Tag Archives: US history

Standing Up Against Hate by Mary Cronk Farrell

Standing Up Against Hate: How Black Women in the Army Changed the Course of WWII by Mary Cronk Farrell. January 8, 2019. Harry N. Abrams, 208 p. ISBN: 9781419731600.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 6.4.

Standing Up Against Hate tells the stories of the African American women who enlisted in the newly formed Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) in World War II. They quickly discovered that they faced as many obstacles in the armed forces as they did in everyday life. However, they refused to back down. They interrupted careers and left family, friends, and loved ones to venture into unknown and sometimes dangerous territory. They survived racial prejudice and discrimination with dignity, succeeded in jobs women had never worked before, and made crucial contributions to the military war effort. The book centers around Charity Adams, who commanded the only black WAAC battalion sent overseas and became the highest ranking African American woman in the military by the end of the war. Along with Adams’s story are those of other black women who played a crucial role in integrating the armed forces. Their tales are both inspiring and heart-wrenching. The book includes a timeline, bibliography, and index.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Discrimination, Racism, Violence

 

Reviews

Booklist (December 15, 2018 (Vol. 115, No. 8))
Grades 5-8. Throughout history, women have often faced limited futures. Before WWII, most women were encouraged to get married and have children. Often, educated women were allowed careers only as teachers; for black women, teaching in underfunded segregated schools was a bleak, monotonous future. With war came opportunity: though they would not make rank or receive equal pay, women were encouraged to join the military, and they began bringing about a change in perception as to what women were capable of achieving. The Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps was begun to help usher in this new change, though, unfortunately, it brought about more problems—segregation and racism ran rampant among the officers and enlisted. Still, black women enlisted by the droves, leaving their children with relatives in order to build them a better future. Extensive back matter, which includes a time line and notes on the primary sources used, will help guide readers as they explore how black women took advantage of these opportunities to help drive integration forward. An adventurous ride through the history of black women pioneers.

Kirkus Reviews (October 15, 2018)
African-American women fought for freedom at home and abroad as they served their country during World War II.When the United States Army found itself in need of personnel who could do work that would free men to report to combat, it established first the Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps and then the Women’s Army Corps. Black leaders were already encouraging more wartime opportunities for African-Americans and sought to use this innovation to help end segregation. Civil rights activist Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune pushed for integration of the corps, but the country’s official “separate but equal” policy stood, although a quota of black women received officer’s training. The women who responded to the call were well familiar with the racial mores of the times, but the insults they endured hurt. Nevertheless, they worked and trained hard and put forth every effort to succeed, sometimes risking court martial for standing up for themselves. When they were called for overseas duty, the 6888th Central Postal Battalion performed their duties so well in Birmingham, England, that they went on to another assignment in France. Importantly, Farrell brings in the voices of the women, which provides clarity and understanding of what they experienced. She also highlights the role of black newspapers in keeping the community informed about the difficulties they often faced. The text is richly supported with archival photographs. The importance of this story is amplified by the inspiring forward by Maj. Gen. Marcia M. Anderson, Army (Ret.), who makes a direct link between the determined struggles of those described and the achievements of African-American women in today’s U.S. military. The stories in this valuable volume are well worth knowing. (author’s note, glossary, timeline, source notes, bibliography; index and forward not seen) (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.

Around the Web

Standing Up Against Hate on Amazon

Standing Up Against Hate on Barnes and Noble

Standing Up Against Hate on Goodreads

Standing Up Against Hate on LibraryThing

Standing Up Against Hate Publisher Page

 

Advertisements

Dark Sky Rising by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

Dark Sky Rising: Reconstruction and the Rise of Jim Crow by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. January 29, 2019. Scholastic, 240 p. ISBN: 9781338262049.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 1200.

Henry Louis Gates, Jr. presents a journey through America’s past and our nation’s attempts at renewal in this look at the Civil War’s conclusion, Reconstruction, and the rise of Jim Crow segregation.

