March 2020, Nonfiction

What the Eagle Sees by Eldon Yellowhorn & Kathy Lowinger

What the Eagle Sees: Indigenous Stories of Rebellion and Renewal by Eldon Yellowhorn & Kathy Lowinger. November 12, 2019. Annick Press, 119 p. ISBN: 9781773213293.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

“There is no death. Only a change of worlds.”
       —Chief Seattle [Seatlh], Suquamish Chief       

What do people do when their civilization is invaded? Indigenous people have been faced with disease, war, broken promises, and forced assimilation. Despite crushing losses and insurmountable challenges, they formed new nations from the remnants of old ones, they adopted new ideas and built on them, they fought back, and they kept their cultures alive.

When the only possible “victory” was survival, they survived.

In this brilliant follow up to Turtle Island, esteemed academic Eldon Yellowhorn and award-winning author Kathy Lowinger team up again, this time to tell the stories of what Indigenous people did when invaders arrived on their homelands. What the Eagle Sees shares accounts of the people, places, and events that have mattered in Indigenous history from a vastly under-represented perspective—an Indigenous viewpoint.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Discrimination; Harsh realities of war; Racism; Violence

 

Reviews

Booklist starred (October 15, 2019 (Vol. 116, No. 4))
Grades 6-9. In Turtle Island (2017), Yellowhorn and Lowinger detailed North American Indigenous history up to 1492; here they document the resistance and resilience of Native peoples from European contact to the present. Thematic chapters explore early Viking settlements, slavery (especially as practiced by the Spanish), the prevalence of confederacies allying Indigenous groups, participation in wars (particularly the WWII Navajo code talkers), the changes horses brought to Indigenous society, forced migrations and massacres, attempts to assimilate Indigenous peoples into white society, prohibitions of Indigenous cultural activities, contemporary efforts toward reconciliation, and recognition of traditional knowledge. The tone is informative without becoming accusatory; indeed the facts (many of which will be new to young readers) speak clearly on their own. The choice of narrative style, inclusion of examples from all parts of North America, and an emphasis on personal stories over court decisions all result in a work that is highly accessible (and of interest) to a wide audience. Colorful, captioned illustrations (a mix of contemporary photographs, maps, and period reproductions) appear on almost every page, and numerous sidebars highlight topics of special interest. Framed with a discussion of the eagle and its importance to many Indigenous groups, Yellowhorn (a member of the Piikani Nation) and Lowinger have crafted a worthy and important addition to the historical record.

Kirkus Reviews starred (September 1, 2019)
The co-authors of Turtle Island: The Story of North America’s First People (2017) team up again, this time addressing encounters between the Indigenous people of North America and European invaders. A standout overview of Indigenous struggles, this slim volume highlights the scope of influence Europeans had on this continent by going beyond the standard story of English Pilgrims to include the Vikings and Spanish. The book follows a series of nonconsecutive events that highlight the resistance strategies, coping mechanisms, and renewal efforts undertaken by Indigenous nations primarily in present-day Canada and the U.S. Visually engaging, with colorful maps, drawings, photos, and artwork, the book includes modern moments in Native culture as well as history based on archaeological findings. Young readers will be introduced to an Indigenous astronaut and anthropologist as well as musicians, social activists, Olympians, soldiers, healers, and artists. The chapter titled “Assimilation” is a fine introduction to Indigenous identity issues, covering forcible conversion, residential schools, coercive adoption, and government naming policies. By no means comprehensive in their approach, Yellowhorn (Piikani) and Lowinger have focused on pivotal events designed to educate readers about the diversity of colonized experiences in the Americas. Sections in each chapter labeled “Imagine” are especially powerful in helping young readers empathize with Indigenous loss. Essential. (author’s note, glossary, selected sources, image credits, index) (Nonfiction. 10-13)

About the Authors

Eldon Yellowhorn (Piikani Nation) is a professor of First Nations Studies and archeology at Simon Fraser University. He and Kathy Lowinger wrote the critically-acclaimed Turtle Island: The Story of North America’s First People (2017).

His website is www.sfu.ca/indg/about/people/eldon-yellowhorn.html

 

Kathy Lowinger is an award-winning author whose books include Give Me Wings! How a Choir of Former Slaves Took on the World (2015), and Turtle Island: The Story of North America’s First People (2017).

 

 

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March 2020, Nonfiction

Broke by Jodie Adams Kirshner

Broke: Hardship and Resilience in a City of Broken Promises by Tina Connolly. November 19, 2019. St. Martin’s Press, 342 p. ISBN: 9781250220639.  Int Lvl: AD; Rdg Lvl: AD.

A galvanizing, narrative account of a city’s bankruptcy and its aftermath told through the lives of seven valiantly struggling Detroiters

Bankruptcy and the austerity it represents have become a common “solution” for struggling American cities. What do the spending cuts and limited resources do to the lives of city residents? In Broke, Jodie Adams Kirshner follows seven Detroiters as they navigate life during and after their city’s bankruptcy. Reggie loses his savings trying to make a habitable home for his family. Cindy fights drug use, prostitution, and dumping on her block. Lola commutes two hours a day to her suburban job. For them, financial issues are mired within the larger ramifications of poor urban policies, restorative negligence on the state and federal level and―even before the decision to declare Detroit bankrupt in 2013―the root causes of a city’s fiscal demise.

