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Reviews of the 2018 Boston Globe–Horn Book Nonfiction Award Winner and Honor Books

Nonfiction Winner

Photographic: The Life of Graciela Iturbide
by Isabel Quintero; illus. by Zeke Peña
Middle School, High School     Getty     95 pp.
3/18     978-1-94744-000-5     $19.95

[review to come]

 

 

 

Honor Books

The 57 Bus
by Dashka Slater
High School    Farrar    306 pp.
10/17    978-0-374-30323-5    $17.99
e-book ed.  978-0-374-30325-9    $9.99

It was late afternoon on Monday, November 4, 2013. Sasha was napping on the 57 bus in Oakland, California, when Richard, egged on by friends, set their gauzy skirt on fire. (Sasha is genderqueer and prefers the pronoun they.) Sasha survived, but sustained third-degree burns on their calves and thighs. The incident was captured on video cameras installed in the bus, and the next day Richard was arrested for a hate crime and processed in the justice system. From the start, the deck was stacked against Richard, an African American teenager with a criminal history, who had now committed a horrific crime that grabbed media attention, caused national outrage, and fomented local protests. Slater goes beyond the headlines to tell the very human stories behind these individuals and their families (although it’s clear she did not have as much personal access to Richard as she did to Sasha). It’s a powerful story of class and race (Sasha is white), gender and identity, justice and mercy, love and hate. Using interviews, court documents, and news accounts, Slater has crafted a compelling true-crime story with ramifications for our most vulnerable youth. JONATHAN HUNT

From the January/February 2018 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

 

A Hundred Billion Trillion Stars
by Seth Fishman; illus. by Isabel Greenberg
Primary    Greenwillow    40 pp.
9/17    978-0-06-245578-9    $17.99

“This entire world is filled with crazy numbers, built one on top of the other, making it whole and complete.” Fishman and Greenberg engagingly highlight the wondrousness of numbers and stars, as well as just about everything about our home planet. Fishman exchanges science writing’s traditional stiffness for a confiding tone (“The strange thing is that seven billion five hundred million humans weigh about the same as ten quadrillion ants”). Illustrator Greenberg, too, eschews the typical facts-foisting book’s physical correctness in her kinetic digital art: she presents kids who hoist the earth while stepping on a bathroom scale, fly around the world, and otherwise defy the laws of physics in order to illustrate the ideas presented. The book beautifully succeeds in its mission to convey to young readers the vastness of the numbers in our midst while reassuring them that, although each of us is one of billions of people roaming the earth today, “there’s only one of YOU. Right here, right now, reading this book.” A final illustration suggests a child reading aloud to a captive audience of pets and stuffed animals. An author’s note clarifies that the tallies in this book are only approximations, as the number of each thing being counted is always in flux:  “By the time you’re done reading this book, almost every single number in it will have changed.” NELL BERAM

From the January/February 2018 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

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