Category Archives: Ages 9-12

Countdown, 2979 Days to the Moon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Countdown, 2979 Days to the Moon
by Suzanne Slade, illustrated by Thomas Gonzalez
Peachtree Publishers, 2018

For readers interested in space, Countdown, documents the Apollo Project whose mission was to land a man on the moon and bring him back by the end of the 1960’s.  At the time is was an outrageous dream.  Two countries, the U.S. and the Soviet Union, dared to chase it.

The Apollo team had to design, build and test four new crafts: the command module, to carry the crew to the moon and back; the service module, to provide electricity, oxygen, and other supplies; the lunar module, that will land on the moon and provide a home there; and the Saturn rocket, to launch the entire mission into space.

Countdown, an oversized book filled with pictures of the dreamers, space and the technologies, captures the thrill, the tension, and the seemingly impossibility of the Apollo Project. It’s well written, well documented and may well inspire new astronauts and scientists.  A perfect gift for the holidays.

Read more reviews on Amazon.

Step up to the Plate, Maria Singh

Step up to the Plate, Maria Singh
by Uma Krishnaswami
Tu Books, 2017

Set in Yolo County California in the 1940s. The top story features Maria Singh, a girl from a mixed marriage (India/Mexico) who loves baseball, but woven into the story are multiple subplots.  The rich layers include: a heartfelt story on how the family and community made up of different cultures support each other during important challenges, even when they may not normally support each other; old laws where people not from America can’t purchase their own land; interracial marriages are not allowed; and baseball for girls. It includes insights on women working during World War II when men were on the battlefields.

I heard Uma Krishnaswami speak at a picture book bootcamp and she gave a talk like no other I have heard.  I felt empowered to write.  She detailed several of her journeys to publication, sharing how the stories started, evolved and ended.   Insightful and meaningful.

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Little Leaders, Bold Women in Black History

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Little Leaders, Bold Women in Black History
by Vashti Harrison
Little, Brown and Company, 2018

Little Leaders celebrates 40 well-known and little-known women who changed history in little or big ways.  From currently popular women, like Oprah Winfrey, to little-known women like Alma Woodsey Thomas.  Like other collections of women  who made a difference, I’m amazed at the variety and caliber of careers, especially those in history where women having careers wasn’t allowed.  From medical researchers, to physicians, to spies, to astronauts, engineers, filmmakers and more.  For many of these women, they made their mark against all odds, just quietly going about their work. An inspiring and eye-opening collection for girls and boys from all backgrounds.

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Write Your Own Haiku for Kids

Write Your Own Haiku for Kids
by Patricia Donegan
Tuttle Publishing, 2017

Filled with haiku, this book introduces the seven keys to writing haiku and, step by step, helps readers identify into words the five senses of their haiku moment.  New writers can review their haiku with a checklist.  The book also covers other forms of haiku, including visual forms and seasonal haiku.  Haibun (stories in haiku), haiga (haiku with drawings) and Renga (linked poetry) are also included, along with activities that can be done with haiku, like making a small book from one sheet of paper.  The book offers readers an immersion into haiku and its many forms, generously sprinkling haiku and writing prompts to assist in learning.  Many haiku are written by other children, to encourage children to plunge into the new poetry form.

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Martin Rising, Requiem for a King 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Martin Rising: Requiem for a King 
Andrea Davis Pinkney, illustrated by Brian Pinkney
Scholastic Press, 2018

A collection of brilliant “docu-poems” summarizing Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s(MLK) birth, life and family, and time up to the weeks and months before his death. The time before his death includes his birthday January 15 through April 4, 1968. The story includes the sanitation worker’s strike in Memphis and its challenges, MLK’s last sermon and his last night. It also includes the half-mast flags, funeral and mourning of a community who had lost their leader. Author Andrea Davis weaves in MLK quotes on love into a valentine poem ending with,

“…folks in Memphis
are down on their knees
proposing to Equality:
Be mine!”

The book introduces readers to acronyms like GOD: Gift of Desperation, their motivation for the strike, and COME: Community on the Move for Equality. She uses Henny Penny, a chicken of “The Sky is Falling” fame, as narrator to illuminate, punctuate and foretell events in the story.

In loose, vibrant colors, Brian Pinkney’s illustrations show the emotions of the events, both emotions displayed and emotions held in by the African-American community during their struggles. A brilliant piece of work on all accounts.

Read more reviews and purchase on Amazon.

The Book of Chocolate, The Amazing Story of the World’s Favorite Candy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Book of Chocolate, The Amazing Story of the World’s Favorite Candy
by HP Newquist
Viking, 2017

This book is a chocolate lover’s delight for both adults and children!

