Category Archives: For Teachers

“Fall” into Nonfiction with some great new Titles

Looking for some AWESOME Middle Grade and YA nonfiction to add to your shelves this fall?  Check out some of the Amazing titles listed below– from a playful book about cats, to a history thriller about the famous Booth Brothers, two books about women and girls who changed the world, an incredible story of bionic animals, a creepy book about the way poison was used throughout history,  a series on discovering animal secrets, and the first in a series of facts that are too crazy to be true, yet they are… These books showcase Nonfiction as the very exciting, highly intriguing topic it is. #NonfictionROCKS

 

True Stories of Kindness and Companionship with Kitties

By Aline Alexander Newman (Nat Geo Kids)


We humans love our cats and these surprising true stories will prove our cats love us back This collection of tales of playfulness, friendship, heroism, and inspiration is sure to touch the soul, tickle the funny bone, and inspire animal lovers everywhere to be the best kitty caretakers and companions they can be. There’s Bambi, whose owners taught her to respond to commands in American Sign Language; Millie, who loves exploring the outdoors and goes rock climbing with her owner; Leo, a rescued lion who changed the life of one South African family forever, and more.

 

The Booth Brothers: Drama, Fame and the Death of President Lincoln by Rebecca Langston-George (Capstone Press)


Today everyone knows the name of John Wilkes Booth, the notorious zealot who assassinated Abraham Lincoln. But in his lifetime, the killer was an actor who was well-known among fans of the theater, well-known but less famous and less admired than his brother Edwin. In the 1860s, Edwin Booth ranked among the greatest and most-respected stars of the stage. He lived in New York and sympathized with the Union cause, while his younger brother stomped the streets of Washington, D.C., and raged as the Civil War turned in favor of the North. John fantasized about kidnapping the president, but after the defeat of the Confederacy, he sought deadly vengeance. The night Lincoln attended a performance at Ford’s Theatre, Edwin was far away, knowing nothing of the plot unfolding in the nation’s capital.

 

 

Bold Women of Medicine
21 Stories of Astounding Discoveries, Daring Surgeries, and Healing Breakthroughs By Susan M. Latta (Chicago Review Press)

Meet 21 determined women who have dedicated their lives to healing others. In the 19th century, Florence Nightingale and Clara Barton–the “Lady with the Lamp” and the “Angel of the Battlefield”–earned their nicknames by daring to enter battlefields to aid wounded soldiers, forever changing the standards of medicine. Modern-day medical heroines such as Bonnie Simpson Mason, who harnessed the challenges of her chronic illness and founded an organization to introduce women and minorities to orthopedic surgery, and Kathy Magliato, who jumped the hurdles to become a talented surgeon in the male-dominated arena of heart transplants, will inspire any young reader interested in the art, science, and lifechanging applications of medicine. Lovers of adventure will follow Mary Carson Breckinridge, the “nurse on horseback” who delivered babies in the Appalachian Mountains and believed that everyone, including our poorest and most vulnerable citizens, deserve good health care, and Jerri Nielsen, the doctor stationed in Antarctica who, cut off from help, had to bravely treat her own breast cancer. These and 15 other daring women inspire with their courage, persistence, and belief in the power of both science and compassion.
Packed with photos and informative sidebars and including source notes and a bibliography, Bold Women of Medicine is an invaluable addition to any student’s or aspiring doctor or nurse’s bookshelf.

Lotta Crabtree: Gold Rush Fairy Star By Lois Harris (Pelican Publishing Company)

With the California Gold Rush reaching a feverish peak, it was up to child performers called “Fairy Stars” to keep the miners entertained. As adventurers from all over the world spent hours scouring the land for gold, the children would dance, sing, and act to raise spirits and money–and the most successful among them was Lotta Crabtree. At just eight years old, Lotta won hearts on the West and East Coasts with her extraordinary talent for performing. Thus began a career that lasted decades, launching Lotta to stardom and making her one of the most beloved actresses of the nineteenth century. In this unique biography for young readers, follow Lotta’s first years, her struggle to support her family, and her spectacular journey to fame by age twenty.

