The photo on the cover drew me in, the adorable monkey cuddling up to a bird. I've seen Internet memes aplenty about cross-species friendships, like tThe photo on the cover drew me in, the adorable monkey cuddling up to a bird. I've seen Internet memes aplenty about cross-species friendships, like the elephant who loves to hang out with a dog, but I had no idea there were so many documented cases over the years, and it was neat to read the backstory about them. The only reason I didn't give it 5 stars was that it seemed too short; I wanted to know more about these places and people who save animals, and the animals themselves. I sensed that some of the stories could be told in their own separate book. Well-written, entertaining, with nice big color photos....more
Nice picture book biography of a lesser-known African-American inventor from Ohio, Garrett Morgan. He was born in 1877 to former slaves in Kentucky, aNice picture book biography of a lesser-known African-American inventor from Ohio, Garrett Morgan. He was born in 1877 to former slaves in Kentucky, and made his way north to Cleveland seeking work. He got his first break as a teenager while sweeping floors in a clothing factory, creating a stronger belt for sewing machines that wouldn't break so often. That got him a better job, as sewing machine repairman, and he was on his way to running his own shop, while his wife eventually had her own tailoring shop, too. I had heard of him as one of the first inventors of the traffic light, which doesn't occur until the very end of this story-- but I was amazed as I read this book to see what else he invented. He accidentally discovered a hair-straightening cream while creating a cream to prevent scorch marks from sewing machine needles (those must have been some needles!), which, according to this book, he tried out on his neighbor's Airedale dog! He started a new business to sell the cream. Later, moved by the horrible Triangle Factory fire in NYC (this event keeps popping up in all sorts of books I've been reading lately, it's really ubiquitous), Morgan created a "Safety Hood and Smoke Protector" using hoses modeled after an elephant's trunk. The illustrations of this are pretty funny! However, he couldn't sell it, even when he hired a white man to pose as the inventor and Morgan pretended to be his "assistant" when they tried to sell it in the South; but in 1916, the disastrous collapse and fire in a tunnel under Lake Erie became the perfect opportunity to use his hood in a real emergency--and its success resulted in sales and Morgan being awarded a gold medal from the city of Cleveland! His invention later became the gas mask used in World War I. The illustrations are lovely pen and ink and watercolor, realistic yet whimsical. The opening page has a poem about being "Underground" that sets the stage for the tunnel disaster, but I wondered why the author didn't include more such poems in the book; having just one seemed out of place. There are "sources of inspiration" (other books about Morgan) listed, but unfortunately two lines of dialogue are not given sources, so I wouldn't say it is a full biography, there is some fictionalization. But overall it's a wonderful look at an important historic figure, and I liked the local angle too.
I received a copy of this book from LibraryThing EarlyReviewers....more
Another winner from Kwame Alexander. Eighth grader Nick Hall excels at playing soccer; he and his best bud Cody play soccer together on a club team, bAnother winner from Kwame Alexander. Eighth grader Nick Hall excels at playing soccer; he and his best bud Cody play soccer together on a club team, but are rivals in another league. He's met a cute girl he hopes he'll get up the nerve to talk to. And he's putting up with his dad the English professor's annoying insistence that he read every word in the dictionary his dad published, to improve his vocabulary. (I loved the footnotes with definitions of unusual words, like "sweven," and Nick's funny uses of them.) But things start to change when his family situation gets complicated, and a pair of bullying twins make his life miserable. One bright spot is the awesome librarian character, Mr. MacDonald, who has a unique hairstyle and corny book-slogans on his clothes, and loves to rap; despite his professed dislike of reading, Nick ends up liking a couple of good books recommended by Mr. Mac, and gets some good life advice too of course. This book doesn't have as much sports action, it seemed to me, as The Crossover, but there are still lots of soccer-centric poems and it's definitely a strong aspect of Nick's character, driving his life in many ways. Great positive role model parents, even with their flaws, and a likeable character who has some growth throughout the story. I'd recommend for 6th grade and up. Review based on advance reader copy of book....more
I finally got around to reading last year's Newbery Award winner, and I really enjoyed it. Good mix of basketball sports action and heartfelt family dI finally got around to reading last year's Newbery Award winner, and I really enjoyed it. Good mix of basketball sports action and heartfelt family drama, written in punchy verse that often yearns to be rapped out loud. Good one to give to reluctant readers, especially boys, or to sports fans who might not realize they'd also enjoy a good fiction book.
