Monday, October 13, 2014

Additional Reviews

We didn't have space for every book that we wanted to review at our Educators' Materials Review on October 3rd - here are a few more words from us and others (for summary of the reviews from the 3rd, check this older post):

At Home in her Tomb: Lady Dai and the Ancient Chinese Treasures of Mawangdui by Christine Liu-Perkins (Grades 4-7) explores what a more than 2,000 year old tomb and its lavish interior revealed about life in China's Hunan Province millennia ago. Very cool. You can get a sense of the artifacts discussed in the book from these online pictures from the Hunan Provincial Museum.

Triangles by David Adler, Illustrated by Edward Miller (Grades 2-4) - Helen was the kind of kid who got really, really excited by math. All those "grown up" ways of describing the world with numbers. Equations to figure out. She did long division for fun. This book, which combines the information of a textbook with the spirit of a game book, would have kept her entertained for hours. Children with a different temperament may or may not have the same reaction. 

Mysterious Patterns: Finding Fractals in Nature by Sarah Campbell (Grades 3-6) - This book takes readers through the concept that there are some shapes in the real world that look like shapes in textbooks (cones, spheres) and some that look too "messy" to be categorized as anything. . . but many of those messy shapes can be described by repeating patterns. The photographs illustrating the book reinforce that understanding these patterns is a way that math helps us understand the world around us. For older kids there may be a bit of a "so what?" factor to the observation of patterns. The end notes suggest how repeating nature's patterns can, among other cool things, theoretically create an invisibility cloak and Helen wished there were a longer list of these types of examples at the end. Perhaps this just means we need a sequel.

Jane read Handle with Care by Loree Griffin Burns, part of a series of science books by the same author. She describes it: "A beautifully choreographed journey from Costa Rican butterfly farm to the Butterfly Garden in Boston's Science Museum. This is a book intended for young audiences but the  photographs will engage audiences of any age. Pair it with a trip to the Boston Science Museum!" But what particularly caught her attention was this post on author Linda Urban's website describing how Loree uses her writers' notebooks (including photos of her notes) a perfect article to pair with any of her books. Also if you want to take a look at how authors research science books, there's this article from School Library Journal about Katherine Roy, whose Neighborhood Sharks book we reviewed earlier.

The One and Only Ivan was a 2013 Dorothy Canfield Fisher nominee - now Katherine Applegate brings us a picture book version of the same story: Ivan the Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla with illustrations by Brian Karas. We recommend this Nerdy Book Club review of the two books.

Hello, I'm Johnny Cash by G Neri, illustrated by A.G. Ford (Grades 4-7) is notable for using memoirs and primary sources to create a picture book version of Johnny Cash's story that has the feel of an autobiography. Many reviewers loved the pictures; we were not those reviewers. The text is described as poetry, again we were not in the camp of reviewers who thought that it functioned well as poetry. Basically, other people are bullish on this book and we are not impressed, but recognize that we're in the minority.

Ashley Bryan's Puppets by Ashley Bryan (PK-6) and Mr. Cornell's Dream Boxes by Jeanette Winter (PK-3) - two recommended books that Jane has recommended and reviewed before, see those reviews here.

Malala Yousafzai became the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize this year, and we recommend two books about her: I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai and Patricia McCormick (4-7) and the picture book Malala, a Brave Girl from Pakistan & Iqbal, a Brave Boy from Pakistan by Jeanette Winter (K-4).

El Deafo by CeCe Bell (Grades 4-7) is a humorous graphic memoir (except, told with bunnies - the author isn't actually a bunny) that chronicles CeCe Bell's childhood. She lost her hearing at age 4 and El Deafo is an imaginary superhero she invented. School Library Journal reviewed this book in August and Jane recommends this Washington Post article that includes an interview with the author and discusses the similarities with the popular Sisters (Raina Telgemeier).

Okay, that's it for now. . . until the next round of books we just have to review. 

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