Starting as an assignment for school, Caitlin is a middle school student in the United States who decides to write to Martin in Zimbabwe. They learn about each other’s lives and become friends long after the assignment has been completed. As Caitlin realizes that Martin and his family are in increasing danger in their country, she and her family find ways to help and eventually get Martin to the United States so he can continue his education. It’s a true story.
Book reviewed by Anne W., Youth Services Assistant
Margaret Hamilton grew up wondering why more women weren’t deciding to be doctors or scientists. So, she decided to study hard. Margaret loved mathematics and learning about the universe. As she got older, she discovered computers and made the decision to program them. All of her hard work eventually led to her working for NASA! Margaret’s math skills were extremely important when NASA was planning the first trip to the moon. This is a great book to read if you enjoy math and science and want to learn more about how to use those in the future.
Book reviewed by Katharin B., Youth Outreach Liaison
Let’s talk about real life superheroes! When bad things happen, we can’t call Batman or the Avengers, but there are things we ourselves can do. Making it Right, by Marilee Peters, explains how the criminal justice system, which makes rules on how to deal with crime, was developed and how it works today. Most of the time in the US, people go to court and have lawyers, a judge, and jury decide what happens. At school, the principal probably decides your punishment. In some communities, the offender and victim meet, along with a mediator, learn more about each other’s perspectives, and decide together what the offender can do to make up for their wrong. There are stories about kids who learn how to resolve fights at school, kids in New Orleans who worked on solving problems in their schools after Hurricane Katrina, and the ways young people in South Africa worked to heal after apartheid. I thought this was a really interesting book, and a good one to check out to help you deal with problems at school and beyond. All around the world, kids like you are doing something to help others and make the world a better place. Pick up this book if you want to start learning more!
Book reviewed by Claire B., Youth Outreach Librarian
Experience the thrill of a real-life adventure in this non-fiction picture book. Follow the unbelievable story of Helen Thayer, an outdoorswoman who fulfilled her dream of being the first woman to hike solo from Canada to the magnetic North Pole with only a sled, supplies, a tent, a dog, and a radio. With no outside help and only her two feet as transportation, she and her dog, Charlie, traveled mile after mile for many days with the constant threat of cracking ice, dangerous polar bears, and killer weather. The detailed illustrations pull you into the story and make you think you are hiking with her!
Book reviewed by Amy M., Youth Services Assistant
Whale shark vs vampire squid! Nothing is more amazing then this book under or above the sea! Read it and debate with your friends which animal really is the most amazing creature in the sea. Maybe it’s the mimic octopus who is a master of disguise or the box jellyfish with deadly venom. You decide! Teachers and parents this would make a good read aloud if you are looking for short nonfiction or a conversation starter.
Book reviewed by Keary B., Youth Collection Librarian
Nathan Hale is an unlucky spy for the American rebels during the American Revolution. On his first mission, he gets caught and sentenced to be hung. As he bravely faces the hangman, he says, “I regret that I have but one life to give for my country,” and then gets swallowed by a giant history book. Literally. When he returns, he has witnessed the history of America. While the hangman is interested in hearing his story, the British soldier is ready to hang him. However, Nathan Hale goes on to tell his story as an American spy during the Revolution through pictures in a graphic novel format. This book is packed with battles, spy work, and really great characters that lived in real life. Another thing about this book is that it is written by Nathan Hale. Not the Nathan Hale in the story, but a graphic novelist with the same name.
Book reviewed by Laura B. Youth Technology Librarian
You don’t usually see a 500-pound lion and an 11-pound dachshund playing together, cuddling, or licking each other’s faces. In Animal BFFs, readers are introduced to Bonedigger the lion and Milo the wiener dog, as well as eleven other unlikely animal friendships. Each story is meant to be read in about five minutes, and there are large photographs on nearly every page. There is even a pair from Chicago: Riff Ratt the rat and Osiris the dog. They are such good friends that sometimes Riff Ratt crawls into Osiris’ mouth! Some of the other BFFs include Gerald the giraffe and Eddie the goat; a lion-tiger-bear trio named Leo, Shere Khan, and Baloo; Miwa-chan the Japanese monkey and Uribo the wild piglet; and a cat named Morris and his best horse friend Champy. The stories tell readers how the animals became best friends, what they like to do together, and why their friendship is so rare. At the heart of each story is the fact that friends can come in all different shapes, sizes, and colors—which is true for animals and people!
Book reviewed by Dana F., Assistant Head of Youth Services
It takes great skill to say a lot without a lot of words and even more so to do that within the constraints of a specific format, like a haiku or other type of poem. Bob Raczka’s collection of 21 concrete poems presents fun, clever, and surprising poems that kids can relate to and be inspired by. Concrete poetry’s meaning is conveyed partly or wholly by visual means, using patterns of words or letters and other typographical devices. Down to the wordplay in the title, there is not a word wasted in this collection. If you enjoy this one, check out one of Bob Racka’s other poetry books—he has written several.
Book reviewed by Erin E., Youth Services Programming Coordinator
In early 1900’s Japan, Misuzu Kaneko became a beloved children’s poet. Her life ended prematurely, her poetry was soon forgotten. After the Japanese tsunami in 2011, her poetry was rediscovered, and this beautiful book tells Misuzu Kaneko’s life story, which ends tragically and which the book describes sensitively. The book includes many of her poems in both English and the original Japanese. The illustrations are stunning and depict both the poet’s life and her beautiful poems. The poems show Misuzu’s unique way of looking at the world, and this lovely picture book is an introduction to this little known Japanese poet. Because of the sensitive nature of the poet’s death, this book is best enjoyed by older readers (grade 5 and up).
Book reviewed by Amy S., Youth Outreach and Programming Assistant
There are ten quintillion insects in the world and they have contributed to how this world has been shaped. For instance, did you know that the red color in some foods, drinks, and clothing is from crushed insects? Or that some bugs suck blood out of your body, eat dead people, or can make you very sick? This book will talk about all these gross things and more including how scientists used the Millennium Falcon from the Star Wars movies to figure out how locusts fly in swarms. If you enjoyed the books, How They Croaked or Poop Happened, check this book out.
Book reviewed by Laura B. Youth Technology Librarian