Like Matthew Desmond’s EvictedBroke looks at what municipal distress means, not just on paper but in practical―and personal―terms. More than 40 percent of Detroit’s 700,000 residents fall below the poverty line. Post-bankruptcy, they struggle with a broken real estate market, school system, and job market―and their lives have not improved.

Detroit is emblematic. Kirshner makes a powerful argument that cities―the economic engine of America―are never quite given the aid that they need by either the state or federal government for their residents to survive, not to mention flourish. Success for all America’s citizens depends on equity of opportunity.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Criminal culture; Discrimination; Drugs; Strong language

 

Reviews

Booklist (November 1, 2019 (Vol. 116, No. 5))
The city of Detroit was put into bankruptcy in 2013, weighed down by years of blight, urban flight, and fiscal mismanagement. The mortgage crisis of 2007 to 2008, the great recession, and the near insolvency of the “Big Three” automakers all factored heavily in the city’s problems. The city’s troubles began years before with the relocation of auto plants and outsourcing of jobs, and the financial crisis added an exclamation point to it. A research professor at New York University, Kirshner frames her narrative through the lives of various Detroit residents struggling to stay in the city they love. Miles is middle-aged, staring into financial oblivion while attempting to find work. Reggie aspires to own a home and settle down with his family. Determined Broadmoor resident Cindy seeks to clean up her neighborhood. These three are joined by others and united by the crushing onus of government oversight and misplaced intentions. While Detroit’s bankruptcy ended in late 2014, some glaring problems remain. This is a powerful view of the seldom-seen victims of financial calamity.

Kirkus Reviews starred (August 15, 2019)
A deep dive into the daily living of low-income Detroit residents as well as real estate speculators. Kirshner  received permission from seven individuals to conduct on-the-ground research about what occurs when a city is stuck under the weight of often arcane bankruptcy law. The burdens fall most heavily on people of color. Four of Kirshner’s protagonists are black: Miles, an ambitious mid-40s construction worker bedeviled by mistaken law enforcement paperwork suggesting he is a felon; Lola, a mid-20s single mother who cannot find a conveniently located job commensurate with her college education; Reggie, a mid-40s buyer of residential properties in a city decimated by abandoned homes often emptied through fraud initiated by white lenders; and Charles, a 50-ish faithful Detroiter who earned a livable income when the automobile industry was thriving in the city. The three white protagonists are Joe, a tree surgeon business owner who optimistically relocated from New Jersey; Robin, a late 40s property developer from Los Angeles who sees moneymaking opportunities purchasing abandoned houses in certain Detroit neighborhoods; and Cindy, an early 60s Detroiter who hung on as her longtime neighborhood shifted from mostly white to nearly all low-income black, with abandoned and vandalized houses on every block. Kirshner is masterful at explaining the predatory banking and insurance industry practices that have led to impoverishment across the entire city (except for the white establishment downtown), the heartlessness of white politicians (mostly Republicans) who seemingly operate from racist viewpoints, a judicial system that offers little justice for the poor, and bankruptcy law, which was never meant to be applied to city governments. Although immersed in the lives of her protagonists, the author wisely keeps a low profile within her eye-opening and sometimes heartbreaking narrative, which ends with a brief call to action. “We cannot allow the country to fragment into areas of varying opportunity,” she writes. A significant work of social sciences and urban studies.

About the Author

Jodie Adams Kirshner is a research professor at New York University. Previously on the law faculty at Cambridge University, she also teaches bankruptcy law at Columbia Law School. She is a member of the American Law Institute, past term member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and technical advisor to the Bank for International Settlements. She received a prestigious multi-year grant from the Kresge Foundation to research this book.

Her website is jodieadamskirshner.com/

Teacher Resources

Author Interview on C-Span’s BookTV

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March 2020, Nonfiction

Spies by Marc Favreau

Spies: The Secret Showdown Between American and Russia by Marc Favreau. October 1, 2019. Little, Brown and Company, 306 p. ISBN: 9780316545921.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

A thrilling account of the Cold War spies and spycraft that changed the course of history, perfect for readers of Bomb and The Boys Who Challenged Hitler.The Cold War spanned five decades as America and the USSR engaged in a battle of ideologies with global ramifications. Over the course of the war, with the threat of mutually assured nuclear destruction looming, billions of dollars and tens of thousands of lives were devoted to the art and practice of spying, ensuring that the world would never be the same.

