Wednesday, October 29, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: Informational Books: We are the Ship by Kadir Nelson




1.  BIBLIOGRAPHY
Nelson, Kadir.  We are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball.  New York: Hyperion Books, 2008.  ISBN 0786808322.

2.  PLOT SUMMARY
In the late turn of the 20th century, racial segregation was still prevalent in the United States. In order to play professional baseball, African American athletes formed their own teams and leagues.  With the help of Rube Foster, the Negro National League was formed. By playing harder and more difficult games, these players honed their skills as ball players and went on to entertain people across America and Cuba.  They barnstormed major teams, played winter ball in other countries, and even formed their own World Series.  Their drive to be the best at the sport they loved put players like Hank Aaron and Jackie Robinson in the spot-light to break the color line and re-open Major League Baseball to African American players.

3.  CRITICAL ANALYSIS

The history of Negro League Baseball is not a pretty one, but it is one that deserves to be told.  Kadir Nelson uses his narrative as if a player is walking you straight through the hardships to the Major Leagues.  From being run out of major clubs and even towns through forming their own teams, leagues, and even World Series, Nelson’s narrator radiates hope and a dogged perseverance displayed by so many of the players he talks about.  The story is heart-breaking, but has a happy ending.  However, it’s the paintings included in the book that keep you turning the pages.  Each is lovingly brushed and at times it seems like the players themselves are looking right at the reader as you share in their little victories.  The two page spread of the first Negro World Series is carefully recreated right down to the names, giving a vitality to the players and coaches.  Nelson provides careful research while still adding in some of the feelings that must have gone through each of the players when only a select few of the players made it into the farm teams and major leagues of baseball.  He even includes a passage on why he chose to narrate the book through a first person rather than just give the facts of the story, which helps this to read more like listening to your grandfather’s tales than a history lesson.

4.  REVIEW EXCERPT(S)
2009 SIBERT MEDAL
2009 CORETTA SCOTT KING AWARD FOR AUTHORS
From SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL – "The history of the Leagues echoes the social and political struggles of black America during the first half of the 20th century. There were scores of ballplayers who never became as famous as Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb and were almost lost in obscurity because of segregation—and Nelson recreates their history here."
From BOOKLIST -- "The narrative showcases the pride and comradery of the Negro Leagues, celebrates triumphing on one’s own terms and embracing adversity, even as it clearly shows the “us” and “them” mentality bred by segregation. If the story is the pitch, though, it’s the artwork that blasts the book into the stands. Nelson often works from a straight-on vantage point, as if the players took time out of the action to peer at the viewer from history, eyes leveled and challenging, before turning back to the field of play."

5.  CONNECTIONS
Gather other books that discuss the history of baseball such as:
     Kahn, Roger. THE BOYS OF SUMMER.  ISBN 0060883960.

Gather other Kadir Nelson books to read such as:
     NELSON MANDELA.  ISBN 0061783749.

BOOK REVIEW: Informational Books: Invincible Microbe by Jim Murphy and Alison Blank




1.  BIBLIOGRAPHY
Murphy, Jim and Alison Blank.  Invincible Microbe: Tuberculosis and the Never-ending Search for a Cure.  Boston: Clarion Books, 2012.  ISBN 9780618535743.

2.  PLOT SUMMARY
Did you know that tuberculosis is one of the oldest known diseases? And that skulls of cavemen show signs of being infected by this infectious killer.  Jim Murphy and Alison Blank walk through centuries of fascinating history about this tiny microbe, coupled with drawings from early sufferers evolving along with treatments and trials paired with pictures of the doctors and patients who began to pioneer scientific cures. They bring the reader through the dark ages and leech treatments through to the sanatoriums that spread across the nation like resort hotels. While this book is information packed and the tone is serious and scientific, it never feels like it drags or feels like a text book, which will help readers navigate the history of this disease and mankind inside.

3.  CRITICAL ANALYSIS
It seemed like the black and white images and newspaper like tone of Invincible Microbe were going to keep this book a slow plod of overwhelming information.  However, Murphy and Blank keep the information light enough to read cover to cover, even when discussing such a heavy topic.  The black and white drawings, prints, and photo reproductions help to give a face to not only the sufferers, but to those who applied the knowledge they had to stopping the spread and seeking a cure for this highly contagious disease.  The writing maintains and easy flow and a positive attitude that life for the patients will get better, just around the next page.  While the outline feels like an old-fashioned newspaper, the text itself keeps the reader from getting bogged down in the abundance of information.  Organized by time frame, from the earliest known (and presumed) accounts toward modern research and medicine, this book marches forward at a steady pace.  Pages of source materials and footnotes throughout the book show the amount of research that went to making this a well organized source of history and information on one of the world’s oldest documented diseases.

