Tag Archives: genre: nonfiction

Grace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code Review

grace_hopper_queen_of_computer_codeGrace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code by Laurie Wallmark; illustrated by Katy Wu

Sterling Children’s Books, 2017. 978-1454920007

Synopsis: Grace Hopper coined the term “computer bug” and taught computers to “speak English.” Throughout her life, Hopper succeeded in doing what no one had ever done before. Delighting in difficult ideas and in defying expectations, the insatiably curious Hopper truly was “Amazing Grace” . . . and a role model for science- and math-minded girls and boys. With a wealth of witty quotes, and richly detailed illustrations, this book brings Hopper’s incredible accomplishments to life. – from Amazon.com

Why I picked it up: Another book blog that I follow did an interview with Wallmark about this book that sparked my interest.

Why I finished it: Computing and coding are nothing new for the modern reader and the idea that there was a lot of trial and error to get us where we are today is somewhat mind blowing to me. In the twentieth century alone, computer users have gone from needing to switch out programs to perform a given task (for example, switching between a program that would perform addition and one that would perform multiplication) to having all those same programs being just a click away. What inspired me the most about Hopper’s story is that she continued to push forward in the face of adversity and fought the idea that we needed to keep doing things the same way. Hopper did a lot of thinking outside the box, and today we benefit from many of those off-the-wall ideas that perhaps no one else thought would work. I admire Hopper’s perseverance and passion, and how she never let things like her age, or her gender get in the way; it’s a wonderful example of never being too old to do what you want to do. Wu’s illustrations give the larger-than-life figure a softer side, giving the story a sense of whimsy without losing its seriousness. I love the free-flowing style that uses contrast to outline the drawings rather than relying on thick lines to distinguish between objects/people/etc. Though this is a picture book, the story and its message will resound with readers of all ages and surely capture the hearts and minds of a future generation of scientists.

Other related materials: Mathematician and Computer Scientist Grace Hopper by Andrea Pelleschi; Women Who Launched the Computer Age by Laurie Calkhoven, illustrated by Alyssa Petersen; Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine by Laurie Wallmark, illustrated by April Chu; Lauren Ipsum: A Story about Computer Science and Other Improbable Things by Carlos Bueno; Girls Think of Everything: Stories of Ingenious Inventions by Women by Catherine Thimmesh, illustrated by Melissa Sweet; Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty, illustrated by David Roberts; Hello Ruby: Adventures in Coding by Linda Liukas; If: A Mind-Bending New Way of Looking at Big Ideas and Numbers by David J. Smith, illustrated by Steve Adams; Hedy Lamarr and a Secret Communication System by Trina Robbins, illustrated by Cynthia Martin; Hedy Lamarr’s Double Life by Laurie Wallmark, illustrated by Katy Wu; Headstrong: 52 Women Who Changed Science – and the World by Rachel Swaby; Amelia to Zora: Twenty-Six Women who Changed the World by Cynthia Chin-Lee, illustrated by Megan Hasley and Sean Addy


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Happy Independence Day 2018!

Happy-independence-day-america-2014 (1)

Happy Independence Day 2018!

As we remember the 242nd anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, it’s hard not for me to be reminded about how privileged we are to live in a nation where there is so much opportunity for its citizens. It is not always easy to see these advantages, but in light of current world events, Americans should be so lucky we are living in a land of forward-thinking problem solvers that make this nation great – not unlike the men who founded this nation.

I’ve compiled a list of both historical fiction and non-fiction books that tell the stories of the people and events that shaped our country. It’s by no means exhaustive, but it should be enough to get a conversation started.

However you celebrate the holiday, have fun and be safe!