Rife with intrigue and filled with fascinating historical figures whose actions shine light on both the past and present, this timely work of narrative nonfiction explores the turbulence of the Cold War through the lens of the men and women who waged it behind closed doors, and helps explain the role secret and clandestine operations have played in America’s history and its national security.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: None

 

Book Trailer

Reviews

Booklist starred (October 15, 2019 (Vol. 116, No. 4))
Grades 9-12. Though they were allies during WWII, tensions between the USSR and the U.S. quickly grew in its aftermath, driven largely by the development of nuclear weapons. As suspicion and fear grew between the two nations, two organizations dedicated to national security and the harvesting of information sprung up: the CIA in America and the KGB in Russia. Through profiles of spies on all sides of the conflict, acclaimed nonfiction author Favreau (Crash: The Great Depression and the Fall and Rise of America, 2018) unearths the human side of a long, secretive war. In four sections, he highlights key events (the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Space Race) while returning, always, to the players, lingering over the stories of people like George Blake, an uncommonly skilled KGB agent, or Marti Peterson, the CIA’s first female operative in Moscow. Neutral in his observations, Favreau offers up a measured, exquisitely researched slice of history. The text is beautifully sourced, and the back matter includes multiple glossaries, an extensive further reading list, key facts on the KGB and CIA, and brief overviews on espionage in Russia and the U.S. since the end of the Cold War. With chapters that often read like fiction, Favreau skillfully captures the tension of an era that, while it may seem bygone, has sent increasingly clear shockwaves into our world today. Buy for classrooms or for pleasure.

Kirkus Reviews (August 1, 2019)
The facts behind the fantastic lives of spies born from Cold War friction. A $20 million wire-tapping device, microfilm hidden in a pumpkin, crawling through sewers—it reads like fiction, but this isn’t James Bond. It’s the truth about some of the key players in obtaining enemy information (be that proclaimed enemy the USSR or USA). Spanning the period from 1945 to 1985 (dubbed “Year of the Spy”), the book recounts the journeys, goals, and outcomes of several spies—loyal, defected, and double agent—in tandem with the wars and threats to ways of life that produced them. Supported by transcripts of testimony, quotations, and stories that could easily be material for a summer blockbuster, Favreau (Crash, 2018, etc.) ably dissects their individual impetuses for entree into spydom, reasons for deceit, and cause for allegiance. The spies’ personal depths of dedication to creating false identities and the stress of shouldering secrets—or selling them—will inspire even reluctant historians to dig deeper and deeper. A breadth of supporting backmatter, including timelines, key KGB and CIA factoids, and glossaries for both the Cold War and espionage in general, is included, as is a list of suggested further reading for those whose interest has been exceptionally piqued. Ian Fleming couldn’t have dreamt up anything better. (historical notes, timeline, glossary, notes, primary sources, bibliography, index) (Nonfiction. 14-adult)

About the Author

Marc Favreau is an executive editor at The New Press. He is the acclaimed author of Crash: The Great Depression and the Fall and Rise of America and co-editor (with Ira Berlin and Steven F. Miller) of Remembering Slavery: African Americans Talk About Their Personal Experiences of Slavery and Emancipation and the editor of A People’s History of World War II: The World’s Most Destructive Conflict, as Told by the People Who Lived Through It, both published by The New Press. He lives in New York City and Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts.

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February 2020, Nonfiction

Accused! by Larry Dane Brimner

Accused!: The Trials of the Scottsboro Boys: Lies, Prejudice, and the Fourteenth Amendment by Larry Dane Brimner. October 15, 2019. Calkins Creek, 189 p. ISBN: 9781629797755.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

This chilling and harrowing account tells the story of the Scottsboro Boys, nine African-American teenagers who, when riding the rails during the Great Depression, found their lives destroyed after two white women falsely accused them of rape. Award-winning author Larry Dane Brimner explains how it took more than eighty years for their wrongful convictions to be overturned.

In 1931, nine teenagers were arrested as they traveled on a train through Scottsboro, Alabama. The youngest was thirteen, and all had been hoping to find something better at the end of their journey. But they never arrived. Instead, two white women falsely accused them of rape. The effects were catastrophic for the young men, who came to be known as the Scottsboro Boys. Being accused of raping a white woman in the Jim Crow south almost certainly meant death, either by a lynch mob or the electric chair. The Scottsboro boys found themselves facing one prejudiced trial after another, in one of the worst miscarriages of justice in U.S. history. They also faced a racist legal system, all-white juries, and the death penalty. Noted Sibert Medalist Larry Dane Brimner uncovers how the Scottsboro Boys spent years in Alabama’s prison system, enduring inhumane conditions and torture. The extensive back matter includes an author’s note, bibliography, index, and further resources and source notes.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Discrimination, Mild language, Racism

 

Reviews

Booklist starred (September 1, 2019 (Vol. 116, No. 1))
Grades 9-12. Brimner, who won the 2018 Sibert Award for his book Twelve Days in May: Freedom Ride 1961, now looks at the case of the Scottsboro boys, nine black teenagers who were arrested and falsely accused of raping two white women in 1931. The teenagers were riding the rails, hoping to find work in Alabama. Instead, they got into a fight with some white boys and were arrested when the train was stopped. But the fight wasn’t the only trouble they found—two white women who had been aboard the train accused them of rape. Brimner has his work cut out for himself in telling this complicated story. There are numerous accounts from defendants, witnesses, and lawyers; the perspective switches between the accused young men, who at times turn on each other; and the story contains important political and social elements, including an exploration of racism and the willingness of a Communist organization to defend the nine to promote its ideology. Not all the plates are kept in the air, but Brimner gives the narrative both heft and heart. The book’s design uses black-and-white photos to good advantage. A solid look at a noteworthy event that touched upon many aspects of U.S. society.

