Tag Archives: history

“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?”

What Would Abe Read?

AbeReadsHis neighbors used to say that Abraham Lincoln loved to read, and would walk for miles to borrow a book. For having so little formal education, our 16th president was eloquent in both his writing and speeches, no doubt partly due to being such a fervent reader. We know Abraham Lincoln was a lover of great literature. But which books entertained him? What did he read for “fun?”

Abe’s own words show how much value he placed on reading: “A capacity, and taste, for reading, gives access to whatever has already been discovered by others. It is the key, or one of the keys, to the already solved problems. And not only so. It gives a relish, and facility, for successfully pursuing the [yet] unsolved ones.”

So without further ado, lets take a look into Abe’s library.  How many of these books have you read? (I was thrilled to see Jane Austen listed, since in my opinion, no library is complete without her.) This list is only a small sampling of popular works the president is believed to have enjoyed, extracted from Robert Bray’s What Abraham Lincoln Read. Lincoln also loved poetry, plays, humorous sketches, history, biographies, and philosophical works.

pride-and-prejudice-1946Aesop’s Fables

The Arabian Nights

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Shirley by Charlotte Bronte

Artemus Ward, His Book  by Charles F. Brown

The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan

Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes

The Lascover1t of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper

Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe

The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens (another of my favorites)

Westward Ho! by Charles Kingsley

Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott

“The things I want to know are in books; my best friend is the man who’ll get me a book I ain’t read.” Abe Lincoln

Can’t get enough of literary-loving Lincoln? Check out this list of the 25 best books about his life. Happy Birthday, Mr. President!

Looking for more ways to celebrate Lincoln’s birthday? Check out this MUF post, Living Lincoln’s Words, by Katherine Schlick Noe.

It’s a Book Birthday for Rosanne Parry and The Turn of the Tide!

We’re very excited to celebrate our own Rosanne Parry’s book birthday today, with the release of her latest middle grade novel from Random House, The Turn of the Tide.

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I was thrilled to get to read this book, and to interview Rosanne for today’s post.

MUF: Rosanne, I loved this book – as a reader, as a writer of middle grade work, as a sailor and as a lover of history. I can’t wait to share it!

R: Wow! Thank you so much. That means a lot coming from a fellow sailor in particular. I found the sailing sections tricky to write. I knew the action I wanted to convey and knew I had to write it in the sort of nautical language a kid who grew up sailing would use. But I bet most of my readers have never sailed and some of them will have never seen a sail boat in action so the trick was to make it accessible to a non-sailor without losing the fun nautical language or the pace of the action. I revised those sailing sections a zillion times.

MUF: Your descriptive language is so evocative of place that the reader is transported to the very scene of the action. I was there in the hills with Kai in Japan. I stood in front of the Coast Guard exhibit at the Maritime Museum (which is in reality my own favorite exhibits there), and felt the tug of the current as Jet sailed her dinghy through the bay. How do you go about researching to create such a sense of place in these realistic scenes?

R: I do love research and I worked on this book over several years so part of it was just making multiple trips to Astoria to visit the museum and browse in the comics shop and sample the milkshakes at Custard King and go to the Scandinavian Festival in the summer. My son and I took a memorable canoe trip on the Columbia right at the starting point of the race. I wanted to see what it felt like to be in among the river islands but I didn’t want to be at the mercy of the wind. We were coming up to the mouth of the John Day River and the tide was coming in so the current of the John Day pushed us up stream and we were not strong enough to paddle against it. Very unnerving. We had to paddle across the current to get back in to the main flow of the Columbia. I’d read about how these currents worked and studied the nautical chart but it was really helpful to be out there actually feeling the strength of the tide acting on the junction of the two rivers.

On the other hand there were places I could not go. Unfortunately I was not able to travel to Japan. But my brother has gone there for work regularly for more than 20 years. Two members of my critique group have lived in Japan. One of them worked in the Ehime prefecture and camped in the area around Ikata. They were very helpful. I had a long interesting conversation one afternoon with a gardener from the Portland Japanese Garden, which is known to be one of the most botanically authentic in North America. The gardener helped me think through what plants would be very familiar to Kai here in Oregon and which ones would be new. One of the tricks to writing good setting is writing, not about what is actually there, but about what, of all the things present in your setting, your character notices and why does he notice it. Writing in two points of view was tricky in some ways, but having two very different perceptions of the same place was interesting and fun.