This is a story about America during and after Reconstruction, one of history’s most pivotal and misunderstood chapters. In a stirring account of emancipation, the struggle for citizenship and national reunion, and the advent of racial segregation, the renowned Harvard scholar delivers a book that is illuminating and timely. Real-life accounts drive the narrative, spanning the half century between the Civil War and Birth of a Nation. Here, you will come face-to-face with the people and events of Reconstruction’s noble democratic experiment, its tragic undermining, and the drawing of a new “color line” in the long Jim Crow era that followed. In introducing young readers to them, and to the resiliency of the African American people at times of progress and betrayal, Professor Gates shares a history that remains vitally relevant today.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Discrimination, Racism, Violence

 

Reviews

Booklist (January 1, 2019 (Vol. 115, No. 9))
Grades 7-11. A striking image on the book jacket will draw readers to this richly informative but uneven presentation on the many progressive changes during the Reconstruction era, as well as their later dismantling, which led to a resurgence of intolerance, injustice, and violence against black Americans, particularly in the South. The book is well researched, though densely packed with facts and often written in complex sentences, including many quotes from nineteenth-century documents and later historians. The writers assume that their readers have a fuller knowledge of the period and a larger vocabulary than can be expected of most middle-grade readers. Attempting to clarify a quote from Andrew Johnson, inchoate is defined within the text as embryonic, a word nearly as puzzling to most young readers. Black-and-white reproductions of archival photos, prints, and documents illustrate the text. While the topic is complex and perhaps too broad for one book, it’s also fundamental to understanding the background of racial issues in America. A challenging but worthwhile choice for somewhat older readers.

Kirkus Reviews (November 15, 2018)
“In your hands you are holding my book…my very first venture in writing for young readers,” Gates writes in a preface. And readers can tell…though probably not in the way Gates and co-author Bolden may have aimed for. The book opens with a gripping scene of formerly enslaved African-Americans celebrating the Emancipation Proclamation. It proceeds to engagingly unfold the facts that led to Reconstruction and its reaction, Jim Crow, until it disrupts the flow with oddly placed facts about Gates’ family’s involvement in the war, name-dropping of other historians, and the occasional conspicuous exclamation (“Land! That’s what his people most hungered for”). Flourishes such as that last sit uneasily with the extensive quotations from secondary sources for adults, as if Gates and Bolden are not sure whether their conceptual audience is young readers or adults, an uncertainty established as early as Gates’ preface. They also too-frequently relegate the vital roles of black women, such as Harriet Tubman, to sidebars or scatter their facts throughout the book, implicitly framing the era as a struggle between African-American men and white men. In the end, this acts as a reminder to readers that, although a person may have a Ph.D. and have written successfully in some genres and media, that does not mean they can write in every one, even with the help of a veteran in the field. Well-intentioned, well-researched, but awkwardly written considering the caliber of the scholar and his expected scholarship. (selected sources, endnotes, index) (Nonfiction. 8-12)

About the Author

Henry Louis Gates Jr. is a Professor of African and African-American Studies at Harvard University and Director of the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research. He is well-known as a literary critic, an editor of literature, and a proponent of black literature and black cultural studies.

His website is https://aaas.fas.harvard.edu/people/henry-louis-gates-jr

Teacher Resources

Dark Sky Rising Discussion Guide

Around the Web

Dark Sky Rising on Amazon

Dark Sky Rising on Barnes and Noble

Dark Sky Rising on Goodreads

Dark Sky Rising on LibraryThing

Dark Sky Rising Publisher Page

El Mundo Adorado de Sonia Sotomayor by Sonia Sotomayor

El Mundo Adorado se Sonia Sotomayor by Sonia Sotomayor. November 13, 2018. Vintage Espanol, 400 p. ISBN: 9780525564614.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 6.4; Lexile: 1070.

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

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

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

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

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

Spanish Language version of The Beloved World of Sonia Sotomayor

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Discrimination, Drugs, Racism, Alcoholism

 

Author Videos

 

Reviews

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

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

About the Author

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

Teacher Resources

Soina Sotomayor Biography Lesson Plan

Around the Web

El Mundo Adorado de Sonia Sotomayor on Amazon

El Mundo Adorado de Sonia Sotomayor on Barnes & Noble

El Mundo Adorado de Sonia Sotomayor on Goodreads

 

Spooked! by Gail Jarrow

Spooked!: How a Radio Broadcast and The War of the Worlds Sparked the 1938 Invasion of America by Gail Jarrow. August 7, 2018. Calkins Creek Books, 144 p. ISBN: 9781629797762.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 7.8; Lexile: 1000.

Acclaimed author Gail Jarrow explores in riveting detail the famous War of the Worlds radio broadcast from 1938, in this nonfiction title. Jarrow highlights the artists behind the broadcast, the broadcast itself, the aftermath, and the repercussions which remain relevant today.

