Despite the prologue, this graphic novel (Messy Roots by Laura Gao) isn’t about the pandemic. The beautiful color pages of the first chapter describe what this book is really about: freedom and roots. Two concepts that can seem like opposites but that blend together in a beautiful combination in this book. Opening her story with her childhood in Wuhan, Gao makes it easy to see how different her adolescence in Texas is from her early years. As a child transplanted to the US at a young age, Gao quickly learns the importance of fitting in. She changes her Chinese name for the American “Laura” andRead More →

In his newest book, A Rebel in Auschwitz, Jack Fairweather tells the true story of a resistance hero who fought the Nazis from inside the tortuous prison camp.  The book opens with an introduction to Witold Pilecki, a young Polish underground operative. Once readers have a sense of this man’s values, we read about Hitler’s goal to obliterate the Polish people as well as their nation—“to drown the people in blood” (12). Feeling it is imperative to face down evil, Witold accepts a mission to infiltrate Auschwitz so that he can pass on any intelligence to the resistance group and rally the power of theRead More →

Brandy Colbert writes an important book, a story that needed to see the light of day. Black Birds in the Sky is a nonfiction account of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. It is filled with sad and horrifying cruelty as it recounts one of the most deadly and destructive acts of racial violence in American History. Colbert makes her readers aware of just how much the past inform the present. She enlightens us, explaining that history is full of progress and setbacks. The Unites States, in particular, has a violent genocidal foundation. Traumatic times often get passed over in classrooms and conversations because they makeRead More →

Deborah Hopkinson’s nonfiction book We Must Not Forget joins other powerful stories of survival and resistance during the era when an act of defiance carried a risk and a price. Hopkinson tells the stories of lesser known Jewish children and teens whose courage and strength enabled them to survive the Holocaust. To give the dead a voice and to call the world to action, Hopkinson provides key dates, people’s harrowing stories, and photographs to illustrate their lives. Most chapters also end with grey shadow boxes that share Look, Listen, Remember resources and information for further exploration. Furthermore, like most nonfiction books, We Must Not ForgetRead More →

Perhaps the most widely recognized Supreme Court case in American history, Brown v. Board of Education was a nationwide assault on beliefs of white supremacy. But for all its renown, many Americans know little about the case itself or of the great changes in American society that propelled the Supreme Court to rule as it did on May 17, 1954. With his Scholastic published book Separate No More, Lawrence Goldstone enlightens readers about the long road to Brown v. Board of Education. In this nonfiction account, readers will learn the names of many personalities instrumental in proving that separate did not mean, and could notRead More →

With her recent autobiographical account in Out of Hiding: A Holocaust’s Survivor’s Journey to America, Ruth Gruener (aka Luncia Gamzer) tells her story of survival. Her memoir joins those stories told by other survivors of this unimaginable time in history. This was a time when anxiety turned to cold, raw fear as the Nazis burned synagogues and committed murder without regard for the sanctity of human life—a time when choice was taken, freedom was scarce, and normal took on an entirely different definition. Gruener tells of her feeling like a nonperson, “a body that took up space” (27). She describes hunger, loneliness, hiding, and aRead More →

In 1943 in Wichita Falls, Texas, twelve-year-old Jerrie Cobb climbed, dipped, and banked in her father’s 1936 Waco biplane under her father’s guidance.  These were precious times for Jerrie, since flying was in her blood.  However, despite her talent and aptitude, Jerrie was denied a career as a jet pilot or an astronaut since she grew into adulthood during an era when flying was considered men’s work and society expected their women to be timid and beautiful. Because piloting a jet was physical, technical, dangerous, and dirty and because war maneuvers involved rough, rowdy, and ruthless work, women were excluded. While men scooped up theRead More →

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 →