Flying Solo

How Ruth Elder Soared into America’s Heart

asolo2
Roaring Brook Press (Macmillan Publishers)

Published 7.23.2013 *  32 pages

A True Tale with A Cherry On Top

Author:  Julie Cummins
and Illustrator: Malene R. Laugesen

Character:  Ruth Elder

Overview from the jacket flap:

“In 1927, women were supposed to stay at home, mostly in the kitchen, with their feet planted firmly on the ground. But one woman proved that she could do anything a man could do – even fly an airplane. Before Amelia Earhart made her name crossing the Atlantic Ocean, Ruth Elder set out to beat her to the record. She didn’t make it, but she flew right into the spotlight and America’s heart.

This is the story of a remarkable woman who chased her dreams with grit and determination and whose appetite for adventure helped pave the way for generations of female flyers.”

For a Tantalizing Taste and Something More, visit the blog of kidlit author, Jeanne Walker Harvey *** True Tales & A Cherry On Top  ***  to learn more about this book.

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THE SCRAPS BOOK by Lois Ehlert

THE SCRAPS BOOK cover
THE SCRAPS BOOK: NOTES FROM A COLORFUL LIFE
written and illustrated by Lois Ehlert
published by Beach Lane Books/Simon & Schuster, March 2014
72 pages

There have been several picture-book autobiographies of children’s book authors and illustrators over the past few years. Sadly, most have left me feeling just a little underwhelmed. While I personally enjoyed them, I felt like they were aimed more at their long-time adult fans than at contemporary child readers. While I, as an adult, was able to appreciate the rich context and interesting personal histories, I wondered if children would be able to relate to the stories and find directly relevant meaning within the pages. So, although I myself am a fan of Lois Ehlert, I’ll admit I was a bit skeptical when I picked up THE SCRAPS BOOK. Boy was I in for a delightful surprise!

Read the full review here.

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The Next Wave

SITF Next WaveThe Next Wave: The Quest to Harness the Power of the Ocean (Scientists in the Field)
by Elizabeth Rusch
80 pages; ages 10-14
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014

Elizabeth Rusch takes us to Oregon’s wave-battered coast to check out the newest technological research in renewable energy. In this book we find surfer scientists and engineers working to transform the energy in ocean waves into electricity. We meet the Mikes and Annette von Jouanne, the AquaBuOY, and a team of Columbia Power engineers.

The pages are jam-packed with photos of waves, boats, surfers, bigger waves, and turbines of all types and sizes – including the Mikes’ prototype turbine constructed of plastic spoons from a fast-food joint. There are diagrams and graphs that help explain wave motion and watts, and plenty of sidebars that delve more deeply into the issues surrounding wave energy technology.

One question is what happens to sea life when you harness waves for energy. Rusch notes that because the technology is so new, “no one really knows how it will affect marine animals or the environment.” Buoys and other machinery could introduce new sounds and electromagnetic fields into the sea and set cables to thrumming, like guitar strings. Devices that capture wave energy will remove that energy from the waves, and reduced wave power could affect sand movements, water temperature, and water mixing near the shore. Scientists don’t think they’ll increase beach eroion, but they might affect the lives of tiny creatures. If you are interested in learning more about potential environmental impacts, check out the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and the US Department of Energy Report to Congress (downloadable pdf).

Rusch does a good job of taking us behind the scenes in a growing energy technology field. Some countries are beginning to use wave energy – in small experimental situations. So if you’ve got kids who are interested in renewable energy, waves are the next big thing to watch. And that calls for a field trip to the ocean, right?

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1

The Prairie that Nature Built

prairie nature builtThe Prairie that Nature Built
by Marybeth Lorbiecki; illus. by Cathy Morrison
32 pages; ages 4-10
Dawn Publications, 2014

“This is the prairie that nature built.” Starting with the critters that worm and squirm under the prairie, and the diggers that burrow, Marybeth Lorbiecki builds a prairie bit by bit. Soon it’s populated with plants and insects, birds and beasts… all playing essential roles in maintaining the prairie.

This is one of those books that’s just plain fun to read. Everyone living on the prairie has a role: tunneling, rooting, providing food, hunting to keep the population in balance. I also like the detailed illustrations, and the way Cathy Morrison uses the page. Sometimes you need to turn the book to get the full length of it all, from root to sky. I also like how, in the end, Lorbiecki brings the prairie home to us, as a place where a child and her dog could roam and explore.

As with all Dawn books, there is great back matter. This one ends with a “Prairie Primer” and some more in-depth notes about the soil partners, grazers, flowers and other life essential to the prairie ecology. There’s a page full of Prairie Fun activities, and some resources: books, websites and more.

Drop by Sally’s Bookshelf for some “beyond the book” activities.

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The Kite that Bridged Two Nations: Homan Walsh and the First Niagara Suspension Bridge

The Kite that Bridged Two Nations: Homan Walsh and the First Niagara Suspension Bridge
by Alexis O’Neill (Author) and Terry Widener (Illustrator)

Booktalk: Homan Walsh loves to fly his kite. And when a contest is announced to see whose kite string can span Niagara Falls, Homan is set on winning…

Snippet:
Through snow, on ice, and two miles north,
I took my place above the grasping Whirlpool Rapids.
Don’t look down, I told myself.

