Taking Action for Civil and Political Rights


Taking Action for Civil and Political Rights (Who’s Changing the World?)
by Eric Braun (Author)

Booktalk: Do you ever worry about people being treated unfairly? Do you wish you could help make things better? The civil rights activists profiled in this book do that every day. One teenager organized a hunger strike and a protest of 120,000 people to demand voting rights. Three friends started the Black Lives Matter movement by commenting on social media. Another activist started a petition that asked teen magazines to stop altering photos of girls’ bodies. And a farmworker organized other farmworkers and consumers to ask for higher wages and better working conditions. Explore the stories of these inspiring kids and adults, and learn how to start making a difference yourself.


Political candidates and advocacy have long worked hard to get young adults to vote. They know that young voters can be the key to winning elections. But many get-out-the-vote efforts focus on college students and young professionals.

That’s where the Reverend Lennox Yearwood Jr. comes in. He’s the founder and CEO of a group called the Hip Hop Caucus, an organization that promotes political activism among US voters using hip-hop music and culture.

Nonfiction Monday

It’s Nonfiction Monday!

Copyright © 2016 Anastasia Suen All Rights Reserved.

In the Shadow of Liberty

shadow-of-libertyIn the Shadow of Liberty

by Kenneth C. Davis

304 pages; ages 10 – 14

Henry Holt, 2016

“Most of us learn something about the US presidents,” writes Kenneth Davis. “But this book is about some people who are not so famous.”

Davis introduces us to five enslaved people who lived with and worked for four famous founding fathers: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and Andrew Jackson. These enslaved people were bought and paid for by the writers of the Declaration of Independence, the very same men who declared that all men are created equal and fought for their own freedom from another master, the king.

It is fitting that this book hits the shelves now, as September 22, 1862 is the day that President Abraham Lincoln issued a preliminary Emancipation Proclamation. Under the War Powers act, Lincoln warned that he would order the freedom of all slaves in any state that did not end its rebellion against the Union by January first 1863.

Davis begins his history with a look at how slavery began, and the importation of slaves to the colonies. By 1700, he notes that enslaved people are being imported into Virginia at the rate of 1,000 per year. Each subsequent chapter focuses on the story of one enslaved person and his (or her) connection with a president.

At the end of each chapter is a timeline of slavery in America. These points in history – British banning the slave trade (1804), Thomas Jefferson signing a ban on importing slaves (1807) put the personal stories into a national and international context. Historic photos, cartoons and illustrations from the archives add to our understanding of the history. I appreciate the chapter notes, bibliography, and index.

Read a longer review over at Sally’s Bookshelf.

Nonfiction Monday

It’s Nonfiction Monday!

Copyright © 2016 Sue Heavenrich All Rights Reserved. Site Meter

Who WOULD Win?

Hey, guys, I know you’ve wondered sometime who would win in a fight between two famous monsters. Or between two superheroes. Or between two killer animals. All boys think about this sometimes. Boys have always wondered about this. That’s why we had the movie King Kong vs Godzilla back in my day. That’s why we hadBatman vs Superman this year. And that’s why we have the Who Would Winseries of books by Jerry Pallotta (illustrated by Rob Bolster).

These books are very cool! They’re informational and interesting, plus they end with a fight between two killer animals. What could be better? And, if you don’t agree with the outcome of the fight, there’s a page at the end of each book that lists the advantages of each animal and let’s YOU decide who would win!

Along the way, you’ll learn several amazing facts such as:

  • Scorpions glow under black light because they reflect ultraviolet rays
  • Tigers live in Asia, not Africa (although a few lions live in the Gir Forest of India)
  • Great White Sharks can tell if you’re nervous because they can sense electricity
  • Some chefs use squid ink to make black pasta!

All of these are quick and fun (what I call Good Quick Reads) and would be really good for our younger reader guys, like maybe second–fourth graders, But older guys would enjoy them too. And, teachers, these would be the ideal books if you have boys think they don’t like reading.

Check out the full review at:


Surviving Middle School by Luke Reynolds

Surviving Middle School cover

Surviving Middle School: Navigating the Halls, Riding the Social Roller Coaster, and Unmasking the Real You
by Luke Reynolds
Aladdin/Beyond Words (July 5, 2016)
Ages 10-14, 192 pages

Oh, how I wish I’d had this book when I was entering middle school… or high school, or college, or my 20s or 30s! There are a lot of valuable life lessons crammed into this little volume, and you can call me a slow learner, but I didn’t figure most of this stuff out until I was well into adulthood. And, even now, I can still use some good reminders from time to time!