On the night of October 30, 1938, thousands of Americans panicked when they believed that Martians had invaded Earth. What appeared to be breaking news about an alien invasion was, in fact, a radio drama based on H. G. Wells’s War of the Worlds, performed by Orson Welles and his Mercury Theatre players. Some listeners became angry once they realized they had been tricked, and the reaction to the broadcast sparked a national discussion about fake news, propaganda, and the role of radio. Archival photographs and images, as well as an author’s note, timeline, bibliography, and index round out this stellar nonfiction title.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: None

 

Related Video

Reviews

Booklist starred (June 1, 2018 (Vol. 114, No. 19))
Grades 5-8. Orson Welles and his colleagues were certain their radio broadcast of H. G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds would be a flop. Instead, on Halloween eve 1938, it shook the nation with fear of alien attack. Why were Americans so gullible? Notable nonfiction author Jarrow (Fatal Fever, 2015) sets the stage, or rather the living rooms, for a time when listening to radio broadcasts ranked as the country’s favorite pastime. With intriguing details, complemented by rarely seen archival photos and illustrated scenes from Wells’ original story, she explains how this medium worked and how actor Orson Welles designed, directed, and voiced popular radio dramas, along with the other writers, performers, and sound technicians for the Mercury Theatre program. Jarrow then pieces together the script and performance, highlighting elements used to heighten the tension. Numerous and astounding reactions to the panic, including an influx of emergency telephone calls, are also described. Although interesting in its own right, the author extrapolates on this phenomenon, comparing it to today’s fake-news controversy. In this vein, readers can see how some panicked listeners didn’t check other sources, while others enjoyed the drama by following its clues. Ensuing freedom of the press debates and a sampling of modern-day social media hoaxes extend the theme. An enriching bridge that connects history with current events.

Horn Book Magazine (September/October, 2018)
In 1938, on the night before Halloween, an American radio broadcast of The War of the Worlds, H. G. Wells’s science-fiction novel about a Martian invasion, caused widespread panic and hysteria. Producers Orson Welles and John Houseman (who later went on to have legendary careers in theater and film) updated the novel’s setting from turn-of-the-century Britain to contemporary America, interrupted the scheduled program with fake news updates, referenced real place names, and even used an actor who sounded like President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Jarrow infuses her tightly plotted narrative with plenty of drama and suspense while weaving in sufficient background information, biographical vignettes, and play-by-play commentary to establish context. She concludes with a discussion of some subsequent hoaxes—and the requisite author’s note, source notes, bibliography (including a link to the radio broadcast itself online), and index. Meghan McCarthy’s picture book Aliens Are Coming! (rev. 7/06) tells the same story for a younger audience, but this longer account is welcome: despite its somewhat stodgy design, it’s an admirable feat of nonfiction storytelling.

About the Author

Gail Jarrow is the author of many popular nonfiction books, including Red Madness, Fatal Fever, and Bubonic Panic. Her books have received numerous starred reviews, awards, and distinctions, including Best Book awards from the New York Public Library, School Library Journal, the Bulletin of the Center for Children’s BooksKirkus Reviews, and the National Science Teachers Association.

Her website is www.gailjarrow.com

Teacher Resources

War of the Worlds Lesson Plans

War of the Worlds Broadcast to teach Media Literacy on Newseum

Around the Web

Spooked! on Amazon

Spooked! on Barnes and Noble

Spooked! on Goodreads

Spooked! on LibraryThing

Spooked! Publisher Page

Blacklisted!: Hollywood, the Cold War, and the First Amendment by Larry Dane Brimner

Blacklisted!: Hollywood, the Cold War, and the First Amendment by Larry Dane Brimner. October 9, 2018. Calkins Creek, 176 p. ISBN: 9781620916032.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 1230.

Sibert award-winning author Larry Dane Brimner follows in vivid detail the story of nineteen men from the film industry who were investigated for suspected communist ties during the Cold War, and the ten who were blacklisted for standing up for their First Amendment rights and refusing to cooperate.

World War II is over, but tensions between communist Soviet Union and the U.S. are at an all-time high. In America, communist threats are seen everywhere and a committee is formed in the nation’s capital to investigate those threats. Larry Dane Brimner follows the story of nineteen men—all from the film industry—who are summoned to appear before the House of Representatives Committee on Un-American Activities. All nineteen believe that the committee’s investigations into their political views and personal associations are a violation of their First Amendment rights. When the first ten of these men refuse to give the committee the simple answers it wants, they are cited for contempt of Congress and blacklisted.

