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Architecture and engineering

Corey, Shana  The Secret Subway Gr. K–3, 4–6     40 pp.     Random/Schwartz & Wade Illustrated by Red Nose Studio. This tour de force tells of nineteenth-century inventor Alfred Ely Beach’s solution to New York City’s crowded streets: in 1870, he unveiled the first underground train, which went back and forth in a 294-foot tunnel. (Self-serving bigwigs […]

Farm to table

Barker, David M.  Organic Foods Gr. 4–6, middle school     64 pp.     Lerner Hand, Carol  Urban Gardening Gr. 4–6, middle school          64 pp.     Lerner Mickelson, Trina  Free-Range Farming Gr. 4–6, middle school          64 pp.     Lerner Perdew, Laura  Eating Local Gr. 4–6, middle school          64 pp.     Lerner Growing Green series. This series for upper-middle-grades focusing on “green” […]

Civics and community

Ancona, George  Can We Help?: Kids Volunteering to Help Their Communities Gr. K–3     48 pp.     Candlewick Straightforward text describes various ways that children can help those in need: through knitting hats for the homeless, tending a community garden that donates its produce, etc. Young readers may find the text cumulatively leaden, but they’ll pore over […]

Young people making a difference

Freedman, Russell  We Will Not Be Silent: The White Rose Student Resistance Movement That Defied Adolf Hitler Gr. 4–6, middle school     104 pp.     Clarion Freedman’s photohistory is an excellent overview of the White Rose resistance movement, a group of university students who, beginning in June 1942 in Munich, Germany, risked their lives to write and […]

Five questions for Andrea Davis Pinkney

A Poem for Peter: The Story of Ezra Jack Keats and the Creation of The Snowy Day (Viking, 7–9 years) by Andrea Davis Pinkney is a loving tribute to an iconic picture-book character, Peter — one of the first African American children in picture books — and his creator, Ezra Jack Keats, author and illustrator […]

Review of A Poem for Peter: The Story of Ezra Jack Keats and 
the Creation of The Snowy Day

A Poem for Peter: The Story of Ezra Jack Keats and 
the Creation of The Snowy Day by Andrea Davis Pinkney; illus. by 
Lou Fancher and Steve Johnson Primary, Intermediate    Viking    56 pp. 11/16    978-0-425-28768-2    $18.99 In evocative verse, Pinkney presents a picture book biography of Ezra Jack Keats, creator of the children’s classic The […]

History of war

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” The following books for middle schoolers describe the horrors of twentieth-century wars and urge readers to learn from history’s mistakes. Uprooted: The Japanese American Experience During World War II by Albert Marrin opens briefly with a prologue set on the day of the attack […]

Review of Antsy Ansel: Ansel Adams, a Life in Nature

Antsy Ansel: Ansel Adams, a Life in Nature by Cindy Jenson-Elliott; illus. by Christy Hale Primary    Ottaviano/Holt    32 pp. 9/16    978-1-62779-082-6    $17.99 This peppy picture book biography of nature photographer Ansel Adams describes an “antsy” young boy whose propensity to get into trouble was allayed only by being in the great outdoors. Sonorous language, including […]

Review of Comics Confidential: Thirteen Graphic Novelists Talk Story, Craft, and Life Outside the Box

Comics Confidential: Thirteen Graphic Novelists Talk Story, Craft, and Life Outside the Box compiled and edited by Leonard S. Marcus Middle School, High School    Candlewick    176 pp. 9/16    978-0-7636-5938-7    $24.99 A foreword by David Small and Marcus’s brief outline of the history of comics introduce the book. Marcus (The Wand in the Word: Conversations with […]

Review of Esquivel!: Space-Age Sound Artist

Esquivel!: Space-Age Sound Artist by Susan Wood; illus. by Duncan Tonatiuh Primary, Intermediate    Charlesbridge    32 pp. 9/16    978-1-58089-673-3    $17.95 e-book ed.  978-1-60734-825-2    $9.99 Growing up in Mexico, Juan Garcia Esquivel got an earful of mariachi, but he wanted to create his own sound. Self-taught and persistent, he was playing piano at a radio station at […]