I set my gaze aloft and launched my kite.

See more booktalks at the Booktalking #kidlit blog.

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Ordinary People Change the World

I AM ABRAHAM LINCOLN

by Brad Meltzer, illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulos
Dial Books for Young Readers, 2014
ISBN: 978-0-8037-4083-9
Picture Book Biography
Source: purchased
All opinions expressed are solely my own.

ABOUT THE BOOK

We can all be heroes. That’s the inspiring message of this lively, collectible picture book biography series from New York Times bestselling author Brad Meltzer. Kids always search for heroes, so we might as well have a say in it, Brad Meltzer realized, and so he envisioned this friendly, fun approach to biography for his own kids, and for yours. Each book tells the story of one of America’s icons in an entertaining, conversational way that works well for the youngest nonfiction readers, those who aren’t quite ready for the Who Was series. Each book focuses on a particular character trait that made that role model heroic. For example, Abraham Lincoln always spoke up about fairness, and thus he led the country to abolish slavery. This book follows him from childhood to the presidency, including the Civil War and his legendary Gettysburg Address. This engaging series is the perfect way to bring American history to life for young children, and to inspire them to strive and dream.

REVIEW

Not only does this book have delightfully appealing illustrations but there is a remarkable amount of content for a book aimed at young children. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and the picture it presented of one of our most influential presidents. These books would be a great way to introduce biographies to young readers. There were even some stories about Lincoln that I hadn’t heard before which is great considering how much I’ve read about the man. The only thing I might have wished for is a bibliography or works cited at the end of the book, but considering the age the book is aimed at that’s not too surprising. Although, the author does acknowledge the help of the Lincoln Studies Center at Knox College. And I recognized the several of the quotes used as words that Lincoln actually used. Overall, an informative and delightfully useful new series.

I AM ROSA PARKS

by Brad Meltzer, illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulos
Dial Books for Young Readers, 2014
ISBN: 978-0-8037-4085-3
Picture Book Biography
Source: purchased
All opinions expressed are solely my own.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Rosa Parks dared to stand up for herself and other African Americans by staying seated, and as a result she helped end public bus segregation and launch the country’s Civil Rights Movement.

REVIEW

I’ve long admired Rosa Parks and her courage in standing up for herself and others by sitting down. What amazes me most about this new biography series for young readers is how in only a few words the author manages to convey the spirit of the person. In this story of Rosa Parks the picture of a person determined to stand up for herself becomes very clear. The author combines Rosa’s story with a bit of the Civil Rights story as well, a great way to introduce the importance of standing up for the right to young readers. A fabulous addition to a fabulous new series perfect for young readers.

I AM AMELIA EARHART

by Brad Meltzer, illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulos
Dial Books for Young Readers, 2014
ISBN: 978-0-8037-4085-3
Picture Book Biography
Source: purchased
All opinions expressed are solely my own.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Amelia Earhart refused to accept no for an answer; she dared to do what no one had ever done before, and became the first woman to fly a plane all the way across the Atlantic Ocean. This book follows her from childhood to her first flying lessons and onward to her multi-record-breaking career as a pilot.

REVIEW

I have to say that the cartoon Amelia’s cries of, “That was awesome!” made me laugh out loud, especially the excited look on her face. This is a story of pursuing one’s dreams despite the doubts of others. The book does not go into her disappearance or some of the other things that happened in her life which is appropriate for the age group this is aimed at. The inclusion of photographs at the end of the book makes the story all the more realistic.

I AM ALBERT EINSTEIN

by Brad Meltzer, illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulos

Dial Books for Young Readers, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8037-4085-3

Picture Book Biography

Source: purchased

All opinions expressed are solely my own.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Even when he was a kid, Albert Einstein did things his own way. He thought in pictures instead of words, and his special way of thinking helped him understand big ideas like the structure of music and why a compass always points north. Those ideas made him want to keep figuring out the secrets of the universe. Other people thought he was just a dreamer, but because of his curiosity, Einstein grew up to be one of the greatest scientists the world has ever known.

REVIEW

This book is as awesome as the other three but adds a couple of features that I am very happy to see.  First there is the inclusion of a bibliography.  Also the addition of a timeline is very useful for teachers and parents. The humorous jokes about the hair that Einstein was so well known for made me smile.  These books are sure-fire winners for parents, teachers, and especially young readers.  I especially liked the emphasis on the power of thinking and not being afraid to be different even when the world doesn’t understand.  A great introduction to the power of biography in the lives of young readers.

For more reviews check out my blog at Geo Librarian.

The October 20th Nonfiction Monday Round-up

  • Add your post to the weekly Nonfiction Monday Round-up on this group blog!
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We look forward to seeing what you’re reading…so we can read it too!

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