 

Unstoppable:True Stories of Amazing Bionic Animals By Nancy Furstinger (Houghton-Mifflin Harcourt)


Chris P. Bacon was born with malformed legs, but with the help of a wheelchair made of construction toys, he’s become a hero to people with similar challenges. Nancy Furstinger profiles Chris P. Bacon and many other animals in Unstoppable–all of whom are making their way around with the help of prosthetics, braces, orthotics and wheelchairs Readers will meet the caretakers, prosthetists, vets, and loving families that help to make recovery possible. Furstinger offers a glimpse into the cutting-edge technologies, such as 3D printing and brain-controlled prosthetics, that are helping to improve the lives of animals and humans alike.

 

Poison:Deadly Deeds, Perilous Professions, and Murderous Medicines By Sarah Albee (Crown BFYR)

Science geeks and armchair detectives will soak up this non-lethal, humorous account of the role poisons have played in human history. Perfect for STEM enthusiasts
For centuries, people have been poisoning one another–changing personal lives and the course of empires alike.
From spurned spouses and rivals, to condemned prisoners like Socrates, to endangered emperors like Alexander the Great, to modern-day leaders like Joseph Stalin and Yasser Arafat, poison has played a starring role in the demise of countless individuals. And those are just the deliberate poisonings. Medical mishaps, greedy “snake oil” salesmen and food contaminants, poisonous Prohibition, and industrial toxins also impacted millions.
Part history, part chemistry, part whodunit, Poison: Deadly Deeds, Perilous Professions, and Murderous Medicines traces the role poisons have played in history from antiquity to the present and shines a ghoulish light on the deadly intersection of human nature . . . and Mother Nature.

 

The Secret of the Scuba Diving Spider… and More!
By Ana Maria Rodriguez (Enslow Publishing)


Readers will dive along with an underwater spider and also discover why caterpillars need an emergency whistle, how moths talk back to bats, that zombie beetles really exist, and what makes cockroaches so hard to catch. Primary sources include interviews with the scientists and original photos. Simple yet detailed language makes complicated scientific ideas easy to understand. A hands-on activity allows students to take on the role of scientist and examine these basic biological principles themselves.

 

Fault Lines in the Constitution:The Framers, Their Fights, and the Flaws That Affect Us Today By Cynthia Levinson; Sanford Levinson (Peachtree Publishers)

Many of the political issues we struggle with today have their roots in the US Constitution.

Husband-and-wife team Cynthia and Sanford Levinson take readers back to the creation of this historic document and discuss how contemporary problems were first introduced–then they offer possible solutions. Think Electoral College, gerrymandering, even the Senate. Many of us take these features in our system for granted. But they came about through haggling in an overheated room in 1787, and we’re still experiencing the ramifications.  From the award-winning team, Cynthia Levinson, children’s book author, and Sanford Levinson, constitutional law scholar, Fault Lines in the Constitution will encourage exploration and discussion from young and old readers alike.

 

Two Truths and a Lie: It’s Alive!  By Ammi-Joan Paquette; Laurie Ann Thompson (Walden Pond Press)

Two Truths and a Lie is the first book in a fascinating new series that presents some of the most crazy-but-true stories about the living world as well as a handful of stories that are too crazy to be true–and asks readers to separate facts from the fakes

Every story in this book is strange and astounding. But not all of them are real. Just like the old game in this book’s title, two out of every three stories are completely true and one is an outright lie. Can you guess which? It’s not going to be easy. Some false stories are based on truth, and some of the true stories are just plain unbelievable. And they’re all accompanied by dozens of photos, maps, and illustrations. Amaze yourself and trick your friends as you sort out the fakes from the facts

 

Geoengineering Earth’s Climate: Resetting the Thermostat By Jennifer Swanson (21st Century Books/Lerner)

“Most scientists agree that Earth is warming rapidly. Glaciers are melting and rising seawaters are submerging islands and coastal cities. In the coming decades, millions will likely have to escape extreme weather caused by climate change. Some scientists say we need to act faster and with radical new technologies—now—to save our planet. They propose geoengineering, or “”engineering Earth,”” to reset our global thermostat. Ideas include thickening clouds with chemicals to reduce the amount of sunlight and pulling carbon dioxide from the air with machines. However, critics say that geoengineering could backfire and create even worse weather. Is geoengineering too risky? Or is it our best hope of survival?”