General History

A History of US: The First Americans: Prehistory – 1600 (A History of US, Book 1) by Joy Hakim; 978-0195327151

A History of US: Making Thirteen Colonies: 1600-1740 (A History of US, Book 2) by Joy Hakim; 978-0195327168

A History of US: From Colonies to Country: 1735-1791 (A History of US, Book 3) by Joy Hakim; 978-0195327175

The American Revolution for Kids: A History with 21 Activities by Janis Herbert; 978-1556524561

The Story of America’s Birthday by Patricia A. Pingry, illustrations by Meredith Johnson; 978-0824918941

Guts & Glory: The American Revolution by Ben Thompson; 978-0316312097

American Revolution: A Nonfiction Companion to Revolutionary War on Wednesday by Mary Pope Osborne and Natalie Pope Boyce, illustrated by Sal Murdocca; 978-0375823794

The Fourth of July Story by Alice Dalgliesh, illustrated by Marie Nonnast; 978-0689718762

The People

Squanto: Friend Of The Pilgrims by Clyde Robert Bulla, illustrated by Peter Buchard; 978-0590440554

The Loyalists and The Patriots: The Revolutioary War Factions by Baby Professor; 978-1541911093

George Vs. George: The American Revolution as Seen From Both Sides by Rosalyn Schanzer; 978-1426300424

Who Was Abigail Adams? by True Kelley, illustrations by John O’Brien; 978-0448478906

Who Was Betsy Ross? by James Buckley Jr., illustrations by John O’Brien; 978-0448482439

Who Was Ben Franklin? by Dennis Brindell Fradin, illustrations by John O’Brien; 978-0448424958

George Washington, Spymaster: How the Americans Outspied the British and Won the Revolutionary War by Thomas B. Allen

A Voice of Her Own: The Story of Phillis Wheatley, Slave Poet by Kathryn Lasky, illustrations by Paul Lee; 978-0763660918

The Role of Women in The American Revolution by Baby Professor; 978-1541911109

One Dead Spy (Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales, Book 1) by Nathan Hale; 978-1419703966

Lafayette! (Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales, Book 8) by Nathan Hale; 978-1419731488

Alexander Hamilton: The Outsider by Jean Fritz; 978-0142419861

Aaron and Alexander: The Most Famous Duel in American History by Don Brown; 978-1596439986

Major Events

What Was The Boston Tea Party? by Kathleen Krull, illustrated by Lauren Mortimer; 978-0448462882

You Wouldn’t Want to Be at The Boston Tea Party: Wharf Tea You’d Rather Not Drink by Peter Cook, illustrated David Anstram; 978-0531238561

Colonial Voices: Hear Them Speak by Kay Winters, illustrated by Larry Day; 978-0147511621

Liberty! How The Revolutionary War Began by Lucille Recht Penner, illustrations by David Wenzel; 978-0375822001

What Is The Declaration of Independence? by Michael C. Harris, illustrated by Jerry Hoare; 978-0448486925

What Is The Constitution? By Patricia Brennan Demuth, illustrated by Tim Foley; 978-1524786090



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Treaties, Trenches, Mud, and Blood Review

NHHT_4Treaties, Trenches, Mud, and Blood (Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales #4) by Nathan Hale

Amulet Books, 2014. 978-1-4197-0808-4

Synopsis: World War I set the tone for the 20th century and introduced a new type of warfare: global, mechanical, and brutal. Nathan Hale has gathered some of the most fascinating true-life tales from the war and given them his inimitable Hazardous Tales twist. Easy to understand, funny, informative, and lively, this series is the best way to be introduced to some of the most well-known battles (and little-known secrets) of the infamous war. – from Amazon.com

Why I picked it up: I’m enjoying how engaging this series is!

