Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Floodwaters and Flames: The 1913 Disaster in Dayton, Ohio



Much like “The Hole Story of the Doughnut,” Lois Miner Huey shares her spark of inspiration for penning this story of the Dayton Flood.  In an Author’s Note, she indicates she noticed high water marks on the brick wall of a New York Factory Building recording historic floods and that one bore the year “1913.”  Having seen something similar, I could make a personal connection as a reader.  In a restaurant in Manayunk, there are high water marks for a number storms that hit the Philadelphia area over the years.

The photographs selected for inclusion are remarkable.  One that strikes me, is of survivors of the flood tightrope walking (or at least, trying to…) telegraph wires high above the ground and the swelling water.

The map including photos noting the location of the people featured through the story was helpful to understand where the disaster hit hardest.  The story reminds me of one where there are multiple different people’s perspectives that converge as one.  The writing is masterfully done and a bibliography and source notes, as well as a timeline, are helpful to readers wanting to learn more,


Title: Floodwaters and Flames: The 1913 Disaster in Dayton, Ohio
Author: Lois Miner Huey
Published 2016 by Millbrook Press
ISBN: 9781467794329


This copy was borrowed from the public library for purpose of review.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Masters of Disguise: Amazing Animal Tricksters



Masters of Disguise takes animal adaptation to a new level.  By introducing readers to the scientists (and the science) behind each of the stories, I can imagine children putting themselves in the scientist’s shoes, making an observation and following it up with documentation, video or audio recording to test if their inkling of why an animal does what it does was in reality the reason.  The fascinating thing about each of these stories is that the scientists even found the creatures at all.  Some of them blend in so well with their surroundings that discovery itself seems improbable.  Akin to the movie Jerry Maguire’s “You had me at hello,” Rebecca L. Johnson “had me at coat of many ant corpses”.  Joseph’s technicolor dream color coat couldn’t possibly compare to the assassin bug’s ant corpse coat.  Talk about a hook for a reader!!  

Want to see what an Assassin Bug looks like wearing a “backpack of ant corpses?”  Check out the books, websites, and videos included in the back of the book, like this one:



I love that scientists working on multiple continents are included and that both female and male scientists are involved in the projects represented on the pages of “Masters of Disguise.”  

Here is another video included in the backmatter, this one with Phil Torres explaining his research of the puppet building spider.



This book is well researched with source notes, photo acknowledgements, and a selected bibliography.  



Title: Masters of Disguise: Amazing Animal Tricksters
Author: Rebecca L. Johnson
Published 2016 by Millbrook Press
ISBN: 978-1-5124-0087-8


This book was borrowed from the public library for purpose of review.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Step Right Up: How Doc and Jim Key Taught the World About Kindness




This book is well sourced and includes an extensive Afterword.  This story of Doc and Jim Key is absolutely incredible!  The fact that William (Doc) Key received an education at all as an enslaved boy at the time is incredible in and of itself, but a detail in the afterword may have also pointed to the reason beyond the kindness of his owners; that William (Doc) was likely biologically a cousin to his owners.  When the Civil War ended and Doc set out on his own, he displayed quite the entrepreneurial spirit in marketing and selling his liniment, which became his first claim to success.  The Beautiful Jim Key would be his second.  The story is told to outline the highlights and the afterword goes into even greater detail.  Doc and Jim Key’s “act” brought attention to the capacity of animals to learn when treated kindly and humanely.  

Title: Step Right Up: How Doc and Jim Key Taught the World About Kindness
Author: Donna Janell Bowman
Illustrator: Daniel Minter
Published 2016 by Lee & Low Books Inc.
ISBN: 9781620141489


This copy was borrowed from the public library for purpose of review.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Happy New Year...and CYBILS day!



Today's the day!  Tune in to the CYBILS website for announcements of finalist lists today!

Follow @cybils on twitter too!

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Around America to Win the Vote: Two Suffragists, a Kitten, and 10,000 Miles



Recently, there was a hashtag that I found quite disturbing #Repealthe19th.  {As with several of my other posts, you can tell that I wrote this pre-election and published it later} This was following a poll that indicated a presidential candidate would likely win if only men voted.  Fortunately, women live in this democracy.  But this trending hashtag showed that there were women willing to give up their vote if it ensured their candidate’s success.  I am proud to live in a country that values the votes of ALL the people.  And “Around America to Win the Vote” opens a window to the historical moments that helped carve the decision around the 19th Amendment.  What I hadn’t known about the fight for women’s right to vote was that many states had started independently adopting this protection.  Indeed, a woman was elected to Congress before the right was awarded country-wide.  Hadley Hooper injects yellow into her illustrations as that was the color of the movement.  Sometimes it pops, as in the spread where Alice and Nell are braving a blizzard in their Golden Flier.  In another spread, it feels like a sea of yellow, and therefore a sea of support at the South Carolina all-yellow lunch.  Mara Rockliff narrows the story in to focus on both the trials and successes of the long journey.


Title: Around America to Win the Vote: Two Suffragists, a Kitten, and 10,000 Miles
Author: Mara Rockliff
Illustrator: Hadley Hooper
Published 2016 by Candlewick Press
ISBN: 978-0-7636-7893-7


This copy was borrowed from the public library for purpose of review.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Tiny Stitches: The Life of Medical Pioneer Vivien Thomas



What a remarkable story of hard work and selflessness.  Gwendolyn Hooks lays out details of Viven’s early life, including his experience with his master carpenter father, saving for the future and watching it all disappear during the stock market crash.  Vivian worked as a researcher at Vanderbilt University in an effort to get one step closer to medical school.  He fought discrimination and injustices related to the color of his skin both there and at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore.  Gwendolyn Hooks explains from beginning to end how the pieces fell into place in Vivien’s life that he was able to learn so much about surgery, all without having earned a degree from a university, so much so that he taught many world famous surgeons and pioneered open heart surgery in babies.


Title: Tiny Stitches: The Life of Medical Pioneer Vivien Thomas
Author: Gwendolyn Hooks
Illustrator: Colin Bootman
Published 2016 by Lee and Low Books Inc.
ISBN: 9781620141564


This copy was borrowed from the public library for purpose of review.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Plants Can’t Sit Still



I love Mia Posada’s illustrations of the many movements of plants.  The endpapers show the life cycle of a dandelion from start to finish to start again with seeds floating down to the ground.  Reading from a teacher’s perspective, this book would be PERFECT for introducing or highlighting active verbs.  The text of the action words are even highlighted with different colored text.  Pair that objective with a study of seeds and this text hits a number of different targets.  I’d love to read this and explore plant motion in nature or watch (or even better, create!) videos using time lapse technology to show the motion sped up.


The fact that Rebecca Hirsch lives in State College makes me think she might be a future author to invite for a visit at our school!

Title: Plants Can’t Sit Still
Author: Rebecca E. Hirsch
Illustrator: Mia Posado
Published 2016 by Hillbrook Press
ISBN: 9781467780315


This copy was borrowed from the public library for purpose of review.