(Then I read his next book, Booked and I liked that one even better. See my review.)...more
Another fun book from Sachar. This one reminded me a little of Grasshopper Jungle, but for much younger readers--both have end-of-the-world scenarios.Another fun book from Sachar. This one reminded me a little of Grasshopper Jungle, but for much younger readers--both have end-of-the-world scenarios. In Fuzzy Mud, a 5th grader and a 7th grader stumble upon some really weird, well, fuzzy mud, that causes rashes and even blindness, and might just end up taking over the world if it's not stopped!! Ewwww! Interweaving chapters are the transcripts of Senate hearings investigating the man-made microorganism that started the whole thing, and it's all done very realistically and suspensefully; I really had doubts about how it was all going to end, so I think the story will keep any reader entertained. Good middle grade book....more
Marvelous story of a boy's friendship with his pet fox, and the lengths he goes to in order to be reunited with him. But it's also the story of the foMarvelous story of a boy's friendship with his pet fox, and the lengths he goes to in order to be reunited with him. But it's also the story of the fox's reawakening as a wild animal, and how he learns to survive in the wild and to bond with other foxes. And beyond the surface story, there are the themes of trust, war, family, self-reliance, ohmygosh so much more that makes it a really good book. And now I want to have my own pet fox.........more
**spoiler alert** The Caldecott winner is wonderful! A beautiful picture book whose story is framed as a mother telling her young son a bedtime story**spoiler alert** The Caldecott winner is wonderful! A beautiful picture book whose story is framed as a mother telling her young son a bedtime story about a bear: how veterinarian Harry buys a bear cub at a train station, names her Winnie, and brings her along with him to World War I with his unit. The art is beautiful and nicely designed; loved how some pages have small scenes and unique action points of view, like comic strips. The story is very well-written, lyrical: "The train rolled right through dinner and over the sunset and around ten o'clock and into a nap and out the next day..." like a child is telling the story. Little boy Cole, hearing this story from his mom, interjects occasionally, asking "Is that the end?" when bear Winnie is taken to the London Zoo. Mom tells him it's the end of Harry and Winnie's story, but "sometimes you have to let one story end so the next one can begin." (Clever mom!) And she tells a new story, of a little boy who goes to the zoo and befriends a bear: his name is Christopher Robin and his dad writes the Winnie-the-Pooh stories about that bear. And meanwhile Harry came home from the war and had a son, who had a daughter, who had her own daughter--and she's the mom telling the story to her son Cole, named after his great-great-grandfather Harry Colebourn! So it's all true! Ends with mom showing a photo album to Cole, and we get to see real photographs of Harry and Winnie. Written by Colebourn's real great-granddaughter. So. Well. Done. I had already read the other recent picture book about Winnie and Harry, Winnie: the True Story of the Bear Who Inspired Winnie-the-Pooh so I couldn't help but compare the two. While I didn't have any problems with Winnie, Finding Winnie is just so much better for its writing and for the heart--adding that element of telling the story to a little child just makes it that much more adorable. Never mind that the real relative wrote it, to find that out, wow!!...more
A picture book biography of Jefferson, focusing on his skills as a farmer, cultivator of seeds and of democracy. It starts after the American RevolutiA picture book biography of Jefferson, focusing on his skills as a farmer, cultivator of seeds and of democracy. It starts after the American Revolution, when he writes a book on Virginia natural resources to refute the French naturalist Count Buffon's claims that all plants and animals in the United States are inferior to American ones. Jefferson becomes minister to France and talks to Buffon in person, but can't convince him otherwise. He even has a dead American moose shipped to France!! It takes nearly a year for the hunt and then the moose to arrive, having severe shipping difficulties. This eventually changed Buffon's mind, though he never rewrote his books. Jefferson continues to promote American plants in France, gets trade deals for American farmers, brings back European seeds to experiment with back at home. The story goes on as Jefferson becomes Vice President and then President, always eager to find new species of food crops and plants. I enjoyed this unique look at this founding father and how he worked to "prepare soil for the future" with all of that as well as his founding of the University of Virginia. Author's note does bring up the contradiction of a slaveholder writing the Declaration of Independence. "We must decide for ourselves how slavery taints the legacy of Thomas Jefferson. Fortunately, his words spoke louder than his actions," says the author. Includes bibliography; all quotes are sourced, and handwritten in quill by the illustrator. I wasn't a big fan of the illustrations but I did appreciate the efforts like that, and using scans of textiles to add texture....more