Where do you get your ideas: a case study

“Where do you get your ideas?”

This is a great question that gets asked during every Q&A session with an author. It’s simple. It’s complex. The answer is different for everyone, but the short version is always some variant of, “Anywhere, everywhere, and nowhere.”

While wrapping up the third book of my Galaxy Games series, I found myself thinking about what comes next for me and my writing. It made me really stop to think about where my ideas come from. Because wherever that was, I desperately needed to go back for something new!

But the harder I hunted for a fresh idea, the more elusive they seemed to become.

Step #1: The Idea File

My computer is full of old projects, one-page treatments, and sample first chapters. A while back, when my daughter was developing her sense of humor, I had the idea to write about muses.

In classical Greek mythology, the muses were nine women who inspired all kinds of creativity in human beings. One is a muse of comedy, another is a muse of tragedy, another is a muse of music, another is a muse of dance… It seemed natural to have these supernatural beings still kicking around in the modern world, and competing for controlling interest over a budding young artist, author, or stand-up comedian.

So I wrote some chapters, and they were awful. They went nowhere, but I kept them in my idea file anyway.

And I made a note for the future: “There are some really fun characters in Greek mythology.”

Step #2: Stay Alert for Ideas

Probably a couple times a day I’ll find myself saying, “That would make a great story.” It may be in response to a news article, a conversation, a picture, or a song. Most of these great stories aren’t the ones I’d want to write, but I can imagine them as a book I’d want to read or a movie I’d want to watch.

I could put them all into my idea file, but mostly I don’t bother. 

Then one day, earlier this year, a tweet popped up in my feed from a local newspaper’s Twitter account. It linked to a story about a high school from a couple towns away from me whose track and field team having a particularly good season. Especially in the javelin event.

“That would make a great story,” I thought, and this time it was one I wanted to write as well!

Step #3: Apply Personal Experience

When I read about the javelin competition, it brought back a flood of memories. I was a member of my high school track team. I learned to throw the shotput and javelin, jump for distance, run for speed, and pass a baton. I had a lot of fun and have many great memories, and the one regret that I wasn’t quite fast enough to earn a letter.

Personal experience is the key to finding the story that only you can tell, which will hold your interest through the writing process, and which will resonate as truthful for your readers. I know how to throw a javelin, what muscles are used, what it feels like to launch it down the field, the smell of the grass, the roar of the crowd. And I know well what it was like to not come in first. Or second. Or third.

It wasn’t a story yet, but a feeling that could become the kernel of a story that would resonate with my personal experience.

Step #4: Take Something Ordinary and Make It Extraordinary.

I know some great writers who can take an ordinary experience, like my not quite lettering in track, and make it into a compelling story. I can’t do that. I don’t even try. For my first Galaxy Games book, I essentially told a story about how I used to shoot baskets at my friend’s driveway hoop when I was ten. Except that I added some space aliens and the President of the United States, and put the fate of the world in the balance.

Start with an ordinary story. Add something new. Take something away. Push something to the extreme.

So for my new project-in-development, I turned my personal story about track into one about a prodigious track star with precognitive abilities. Because what’s more fun than a psychic in running shoes?

Step #5: Create a Contrast Character.

Every main character needs a counterpart, foil, antagonist, partner, or all of the above.

When I took track and didn’t earn a letter, that wasn’t much of a story. If I’d been a prodigious track star with precognitive abilities, things would have been a little different, but still not much of a story.

So for contrast, I added a budding journalist who is suffering from retrograde amnesia after a near-death experience.