4.  REVIEW EXCERPT(S)
2013 NSTA OUTSTANDING SCIENCE TRADE BOOKS FOR STUDENTS K—12
KIRKUS REVIEWS BEST TEEN BOOKS OF 2012
BOOKLIST TOP 10 BOOKS FOR YOUTH 2012, SCIENCE & HEALTH
ALSC 2013 NOTABLE CHILDREN’S BOOKS, OLDER READER
From KIRKUS REVIEWS – "Lively text complemented by excellent well-placed reproductions of photographs, drawings, flyers, woodcuts, posters and ads . . . . Who knew the biography of a germ could be so fascinating?"
From SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL – “The writing is crisp and clinical . . . Students researching diseases or medical breakthroughs will find this book both informative and interesting.”

5.  CONNECTIONS
Gather other books about dark times and triumph in America to read such as:
     Sheinkin, Steve.  BOMB: THE RACE TO BUILD – AND STEAL – THE WORLD’S MOST DANGEROUS WEAPON.  ISBN 1596434872.
     Scott, Elaine.  BURIED ALIVE! HOW 33 MINERS SURVIVED 69 DAYS DEEP UNDER THE CHILEAN DESERT.  ISBN 0547707789.
     Rusch, Elizabeth.  THE MIGHTY MARS ROVERS: THE INCREDIBLE ADVENTURES OF SPIRIT AND OPPORTUNITY.  ISBN 054747881X.

Gather other books by Jim Murphy:
     BLIZZARD!: THE STORM THAT CHANGED AMERICA.  ISBN 0590673106.

Monday, October 27, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: Informational Books: What to do about Alice by Barbara Kerley




1.  BIBLIOGRAPHY
Kerley, Barbara. What to do about Alice?: How Alice Roosevelt Broke the Rules, Charmed the World, and Drove her Father Teddy Crazy!  Ills.by Edwin Fotheringham.  New York: Scholastic Press, 2008.  ISBN  0439922313.

2.  PLOT SUMMARY
Alice Lee Roosevelt, daughter of beloved President Teddy Roosevelt, has never let anything come in the way of “eating up the world.”  From educating herself and refusing to go to boarding school to jumping into a ship’s pool fully clothed, she has always done exactly as she wanted.  Kerley, with the help of Edwin Fotheringham’s colorful digital art, illuminates the life of this beloved first daughter - from her childhood running around Washington D.C. and the White House, to becoming one of her father’s most trusted advisers and ambassadors around the world.  Alice jumps off the page with text and illustration as active and lively as she is.  As her father once said, “I can be president of the United States, or I can control Alice.  I cannot possibly do both.” We can only be grateful for that!

3.  CRITICAL ANALYSIS
Kerley does a fantastic job of bringing young Alice Roosevelt to life as she flits across the pages.  Paired with Fotheringham’s art in this colorful large volume format, Alice’s personality fills the pages and bright colors, like Alice’s red dress leap from the pages.  Alice’s zest for trying everything comes across through not only the words, but the juxtaposition of the text with the images.  Using her age as a way to actively organize the narrative, Kerley adds in details from newspapers and biographies to keep the story true to the people, but maintaining a fascinating subject.  From images of her greeting White House guests with a pet snake to driving her little sporty car around a double page spread, the reader gets a feel for her wild-child antics turned into beloved ambassador and adviser. 

4.  REVIEW EXCERPT(S)
SIBERT HONOR BOOK
BOSTON GLOBE-HORN BOOK HONOR BOOK
IRMA BLACK AWARD HONOR BOOK
PARENTS CHOICE AWARD
WASHINGTON STATE SCANDIUZZI CHILDREN'S BOOK AWARD
CALIFORNIA COLLECTIONS
A PUBLISHERS WEEKLY BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR
A SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR
A KIRKUS REVIEWS BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR
AN ALA NOTABLE BOOK
CAPITOL CHOICES
NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY 100 TITLES FOR READING AND SHARING
FROM SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL – “Kerley’s text gallops along with a vitality to match her subject’s antics, as the girl greets White House visitors accompanied by her pet snake, refuses to let leg braces cramp her style, dives fully clothed into a ship’s swimming pool, and also earns her place in history as one of her father’s trusted advisers. Fotheringham’s digitally rendered, retro-style illustrations are a superb match for the text.”
From BOOKLIST – “Irrepressible Alice Roosevelt gets a treatment every bit as attractive and exuberant as she was....The large format gives Fotheringham, in his debut, plenty of room for spectacular art.”

5.  CONNECTIONS
Gather other informational books by Barbara Kerley such as:
     Ills. Edwin Fotheringham.  THE EXTRAORDINARY MARK TWAIN (ACCORDING TO SUSY).  ISBN 0545125081.
     Ills. National Geographic photographers.  A COOL DRINK OF WATER.  ISBN 0792267230.

Gather other informational biographies about famous people, such as:
     Davies, Jacqueline.  THE BOY WHO DREW BIRDS:  A STORY OF JOHN JAMES AUDUBON. ISBN0618243437.
     Bryant, Jen.  Ills. Melissa Sweet. THE RIGHT WORD: ROGET AND HIS THESAURUS.  ISBN 0802853854.
     Berne, Jennifer.  Ills. Éric Puybaret. MANFISH: A STORY OF