Kirkus Reviews starred (August 15, 2019)
Brimner (Blacklisted!, 2018, etc.) revisits the history of injustice in America. Brimner has extensively researched the heartbreaking story of the suffering and stolen futures of nine African American teens falsely accused of the rape of two white women in Alabama in 1931, laying all the facts on the table in a concise, gripping volume. The engaging, easy-to-follow text will draw readers into a historical account that mirrors many of today’s headlines. Ultimately, it took over 80 years for justice to finally be served for these young men; they were not fully exonerated until 2013. In the meantime, they were nearly lynched, attacked and beaten by guards, and faced execution. Even after they were released from prison, their lives were ruined, and they were never able to fully recover. The text is enhanced with primary sources including photos, newspaper clippings, ephemera, and court documents that give readers a sense of immediacy. The author’s note provides context about the enduring impact of the trials. This volume stands as a reminder to readers that lies have consequences and that no matter how long it takes, “We need to right the wrongs that have been done in the past.” The parallels between the perils the Scottsboro Boys endured and current news stories show the continued relevance of this history, making this a must-have for both school and public libraries. Engaging and historically accurate; highly recommended. (author’s note, bibliography, source notes, index, picture credits) (Nonfiction. 13-adult)

About the Author

Larry Dane Brimner is the recipient of the 2018 Robert F. Sibert Award for the most distinguished informational book for children for his title Twelve Days in May: Freedom Ride 1961. He is known for his well-researched, innovative, and award-winning nonfiction for young readers, and is the author of multiple acclaimed civil rights titles, including Strike!: The Farm Workers’ Fight for Their Rights; and Black & White: The Confrontation between Reverend Fred L. Shuttlesworth and Eugene “Bull” Connor.

His website is www.brimner.com.

Teacher Resources

Scottsboro Boys Lesson Plan

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February 2020, Nonfiction

Something Deeply Hidden by Sean Carroll

Something Deeply Hidden: Quantum Worlds and the Emergence of Spacetime by Sean Carroll. September 10, 2019. Dutton, 347 p. ISBN: 9781524743017.  Int Lvl: AD; Rdg Lvl: AD.

As you read these words, copies of you are being created.

Sean Carroll, theoretical physicist and one of this world’s most celebrated writers on science, rewrites the history of 20th century physics. Already hailed as a masterpiece, Something Deeply Hidden shows for the first time that facing up to the essential puzzle of quantum mechanics utterly transforms how we think about space and time.  His reconciling of quantum mechanics with Einstein’s theory of relativity changes, well, everything.

Most physicists haven’t even recognized the uncomfortable truth: physics has been in crisis since 1927. Quantum mechanics  has always had obvious gaps—which have come to be simply ignored. Science popularizers keep telling us how weird it is,  how impossible it is to understand. Academics discourage students from working on the “dead end” of quantum foundations. Putting his professional reputation on the line with this audacious yet entirely reasonable book, Carroll says that the crisis can now come to an end. We just have to accept that there is more than one of us in the universe. There are many, many Sean Carrolls. Many of every one of us.

Copies of you are generated thousands of times per second. The Many Worlds Theory of quantum behavior says that every time there is a quantum event, a world splits off with everything in it the same, except in that other world the quantum event didn’t happen. Step-by-step in Carroll’s uniquely lucid way, he tackles the major objections to this otherworldly revelation until his case is inescapably established.

Rarely does a book so fully reorganize how we think about our place in the universe. We are on the threshold of a new understanding—of where we are in the cosmos, and what we are made of.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: None

 

Book Trailer

Reviews

Booklist starred (August 2019 (Vol. 115, No. 22))
Armchair physicists everywhere know how Niels Bohr bested Albert Einstein in their clash over quantum mechanics. But Carroll convincingly shows that Bohr prevailed by offering powerful formulas while dodging the questions Einstein raised about the fundamental realities behind those formulas. Readers revisit these questions by pondering the puzzling consequences of any measurement in Bohr’s quantum system and considering the baffling failure of that system to explain the dynamics of quantum phenomena. Laying aside Bohr’s mystifications, Carroll finds a rigorous response to Einstein’s concerns in the quantum theorizing of Hugh Everett III. Readers will recognize the attractiveness of Everett’s quantum paradigm, offering a clear picture of reality, not merely a blur of probabilities. They will appreciate, too, the conceptual parsimony of a quantum science distilling its entire framework in a single wave formula. But they must confront the paradigm’s controversial implication that every quantum event spawns a new, parallel universe. Though many physicists resist Everett’s notion of physically unobservable universes, Carroll argues persuasively that every available alternative to Everett’s formulation entangles scientists in inconsistencies likely to foreclose progress in developing a much-needed quantum explanation of gravity. Readers in this universe (and others?) will relish the opportunity to explore the frontiers of science in the company of titans.

