Review of The Story of Buildings

dillon_story of buildings

The Story of Buildings: From the Pyramids to the Sydney Opera House and Beyond by Patrick Dillon; 
illus. by Stephen Biesty Intermediate, Middle School    Candlewick    96 pp. 3/14    978-0-7636-6990-4    $19.99 Beginning with an ingratiatingly brief historical summary of how the human need for shelter brought us from caves to high-rises, Dillon and Biesty then circle […]

Review of The Cosmobiography of Sun Ra

raschka_cosmobiography of sun ra

The Cosmobiography of Sun Ra: The Sound of Joy Is Enlightening by Chris Raschka; illus. by the author Primary    Candlewick    40 pp. 5/14    978-0-7636-5806-9    $15.99    g Jazz pioneer and self-proclaimed space case Sun Ra (born Herman P. Blount) gets a portrait as bemusing and sparkly as the man himself in this fantastical tribute. Raschka begins […]

Teaching perspective to first graders

Can We Save the Tiger?

Perspective is a thing so integral to understanding a story. It can even be the reason why an author thinks to lift a pencil and write a story. Yet perspective is a difficult concept, particularly for six-year-olds. As a first grade teacher, I have found that teaching about a character’s perspective is at times an […]

Review of Leaving China

mcmullan_leaving china

Leaving China: An Artist Paints His 
World War II Childhood by James McMullan; 
illus. by the author Middle School, High School    Algonquin    113 pp. 3/14    978-1-61620-255-2    $19.95 McMullan was born in Tsingtao, North China, in 1934 to an Irish-English missionary family. His privileged childhood was disrupted by the 1937 Japanese occupation; by 1941, he and […]

Review of The Freedom Summer Murders and Freedom Summer

mitchell_freedom summer murders

The Freedom Summer Murders by Don Mitchell Middle School, High School     Scholastic     250 pp. 4/14     978-0-545-47725-3     $18.99 e-book ed. 978-0-545-63393-2     $18.99 Freedom Summer: The 1964 Struggle for Civil Rights in Mississippi by Susan Goldman Rubin Middle School, High School     Holiday     120 pp. 3/14     978-0-8234-2920-2     $18.95 With the fiftieth anniversary of Freedom Summer this […]

Changing Times

freedman_lincoln

I’ve been writing nonfiction books for young readers, mainly history and biography, for more than fifty years — since the days of typewriters and invented dialogue. Along the way I’ve seen some major changes in the way the historical record is researched, interpreted, and presented. One huge change is the look of today’s nonfiction. Back […]

Freedom Summer and Black History

rubin_freedom summer

This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of Freedom Summer, a touchstone in the civil rights movement. The following nonfiction books highlight important turning points in African American history. And for more on Freedom Summer, read Kathleen T. Horning’s Five Questions interview with Don Mitchell (author of the new The Freedom Summer Murders, Scholastic, 14–17 years) […]

Review of The Pilot and the Little Prince

sis_pilot and the little prince

The Pilot and the Little Prince: The Life of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry by Peter Sís; illus. by the author Primary, Intermediate    Foster/Farrar    48 pp. 5/14    978-0-374-38069-4    $18.99    g On glorious blue endpapers, an airplane loops across a map of the world, its contrail made of words that seem to dissolve on the page. The pointillist […]

How I learned to stop worrying and write curriculum about Bomb

Bomb by Steve Sheinkin

One of the projects I am involved in is a program where a group of retired folks work in schools to facilitate after-school reading groups with middle graders. One piece of my work is to write curriculum about books that (we hope) are high-interest and wide-ranging in subject, so groups will have many options as […]

Review of Mysterious Patterns

campbell_mysterious patterns

Mysterious Patterns: Finding Fractals in Nature by Sarah C. Campbell; photos 
by Sarah C. Campbell and 
Richard P. Campbell Primary    Boyds Mills    32 pp. 4/14    978-1-62091-627-8    $16.95 Bring up the math term fractals in a roomful of adults, and it’s likely quite a few eyes will glaze over. Yet wife-and-husband team Sarah and Richard Campbell […]