Brimner brings the story of the trial and its consequences to life, giving readers an in-depth look at what it’s like to fight for the most basic of our Constitutional rights. The book includes an author’s note, a bibliography, source notes, and an index, as well as archival photographs, documents, cartoons, images, and quotations from the accused and their accusers.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Discrimination

 

Reviews

Booklist starred (September 1, 2018 (Vol. 115, No. 1))
Grades 9-12. “Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party of the United States?” That was the question asked of 19 men (Hollywood screenwriters, directors, a producer, and an actor) in 1947 congressional hearings. The House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) played on Americans’ fears of communists by investigating “subversive” influences in the movie industry. Ten men were charged with contempt of Congress, tried, found guilty, and imprisoned, while many others were blacklisted. The author of the Sibert Award-winning Twelve Days in May​ (2017), Brimner presents an informative account of the HUAC hearings and their repercussions for the Hollywood Ten. In the chapters covering those hearings, the extensive use of quotes gives the writing great immediacy, while the commentary clearly explains the motivations of the committee members and the viewpoints of those called to testify before them. The well-captioned illustrations include archival photos, documents, and political cartoons. Most easily understood by readers with some knowledge of the period, this tightly focused book presents a meticulously detailed narrative of events related to the 1947 hearings. More broadly, Brimner offers a cautionary tale about the damage done to individuals and society when constitutional rights are denied by officials sworn to uphold them.

Kirkus Reviews starred (July 15, 2018)
Brimner brings to life a shameful episode in American history when citizens working in the film industry were accused of disloyalty and subversion and persecuted for defending their First Amendment rights. In 1947, tensions between the Soviet Union and the United States were at an all-time high. The House Committee on Un-American Activities, which included members with ties to the KKK, called Hollywood actors, directors, producers, and screenwriters to answer accusations that they were Communists. Ten who appeared refused to answer questions, citing their Constitutional rights to freedom of speech and assembly. The “Hollywood Ten” were afterward denied work by all Hollywood studios. Brimner vividly chronicles the hearings and their fallout, braiding stories of individuals into the overall narrative. Screenwriter Dalton Trumbo worked under pseudonyms; director Edward Dmytryk, unable to work covertly, later cooperated with the committee and named names. Drawing heavily on hearings transcripts, Brimner also includes a great deal of historical background to put the story in context. He notes that the origins of HUAC were rooted in America’s first “Red Scare” following the Russian Revolution, and he challenges readers to consider if things are all that different today, citing contemporary examples. The many archival photographs included are testament to the overwhelming whiteness of both Hollywood and Congress. A chilling look at a time when the government waged war on civil liberties, with the public a complicit ally. (bibliography, source notes, index) (Nonfiction. 12-18)

About the Author

Larry Dane Brimner is the recipient of the 2018 Robert F. Sibert Award for the most distinguished informational book for children for his title Twelve Days in May: Freedom Ride 1961. He is known for his well-researched, innovative, and award-winning nonfiction for young readers, and is the author of multiple acclaimed civil rights titles, including Strike!: The Farm Workers’ Fight for Their Rights; and Black & White: The Confrontation between Reverend Fred L. Shuttlesworth and Eugene “Bull” Connor.

His website is www.brimner.com

Teacher Resources

Hollywood v. HUAC Lesson Plans

Around the Web

Blacklisted! on Amazon

Blacklisted! on Barnes and Noble

Blacklisted! on Goodreads

Blacklisted! on LibraryThing

Blacklisted! Publisher Page

Buried Lives: The Enslaved People of George Washington’s Mount Vernon by Clara Killough McClafferty

Buried Lives: The Enslaved People of George Washington’s Mount Vernon by Carla Killough McClafferty. December 18, 2018. Holiday House, 168 p. ISBN: 9780823436972.  Int Lvl: 3-6; Rdg Lvl: 7.3.

An illuminating look at the complex relationships between George Washington and the enslaved people of Mount Vernon, and the history still being uncovered there. 

