Tricky Vic by Greg Pizzoli

9780670016525Lynn:  What IS it that intrigues us about crooks? People seem to have a fascination with their sneaky ways even while we shake our heads at their exploits. Kids are just as interested and I can attest to the instant appeal of Greg Pizzoli’s entry into the field, Tricky Vic: the Impossibly True Story of the Man Who Sold the Eiffel Tower (2015)….(more)

Cindy: (more)…This would make a great classroom read aloud as a springboard to research on Robert Miller or the many topics in the sidebars. You could also pair it with the Eiffel Tower chapter in There Goes the Neighborhood: Ten Buildings People Love to Hate (2001) by Susan Goldman Rubin. I’m definitely adding it to my Fun Nonfiction booktalk bibliography.

There’s more! Check out our whole post about this book at our Bookends Blog post for Tricky Vic over at the Booklist Reader.


An Ambush of Tigers

Ambush of TigersCindy: I know a stack of librarians who will love An Ambush of Tigers: A Wild Gathering of Collective Nouns (2015), by Betsy R. Rosenthal. We’ve read a few collective noun books before and Lynn and I are fans of them all. There’s something about the tidy organizing that must appeal to the librarians in us. If you follow the link above you will see Carolyn Phelan’s great review of this title, but don’t miss the list of several other collective noun books that appears off to the right. (Using the “Booklist Editors Recommend” feature on Booklist Online is a great way to help readers find books similar to the ones they just read and loved. Try it!)

If a group of teachers is a quiz of teachers, would
a group of English teachers be a correction?

Rosenthal presents a pair of collective nouns in rhyme, many interacting creatively with each other. For instance:

Does a tower of giraffes
way up high
spy a raft of otters
floating by?

For that rhyme, Jago’s gorgeous digital art displays giraffes stacked on top of each other, the one on top wearing binoculars, while the otters wearing bandanas, eye patches, and sabers float by on a raft of branches. This will make a great classroom read aloud and will lead to discussion and creative play with words.

Teachers and librarians should team up with a palette of art teachers and create their own collective noun rhymes and illustrations. It’s a perfect activity for April’s Poetry Month. Leave it to Wiktionary to have a Glossary of Collective Nouns by Subject. A flight of aircraft? A belt of asteroids? An aroma of bakers? The possibilities are endless. And if the list doesn’t have what you want? Make up your own! I looked up books, and one of the suggestions is “a pile of books.” Have they been peeking in my living room?

Lynn: Cindy is right—we LOVE collective nouns and I’m equally in love with this fabulous book. There is so much to enjoy here: the silly rhymes that frolic with the collective noun, the illustrations that carry the joke forward, and the wonderful small details in each of the illustrations that extend the fun. Be sure to take your time with this lovely book so you don’t miss a thing.

Just ONE question—if a group of teachers is a quiz of teachers, would a group of English teachers be a correction?  And then there are  book bloggers….

Cindy: A blather of book bloggers? A babble? But when we get a highly-prized ARC…a squeal of book bloggers! HA.

For more youth book blog posts with two voices, visit Bookends Blog at the Booklist Reader.
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Why’d They Wear That? by Sarah Albee

Why'd they wear thatLynn: In her introduction to Why’d They Wear That?: Fashion as the Mirror of History (2015), Sarah Albee notes:

Fashion really is the mirror of history (as Louis XIV is thought to have said), a visual way to describe a society, and this has been true ever since the moment someone slapped on a fig leaf.

She goes on to say that up to 80 years ago, what people wore announced social status, reflected expectations of behavior, population levels and even how much leisure time they had. Some fashions were even life threatening. Even today, whether we care about fashion or not, what we wear makes a statement….(snip)

….This large colorful book is packed with wonderful illustrations that make it a visual delight. Well-designed and eye-catching sidebars add fashion-related items that broaden the story, touching on the original method of dry cleaning, when women started wearing underwear, or how clothing was fastened (before 1330 you had to be sewn into your bodice every day!). This lively book is wonderful for reports, straight-through reading, or browsing. Don’t let it slip away!

Cindy: History teachers need a copy of this in their classrooms to consult throughout their curriculum! For instance, a double-page spread about the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire has a section with an illustration explaining “What is a shirtwaist?” It also includes another inset about the 2013 Bangladesh clothing factory building collapse that killed hundreds of workers, despite an earlier inspection that declared the building unsafe…(snip)

…Readers will appreciate Albee’s humor, too. In the 1953 section about the advent of polyester that gave way to the horrible fashion trend of the leisure suit, her caption reads: “Because of its molecular structure—strong but elastic—polyester can spring back into shape after wear and look just as awful as when new.”

The final section asks the reader “What Can You Do?” and offers suggestions on looking at labels, making good choices, and being prepared to answer questions from your grandchildren. “You’ll have some explaining to do!” she warns, next to a photo of sagging jeans! Love it.

Check out our whole post about this book at the Bookends Blog post.

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.