Why I finished it: The events leading up to, during, and after the first world war are (for the most part) common knowledge, so really there isn’t anything I can spoil for the potential reader. Called ‘The War to End All Wars’ and ‘The Great War’, World War I (WWI) ravaged Europe and was responsible for the deaths of over 9 million people – both solider and civilian – which was the only great thing about the war and really that part isn’t so awesome. It was the first modern war of the 20th century, combining old tactics with new weapons and vice versa, some of which were improved upon and re-used once the second World War started in the late 1930s/early 1940s. I won’t bore you with an extended history lesson in this review because you’ll get that when you read the book. I will say that I thought it was clever of Hale (per the Hangman’s suggestion) to have each of the world countries participating in the war be represented by an animal. A little bit of a sacrilege, but it was helpful for me as a reader to be able to keep the countries and their key players straight. Seriously, so much similarity in the facial hair…. Obviously, not everything is included in this particular narrative, but Hale sticks to most of the main battles so that the reader has a general overview of the war’s progression. There’s not too much about the Christmas Armistice of 1914, which is a personal favorite, but it is touched upon in passing. Hale chose a palate of oranges and reds to highlight the black and white drawings in this volume, and it feels appropriate given the content. He’s done his research about trench warfare and the conditions on the front lines and it really shows up in the faces of each of the soldiers. The story may be told with animals, but he’s done a great job of humanizing each of the contrasting views of the countries and their motivations. It’s perhaps not the most interesting bits of history and the facts can get convoluted, but WWI definitely set the stage for modern warfare in the 20th century and became the fuel that lit the fire of renewed tensions in Europe leading to World War II – but that is a different story.  Fans of this series will definitely enjoy the book and will more than likely be enjoyed by a few history and non-history buffs as well.

Other related materials: The Red Baron: A Graphic History of Richthofen’s Flying Circus and the Air War in WWI by Wayne Vansant; World War One: 1914-1918 by Alan Cowsill, illustrated by Lalit Kumar Sharma; Simple History: A Simple Guide to World War I by Daniel Turner; Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales: One Dead Spy by Nathan Hale; Big Bad Ironclad! (Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales #2)  by Nathan Hale; Donner Dinner Party (Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales #3) by Nathan Hale; The Underground Abductor: An Abolitionist Tale About Harriet Tubman (Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales #5) by Nathan Hale; Alamo All-Stars (Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales #6) by Nathan Hale; Raid of No Return: A World War II Tale of the Doolittle Raid (Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales #7) by Nathan Hale; One Trick Pony by Nathan Hale; Guys Read: True Stories edited by Jon Scieszka; Rapunzel’s Revenge by Shannon and Dean Hale, illustrated by Nathan Hale; Calamity Jack by Shannon and Dean Hale, illustrated by Nathan Hale


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Happy Thanksgiving 2017!


Happy Thanksgiving 2017!

Thanksgiving is a holiday about being thankful for all of the things we have in our lives: a home, a family, friends, and of course food. Food is an equalizer in many ways – no matter what our background, we can unite around a table full of delicious things to eat. Plus, food can tell us stories about different families, cultures, and experiences from around the world.

This year, I’ve compiled a list of books about food and cookbooks so that you can expand your food horizons. Maybe you only feel comfortable tweaking a familiar family favorite, or maybe you’ll branch out and try something completely different! Plus, cooking with family and friends can be a great activity to do together as the months get colder.

However you are spending your holiday, may it be a safe and happy one!

Straight Talk: The Truth About Food by Stephanie Paris; 978-1433348570

The Monster Health Book: A Guide to Eating Healthy, Being Active, & Feeling Great for Monsters & Kids by Edward Miller; 978-0823421398

Good Enough To Eat: A Kid’s Guide to Food and Nutrition written and illustrated by Lizzy Rockwell; 978-0064451741

Science Experiments You Can Eat: Revised Edition by Vicki Cobb; 978-0064460026

Edible Science: Experiments You can Eat by Jodi Wheeler-Toppen and Carol Tennant; 978-1426321115

The Science Chef: 100 Fun Food Experiments and Recipes for Kids by Joan D’Amico and Karen E. Drummond; 978-0471310457

Cooking Class: 57 Fun Recipes Kids Will Love to Make (and Eat!) by Deanna F. Cook; 978-1612124001

American Girl Cooking: Recipes for Delicious Snacks, Meals, and More; 978-1681881010

