Chernobyl’s Dead Zone by Rebecca Johnson

Chernobyls Wild KingdomCindy: Almost 30 years ago, when I was a baby librarian—and not too many years after acquiring my college protest marching “No-Nukes” button—a reactor at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine exploded and the news was full of the fallout. Today’s students may be fuzzy on the details, if they even know about this devastating accident. Rebecca Johnson will bring them up to speed with her book, Chernobyl’s Wild Kingdom: Life in the Dead Zone (2014).

While the book focuses on the radioactive wildlife and the research being done in the Ukrainian ghost town of Pripyat and the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, the opening chapter sets the stage….

Lynn:  What a fascinating subject! Who would have imagined that wildlife would exist at all in the Exclusion Zone, where the radiation is measuring at what we have assumed to be horrifyingly dangerous levels….(more)

Check out our whole post about this book at our Bookends Blog post for Chernobyl’s Dead Zone over at the Booklist Reader.

Caring for Guinea Pigs

Today over at Wrapped in Foil blog we are being nostalgic for our pet guinea pigs and sharing Gordon’s Guide to Caring for Your Guinea Pigs by Isabel Thomas.

caring for your guinea pigs

Guinea pigs are really cute and make great first pets. In the book, Gordon the cartoon guinea pig (that’s him in the bottom left corner of the cover) guides children through the ins-and-outs of adopting and caring for a pet guinea pig.

The text is gently humorous, clear and concise. As an experienced guinea pig keeper, I can say it does a really good job of covering what a beginning pet owner would need to know, including the fact that guinea pigs do better when kept with other guinea pigs because they are social and that guinea pigs require special pelleted food with vitamin C added.


Be sure to read Gordon’s Guide to Caring for Your Guinea Pigs if you are considering adding guinea pigs to your family!


Sally Walker on Her Huggable Non-Fiction ‘Winnie: The True Story’

Sometimes we come across books that we simply fall in love with. For me, I’ve fallen hard for the Sally Walker’s fascinating and adorable non-fiction title Winnie: The True Story of the Bear Who Inspired Winnie-the-Pooh (Henry Holt and Co., January 2015), gorgeously illustrated by Jonathan D. Voss. This is one of those books you leave out on the kitchen table so family and friends can pick it up. It lingers in the imagination, makes other writers smack their heads and wish they’d thought of it first, entertains and informs. Just like the bear on the cover, this book is huggable, irresistible.

Sally, a Chicago-area author of fiction and non-fiction for young readers, including early readers, series, and a long list of non-fiction for older readers, has hit it out of the ballpark with Winnie. It tells the story of a World War I veterinarian named Harry, from Winnipeg, and the bear cub he meets and decides to buy. With detailed endpapers showing photographs of the real-life Harry, Winnie, and a boy named Christopher Robin, Sally takes readers through the sweet story of friendship, caring, and separation. Jonathan Voss’s warm illustrations enhance the story beautifully.

Read the full interview at


Women’s History Month

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KidLit Celebrates Women’s History Month begins March 1st!

Active only during Women’s History Month,  the annual blog celebration features readers, commenters, and contributors working together to create a dynamic resource of thoughtful and thought-provoking essays, commentaries, and book reviews. Each post is related to children’s literature and women’s history. This year marks the blog’s fifth birthday! 😀

The blog is a great resource for finding new books (especially nonfiction!) and useful links. Previous contributors include Jen Bryant, Andrea Davis Pinkney, Donna Jo Napoli, and Betsy Bird.  Contributors for 2015 include Emily Arnold McCully (Queen of the Diamond), Misty Copeland (Firebird), Michaela McColl (The Revelation of Louisa May), and more.

The complete 2015 lineup may be found on the site’s sidebar.  You can sign up to follow the blog, or receive it via email. Visit the site at to see “following” options, an archive of past contributions, and links to educational resources.  It’s suitable for parents and teachers, too.

The official Women’s HistoryMonth theme for 2015, is “Weaving the Stories of Women’s Lives.”

Please join us, beginning March 1, at KidLit Celebrates Women’s History Month!

Kidlit Celebrates Women's History Month

Questions regarding KidLit Celebrates Women’s History Month can be directed to its co-organizers: Margo Tanenbaum, of The Fourth Musketeer and Lisa Taylor of Shelf-employed.

KidLit Celebrates Women’s History Month blog design by Rebekah Louise Designs.


Schools of Hope

schoolshopeSchools of Hope: How Julius Rosenwald Helped Change African American Education
by Norman H. Finkelstein
80 pages; ages 10-16
Calkins Creek, 2014

Jacket flap intro: “Julius Rosenwald’s life was forever changed when he met Booker T. Washington, the well-known black educator. Washington introduced the president of Sears, Roebuck and Company to the deplorable conditions of African American schools in the South…” and, as they say, the rest is history.

In the early 1900s, Rosenwald led Sears to become the largest retail establishment in the world. He became a wealthy man, but felt that people should share their wealth during their lifetime. In addition to charities, Rosenwald became involved in the education of blacks – from offering college fellowships to matching funding for building schools in communities for their children.

The schools that black children attended during that time, 1895 – 1914, were deplorable. Courts had held that education could be separate but equal – but there was little equal about the quality of the education black children received. Rosenwald was inspired by Booker T. Washington’s book, Up from Slavery, and more than that, Washington’s philosophy of self-help. When he got to meet the great man, they talked about the need for better schools.

The first school Rosenwald helped build was in Loachapoka, Alabama in 1913. It wasn’t far from Tuskegee. Rosenwald donated $300 towards the cost of the school. The entire cost to build it was just under $950. Rosenwald insisted that communities be part of the building projects, raising funds and maintaining the schools so they had ownership. Families, both black and white, contributed.

In this book, Finkelstein weaves together a story about two men with vision – Washington and Rosenwald – and a time of great change. He also includes a neat section on how to build a school, from site selection to construction. He talks about fundraising, and the sacrifices families made to see their children educated towards a better future.

Where did the graduates from these schools end up? They were the parents of the generation who marched and sang and pushed this country towards civil rights.

Nonfiction Monday

It’s Nonfiction Monday!

Copyright © 2015 Sue Heavenrich All Rights Reserved. Site Meter


A Penguin Named Patience: A Hurricane Katrina Rescue Story

A Penguin Named Patience: A Hurricane Katrina Rescue Story
by Suzanne Lewis (Author) and Lisa Anchin (Illustrator)

Booktalk: At roughly 6 pounds and approximately 20 inches tall, Patience, the South African penguin, is small, but at 24 years old she is also the “penguin in charge” of the penguin exhibit at New Orleans’s Audubon Aquarium of the Americas. On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina devastated the city and severely damaged the aquarium.

Patience knew something was terribly wrong.

It was dark and steamy hot inside her home at the Audubon Aquarium in New Orleans. Being an African penguin meant she was used to a warm climate, but not this warm!

Nonfiction Monday

It’s Nonfiction Monday!

See more booktalks at the Booktalking #kidlit blog.

Copyright © 2015 Anastasia Suen All Rights Reserved.
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Athletes to know

Wilma Rudolph by Isabel Martin is an ideal biography for grades two and three. It has chapter titles: Meet Wilma, Growing Up, Adult Years and Later in Life. The back page gives suggestions for critical thinking using the Common Core.

Sample: “Wilma Rudolph was a famous Olympic track runner from Tennessee.She was very fast.”

Teachers will like the glossary, suggested titles for further reading and internet sites.


Nonfiction Monday

It’s Nonfiction Monday!

Copyright © 2014 Deborah Amadei/a> All Rights Reserved. Site Meter