Winnie by Sally M. Walker

WinnieCindy: After a year on the 2015 Sibert Medal committee I said I was taking a short break from nonfiction, but when I saw the cover art, the title, and the name Sally Walker on Winnie: The True Story of the Bear Who Inspired Winnie-the-Pooh (2015), I just couldn’t resist. Last year saw the publication of many soldier-and-dog stories, including Ann Bausum’s Stubby the War Dog: The True Story of World War I’s Bravest Dog (2014)—but a bear?

Harry Colebourn, a Canadian Army Veterinary Corps lieutenant, had a chance meeting with a bear cub at a train station in 1914. He bought the cub for $20 and named him “Winnipeg” for the Corps’ hometown. Winnipeg became “Winnie” and Harry’s fast friend. The two were inseparable until the war took them too close to the battlefront and Harry made the hard decision to leave Winnie at the London Zoo. It was there that a young boy named Christopher Robin met a bear so gentle that children were allowed to pet and hand-feed him. That night, Christopher’s teddy bear got a new name, “Winnie-the-Pooh,” and his father, A. A. Milne, told him the first of many stories about a bear and boy—stories that children are still reading to this day….

Check out our whole post about this book at our Bookends Blog post for Winnie over at the newly designed Booklist Reader.

Eyes Wide Open by Paul Fleischman

Eyes Wide OpenLynn: Renowned author Paul Fleischman is a man on a mission. He wants teens to look beyond their own “internal movie,” beyond the dazzling technological changes in our world to the side effects and huge environmental problems we face. Using in-your-face, blunt language in Eyes Wide Open: Going Beyond the Environmental Headlines (2014), Fleischman sets about giving teens the tools to find the truth. This is not a book that lists 50 ways to save the planet. Instead, he outlines how teens can create their own lists: “Notice. Gather Information. Reflect. Refine. Act.”

While this is a book that will gladden the hearts of environmentalists everywhere, it is a book that will make teachers and librarians cheer even more loudly. This is a primer on how to observe, think, investigate, evaluate, and think again—something that should be the foundation of every educational system…(more)

Cindy: I gave this to an activist who recently graduated from college and he reported back very positively. He agreed with Lynn’s assessment that it would make a great primer for teens to understand the buzzwords and issues in the environmental news. He liked the call to get informed, do your research, consider the bias of the source, and take action.

Source notes, recommended reading/viewing lists, and bibliographies are important for informational books but I know few teens who spend much time in the back matter. If they even use the index I get excited. For this reason, I like Fleischman’s choice to include many prompts for further exploration in the mix with the text and photographs in each section…(more)

Check out our whole post about this book, including Common Core Connections, at our Bookends Blog post for Eyes Wide Open over at the newly designed Booklist Reader.

The Griffin and the Dinosaur by Marc Aronson & Adrienne Mayor

GriffinLynn: As an educator, a parent, and a grandparent, one of my goals has been to fan the flames of curiosity in kids. It’s a critical trait and one that often seems to get squashed somewhere along the K-12 march. I love books that encourage kids to ask questions. Marc Aronson’s books always seem to do this so well and none more than this year’s The Griffin and the Dinosaur: How Adrienne Mayor Discovered a Fascinating Link Between Myth and Science (2014)….

Cindy: Books about mythological animals are popular in my middle-school library, so I’m eager to capitalize on that interest while introducing my students to a book about observation, curiosity, and persistent research…..

Check out our whole post about this book, including Common Core Connections, at our Bookends Blog post for Griffin over at the newly designed Booklist Reader.


What the Heart Knows by Joyce Sidman

What the Heart KnowsLynn:  It may seem as if Joyce Sidman has written a new book.  The truth is that she has created a key to our hearts.  Her newest book of poetry, What the Heart Knows:  Chants, Charms & Blessings (Houghton 2013) touched me deeply in so many ways.  I laughed, cried, smiled, nodded, sighed and winced.  These superb poems unlock emotions we all hold close and have held close throughout history.

In the opening Note, Sidman writes that throughout time we have “filled our lives with poetry from morning till night.”  We have chanted, lamented. blessed and cursed what matters most to us.  In the past we may have sung to avert catastrophe in battle or from the weather.  Today we still sing to keep away the many forms of darkness that frighten us, to celebrate love or cope with life’s challenges.  And, being human, we may curse those lost keys or invoke a good night’s sleep.  The book has four sections:  Chants & Charms, Spells & Invocations, Laments & Remembrances and Praise Songs & Blessings.  The poems within are a charming evocative mix of subjects from battered teddy bears to death to the sheer joy of riding a bike.  They come from and speak to every human heart, young or old….

Cindy: It’s rare for Lynn to embrace a poetry book before me, or more tightly. But I’ve had to ease into this collection. I read it in a gulp on the first read and it did not move me. That was not the poet’s fault. It was the reader’s: mine. I think I read it standing, even, the first time. A second read was more leisurely. During the third I  picked through the poems I liked the most. I’ve read it several more times now and appreciate it more each time.  Read the rest of our review at Bookends Blog