The history of chocolate begins in ancient times with the cocoa bean and goes up until 2015’s top selling chocolates.  Everything about chocolate you ever wondered is in this book.  I completed it’s 147 pages in a weekend.  As a history buff, I loved the stories of how chocolate started as, basically, cottage industries in the United States.  How the families battled to make their own unique chocolates successful, how the second world war influenced the industry and helped bring peace to the world.

The book contains fun factoids, like, “Research has found that countries where people eat a lot of chocolate also produce a lot of Nobel Prize winners”, with Switzerland at the top with 26 pounds of chocolate per person and 32 Nobel Prize winners per 10 million people.  The book includes old advertisements, old photos, and geography lessons, too.  Maps show that 71.2% of cocoa beans grow in Africa.  Wonderfully written, easy to read and you better have a box of chocolates on hand!

Read more reviews and purchase on Amazon.  Great gift book!

The Pomegranate Witch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Pomegranate Witch
by Denise Doyen, illustrated by Eliza Wheeler
Chronicle Books, 2017

This haunting tale of the Pomegranate Witch will be appreciated by adults as well as titillating for children.  Written in ‘dense’ rhyme, each word contributes to the story’s ambiance and action.

On the edge of town stood the spooky pomegranate tree where kids scared themselves with made-up tales, daring each other to grab the trees treasure.  Finally, five brave adventurers take on the task. Surprising them, the Pomegranate Witch challenges them to a duel, the next day, at noon.  While their second plan of attack, plan B, is in progress, their youngest member sneaks in a back gate and steals a treasure.  They won!  Then Kindly Lady, whose sister is the witch, or so she says…, invites them over for Halloween cheer.  The perfect tale for a late night scare.

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Zoo Scientists to the Rescue

Zoo Scientists to the Rescue
by Patricia Newman, photographs by Annie Crawley
Millbrook Press, 2018

Written in kid-friendly terms, this book provides a fascinating, in-depth look at how zoo scientists are helping orangutans, black-footed ferrets and black rhinos, three animals on the Critically Endangered list.

Meredith Bastian studied orangutans in the field for several years, observing behaviors from the moment they woke, until they laid down to sleep. Her data has helped orangutans in both the wild and in zoos. She later worked at the Philadelphia Zo to integrate conservation into its operation.

Jeff Baughman helps manage the revival of the almost extinct black-footed ferret. In 1981 130 ferrets were discovered and Jeff is instrumental in expanding the population and returning it to the wild.

Rachel Santymire studied black rhinos in Africa to learn how to help them in zoos and in the field.  Rachel specializes in studying ‘poop’, which provides invaluable information about their lives.

The book also provides zoo history, conservation, and career information about zoo scientists.  The photos are outstanding and draw in both young and adult readers.

Read more reviews and purchase on Amazon.

Sea Otter Heroes, The Predators that Saved an Ecosystem

 

Sea Otter Heroes, The Predators that Saved an Ecosystem
by Patricia Newman
Millbrook Press, 2017
Sibert Informational Honor Award for Non-Fiction

Why is the Elkhorn Slough, an estuary, where freshwater mixes with ocean water, contain abundant meadows of seagrass, whereas nearly every other estuary on the Pacific coast does not?  This book tells the story of a scientist who wondered why and studied the phenomenon until he knew.

With generous photos, charts, graphs, and ‘clues’, author Patricia Newman keeps readers curious and turning the pages, while she discusses each hypothesis the scientist made and discarded during his research. In clear, age-appropriate language, Newman invites readers to do their own thinking.  She shows them how much it works to reach the “aha” moment and how much more meticulous work it takes to prove a hypothesis.  The book discusses how the findings are applied to other environments.  It also includes a section that invites readers to rethink their relationship with wildlife.   Sea Otter Heroes is an excellent introduction to science, scientific method, and environmental studies.  The science was performed off Monterey Bay, California.

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Out of Wonder, Poems Celebrating Poets

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Out of Wonder, Poems Celebrating Poets

By Kwame Alexander with Chris Colderley and Marjory Wentworth.
Illustrated by Ekua Holmes
Candlewick Press, 2017

It’s a delight to read each poem celebrating a poet and written in that poet’s ‘style’.  This poem collection is packed with freshness, with so many layers going on at once.  Poets celebrated include Robert Frost, e.e. cummings, Nikki Giovanni, and Langston Hughes, twenty in all.

Using bright, bold colors and shapes, Ekua, a fine artist, uses mixed-media collages to explore the poem’s message in visual form. Each poems’ illustration is uniquely and masterfully done.  This is a treat for poetry lovers and an interesting way to introduce poets to young readers.

The book includes an afterword with a few paragraphs on each poet celebrated and on the three poets who created this collection.  Good energy exudes from between the covers.  A book worth picking up.

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