It sounded good in my head, but when I threw these characters into my computer, I ended up with a Chapter of Awful.

Step #6: Write a Chapter of Awful

This is important. Let yourself write something awful. I mean, don’t plan for it to be awful—just don’t get upset if it is.

Maybe my “precognitive track star meets amnesiac journalist” chapter wasn’t all bad, but it certainly was angsty. After spending so much time spent on light-hearted middle grade, angsty was a refreshing change, but it wasn’t the world I wanted to inhabit for the full length of a novel.

And if I didn’t want to live there, I certainly couldn’t expect a reader to want to live there.

Step #7: If your story isn’t working, try a riff on it

I kept with my Chapter of Awful but also started on something light and fun as an antidote to all the heaviness, planning to put it as an interlude between the first angsty chapter and the second.

Track and field and precognition in modern times made me think of the Olympic Games and oracular prophesy of Ancient Greece. It even fit a prime item in my idea file: “There are some really fun characters in Greek mythology!”

So my interlude featured Hercules getting his butt kicked in a javelin-throwing contest.

I had fun with it, and started to think more about the character of Hercules. I’d read about his twelve legendary labors back in grade school and hadn’t thought of them much since. But when I was a kid, I’d always seen Hercules as something of a villain. Sure, he does some good deeds—ridding the land of monsters, cleaning out some guy’s stables, picking fruit, and all that—but only because he’s being made to do it. He murders his entire family, successfully pleads an insanity defense, and gets off with community service. Because the “driven mad by Hera” excuse was the Twinkie Defense of the ancient world.

Making Hercules into a villain is like making Superman into a villain, except that Hercules has no kryptonite. How can a mere mortal ever hope to take down a god? This was the story I want to tell!

So I tossed the Chapter of Awful and went to work on the riff instead.

Step #8: Explore the Backstory

My story is about an ordinary character in the world of Greek mythology who must take down the villainous Hercules. I feel really good about this except for one thing; I don’t know who this main character is, where she came from, or what motivates her.

So before I could write the story I originally planned to write, I needed to find the real beginning. That’s where I am now: the formative years of an ordinary character who aspires to do extraordinary things. Someone who can’t throw a javelin all that well and probably wouldn’t letter in track, but is destined to take one of the most powerful beings in all of mythology.

Where did this story come from? The short answer still applies: “Anywhere, everywhere, and nowhere.” But the long answer is still a work in progress.

September New Releases!

Summer is winding down. Fall is teasing a new start. And school is in! What better way to welcome the new school year than with a list of new middle grade releases?

Multiple points-of-view lead to multiple theories about what really happened after one kid turns a punishment into a protest in this hilarious new novel from Michele Weber Hurwitz.
Perennial good kid Ethan Marcus has just done the unthinkable: refuse to stay seated during class. He’s not causing a riot; he’s not wandering around; he’s just sick of sitting. But the rules aren’t designed for Ethan, and so he is sent to the principal’s office.
When Ethan’s sentence results in a Reflection Day–McNutt Middle School’s answer to detention–his faculty advisor suggests that Ethan channel the energy that caused his “transgression” by entering the school’s Invention Day Competition. Ethan is not exactly Mark Zuckerberg, so he doubts his ability to make anything competition-worthy. That’s the department of his slightly older sister Erin. But as Ethan and his buddy Brian get into the assignment, they realize they might actually have something.
Enter Romanov, the resident tech whiz, refuses to give them tips, which causes Erin to be furious at her formally slacker now traitor brother. Meanwhile, Erin’s friend Zoe is steering clear of Erin’s drama for the first time ever after realizing that she may be crushing on Ethan. Then there’s Brian who has bigger things to worry about, and finally loner kid Wesley, who may know more than others realize…
Told in the perspectives of multiple students, discover what really happened on the day that one kid decided to take a stand against sitting down.

Perfect for fans of Tim Federle and Gary Schmidt, this is a hilarious and poignant tale about the trials of middle school when you’re coming of age—and coming out.