This was the most unique subject for a biography that I came across during my 2015 reading of 100+ biographies for kids and teens. Was he a scientificThis was the most unique subject for a biography that I came across during my 2015 reading of 100+ biographies for kids and teens. Was he a scientific genius, or a charlatan who was just lucky at weather forecasting? Have you ever heard of "pluviculture"? No? Me neither, until I read this book! That's the art of making it rain. Charles Mallory Hatfield "coaxed" clouds to rain with a mix of chemicals he set out on towers. Cities suffering from drought hired him to make it rain, and he got paid if it rained a set amount of water or over a certain number of days. In 1916, so did San Diego--but they got a huge flood and possibly as many as 50 people died! So the city refused to pay him, and even demanded he pay them for the damages caused by "his" water. It went to court, where the judges ruled the storms were "acts of God" so Hatfield didn't cause the rain nor the flooding, and therefore wasn't responsible for the costs of the damage. It sure gave him some great publicity though. He had other successes after that, including going to Honduras to cause rain to put out forest fires! Long after he died, his methods remain a secret; the play The Rainmaker was written based on him, and filmed starring Katharine Hepburn. Brimner's book tells of other rainmakers, none of whom were as successful or famous as CMH. An author's note at the end explains how he found some inconsistencies in accounts of CMH. And how today in Africa there are towers that collect water from the air (basically, dew droplets) using the method created by Vittori and Vogler. Very cool! great book for middle school, with big full page photos and clever chapter titles ("Lightning", "Clear Skies With Turbulence," etc), bibliography, sources and notes....more
Beautiful pastel illustrations, with soft flowing lines and colorful rhythms bring to life the dancing of Robert Battle. Introduced by Battle himself,Beautiful pastel illustrations, with soft flowing lines and colorful rhythms bring to life the dancing of Robert Battle. Introduced by Battle himself, with photos. He grew up in Florida, raised by aunt, uncle and cousin; wore leg braces until age six! He always loved dance, and at 13 was inspired to start dancing when he saw the Alvin Ailey troupe perform. Eventually formed his own dance company, then in 2011 was selected by the director of the Alvin Ailey troup to succeed her, quite an honor. The book emphasizes his family and the support and love they gave him; his hard work and dedication, hours of extra practices to catch up since he started dancing much later than many other kids. His karate lessons had limbered him up and were a prelude to dancing. Has nice bibliography, but unfortunately some quotations are not sourced....more
Awesome book about a group of friends--juniors at a school for the fine and performing arts-- who decide they have to do something in protest when theAwesome book about a group of friends--juniors at a school for the fine and performing arts-- who decide they have to do something in protest when their school becomes completely taken over by a reality TV show that films in their halls. Competitors, all seniors, have to create a work of art on a different theme each week, which get judged and one student is eliminated from the show. The winner gets a $100,000 scholarship and other fabulous prizes. But as with all reality television, there's also trumped-up drama between the players. Ethan, our narrator, witnesses this firsthand when he sees Maura, his crush, faking various romantic entanglements and acting like she's the school slut for the camera. Luke starts their plan by writing a snarky epic poem, in the style of Ezra Pound's epic "Cantos" which they're studying in English class. The "Contra Cantos" satirizes the crass commerciality of the tv show and criticizes their school administration for allowing the show to even take place. Ethan illustrates it, and he and his friends help Luke secretly print the poem as an alternative issue of their school newspaper and distribute it around school. The Contra Cantos causes quite a stir, but things also get complicated, as the forces behind the show won't just give up and go away. I loved the humor--one character's family has a series of pets over the years and names them all after condiments, and Ethan's favorite is a gerbil named Baconnaise; the Contra Cantos are very cleverly written. I also loved the strong bonds between these friends. They have witty conversations and show great loyalty to each other. The plot is dramatic, and fun! Almost a farce in some instances as the friends implement their schemes. The book has some great things to say about art vs. commercialism, how "reality" tv is very un-real, etc. Great book for middle schoolers and up, very clean, although I think those not yet in high school might find the Ezra Pound analysis scenes a little boring or over their head. Written by an Ohio author, too, which I always find awesome....more
