Titanic: Voices from the Disaster by Deborah Hopkinson Intermediate, Middle School Scholastic 290 pp. 3/12 978-0-545-11674-9 $17.99 Hopkinson knows precisely what’s she doing in her coverage of the Titanic disaster: providing young readers with a basic introduction to the event without overdramatizing, drawing unwarranted conclusions, or prolonging the ordeal. She begins her account as the […]
Two horrific tragedies and an infamous hoax: these nonfiction titles bring headline-worthy events from nearly one hundred years ago to new life for contemporary readers. In Blizzard of Glass: The Halifax Explosion of 1917, Sally M. Walker sets the stage with a brief history of Halifax, Nova Scotia; a summary of World War I; an […]
To the Mountaintop: My Journey Through the Civil Rights Movement [New York Times Books] by Charlayne Hunter-Gault Middle School, High School Flash Point/Roaring Brook 195 pp. 1/12 978-1-59643-605-3 $22.99 One of the first two students to successfully desegregate an all-white college in the South looks back at six pivotal years of the U.S. civil rights […]
Food chains, Arctic migration, animal communication, and evolution: four new picture books for young readers take on some complex and fascinating topics. In Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld’s Secrets of the Garden: Food Chains and the Food Web in Our Backyard, narrator Alice tells readers how her family grows edible plants, raises chickens, and interacts with a […]
Winner: Balloons over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade by Melissa Sweet; illus. by the author (Houghton) At Macy’s department store, marionette maker Tony Sarg started inside and worked his way out. He designed mechanical storybook figures for Macy’s window displays before inventing the giant balloon characters that would become the […]
In the age of preschool princesses and teenage werewolves, nonfiction, conspicuously, has class. That came across buoyantly in the March/April 2011 issue of the Horn Book, where prominent persons in the field wrote about their work and what today’s nonfiction aspires to.
Their aims are admirable, their commitment is impressive, their enthusiasm is infectious; as a cadre, they have a lot to be proud of. But not because their work, however fine, surpasses the work of their predecessors. It isn’t better researched or better illustrated, as some of the contributors suggest, and it certainly isn’t more venturesome. In kids’ nonfiction, “going where no adult book has gone before” is nothing new.
At Macy’s department store, marionette maker Tony Sarg started inside and worked his way out. He designed mechanical storybook figures for Macy’s window displays before inventing the giant balloon characters that would become the signature feature of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Sweet’s whimsical mixed-media collages, embellished with little dolls she made herself out of odds and ends, reinforce the theme that, for Sarg, work was play. He loved his job just as much as the cheering crowds loved his balloons (one of Sweet’s watercolor illustrations shows open-mouthed children fairly dancing with delight).
Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans by Kadir Nelson; illus. by the author Intermediate | Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins | 108 pp. 9/11 | 978-0-06-173074-0 | $19.99 “Most folks my age and complexion don’t speak much about the past,” begins the unnamed narrator of this graceful and personalized overview of African American history. But […]