It’s not only filled with excellent advice, but it also has highly relatable anecdotes (for the tween set, anyway), interesting exercises to help personalize every lesson, and tons of middle-school humor, so it never comes off as dry or preachy. I think it has enough variety that it will appeal to all kinds of tween readers.

I believe this book should be required reading for tweens everywhere (and their teachers and parents!), and it would make an excellent gift, too!

To read more about this book, click here.

United Way


United Way
by Katie Marsico (Author)

Booktalk: How do nonprofits and charities work? What problems do they need to solve? In United Way, readers will discover the ways this organization contributes positively to the world. Sidebars and back matter ask questions for text-dependent analysis. Photos, a glossary, and additional resources are included.

Snippet: In order to build stronger communities, United Way relies on both paid staff and volunteers. They include doctors, counselors, lawyers, accountants, and teachers.

United Way depends heavily on people and organizations with strong financial, communication, and management skills. They coordinate the efforts of different individuals and groups involved in community projects.

Nonfiction Monday

It’s Nonfiction Monday!

Copyright © 2016 Anastasia Suen All Rights Reserved.


Presenting Buffalo Bill: The Man Who Invented the Wild West

Fleming, Candace. Presenting Buffalo Bill: The Man Who Invented the Wild West
September 20th 2016 by Roaring Brook Press
E ARC from Edelweiss Above the Treeline

25689028The best thing about this book is that Ms. Fleming acknowledges right from the beginning that Buffalo Bill’s treatment of Native Americans, as well the language used for and treatment of Native Americans during his life, is problematic. She also mentions that while the entire concept of the Wild West is also problematic, it was very important to many US citizens and persists in our culture.

As all of Fleming’s books are, this is very well researched and written. Since Cody published autobiographical information about himself, Fleming is able to look at primary source documents and compare them with others to try to figure out what is truth and what is lies. From the perspective of someone who loves history, this was fascinating. She doesn’t gloss over the bad things that Cody did, either, and there is a lot of very good information about Native Americans who were involved in the show.

However, this is a LONG nonfiction book. At 288 pages or so, it will be a stretch to get students to read this, especially since there is zero interest in the Wild West these days. I’ll probably buy it, since it will be good for History Day projects, and may be I can get readers who enjoy Gemeinhart’s Some Kind of Courage to read this.

Read more thoughts on this at Ms. Yingling Reads.



Bioengineering: Discover How Nature Inspires Human Designs (Build It Yourself)
by Christine Burillo-Kirch (Author) and Alexis Cornell (Illustrator)

Booktalk: Explores different fields, including communication, transportation, and construction, and follow the process of engineering from the raw material of the natural world to the products we use in the human world every day. Activities such as building cantilevers and inventing a new fabric that mimics pinecone behavior require kids to think critically about their own needs and find creative ideas to fulfill those needs using designs from nature.



Nonfiction MondayIt’s Nonfiction Monday!

Copyright © 2016 Anastasia Suen All Rights Reserved.

Dorothea’s Eyes

DOROTHEAS EYES-webDorothea’s Eyes

by Barb Rosenstock; illus. by Gerard DuBois

40 pages; ages 8-12

Calkins Creek (Boyd’s Mills), 2016

Dorothea opens her grey-green eyes. They are special eyes. They see what others miss…

So begins a biography of one of my favorite photographers, Dorothea Lange. Before she ever owned a camera she knew she wanted to be a photographer – even though girls weren’t supposed to be photographers. Even though it was hard for her to walk. She skips school to wander around the city, peering into crowded tenements, seeing with her eyes and her heart how people live – “happy and sad mixed together”.

What I like about this book: It is about Dorothea! I like how Barb Rosenstock shows Dorothea growing into a photographer. And how her childhood – and her heart – drew her to take photographs of poor people, immigrants, migrant farmers… the invisible people in our society. I like that Dorothea’s story can inspire young people to follow their dreams. Most of all, I like that “Dorothea’s eyes help us see with our hearts.”

Head over to Sally’s Bookshelf for some Beyond-the-book activities. And drop by the blog all next week for art activities and book reviews to celebrate National Arts in Education Week.

Nonfiction Monday

It’s Nonfiction Monday!

Copyright © 2016 Sue Heavenrich All Rights Reserved. Site Meter