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Of scientists and samurai

These nonfiction audiobooks, recommended for middle-school listeners and up, highlight a variety of memorable moments and important figures throughout human history. Samurai Rising: The Epic Life of Minamoto Yoshitsune is the bloody, heroic saga of an iconic twelfth-century samurai. Author Pamela S. Turner combines meticulous historical detail with conversational modernity and wry asides. Her narrative […]

Five questions for Anne Quirk

Anne Quirk’s The Good Fight: The Feuds of the Founding Fathers (And How They Shaped the Nation) (Knopf, 10–14 years) highlights four sets of venerable opponents whose disputes helped set America’s path during its formative years. And just like its author — who was former publisher of The Horn Book — the book is smart, […]

Review of How to Be an Elephant: Growing Up in the African Wild

How to Be an Elephant: Growing Up in the African Wild by Katherine Roy; illus. by the author Primary, Intermediate    Macaulay/Roaring Brook    48 pp. 9/17    978-1-62672-178-4    $18.99 A baby African elephant is born and immediately begins developing the important skills necessary to survive in the wild. In detailed accounts that integrate descriptions of elephant anatomy, […]

Review of Trudy’s Big Swim: How Gertrude Ederle Swam the English Channel and Took the World by Storm

Trudy’s Big Swim: How Gertrude Ederle Swam the English Channel and Took the World by Storm by Sue Macy; illus. by Matt Collins Primary    Holiday    40 pp. 3/17    978-0-8234-3665-1    $16.95 e-book ed.  978-0-8234-3825-9    $16.95 Bitter cold, fatigue, leg cramps, driftwood obstacles, jellyfish stings, threats of shark attacks — it’s the rare individual who would risk […]

Review of Eye of the Storm: NASA, Drones, and the Race to Crack the Hurricane Code

Eye of the Storm: NASA, Drones, and the Race to Crack the Hurricane Code [Scientists in the Field] by Amy Cherrix Middle School    Houghton    73 pp. 4/17    978-0-544-41165-4    $18.99 When thirteen-year-old Angela Dresch walks out on the Staten Island Beach on the afternoon of October 29, 2012, neither she nor readers know that in a […]

Review of The Music of Life: Bartolomeo Cristofori & the Invention of the Piano

The Music of Life: Bartolomeo Cristofori & the Invention of the Piano by Elizabeth Rusch; illus. by Marjorie Priceman Primary, Intermediate    Atheneum    48 pp. 4/17    978-1-4814-4484-2    $17.99 e-book ed.  978-1-4814-4485-9    $10.99 Readers take a journey to Italy during the closing years of the Renaissance to meet a man whose invention is better known than his […]

Review of The Good Fight: The Feuds of the Founding Fathers (and How They Shaped the Nation)

The Good Fight: The Feuds of the Founding Fathers (and How They Shaped the Nation) by Anne Quirk; illus. by Elizabeth Baddeley Intermediate    Knopf    118 pp.    g 8/17    978-1-5247-0035-5    $16.99 Library ed.  978-1-5247-0036-2    $19.99 e-book ed.  978-1-5247-0119-2    $10.99 “It hurts to be on the wrong side of history. Winners, like George Washington, have great cities […]

Review of The Street Beneath My Feet

The Street Beneath My Feet by Charlotte Guillain; illus. by Yuval Zommer Primary, Intermediate    Quarto    24 pp. 5/17    978-1-68297-136-9    $22.95 Turn the sturdy pages of this large book from bottom to top for an accordion-folded journey to the center of the Earth. Successive vertical spreads show readers the layers of animal, vegetable, and mineral life […]

Review of Take a Picture of Me, James VanDerZee!

Take a Picture of Me, James VanDerZee! by Andrea J. Loney; illus. by Keith Mallett Primary    Lee & Low    40 pp.    g 6/17    978-1-62014-260-8    $19.95 One of the most memorable visual artists of the Harlem Renaissance was photographer James VanDerZee. In a picture-book biography that follows VanDerZee from his childhood interest in photography to his […]

Review of Maya Lin: Artist-Architect of Light and Lines: Designer of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial

Maya Lin: Artist-Architect of Light and Lines: Designer of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial by Jeanne Walker Harvey; illus. by Dow Phumiruk Primary    Ottaviano/Holt    32 pp. 5/17    978-1-250-11249-1    $17.99 In its early pages, this quiet and contemplative picture-book biography sets up artist-architect Maya Lin’s fascination with spaces, natural and human-made, and their dynamic relationship with phenomena […]