When he was eleven years old, George Washington inherited ten human beings. His own life has been well chronicled, but the lives of the people he owned–the people who supported his plantation and were buried in unmarked graves there–have not. Using fascinating primary source material and photographs of historical artifacts, Carla McClafferty sheds light on the lives of several people George Washington owned; the property laws of the day that complicated his decision to free them; and the Cemetery Survey, an archeological dig (set to conclude in 2018) that is shaping our understanding of Mount Vernon’s Slave Cemetery. Poignant and thought-provoking, Buried Lives blends the past with the present in a forward-looking account of a haunting piece of American history.

Includes a foreword by Zsun-nee Matema, a descendant one of the enslaved people at Mount Vernon who is highlighted in this book, backmatter outlining the author’s sources, and an index.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Discrimination, Racism

 

Author Interview

Reviews

Booklist starred (November 15, 2018 (Vol. 115, No. 6))
Grades 6-10. “At the age of eleven George Washington inherited ten human beings, and he would own people his entire life.” In this handsome, large-format book, the first five chapters describe what is known about six enslaved individuals who worked at Mount Vernon under George Washington, whose lives are fairly well documented. William Lee served as Washington’s personal valet before, during, and after the Revolutionary War. Christopher Sheels became Washington’s next valet. Caroline Hardiman was a seamstress. Her husband, Peter Hardiman, managed horse breeding at Mount Vernon. Both Oney Judge, Martha Washington’s personal maid, and Hercules, the family’s renowned cook, later made their separate escapes from slavery. Some of McClafferty’s portrayals of these little-known historical people are more detailed than others, but all are factual and fascinating. While learning about their lives, readers will also see how Washington’s views on slavery shifted over the years. Among the many beautiful color illustrations are period paintings as well as photos of sites and artifacts. The final chapter describes ongoing archaeological work at the cemetery where Mount Vernon’s enslaved people were buried. The meticulous back matter links quotes to many primary sources as well as more recent works. An enlightening presentation on slavery in the late 1700s.

Kirkus Reviews (December 1, 2018)
McClafferty has written a monumental book about the lives of the slaves that lived and worked at George Washington’s Mount Vernon. The bulk of the book is devoted to chronicling the lives of six out of hundreds of slaves known to have been the property of our nation’s first president. William Lee, Christopher Sheels, Caroline Branham, Peter Hardiman, Ona Maria Judge, and Hercules are the enslaved people featured in this work. These six people are larger-than-life figures whose individual stories tell a deeper one about the history of America and the everyday evil and horror of American slavery. Though enslaved, they served this country during some of its most turbulent times, fighting in the Revolutionary War, taking care of Washington’s person, and guarding Washington’s papers as the Continental Army moved from place to place during the years of combat. This book includes photos of re-enactors at Mount Vernon as well as artifacts there and abundant archival reproductions. What is known about these figures comes mainly from George Washington himself, as the author relates in her introduction. With regard to what is unknown about the lives of the enslaved people, McClafferty takes liberties in making inferences about their motives and histories. In speculating why Lee, for instance, did not take the opportunity to escape to freedom in the British army, she does not discuss the penalties meted out to a captured fugitive slave but presents his choice as a binary one: stay with Washington or go. At another point, she suggests that Judge’s white father, an indentured servant, “may have loved” her enslaved mother, without adding that an enslaved woman could not resist the sexual advances of a white man. These and other elisions make this a work that objectifies its subjects. Although the light shed on Washington as slaveholder is a welcome one, the voices of the enslaved are still not heard. (source notes, bibliography, picture credits, acknowledgments, index) (Nonfiction. 10-14)

About the Author

Carla Killough McClafferty is the author of many nonfiction books for young readers, including The Many Faces of George Washington: Remaking a Presidential Icon, which was a School Library Journal Best Book of 2011, a Junior Library Guild selection, and an ALA Notable Book.

Her website is www.carlamcclafferty.com

Around the Web

Buried Lives on Amazon

Buried Lives on Barnes and Noble

Buried Lives on Goodreads

Buried Lives on LibraryThing

Buried Lives Publisher Page

American Dialogue: The Founders and Us by Joseph J. Ellis

American Dialogue: The Founders and Us by Joseph J. Ellis. October 16, 2018. Knopf Publishing Group, 283 p. ISBN: 9780385353427.  Int Lvl: AD; Rdg Lvl: AD.

The award-winning author of Founding Brothers and The Quartet now gives us a deeply insightful examination of the relevance of the views of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and John Adams to some of the most divisive issues in America today.

