July 20, 2019 marks the 50th Anniversary of the first human landing on the Moon on July 20, 1969 as part of NASA’s Apollo 11 lunar mission.  And Jeffrey Kluger’s book, Disaster Strikes! The Most Dangerous Space Missions of All Time, which released in May, is just in time to be part of the celebration. History would not know the names of Buzz Aldrin, Alan Sheppard, and Neil Armstrong had it not been for space pioneers like Gus Grissom, Charlie Bassett, Elliot See, and countless other astronauts who performed their missions so that the space programs in both the United States and the Soviet Union could learn the valuableRead More →

Whether you’re vying for a spot on Jeopardy, studying for an exam, wanting to impress someone with your trivia smarts, or simply hoping to learn more about sports or geography, My Weird School, Fast Facts Sports/Geography by Dan Gutman is for you! This two-in-one book features as narrators: Arlo, a.k.a. “Professor AJ, the professor of awesomeness” (4), and Andrea Young, who is in the gifted and talented program at school and is going to Harvard someday (6).  Although the two tweens do overuse the word weird, they share with readers many interesting and esoteric facts, such as how the tradition of the seventh inning stretchRead More →

I recall growing up and jumping rope to the rhyme:  “Lizzie Borden took an axe, gave her mother 40 whacks.  When she saw what she had done, she gave her father 41.”  I never questioned the veracity of the rhyme, and after reading the narrative nonfiction account, The Borden Murders by Sarah Miller, I am intrigued anew by the susceptibility of public opinion to be shaped by sensationalized media messages and swayed by rumors. While Miller’s book serves mostly to recount a series of suppositions and scandal-mongering newspaper accounts of the unsolved mystery of Abby Borden and Andrew Jackson Borden in Fall River, Massachusetts, onRead More →

The Freedom Summer Murders by Don Mitchell was a difficult book to read.  I am always flummoxed by hate, preferring instead to stand up for social justice, to act as Anna Sewell said in Black Beauty all those years ago: “With cruelty and oppression, it is everybody’s business to interfere when they see it.” Still, this is an important nonfiction book, one that can easily be read alongside The Road to Memphis by Mildred D. Taylor.  As he commemorates the 50th anniversary of the murders of three civil rights workers by the Ku Klux Klan, Mitchell provides a look into one of the dark cornersRead More →

Jade and I spent our entire dinner conversation on Saturday night talking about our memories of being bullied as kids, bullying in general, and how adults “bully”.  I had just finished Teen Ink’s collection of essays, Bullying Under Attack, and was so moved by the essays contained within that I had to share my reactions with him.   The book did exactly what it was meant to do:  foster a meaningful, insightful, and thought-provoking conversation about people’s use and abuse of power, the three roles involved in that power-play and the short and long term consequences of bullying on everyone involved.  While it was “easier”Read More →