Kirkus Reviews (July 1, 2019)
The latest attempt to describe the “holy grail of modern physics.”Although in theory it works brilliantly, no one fully understands quantum mechanics. However, Carroll  works hard—and somewhat successfully—to deliver an accessible explanation. “Quantum mechanics,” he writes, “is unique among physical theories in drawing an apparent distinction between what we see and what really is….If we free our minds from certain old-fashioned and intuitive ways of thinking, we find that quantum mechanics isn’t hopelessly mystical or inexplicable. It’s just physics.” This doesn’t bother most physicists, who belong to the shut-up-and-calculate school, and searching for a deep meaning is unfashionable. Carroll swims against the tide, explaining several theories that attempt to describe what is happening, with an emphasis on his favorite, the many-worlds theory. He begins by pointing out that in our everyday world, the world of classical mechanics, every object has two features: a location and a velocity. Everything is transparent; whatever happens to that object is explained by classical laws of physics—essentially Newton’s. In contrast, every quantum object has one feature: a wave function defined by Schrödinger’s 1926 equation, which explains what happens when one measures it. Although true for objects of any size, quantum mechanics becomes essential at the atomic and subatomic levels. Some popular writers proclaim that this demonstrates our ignorance or perhaps a mysterious spiritual element in the universe. The author disagrees but admits that, as a description of how reality works, it makes no sense. Eschewing mathematics, Carroll labors mightily to reveal the meaning behind quantum mechanics with a major detour into general relativity, both of which might benefit from at least a little math. Readers who remember freshman college physics will be intrigued; others will struggle.

About the Author

Sean Carroll is a theoretical physicist at the California Institute of Technology. He received his Ph.D. from Harvard in 1993. His research focuses on issues in cosmology, field theory, and gravitation. His book The Particle at the End of the Universe won the prestigious Winton Prize for Science Books in 2013. Carroll lives in Los Angeles with his wife, writer Jennifer Ouellette.

His website is preposterousuniverse.com.

Teacher Resources

Basic quantum physics lesson plans

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February 2020, Graphic Novel, Nonfiction

Fever Year by Don Brown

Fever Year: The Killer Flu of 1918 by Don Brown. September 3, 2019. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 96 p. ISBN: 9780544837409.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 1020.

New Year’s Day, 1918. America has declared war on Germany and is gathering troops to fight. But there’s something coming that is deadlier than any war.

When people begin to fall ill, most Americans don’t suspect influenza. The flu is known to be dangerous to the very old, young, or frail. But the Spanish flu is exceptionally violent. Soon, thousands of people succumb. Then tens of thousands . . . hundreds of thousands and more. Graves can’t be dug quickly enough.

What made the influenza of 1918 so exceptionally deadly—and what can modern science help us understand about this tragic episode in history? With a journalist’s discerning eye for facts and an artist’s instinct for true emotion, Sibert Honor recipient Don Brown sets out to answer these questions and more in Fever Year.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Harsh realities of war

 

Reviews

Booklist (July 2019 (Vol. 115, No. 21))
Grades 7-10. As WWI neared its end, the world began another war. From army camps to the world’s great cities, Brown presents the terrifying influenza pandemic of 1918 as a three-act tragedy. Brown follows the disease’s lightning-fast spread carefully, capturing both its large scale and daily effects on a full one third of humanity. Pertinent historic details and quotes heighten the drama, from the denial by authorities—“don’t even discuss it . . . talk of cheerful things,” advised the Philadelphia Inquirer—to the blind search for a cure based on a faulty nineteenth-century theory. Brown is comics’ premiere chronicler of historical catastrophes, and he knows that the story requires emotional investment. This he finds by, for instance, highlighting the common bravery of nurses and volunteers, and making keen visual choices: a double-page splash showing “the life of the city stopped,” and intimate panels depicting family corpses laid to rest “in a corner of the household.” A somewhat abrupt ending relating a scientist’s efforts in 1995 doesn’t detract from the urgency of the tale.

Horn Book Magazine (November/December, 2019)
Brown (most recently The Unwanted, rev. 9/18) here turns his attention to the deadly Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918, which brought “sickness to a third of the planet and death to millions of people.” The book, in comics format, is billed as “a tragedy in three acts.” Act I covers the first half of 1918 and describes the disease’s probable origin in the United States; Act II, the longest section, covers the second half of 1918 and details the inexorable spread of the infection throughout the world; Act III covers 1919 as the epidemic finally begins to fade away-leaving in its wake “incalculable” misery and sorrow. In his illustrations, Brown has a knack for dramatizing details with striking visual angles that produce maximum emotional impact while still conveying solid, accurate information. His text succinctly traces the evolution of the medical disaster with statistics and anecdotes woven in, while his somber, muted palette expertly captures the mood of the period (“America was at war…People had decided to ration happiness along with beef and chicken”). Source notes and a bibliography are appended.