Alan Cole can’t stand up to his cruel brother, Nathan. He can’t escape the wrath of his demanding father, who thinks he’s about as exceptional as a goldfish. And—scariest of all—he can’t let the cute boy across the cafeteria know he has a crush on him.

But when Nathan discovers Alan’s secret, his older brother announces a high-stakes round of Cole vs. Cole. Each brother must complete seven nearly impossible tasks; whoever finishes the most wins the game. If Alan doesn’t want to be outed to all of Evergreen Middle School, he’s got to become the most well-known kid in school, get his first kiss, and stand up to Dad. Alan’s determined to prove—to Nathan, to the world, to himself—that this goldfish can learn to swim.

May the best Cole win.

Corinne LaMer defeated the wicked jumbie Severine months ago, but things haven’t exactly gone back to normal in her Caribbean island home. Everyone knows Corinne is half-jumbie, and many of her neighbors treat her with mistrust. When local children begin to go missing, snatched from the beach and vanishing into wells, suspicious eyes turn to Corinne.

To rescue the missing children and clear her own name, Corinne goes deep into the ocean to find Mama D’Leau, the dangerous jumbie who rules the sea. But Mama D’Leau’s help comes with a price. Corinne and her friends Dru, Bouki, and Malik must travel with mermaids across the ocean to the shores of Ghana to fetch a powerful object for Mama D’Leau. The only thing more perilous than Corinne’s adventures across the sea is the foe that waits for her back home.

With its action-packed storytelling, diverse characters, and inventive twists on Caribbean and West African mythology and fairy tales, Rise of the Jumbies will appeal to readers of A Snicker of Magic, A Tale Dark and Grimm, and Where the Mountain Meets the Moon.

In the twelfth fantastical book from The Kingdom of Wrenly series, Prince Lucas and Clara go on an adventure in the forest realm of Trellis
All is not right in the forest realm of Trellis. Birds have left their nests and bears have abandoned their dens, as a mysterious magic threatens the natural order of the deep, dark woods. Together with a band of knights, Prince Lucas and Clara set out on an adventure that pits them against a dreaded sorcerer’s shadow. There’s only one problem: How can a shadow be defeated?
With easy-to-read language and illustrations on almost every page, The Kingdom of Wrenly chapter books are perfect for beginning readers.

The New York Times bestselling Frazzled series continues

Things are looking up for Abbie Wu: this year she’ll run for class president and get a brand-new shiny locker. Until–she doesn’t…

In her second tumultuous misadventure, Abbie Wu tackles more unbelievably unfair and calamitous middle school days. From facing locker thieves and battling diabolical cats to having absolutely no idea what to build for her science project, Abbie Wu is still in perpetual crisis.

From author and professional doodler Booki Vivat, this second story follows Abbie Wu, your favorite hilariously neurotic middle school girl, as she tries to come up with solutions to what seems to be a series of inevitable catastrophes. Akin to Smile by Raina Telgemeier, Frazzled: Ordinary Mishaps and Inevitable Catastrophes is heavily illustrated, embarrassingly honest, and sure to appeal to anyone hoping to figuring out how to survive the ordinary mishaps of middle school.

A cancer survivor must readjust to “normal” middle school life in this hopeful novel from the author of Star-Crossed and Truth or Dare.Norah Levy has just completed two years of treatment for leukemia and is ready to go back to the “real world” of middle school. She knows it’ll be tricky–but like the Greek mythological characters she read about while she was sick, Norah’s up for any challenge.But seventh grade turns out to be trickier than she thought. Norah’s classmates don’t know what to make of her. Her best friend, Harper, tries to be there for her, but she doesn’t get it, really–and is hanging out with a new group of girls. Norah’s other good friend, Silas, is avoiding her. What’s that about, anyway?When Norah is placed with the eighth graders for math and science she meets Griffin, a cute boy who encourages her love of Greek mythology and art. And Norah decides not to tell him her secret–that she was “that girl” who had cancer. But when something happens to make secret-keeping impossible, Norah must figure out a way to share her cancer story.But how do you explain something to others that you can’t explain to yourself? Can Nora take her cue from her favorite Greek myth? And then, once she finds the words, can she move forward with a whole new ‘normal’?