The Pokemon Cookbook: Easy & Fun Recipes by Maki Kudo; 978-1421589893

The Star Wars Cook Book: Wookie Cookies and Other Galactic Recipes by Robin Davis; 978-0811821841

The Star Wars Cook Book: BB-Ate: Awaken to the Force of Breakfast and Brunch by Lara Starr; 978-1452162980

Roald Dahl’s Revolting Recipes by Roald Dahl, Felicity Dahl, and Josie Fison; Illustrated by Quentin Blake; 978-0140378207

The Wizard’s Cookbook: Magical Recipes Inspired by Harry Potter, Merlin, The Wizard of Oz, and More by Aurelia Beaupommier; 978-1510729247

Let’s Cook French, A Family Cookbook: Cuisinons Francais, Un livre pour toute la famille by Claudine Pepin with illustrations by Jacques Pepin; 978-1631591471

Let’s Cook Italian: A Family Cookbook by Anna Prandoni; 978-1631590634

Let’s Cook Spanish: A Family Cookbook by Gabriela Llamas; 978-1631590993

Handstand Kids Mexican Cookbook by Yvette Garfield with foreward by Aaron Sanchez; 9780979210723

Handstand Kids Chinese Cookbook by Yvette Garfield with foreward by Ming Tsai; 9780979210747

The International Cookbook for Kids by Matthew Locricchio; 978-0761463139

The 2nd International Cookbook for Kids by Matthew Locricchio, illustrated by Jack McConnell; 978-1503946484

MasterChef Junior Cookbook: Bold Recipes and Essential Techniques to Inspire Young Cooks; 978-0451499127

The Young Chef: Recipes and Techniques for Kids Who Love to Cook by The Culinary Institute of America; 978-0470928660

Baking Class: 50 Fun Recipes Kids Will Love to Bake! By Deanna F. Cook; 978-1612128559

American Girl Baking: Recipes for Cookies, Cupcakes, and More; 978-1681880228

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Donner Dinner Party Review

NHHT_3Donner Dinner Party (Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales #3) by Nathan Hale

Amulet Books, 2013. 978-1419708565

Synopsis: The Donner Party expedition is one of the most notorious stories in all of American history. It’s also a fascinating snapshot of the westward expansion of the United States, and the families and individuals who sacrificed so much to build new lives in a largely unknown landscape. From the preparation for the journey to each disastrous leg of the trip, this book shows the specific bad decisions that led to the party’s predicament in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The graphic novel focuses on the struggles of the Reed family to tell the true story of the catastrophic journey. from Amazon.com

Why I picked it up: I’d been seeing this series on the shelves for a while, but I splurged on my own copy while I was at the comic shop.

Why I finished it: Westward Expansion was an exciting time in American history in which the country grew into what we now know as the contiguous United States. Stories of pioneers daring to leave the comfort of the East Coast and the Midwestern towns to journey into the unknown were always fascinating to me, especially considering how spoiled we are in the 21st century: we don’t have to boil water before we drink it, we don’t have to use a chamber pot to go to the bathroom, laundry can be done in a washing machine, we can go to a grocery store or a clothing store to buy food and things to wear, and advancements in modern medicine have made it possible to treat cuts and scrapes without the risk of losing a limb. The story of the Donner Party is arguably one of the more famous stories of a family moving West because of the tragedy and gore that surrounds it. As a student, I was grossed out by even the bare bones of details my teacher would give the class about the hardships that the Donner Party had to endure when they found themselves stranded in the mountains during the harsh winter months. Hale has done a fantastic job of expanding on the story we were given in history class, but keeps it tame enough for younger readers (because it’s so much MORE intense than our teachers ever gave it credit). He’s kept in a good chunk of the gorey bits – the story wouldn’t be much without it – but he also gives a voice to each of the members of the party so that we become more invested in their story of survivalism. Hale has also invested a great deal of detail in his art, carefully creating for us a snapshot of a wagon train and the daily life of the party as they came West. While it’s not the most definitive book on the Donner Party, it’s a fantastic read that is sure to become a great springboard into more research about the brave men and women who helped settle the American West.

