials of Hearst and her “companions” would draw in a variety of willing and unwilling characters, including a radical sports journalist; a greedy, alcoholic, but brilliant defense attorney; and even a high-school baseball player. The saga transfixed the nation as key moments played out on national television, including a horrific shootout and fire in which some of the kidnappers died, and during which Hearst, rebellious and unhappy about her impending marriage, appeared to embrace the cause espoused by her abductors, members of the Symbionese Liberation Army. With access to previously off-limit documents, best-selling Toobin (The Oath, 2012), New Yorker staff writer and senior legal analyst for CNN, has written an outstandingly detailed and insightful account of the Hearst case and its impact.

Library Journal (August 1, 2016)
The bones of Patty Hearst’s story are relatively well known-pampered heiress kidnapped by radicals joins their ranks, famously helping them rob a bank at gunpoint-but as Toobin (The Run of His Life: The People v. O.J. Simpson) here shows, the details that flesh out the saga of Hearst and the group calling themselves the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA) are weirder and more compelling than any work of fiction. For instance, while the group was among the most wanted in America, SLA leader Donald DeFreeze decided to recruit new members by going door to door in San Francisco’s Western Addition Neighborhood. (Not only did no one he spoke to report him to the police, but he actually brought on board people who would turn out to be crucial allies.) The narrative is peppered with appearances by such recognizable names as Jim Jones, Joan Baez, future judge of O.J. Simpson’s criminal trial Lance Ito, and Sara Jane Moore, who would later attempt to assassinate President Gerald Ford. Toobin’s meticulous research is the book’s bedrock, but his flair for dramatic storytelling makes it a pleasure to read. Though the author never states directly whether he believes Hearst’s conversion was real, he provides all of the pieces needed for readers to assemble the puzzle for themselves. VERDICT An essential purchase. Stephanie Klose, Library Journal.

About the Author

Jeffrey Toobin is a staff writer at The New Yorker, senior legal analyst at CNN, and the bestselling author of The Oath: The Obama White House and the Supreme Court, The Nine, Too Close to Call, A Vast Conspiracy, The Run of His Life and Opening Arguments. A magna cum laude graduate of Harvard Law School, he lives with his family in New York.

His website is www.jeffreytoobin.com.

 

Teacher Resources

American Heiress Discussion Questions

Guerrilla: The Taking of Patty Hearst Full HD Documentary

Patty Hearst Case on the FBI’s Famous Cases

Around the Web

American Heiress on Amazon

American Heires on JLG

American Heiress on Goodreads