MUF: When you shared the images for this interview, you included this one of the compass. You called it a character in the book. I love that! Can you tell us more about this particular compass, and how it might have inspired your story?

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R: The compass in the picture belonged to my grandfather. He was a hunter and an accomplished woodsman. He used this compass until he gave up deer hunting at the age of 75. (He continued to hunt ducks until he was 84). It’s an army corps of engineers compass and he told me he got it from a friend after the First World War. It’s still in working order and I carried it around in my pocket quite a bit as I was writing. I thought about what the various heirlooms of my family mean to me now, and what they meant when I was twelve.

It was also a good reminder to think about the moral compass by which my characters were navigating their lives. I think of both Kai and Jet as very honorable young people, but they come to their honor through very different cultural lenses. So I’d watch the compass needle swing into place and think about what forces were tugging at my characters—pride and shame, sorrow and kinship, loyalty and competitiveness. It made me reflect about my own motivations too. There are more sensible ways to make a living than this. What is it about literature that continues to tug me in the direction of writing it?

MUF: I already asked about the research you did in order to describe setting so well. Can you share a bit about how you conduct your historical research?

R: I do read quite a bit, sometimes reading things that are quite tangential to the book. Treasure Island for example. I spent a long afternoon reading various nautical poems and found a poem translated from the Japanese which says a lot about Japanese culture and values. It’s called Be Not Defeated by the Rain by Kenji Miyazawa. Here’s a link to the poem

Interestingly, when I was discussing the book with my daughter’s Japanese teacher (who very kindly checked all the Japanese words for me and commented on the cultural matters) she said that since the Sendai earthquake, many in Japan are rethinking the cultural value of stoicism that the poem promotes. There is a feeling that the expectation that people suppress their grief and horror is unkind and even unhealthy. An interesting perspective and not one I’d be likely to find by reading alone.

Fellow writers are often great about sharing a research resource. James Kennedy, of 90 Second Newbery fame, introduced me to someone who has made a long study of Japanese ghost stories. He helped me understand Kai’s fears in better context. For example, in Western tradition monsters reside in the depths of the ocean and the darkest, innermost parts of the forest. But in Japan, the “haunted space” is on the margins—at the edge of the jungle, on the surface of the water. So interesting. And again a nuance I might miss if I just relied on reading.

MUF: Here’s one last question for you: What’s a middle grade read that has stuck with you lately?

R: I’ve been working on a new book narrated by a wolf. It’s been great fun, so I’ve read a bunch of wolf stories old and new. There’s one by Avi and one by Tor Seidler this year. But the one that really captivated me was The Wolf Wilder by Katherine Rundell. It’s the story of a girl in the waning days of imperial Russia who works as a wolf wilder, a person who takes the pet wolves of the aristocracy and makes them able to live in the wild again. She runs afoul of a corrupt army officer and sparks a child-led revolution. It’s the sort of book twelve year old me would have adored.

MUF: Another book I can’t wait to read now! Thanks for sharing with us Rosanne, and best of luck with The Turn of the Tide!

 

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You can visit Rosanne’s website  to find out more about her books., as well as her Pinterest page for The Turn of the Tide.

 

In fourth grade, Valerie Stein touched an ancient artifact from an archaeological dig. Though she never got to travel the world in search of buried treasure, she ended up journeying to new and exciting places between the pages of books. Now she spends her time researching history, in museums and libraries, which is like archaeology but without the dirt. Valerie’s book, THE BEST OF IT: A JOURNAL OF LIFE, LOVE AND DYING, was published in 2009. Both her current work and an upcoming middle grade series are historical fiction set in Washington State. Valerie is proprietor of Homeostasis Press,blogs at The Best of It, and manages Gather Herean online history site for middle grade readers and teachers.