Other related materials: Patty Reed’s Doll: The Story of the Donner Party by Rachel K Laurgaard, illustrations by Elizabeth Sykes Michaels; Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales: One Dead Spy by Nathan Hale; Big Bad Ironclad! (Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales #2) by Nathan Hale; Treaties, Trenches, Mud, and Blood: A World War I Tale (Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales #4) by Nathan Hale; The Underground Abductor: An Abolitionist Tale About Harriet Tubman (Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales #5) by Nathan Hale; Alamo All-Stars (Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales #6) by Nathan Hale; Raid of No Return: A World War II Tale of the Doolittle Raid (Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales #7) by Nathan Hale; One Trick Pony by Nathan Hale; Guys Read: True Stories edited by Jon Scieszka; Rapunzel’s Revenge by Shannon and Dean Hale, illustrated by Nathan Hale; Calamity Jack by Shannon and Dean Hale, illustrated by Nathan Hale

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The Survival Guide to Bullying Review

survival_guide_to_bullyingThe Survival Guide to Bullying: Written by a Teen by Aija Mayrock

Scholastic, 2015. 978-0545860536

Synopsis: The Survival Guide to Bullying covers everything from cyber bullying to how to deal with fear and how to create the life you dream of having. From inspiring “roems” (rap poems), survival tips, personal stories, and quick quizzes, this book will light the way to a brighter future.from Amazon.com

Why I picked it up: Because I remembered being bullied in school and not feeling like I couldn’t talk to anyone about it.

Why I finished it: Being a kid is hard. It’s even harder when there are people in your social circle at school or work that seem to be mean to you and maybe a few others for no reason at all. It could be that we don’t fit into the ‘pretty, skinny, perfect’ mold. It could be that we don’t like the same movies or books as other people. It could be that we like a different food than everyone else. It’s never easy to pinpoint why you or someone else is being picked on; mostly, there’s an overwhelming feeling of being defective or faulty, being made to believe that there’s something wrong with you, being made to believe that you’re a bad person. Mayrock addresses many of these thoughts and feelings as she walks the reader through her own middle school and high school experiences with bullying, both in person and online. It’s refreshing for me to see/read about someone who has experienced the same nonsensical emotional beating and the different techniques they used to be able to fight their way out of the hole. While the writing can be cliched at times and knowing that all of the methods won’t work for everyone in every situation, it’s a great resource for getting young people to be able to recognize the problem and getting the help they need to stop the bullying and bring a boost back to their self-esteem. It can be hard to recognize that you need help; it’s easy to convince yourself that if you don’t confront the issue it will resolve itself; it’s easy to get caught up in an endless cycle of feeling alternatively worthy and worthless. There is a helpful list of websites and hotlines at the back of the book that can aid the reader in taking the first step toward breaking the cycle for themselves or for someone else. It’s an inspiring little volume that can be read as a whole or just as individual relevant chapters.

Other related materials: Be Confident in Who You Are (Middle School Confidential, Book 1) by Annie Fox, M.Ed.; Real Friends vs. the Other Kind (Middle School Confidential, Book 2) by Annie Fox, M.Ed.; What’s Up With My Family? (Middle School Confidential, Book 3) by Annie Fox. M., Ed.; Confessions of a Former Bully by Trudy Ludwig; My Secret Bully by Trudy Ludwig; Stick Up For Yourself!: Every Kid’s Guide to Personal Power and Positive Self-Esteem by Gershen Kaufman, Ph.D, Lev Raphael, Ph.D, and Pamela Espeland; Speak Up and Get Along!: Learn the Mighty Might, Thought Chop, and More Tools to Make Friends, Stop Teasing, and Feel Good About Yourself by Scott Cooper; Bullying Under Attack: True Stories Written By Teen Victims, Bullies, & Bystanders edited by Stephanie H. Meyer, John Meyer, Emily Sperber, and Heather Alexander; Dear Bully: 70 Authors Tell Their Stories edited by Megan Kelley Hall and Carrie Jones; We Want You to Know by Deborah Ellis; The Weird! Series by Erin Frankel, illustrated by Paula Heaphy; The Drama Years: Real Girls Talk About Surviving Middle School – Bullies, Brands, Body Image, and More by Haley Kilpatrick with Whitney Joiner