About the Author

Don Brown is the award-winning author and illustrator of many picture book biographies. He has been widely praised for his resonant storytelling and his delicate watercolor paintings that evoke the excitement, humor, pain, and joy of lives lived with passion. School Library Journal has called him “a current pacesetter who has put the finishing touches on the standards for storyographies.” He lives in New York with his family.

His website is www.booksbybrown.com.

Teacher Resources

Great Flu Epidemic Lesson Plans

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February 2020, Nonfiction

Games of Deception by Andrew Maraniss

Games of Deception: The True Story of the First US Olympic Basketball Team at the 1936 Olympics in Hitler’s Germany by Andrew Maraniss. November 5, 2019. Philomel Books, 217 p. ISBN: 9780525514633.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

On a scorching hot day in July 1936, thousands of people cheered as the U.S. Olympic teams boarded the S.S. Manhattan, bound for Berlin. Among the athletes were the 14 players representing the first-ever U.S. Olympic basketball team. As thousands of supporters waved American flags on the docks, it was easy to miss the one courageous man holding a BOYCOTT NAZI GERMANY sign. But it was too late for a boycott now; the ship had already left the harbor.

1936 was a turbulent time in world history. Adolf Hitler had gained power in Germany three years earlier. Jewish people and political opponents of the Nazis were the targets of vicious mistreatment, yet were unaware of the horrors that awaited them in the coming years. But the Olympians on board the S.S. Manhattan and other international visitors wouldn’t see any signs of trouble in Berlin. Streets were swept, storefronts were painted, and every German citizen greeted them with a smile. Like a movie set, it was all just a facade, meant to distract from the terrible things happening behind the scenes.

This is the incredible true story of basketball, from its invention by James Naismith in Springfield, Massachusetts, in 1891, to the sport’s Olympic debut in Berlin and the eclectic mix of people, events and propaganda on both sides of the Atlantic that made it all possible. Includes photos throughout, a Who’s-Who of the 1936 Olympics, bibliography, and index.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Discrimination, Racism

 

Reviews

Booklist starred (September 1, 2019 (Vol. 116, No. 1))
Grades 7-10. Basketball—which, after its invention in 1891 Springfield, MA, quickly became beloved worldwide—was not an Olympic sport until it debuted at the 1936 games in Berlin. The story of how it came to be showcased as an exhibition in front of the Nazi hierarchy makes for an interesting saga, especially since journalist Maraniss doesn’t gloss over the various controversies behind the event’s conception, including the role played by U.S. racism and antisemitism. American teams of the 1930s were segregated, so no African Americans would be running up and down the court in Germany, even as the Olympics were dominated by track star Jesse Owens. Avery Brundage, the American Olympic Committee president, was untroubled by efforts to boycott the games and spoke glowingly of their Nazi hosts. Even so, ironies abounded: the American team included players as well as a founder of Jewish background. Maraniss weaves these various stories into that of basketball’s inventor, James Naismith, who helped hand out medals in Berlin. The milieu of the games, the way the Nazis covered up their human-rights transgressions while showing readiness for war, makes a fascinating tale for history lovers, and the heavy use of historic photographs will draw readers in. Given its widely appealing combination of sports and history, this is a must for all library collections.

Kirkus Reviews (September 1, 2019)
Political events surrounding the 1936 Olympics intersect with the evolution of basketball in this outstanding history. The first game of basketball was played in 1891 without nets or dribbling. Created by James Naismith as an indoor winter activity that would support Muscular Christianity, early participants from the YMCA training program in Springfield, Massachusetts, soon spread the new game worldwide. When basketball was added as a sport in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, Hitler saw it as an opportunity to showcase German might and athletic superiority. Meanwhile, American basketball players were holding fundraisers to help with travel costs while many Americans were calling for a boycott of the games altogether. Maraniss (Strong Inside, 2016, etc.) includes little-known facts about basketball, brutal information about Nazi Germany, and the harsh realities of blatant racism in the U.S. and Germany alike. The U.S. basketball team was all white; despite feeling conflicted by rampant anti-Semitism on both sides of the Atlantic, one Jewish player still chose to compete. Written with the captivating voice of a color commentator and the sobriety of a historian, Maraniss peppers readers with anecdotes, statistics, and play-by-play action, shining a spotlight on names found only in the footnotes of history while making it painfully clear that racism affected both politics and sport, tarnishing, a bit, each gold medal and the five Olympic rings. An insightful, gripping account of basketball and bias. (afterword, Olympic basketball data, bibliography, index) (Nonfiction. 12-18)

About the Author

Andrew Maraniss studied history at Vanderbilt University and as a recipient of the Fred Russell-Grantland Rice sportswriting scholarship, earned the school’s Alexander Award for excellence in journalism. He then worked for five years in Vanderbilt’s athletic department as the associate director of media relations, dealing primarily with the men’s basketball team. The son of Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and best-selling author David Maraniss and trailblazing environmentalist Linda Maraniss, Andrew was born in Madison, Wisconsin, grew up in Washington, D.C. and Austin, Texas and now lives in Brentwood, Tennessee, with his wife Alison, and their two young children.