Violet Barnaby searches for the joy in life after losing her mother in this sweet and funny follow-up to The Charming Life of Izzy Malone.Violet Barnaby is a having a blue Christmas. She’s still grieving the loss of her mother, and to make things worse, her dad has just married Melanie Harmer, a.k.a. the meanest teacher at Dandelion Hollow Middle School. But on the day Violet and her dad are packing up and moving into the new house they’ll share with Melanie and Melanie’s two children, Violet finds a letter her mother wrote to her before she died, asking Violet to enjoy Christmas, along with a Christmas Wish List–things her mom wants her to do during the holiday seasonOn the list are exactly the kinds of things Violet doesn’t want to do this year, like Be Someone’s Secret Santa; Give Someone the Gift of Your Time: Volunteer; and Bake Christmas Cookies.Violet shows the letter to her friend Izzy’s Aunt Mildred, who calls a meeting of the Charm Girls, a club Izzy and Violet belong to along with their friends, Daisy and Sophia. Aunt Mildred decides she will give them each a charm to put on their bracelet if they do all of the tasks on the Christmas Wish List, which Violet is not too happy about. She’d rather forget about the list completely, but feels compelled to honor her mother’s wishes.And when Izzy’s crush confides a big secret to Violet, Violet feels like she is stuck between her best friend and the boy who she just might have a crush on, too…

Auma loves to run. In her small Kenyan village, she’s a track star with big dreams. A track scholarship could allow her to attend high school and maybe even become a doctor. But a strange new sickness called AIDS is ravaging the village, and when her father becomes ill, Auma’s family needs her help at home. Now Auma faces a difficult choice. Should she stay to support her family or leave to pursue her own future? Auma knows her family depends on her, but leaving might be the only way to find the answers to questions about this new disease.

“The Mola Lisa is missing!

Someone sneaky has stolen the world’s most famous painting. Good thing Q and Ray are on the case! These second-grade critters are Elm Tree Elementary’s best crime solvers. Ray loves magic and stinky cheese. Q loves disguises and surprises. But can the super sleuths outwit an art thief?”

African penguins waddle around nesting colonies in lower numbers than ever before. Despite South African government efforts to protect the penguin colonies and their ocean fish supply, young penguins still struggle to survive. Fuzzy chicks waiting for food in open nests may overheat in the sun or become prey. Others simply may not get enough food to survive on their own once their parents leave. But new conservation methods, including rescuing and hand-feeding vulnerable chicks, are giving experts hope. Can volunteers and scientists help save Africa’s only penguins before it’s too late?

During World War I, British and American ships were painted with bold colors and crazy patterns from bow to stern. Why would anyone put such eye-catching designs on ships?

 

 

When twelve year-old misfit Midnight Reynolds takes a job helping out eccentric Miss Appleby in the mansion down the street, she never imagined her work would involve battling ghosts. But as it turns out, Midnight and her new employer have quite a bit in common—they were both born on Halloween and have the power to see spirits of the dead. But when Midnight learns more about the history of her town, she starts to wonder if she’s fighting on the right side.

Women have been doing amazing, daring, and dangerous things for years, but they’re rarely mentioned in our history books as adventurers, daredevils, or rebels. This new compilation of brief biographies features women throughout history who have risked their lives for adventure—many of whom you may not know, but all of whom you’ll WANT to know, such as:

• Annie Edson Taylor, the first person who dared to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel
• Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman who dared to fly in space
• Helen Gibson, the first woman who dared to be a professional stunt person
• And many more!

This is the perfect read for anyone who wants to know what it means to explore, discover, play, climb, and fight like a girl!

Well, there you have’em! A great collection of new books for you to explore. And don’t forget that there are many more amazing reads out there, too.

Have a wonderful September,

Sheri~