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Primates Review

primatesPrimates: The Fearless Science of Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Biruté Galdikas by Jim Ottaviani and Maris Wicks

First Second, 2013. 978-1596438651

Winner of the 2014 Green Earth Book Award,

Winner of the 2014 Bank Street Best Children’s Book of the Year

Synopsis: Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Biruté Galdikas have become some of the biggest names in primatology during the 20th Century. Recruited by Louis Leakey, these women dared to go into the bush during a time when women were not yet taken seriously as scientists, and yet were considered better for field studies than men. Their work has influenced how the world now thinks about primates and about themselves.

Why I picked it up: A library colleague of mine highly recommended it.

Why I finished it: This book is every bit as amazing as I have been told it was. It’s a fun, funny, and inspiring look at how the study of primates has evolved (no pun intended) and even how women were able to make a name for themselves in what was still greatly considered to be a male dominated field. Goodall, Fossey, and Galdikas all had a clear idea of what they wanted to do with their lives, and they found a largely uphill battle to be able to be with the animals for which they felt such a strong passion to understand. I was sitting on the edge of my seat through most of the book, living out these adventures with Goodall, Fossey, and Galdikas and admiring their sheer gumption. It’s one thing to want to study gorillas or chimps or orangutans, but to do out and do the field work, live in the jungle, and truly immerse yourself in the research takes some definite guts. I’m truly in awe. And despite the stories about how awful it sometimes got, it makes me want to go out and do something groundbreaking. Ottaviani does a beautiful job of highlighting the major life events of these three women and the major breakthroughs they experienced that would enable them to present themselves as serious researchers. There is a little bit of fiction inserted into the plot, but I didn’t find that it affected the overall story – I mean, it’s pretty hard to even just fit one scientist’s life into a book, let alone three! Wicks art beautifully depicts each of the women’s lives and really bring to life each species of primate and their natural habitats. I loved that so many of the sequences were based on real photographs of Goodall, Fossey, and Galdikas during the prime years of their research. It’s a truly inspiring read about some truly inspiring women that reminds us that we are never done fighting and that we must never back down from defending something in which we truly believe.

Other related materials: Dignifying Science: Stories About Women Scientists by Jim Ottaviani, Linda Medley, and Donna Barr; Two-Fisted Science: Stories About Scientists by Jim Ottavini, Mark Badger, Donna Barr, Colleen Doran, and Rob Walton; Human Body Theater by Maris Wicks; Girls Who Rocked the World: Heroines from Joan of Arc to Mother Teresa by Michelle Roehm McCann, Amelie Welden, and David Hahn; Girls Who Looked Under Rocks: The Lives of Six Pioneering Naturalists by Jeannine Atkins, illustrated by Paula Conner; Untamed: The Wild Life of Jane Goodall by Anita Silvey; The Watcher: Jane Goodall’s Life with the Chimps by Jeanette Winter; Dian Fossey: Friend to Africa’s Gorillas by Robin S. Doak; Light Shining Through the Mist: A Photobiograhy of Dian Fossey by Tom Matthews; Dian Fossey: Among the Gorillas by Wil Mara; Among the Orangutans: The Birute Galdikas Story by Evelyn Gallardo; Orangutan Odyssey by Birute M.F. Galdikas; Mary Leakey: Archaeologist Who Really Dug Her Work by Mike Venezia; Headstrong: 52 Women Who Changed Science – and the World by Rachel Swaby

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