The story of history is a ceaseless conversation between past and present, and in American Dialogue Joseph J. Ellis focuses the conversation on the often-asked question “What would the Founding Fathers think?” He examines four of our most seminal historical figures through the prism of particular topics, using the perspective of the present to shed light on their views and, in turn, to make clear how their now centuries-old ideas illuminate the disturbing impasse of today’s political conflicts. He discusses Jefferson and the issue of racism, Adams and the specter of economic inequality, Washington and American imperialism, Madison and the doctrine of original intent. Through these juxtapositions–and in his hallmark dramatic and compelling narrative voice–Ellis illuminates the obstacles and pitfalls paralyzing contemporary discussions of these fundamentally important issues.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: None

 

Book Talk

Reviews

Booklist (September 1, 2018 (Vol. 115, No. 1))
Eliis (Revolutionary Summer, 2013), a Pulitzer Prize-winning and best-selling historian, is aware of the difficulties and dangers implicit in seeking answers to our current debates and dilemmas in the archives of the Founding Fathers, yet he attempts to do so here, and his effort to apply the views of four historical icons to current political conflicts is interesting and useful. On the topic of racial relations, Ellis refers to Thomas Jefferson and seems to delight in pointing out Jefferson’s inconsistencies and contradictions on the topic. Considering political equality, Ellis turns to John Adams, who didn’t view equality as the “natural” political order and didn’t share Jefferson’s faith in the wisdom of the people; in fact, he viewed a very powerful executive as necessary to protect the public from both an emerging elite and themselves. On foreign policy, Ellis turns to Washington, who strove to manage “foreign” relations with Native nations and maintain American neutrality between France and Britain. Ellis is provocative and interesting and reminds us that our present controversies are not unique or new.

Kirkus Reviews starred (July 15, 2018)
An eminent historian sharply illuminates the “messy moment” of the nation’s founding and its implications for contemporary America.Ellis (Emeritus, History/Mount Holyoke Coll.; The Quartet: Orchestrating the Second American Revolution, 1783-1789, 2015, etc.), winner of the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award, offers a lucid and authoritative examination of America’s tumultuous beginnings, when the Founding Fathers grappled with issues of race, income inequality, law, and foreign policy—all issues that still vex the nation. Believing that history is “an ongoing conversation between past and present,” the author asks what Jefferson, Washington, Madison, and Adams can teach us today. “What did ‘all men are created equal’ mean then and now? Did the ‘pursuit of happiness’ imply the right to some semblance of economic equality? Does it now?” These and other salient questions inform Ellis’ vivid depiction of the controversies swirling as the Constitution was drafted and ratified. The Founders were men of deep contradictions and evolving political views. As a young man, for example, Jefferson “insisted that the central principles of the American Revolution were inherently incompatible with slavery.” The older Jefferson, who owned hundreds of slaves and fathered many children with his slave Sally Hemings, fervently believed that races should not mix. Slaves should be freed, he conceded, and then sent to the unpopulated West, Santo Domingo, or Liberia. As to equality, the Founders “were a self-conscious elite” who did not value “the innate wisdom of the common man.” John Adams’ “prognosis for the American future was a plutocratic aristocracy.” Freedom to pursue wealth, he asserted, “essentially ensured the triumph of inequality.” Ellis places Washington’s famous warning against foreign entanglements in the context of westward expansion, Native American removal, and postwar negotiations. Most fascinating is the author’s cogent critique of constitutional originalists, intent on recovering “the mentality and language of the framers on their own terms in their own time.” A discerning, richly detailed inquiry into America’s complex political and philosophical legacy.

About the Author

Joseph J. Ellis, a professor of history at Mount Holyoke College, is a nationally recognized scholar of American history from colonial times through the early decades of the Republic. The author of seven books, he is recipient of the National Book Award in Nonfiction for American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson and the Pulitzer Prize for Founding Brothers. He lives in Massachusetts.

Her website is www.josephellishistorian.com

Around the Web

American Dialogue on Amazon

American Dialogue on Barnes and Noble

American Dialogue on Goodreads

American Dialogue on LibraryThing

American Dialogue Publisher Page

Code Girls by Liza Mundy

Code Girls: The True Story of the American Women Who Secretly Broke Codes in World War II by Liza Mundy. October 2, 2018. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 336 p. ISBN: 9780316353731.  Int Lvl: 3-6; Rdg Lvl: 6.6.