His website is www.andrewmaraniss.com.

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January 2020, Nonfiction

Body 2.0 by Sara Latta

Body 2.0 by Sara Latta. November 5, 2019. Twenty-First Century Books, 96 p. ISBN: 9781541528130.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 1170.

Scientists are on the verge of a revolution in biomedical engineering that will forever change the way we think about medicine, even life itself. Cutting-edge researchers are working to build body organs and tissue in the lab. They are developing ways to encourage the body to regenerate damaged or diseased bone and muscle tissue. Scientists are striving to re-route visual stimuli to the brain to help blind people see. They may soon discover methods to enlist the trillions of microbes living in our bodies to help us fight disease. Learn about four strands of bioengineering―tissue engineering and regenerative medicine, neuroengineering, microbial science, and genetic engineering and synthetic biology―and meet scientists working in these fields.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: None

 

Reviews

Booklist (December 1, 2019 (Vol. 116, No. 7))
Grades 8-12. Young scientists need look no further for a solid introduction to engineering in biology and medicine. Latta educates readers on the use of stem cells in the regeneration of limbs, the creation and repair of organs, brain-computer interfaces that help with restoring movement, gene therapy and its role in treating illnesses, as well as research on neurons and the part played by bacteria in improving health and immunity. Material is made engaging through interesting anecdotes that introduce each chapter. Large color photographs and diagrams accompany the text, and each chapter contains additional factual asides and related text within boxed sidebars. Spotlights on notable biomedical and chemical engineers highlight these important role players as well as the steps necessary to pursue such a career. The inclusion of statements from researchers and scientists working on real-life cases adds further insight, with each case highlighting the incredible possibilities of the field. This foundational text is must-have for juvenile nonfiction collections.

Kirkus Reviews starred (September 15, 2019)
A primer on biomedical engineering. Veteran science author Latta (Zoom in on Mining Robots, 2018, etc.) here spotlights the fascinating convergence of medicine, engineering, and scientific discovery, offering provocative glimpses into the burgeoning fields of tissue engineering, regenerative medicine, neuroscience, microbiology, genetic engineering, and synthetic biology. Inspiring problem-solving–minded teens to explore these STEM disciplines by describing projects so cutting edge they seem like science fiction, Latta also includes brief profiles and photos of diverse researchers that enable readers to imagine themselves pursuing similar careers. Says Dr. Gilda Barabino, “I think there’s a little bit of an engineer in everybody. It’s curiosity! Everybody wants to know how things work.” Areas of potential breakthrough covered include brain-computer interfaces that may one day allow people with paralysis or limited mobility to move their limbs or control a robot helper; editing the human genome to treat chronic diseases like sickle cell disease by removing and replacing damaged DNA; optogenetics, which hopes to combine gene therapy with light to reduce pain and cure blindness; and growing bespoke body parts like bone, skin, arteries, and more in the lab, seeded by one’s own cells and partially crafted by 3-D bioprinters. Full-color diagrams and photos combined with informative text boxes and a lively, conversational style make this an appealing choice. Hot and heady: an enticing calling card for researchers of tomorrow. (glossary, source notes, bibliography, further information, index, photo credits) (Nonfiction. 13-18)

About the Author

Sara Latta is the author of seventeen books for children and young adults on topics that include dark matter, the secret life of microbes, DNA, bones, and forensic science. She also has a masters degree in immunology. She does have a bit of a phobia about heights, as she discovered when faced with having to climb down from a pyramid in Teotihuacan, Mexico.

Her website is www.saralatta.com

Teacher Resources

Collection of Biomedical Engineering Lesson Plans

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January 2020, Nonfiction

Life Undercover by Amaryllis Fox

Life Undercover: Coming of Age in the CIA by Amaryllis Fox. October 15, 2019. Alfred A. Knopf, 229 p. ISBN: 9780525654971.  Int Lvl: AD; Rdg Lvl: AD.


Amaryllis Fox’s riveting memoir tells the story of her ten years in the most elite clandestine ops unit of the CIA, hunting the world’s most dangerous terrorists in sixteen countries while marrying and giving birth to a daughter

Amaryllis Fox was in her last year as an undergraduate at Oxford studying theology and international law when her writing mentor Daniel Pearl was captured and beheaded. Galvanized by this brutality, Fox applied to a master’s program in conflict and terrorism at Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service, where she created an algorithm that predicted, with uncanny certainty, the likelihood of a terrorist cell arising in any village around the world. At twenty-one, she was recruited by the CIA. Her first assignment was reading and analyzing hundreds of classified cables a day from foreign governments and synthesizing them into daily briefs for the president. Her next assignment was at the Iraq desk in the Counterterrorism center. At twenty-two, she was fast-tracked into advanced operations training, sent from Langley to “the Farm,” where she lived for six months in a simulated world learning how to use a Glock, how to get out of flexicuffs while locked in the trunk of a car, how to withstand torture, and the best ways to commit suicide in case of captivity. At the end of this training she was deployed as a spy under non-official cover–the most difficult and coveted job in the field as an art dealer specializing in tribal and indigenous art and sent to infiltrate terrorist networks in remote areas of the Middle East and Asia.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Harsh realities of war, Mild sexual themes, Strong language, Violence