A good realistic novel about self-esteem, denial, grieving, bullying, perseverance, family, and friendship. And some basketball thrown in there too. AA good realistic novel about self-esteem, denial, grieving, bullying, perseverance, family, and friendship. And some basketball thrown in there too. Angie is an overweight freshman who tried to commit suicide in a very public way--in the bathroom during a school pep rally--and is desperately hoping and believing that her older sister, missing for many months from her tour of duty in Iraq, will be found alive. The rest of her family and the whole town thinks her sister is dead by now, and it is tearing her family apart. Her adopted brother acts out against mom and sister, hiding behind loud music, reluctantly seeing a therapist. And Angie's divorced mother is secretly dating the brother's therapist! She's also not a very good parent to Angie, their relationship is very strained. Angie is bullied a lot at school--she doesn't make it easier on herself by wearing her sister's too-small basketball jersey--but things start to change when a new girl starts at her school, named "KC Romance." KC is bold, cool, badass with combat boots and tattoos, and treats Angie like a friend and not an object of ridicule. Angie has a hard time at first coming out of her shell to be a friend, having spent so long keeping to herself. There's also the attraction she and KC feel for each other, which complicates matters, because KC is more open about her feelings than Angie is able to be. Their possible romance also leads to more bullying. Angie stubbornly decides she will try out for the varsity girls basketball team, despite being vastly out of shape, to see if she can become the only freshman to be on it since her sister accomplished that (and won state titles, etc, was a superjock). Angie goes through a lot of emotional stuff and yet retains her sense of humor. The characters are believable, with real issues, realistically handled. Angie is not transformed overnight, but she does go through changes throughout the book as she takes steps toward healing and liking herself....more
What a fun book! A science fiction romance with plenty of action and twists to the plot. If you've familiar with the classic tv show "Quantum Leap" thWhat a fun book! A science fiction romance with plenty of action and twists to the plot. If you've familiar with the classic tv show "Quantum Leap" then you have an inkling of the premise; but in this case, the main character Marguerite isn't "leaping" into other people's bodies but into alternate-dimension versions of herself, thanks to a device invented by her physicist parents. So in one "universe" she may be the daughter of a Russian Czarina, while in another universe she finds out she is the daughter of two oceanographers. Marguerite begins her mission with thoughts of vengeance, wanting only to find and kill the man who murdered her beloved father. But as her adventure continues and she learns more, her motives may change. And those people she trusts most may turn out to change, too. Great book, lots of fun, a little steamy, a lot of adventure....more
An excellent book of poems describing what it was like to participate in the March for Voting Rights in Washington, D.C. in 1963, when Martin Luther KAn excellent book of poems describing what it was like to participate in the March for Voting Rights in Washington, D.C. in 1963, when Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his famous "I Have a Dream" speech. The poems are the first-person accounts of marchers, mostly fictitious characters who are based on many of the people who actually marched; but some poems are also about real historical figures at the march. Poems are shaped poems as well as free verse. Some of the characters are white, some black, and they all give a feeling of the excitement, hopes, and fears of those in attendance: would they be arrested? Would there be a riot? Would their voices be heard? The march's planners worry: how will they get everyone there on time and then to leave on time, too? Will there be violence? Are they prepared? The poems' voices are all ages and socioeconomic classes, from teens to college students to seniors, from many different states; even a six-year-old on her father's shoulders chimes in. One real person at the march, rode a bicycle all the way there from Dayton, Ohio! Another rollerskated there from Chicago! These are small details that I'd never before heard of, but that really made the book come alive for me. Includes appendix that lists the poems by "Historical Voices," "Imagined Voices," by title and by voice, in addition to a standard bibliography. The authors did their research and you really feel like you were there....more