Staff Picks 4 Kids Category: Non-fiction

Dazzle Ships: World War I and the Art of Confusion by Chris Barton

Cover image for Dazzle ships : World War I and the art of confusionHow do you camouflage a huge cargo ship, traveling in the middle of the ocean? You can find out in Chris Barton’s new book, which explains how Britain used an unusual and colorful idea to help them win a war. Dazzle Ships: World War I and the Art of Confusion begins by setting the scene. It was 1917 amid World War I and people on the island of Britain were starving. They relied on ships to bring food and supplies, but Germany’s U-boats kept sneaking up and torpedoing the ships. Then Lieutenant-commander Norman Wilkinson presented a wild idea. Because ships could not be painted in a way that would make them invisible to submarines, he proposed the extreme opposite: paint them with colorful patterns. This would break up the form and confuse the submarine as to which direction the ship is heading and at what speed, making the ships more difficult targets. Amazingly, it worked! Britain went on to paint over 2,000 dazzle ships during World War I, with many different patterns. This book brings the dazzle ships to life in a way that even photographs can’t, since photos of the time were in black and white. You will enjoy the vibrant illustrations while learning a piece of fascinating history.

Book reviewed by Erin E., Youth Services Programming Coordinator

The Youngest Marcher: The Story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, a Young Civil Rights Activist by Cynthia Levinson

Cover image for The youngest marcher : the story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, a young civil rights activistHere is a story of a real-life child hero—an African-American girl who went to jail to fight for Civil Rights when she was just 9 years old. The Youngest Marcher: The Story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, a Young Civil Rights Activist by Cynthia Levinson describes how young Audrey was at the center of the Civil Rights Movement in Alabama in the 1960’s. Her family knew Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Audrey would listen over the dinner table or at church to the adults talking about fighting for equal rights. Audrey was fired up and she wanted to help. The illustrations make this book appealing and accessible to young children to learn about history in a way that doesn’t feel too heavy or boring; it feels relatable. It makes Audrey seem like a girl you might know… and you can really appreciate how brave she was.

Book reviewed by Erin E., Youth Services Programming Coordinator

What a Waste! Where Does Garbage Go? by Claire Eamer

Cover image for What a waste! : where does garbage go?Did you know that recycling bins are blue due to the fact that blue plastic takes longer to decompose than any other color of plastic? Discover more facts like this one in this fascinating non-fiction book recommended for those in 3rd grade and up. Since the dawn of civilization, people in groups have accumulated garbage. What did they do with it? Using a blend of history and science, this book answers this question and also explains how different countries manage their large amounts of trash in modern times. The colorful layout and “trash talk” sidebars will have you hooked immediately.

Book reviewed by Amy M., Youth Services Assistant

Around the World in a Bathtub by Wade Bradford

Cover image for Around the world in a bathtub : bathing all over the globeThe book Around the World in a Bathtub by Wade Bradford shows different ways that people bathe around the world. Some illustrations show modern tubs and showers, while others demonstrate historic traditions or ceremonies, such as people in India bathing in the Ganges River. In every example there is an adult trying to get a child into the bath and a child who doesn’t want to go. The adult is shown saying “yes, yes” and the child saying “no, no” in many different languages. This book provides a window for the very young to see how people do things differently in different parts of the world, but also a mirror into their own lives. We are all different, but we all bathe!

Book reviewed by Erin E., Youth Services Programming Coordinator

I Will Always Write Back by Caitlin Alifirenka and Martin Ganda

Cover image for I will always write back : how one letter changed two livesStarting 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 and the Moon: How Margaret Hamilton Saved the First Lunar Landing by Dean Robbins

Cover image for Margaret and the Moon : how Margaret Hamilton saved the first lunar landingMargaret 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

Making it Right by Marilee Peters

Cover image for Making it right : building peace, settling conflictLet’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

Helen Thayer’s Arctic Adventure: A Woman and a Dog Walk to the North Pole by Sally Senzell Isaacs

Cover image for Helen Thayer's Arctic adventure : a woman and a dog walk to the North PoleExperience 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

The Most Amazing Creature in the Sea by Brenda Z. Guiberson

Cover image for The most amazing creature in the seaWhale 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

One Dead Spy: The Life, Times, and Last Words of Nathan Hale, America’s Most Famous Spy by Nathan Hale

Cover image for One dead spy : the life, times, and last words of Nathan Hale, America's most famous spyNathan 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