 

Author Interview

Reviews

Booklist starred (October 1, 2019 (Vol. 116, No. 3))
At the age of 18, Fox traveled to Burma, a country in the midst of antigovernment riots, and interviewed the leader of the opposition movement, Aung San Suu Kyi, who was under house arrest. So begins Fox’s path to the CIA. For a decade, she works as an undercover agent abroad, fighting terrorism and countering nuclear proliferation—all without her friends or family knowing her reality. She and her husband, whom she met in the CIA, don’t even know the details of each other’s missions. It is a strange and lonely life, but Fox manages to find moments to share her truth and discovers that recruiting assets (like Jakab, an arms broker who steals every scene he is in) is aided not by fear but by finding their shared humanity. Fox’s clear, present-tense prose keeps readers in the action while maintaining the heft of reality, even in totally surreal situations. With loads of suspense and adrenaline, and a streaming series starring Brie Larson reportedly in the works, this insider’s view into how the CIA functions and what life is like for a covert agent will appeal to many, including readers who don’t normally stray from fiction thrillers.

Kirkus Reviews (August 15, 2019)
A journalist recounts her formative years in the CIA.Fox engagingly—and transparently—describes her work as an undercover agent for the CIA, which recruited the author while she was still in college. “What will happen if I tell the world the truth?” she asks, having returned to civilian life as a young single mother following the dissolution of a marriage that was all but arranged by the agency. Motherhood changed her perspective and priorities, and she now devotes herself to the cause of peace. In her fast-moving debut memoir, she seeks to “spill that most secret of secrets: that all we soldiers and spies, all the belching, booming armored juggernauts of war, all the terror groups and all the rogue states, that we’re all pretending to be fierce because we’re all on fire with fear.” The author’s life was extraordinary even during her childhood, as if she were being raised for a life in espionage. She often went “wild world-wandering” with her father, who consulted with foreign governments on matters she never quite understood. Fox was raised to invent elaborate fantasies to play with her brother, and her world of make-believe intrigue became real to her as she volunteered to aid refugees after high school and became immersed in global affairs during college. She came to the CIA as an idealist, and she found idealism and basic humanity within those who were apparently pitted against her. She also found that she had to keep the reality of her career a secret from everyone, even from family and friends. Throughout much of her remarkable life, secrecy was the norm, but by the time she left the agency, she’d had enough. A well-written account of a life lived under exceptional secrecy and pressure.

About the Author

Following her CIA career in the field, Amaryllis Foxhas covered current events and offered analysis for CNN, National Geographic, al Jazeera, BBC, and other global news outlets. She speaks at events and universities around the world on the topic of peacemaking. She is the co-host of History Channel’s series American Ripper and lives in Los Angeles, CA, with her husband and daughter.

 

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December 2019, Graphic Novel, Nonfiction

Brilliant Maps for Curious Minds by Ian Wright

Brilliant Maps for Curious Minds: 100 New Ways to See the World by Ian Wright. November 5, 2019. The Experiment, 192 p. ISBN: 9781615196258.  Int Lvl: AD; Rdg Lvl: AD.

A singular atlas of 100 infographic maps from thought-provoking to flat-out fun

Which countries don’t have rivers? Which ones have North Korean embassies? Who drives on the “wrong” side of the road? How many national economies are bigger than California’s? And where can you still find lions in the wild? You’ll learn answers to these questions and many more in Brilliant Maps for Curious Minds. This one-of-a-kind atlas is packed with eye-opening analysis (Which nations have had female leaders?), whimsical insight (Where can’t you find a McDonald’s?), and surprising connections that illuminate the contours of culture, history, and politics.

Each of these 100 maps will change the way you see the world—and your place in it.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: None

 

Reviews

Booklist (October 15, 2019 (Vol. 116, No. 4))
A map can convey a lot of information at a glance, something Wright has been documenting on his website, brilliantmaps.com, for nearly five years using maps collected from creators all over the internet. This book is a collection of some of the most popular and commented-on maps from the website as well as some new ones, all of which have been drawn using one consistent style and, if needed, updated data. Grouped into broad categories (culture and customs, history, nature, etc.), these maps cover topics serious and less so, from “the countries in red have as many murders combined as the U.S.” to “heavy metal bands per 100,000 people.” Wright notes in the introduction that context is always necessary to truly understand the information provided by maps. While the full-page spreads make the color maps easy to read, readers may wish to also visit the website, where a short summary/analysis and links to sources are provided with each map. Credits/sources not yet available at time of review.

About the Author

Ian Wright runs Brilliant Maps, one of the most popular cartographic sites on the internet. In addition to being a cartophile, he’s also a keen walker. In 2015, he combined these two passions to become the first person to walk all of the newly expanded London Tube map. Originally from Canada, he now lives in the UK.

Teacher Resources

Brilliant Maps Website

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