Code Girls is the true story of the young American women who cracked German and Japanese military codes during World War II.
More than ten thousand women served as codebreakers during World War II, recruited by the U.S. Army and Navy. While their brothers and boyfriends took up arms, these women moved to the nation’s capital to learn the top secret art of code breaking.
Through their work, the “code girls” helped save countless lives and were vital in ending the war. But due to the top secret nature of their accomplishments, these women have never been able to talk about their story–until now.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Harsh realities of war, Racism

 

Related Videos

Reviews

Kirkus Reviews (September 15, 2018)
When the United States entered World War II, it quickly became clear that, in order to win the war, the military must break enemy code. With so many men serving as soldiers, smart women were called upon to join this secret effort. Initially, upper-level female college students were invited to apply. As the need for codebreakers grew, schoolteachers, especially those skilled in mathematics and sciences, were also called upon. The work was top secret. For many participants, these jobs offered opportunities that far surpassed their culturally circumscribed expectations, since young white women were, at the time, mostly viewed as destined for lifelong roles of wives and mothers. While the text acknowledges the existence of the Army’s segregated, black codebreaking unit, it focuses on the work of the white women. In this adaptation of Mundy’s book for adult readers, the text alternates between descriptions of the progress of the war and the lives of a few of the codebreakers. Sidebars offer additional information, but much of it is later repeated in the narrative. Well-integrated black-and-white period photographs (the adult version’s are presented in one sheaf of plates) and the additions of a timeline, glossary, and further reading in the backmatter round out this adaptation. It’s an entertaining presentation on a fascinating topic, but given its length, it doesn’t extend the audience too much beyond what its original could expect to reach. (timeline, glossary, bibliography, further reading, index) (Nonfiction. 11-15)

About the Author

Liza Mundy is the New York Times bestselling author of The Richer Sex: How the New Majority of Female Breadwinners Is Transforming Sex, Love and Family and Michelle: A Biography. She has worked as a reporter at the Washington Post and contributed to numerous publications including The Atlantic, TIME, The New Republic, Slate, Mother Jones, and The Guardian. She is a frequent commentator on countless prominent national television, radio, and online news outlets and has positioned herself at the prestigious New America Foundation as one of the nation’s foremost experts on women and work issues.

Her website is www.lizamundy.com

Teacher Resources

Code Girls Discussion Guide

Around the Web

Code Girls on Amazon

Code Girls on Barnes and Noble

Code Girls on Goodreads

Code Girls Publisher Page

Lafayette! by Nathan Hale

Lafayette! : A Revolutionary Tale by Nathan Hale. October 16, 2018. Amulet Books, 128 p. ISBN: 9781419731488.  Int Lvl: 3-6; Rdg Lvl: 3.6.

Gilbert du Motier became the Marquis de Lafayette at a young age, but he was not satisfied with the comforts of French nobility—he wanted adventure!

A captain at eighteen and a major general by nineteen, he was eager to prove himself in battle. When he heard about the Revolution going on in America, he went overseas and fought alongside Alexander Hamilton and George Washington for America’s independence. Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales are graphic novels that tell the thrilling, shocking, gruesome, and TRUE stories of American history. Read them all—if you dare!

Part of Series: Hazardous Tales (Book #8)

 

About the Author

Nathan Hale is the New York Times best-selling author/illustrator of the Hazardous Tales series, as well as many picture books including Yellowbelly and Plum go to School, the Twelve Bots of Christmas and The Devil You Know.

He is the illustrator of the Eisner-nominated graphic novel Rapunzel’s Revenge and its sequel, Calamity Jack. He also illustrated Frankenstein: A Monstrous Parody, The Dinosaurs’ Night Before Christmas, Animal House and many others.

His website is www.spacestationnathan.blogspot.com.

Around the Web

Lafayette! on Amazon

Lafayette! on Barnes and Noble

Lafayette! on Goodreads

Lafayette! Publisher Page

The Beloved World of Sonia Sotomayor by Sonia Sotomayor

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

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

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

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

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

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

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Discrimination, Drugs, Racism, Alcoholism

 

Author Videos

 

Reviews

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

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

About the Author

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

Teacher Resources

Soina Sotomayor Biography Lesson Plan

Around the Web

The Beloved World of Sonia Sotomayor on Amazon

The Beloved World of Sonia Sotomayor on Barnes & Noble

The Beloved World of Sonia Sotomayor on Goodreads

The Beloved World of Sonia Sotomayor Publisher Page