Confession: Because of a passing reference in an Annie Dillard book, I was more interested in the legend that members of the Mohawk tribe were conscriConfession: Because of a passing reference in an Annie Dillard book, I was more interested in the legend that members of the Mohawk tribe were conscripted into construction of skyscrapers because they had no fear of heights than I was in the actual story of Mohawk workers. Even so, despite being a little dull, the book does a decent job of describing the situation Mohawk ironworkers and their families found themselves in. Weitzman uses photos, interviews, and other primary sources to establish the context for labor abuses - the industrial boom, the mass migrations to urban areas, the high demand for intrepid workers for dangerous (and ill-managed) building projects, and even the sense of wonder surrounding each new record-setting bridge and tower....more
Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie – you've probably heard their music, but you may not realize it. If you're interested in music (or needLouis Armstrong, Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie – you've probably heard their music, but you may not realize it. If you're interested in music (or need to research a famous musician), this is a good volume to browse. The author gives short profiles of some of the most important jazz musicians, going in chronological order by the year they were born. He includes information about each musician's career, what they played and who they played with, how they made a difference in jazz music, and a little bit about their personal life.
The book has a lot of facts, so it's an excellent source of information for research projects or just to satisfy your curiosity about a certain musician. But it's not a very good resource for apprehending the grand arc of the history of jazz. Then again, the title doesn't imply that it does that.
Reviewed for the Emmet O'Neal Library Children's Department...more
One lovely thing about Joyce Sidman's poetry is that kids of any age can enjoy it.
Emphasize the rhythm, rhyme, and alliteration for very little ones.One lovely thing about Joyce Sidman's poetry is that kids of any age can enjoy it.
Emphasize the rhythm, rhyme, and alliteration for very little ones. Getting-a-little-bigger kids can appreciate the humor and subject matter of some of the more concrete selections (including an actual concrete poem shaped like a cat), as well as a couple of the poems about experiences. Upper elementary and middle schoolers will find themselves in these pages, as well, perhaps in the lament for a well-loved teddy bear that's finally been packed away, the spell for invisibility, or the song about moving house. Sidman sings to teenagers with chants and invocations about unrequited love and inspiring teachers. For high schoolers, I especially liked "Starting Now." And grown-up kids will find an empathetic voice for the experiences of a changing body, illness, death, happiness, and peace.
Of course, these thoughts aren't meant as reading prescriptions: anybody can enjoy any of the poems at any time. The prescription is simply to buy the book so you can grow with it.
For what it's worth, my favorite is the opener, "Chant to Repair a Friendship."
Pamela Zagarenski's illustrations are beautiful, though abstract enough to be a bit inaccessible for some readers. I'd love to see what Erin E. Stead would do with these poems....more
Reviewed for the Emmet O'Neal Library Children's Department. Click here to access the children's portion of the review.
Grown-up portion of review:
EachReviewed for the Emmet O'Neal Library Children's Department. Click here to access the children's portion of the review.
Grown-up portion of review:
Each of these chapters is told in first person; but because the author worked from interviews then retold the stories, they all have the same voice. It's concise, almost clinical, and simple to read. The lack of sentimentality and excess description made the book less appealing to me, but I think it actually creates a much more accessible volume for kids. Without blurring the truth of what happened during the Holocaust (or the cruel opportunism of some civilians during a time of war), Prins brings a matter-of-factness to a difficult subject, making it something plenty of kids (maybe 5th grade and up) can handle....more
This is Woodson’s biography in verse. Unfortunately I have waited too long to write a proper, detailed review (although I did make a few efforts earliThis is Woodson’s biography in verse. Unfortunately I have waited too long to write a proper, detailed review (although I did make a few efforts earlier and felt I was not able to do the book justice). The beautifully narrated story tells of Woodson moving with her mother and siblings from Ohio to South Carolina to New York City and back and forth again, learning what defines a family and what destroys it, and untangling the complicated strands of the Civil Rights Movement in their own experiences. The moments that still stand out to me as I think back on it are the cozy descriptions of life with her mother’s family in the South....more
The bold, bright illustrations and the onomatopoeic free verse text give this book a jazzy lilt that captures the feel of the bombastic age that produThe bold, bright illustrations and the onomatopoeic free verse text give this book a jazzy lilt that captures the feel of the bombastic age that produced a character like Josephine Baker.
Chalk it up to the book’s allure or to the wild comic flamboyance of Baker herself – I can’t wait to learn all about her now....more
Sarah Rector was a black girl born to Creek freedmen (free blacks of the Creek Nation) in 1902. Like other relocated CreThis one seemed anticlimactic.
Sarah Rector was a black girl born to Creek freedmen (free blacks of the Creek Nation) in 1902. Like other relocated Creek and members of other tribes, each person in her family born before a certain date was entitled to a parcel of land of about 160 acres.
Sarah's allotment turned up some black gold gushers.
Then the papers reported this newly rich child missing...then not missing. The judge who oversaw the management of her estate responded to a letter from W.E.B. DuBois requesting the facts on her story, as it was being wildly misreported all over the country. So Judge Thomas Leahy provided the facts...which were that Sarah's money was being well-managed by her estate's guardian, white man T.J. Porter, that her family was well-cared for in a newly built house, that she and her siblings were in school, and that the guardian was accepting a relatively low cut of the income for his troubles.
I guess the fact that Sarah and her family weren't swindled by the guardian or the judge is actually interesting for being so atypical at the time; but she never really disappeared, so the "search" for her wasn't a very interesting element to wrap the story around.
Also, the introductory background information was tedious and full of unnecessary details. It felt like it was added later to meet a length requirement.
When the book was over, I found myself wanting more on Sarah's continued life, as well as more on the incorruptible Judge Thomas Leahy.
Why isn’t Babe Didrikson a household name, the way Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods are household names? She was, after all, in ESPN’s top ten athletesWhy isn’t Babe Didrikson a household name, the way Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods are household names? She was, after all, in ESPN’s top ten athletes of the 20th century. She did, after all, excel at multiple sports, including basketball, track and field, tennis, and golf. She did, after all, singlehandedly defeat a 22-person track and field team to take the women’s national championship title - breaking four world records in the process (three of which were already her own). And she was, after all, a founding member of the women’s PGA.
Read this biography to find out why Babe Didrikson deserves to be someone you know about....more
Russell Freedman turns his formidable non-fiction writing talent to the story of Angel Island, the Pacific intake station for immigrants to the UnitedRussell Freedman turns his formidable non-fiction writing talent to the story of Angel Island, the Pacific intake station for immigrants to the United States for most of the first half of the 20th century. He tells the stories of Asian immigrants: why they came, how they were (mis)treated once they arrived, and what became of Angel Island.
As always, Freedman sheds light on another little-known corner of history....more