Gr 8 Up–A small team of average Joes escape out of their native Norway, undergo espionage training in Britain, and parachute into their Nazi-occupied homeland. Their high-risk mission: to destroy a hydroelectric plant in the remote, wintry mountains that produces a vital component, heavy water, for constructing an atomic bomb. Chock-full of archival photos and maps, this absorbing account sheds light on a lesser-known and vital chapter of World War II history and serves as a memorable tribute to the skiing spies.
Gr 4-6–Documents related to an 1828 estate sale that included, along with hogs and cows, the names and prices of 11 individuals, were the genesis of this tribute to the lives, talents, and community of generations of those who were treated as property and whose humanity was disregarded. Bryan’s expressive portrait art allows readers to peer into the faces of these men and women, while his poems unmask their hopes and aspirations.
Gr 3-6–Byrd takes readers along on this ancient epic quest crisscrossing the Aegean, the Euxine, and the Mediterranean. Helped and challenged by gods, monsters, and dramatic seas, these larger-than-life figures have their mettle tested at every turn. The sumptuously detailed artwork is gloriously lit and action-packed, capturing the inherent drama and colorful backdrops for these thrilling escapades.
K-Gr 3–This evocative celebration of the four seasons through verse is an essential addition to poetry collections. Fogliano’s text marries natural observations with human emotion to create a collection that is quiet but full of powerful feeling. Readers could easily incorporate the journal-like style to chronicle their burgeoning relationship with nature and time. Morstad’s watercolor illustrations invoke the changing seasons with gentleness and beauty and invite closer inspection—a perfect complement to the well-crafted poems.
Gr 6-8–Freedman tackles head-on multiple perspectives and controversies surrounding the war, such as Vietnam’s history as a French colony, the lead-up to U.S. combat involvement, and the resulting protest movement stateside. The well-researched, concise text covers major events and lesser-known episodes, along with an array of photos from different eras and thorough back matter. It fills a niche as riveting report material or for independent reading.
Gr 5 Up–The arrival of bubonic plague in San Francisco in 1900 resulted in not only death but also fear, quarantine, and social upheaval. With the diligence of a detective, the awareness of a sociologist, and a novelist’s flair for the dramatic, Jarrow investigates a terrifying period of U.S. history while also delving into the background of the disease. This compellingly designed, artfully written blend of science and history will enlighten as it entices.
Gr 8 Up–The final installment in the celebrated graphic novel trilogy that documents Congressman Lewis’s role in the civil rights movement, this visually arresting volume covers crucial events such as the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church, with Lewis’s resounding voice adding a nuanced, deeply emotional perspective. The personal and the political combine for a historical tour de force.
K-Gr 2–A buoyant text and exquisite watercolor artwork follow a litter of frisky pups as they awaken to the world around them and learn the skills necessary to survive. Complementing the story of these rambunctious aquatic animals’ adventures are details on their anatomy and habits, and the purpose of play.
Gr 7 Up–In 1892, Lizzie Borden, a well-to-do young woman from Fall River, MA, went on trial for the brutal murder of her father and stepmother. Miller lays out the facts of the case in painstaking detail, chapter by chapter. Investigating newspaper reports and affidavits and providing historical context for modern readers, Miller crafts a superbly researched work that reads like a thriller and asks probing questions about media bias, sexism, and what lurks in the darkest recesses of the human heart.
Gr 4 Up–Readers eavesdrop on the behind-the-scenes making of Art Kane’s now-iconic photo, Harlem 1958, which featured many of the era’s jazz greats. The warm, eye-popping acrylic and pastel illustrations are in harmony with the direct, evocative prose/poetry, which provides multiple perspectives, from the boys watching on the curb to pianist William “Count” Basie, pianist/composer Mary Lou Williams, and the well-dressed saxophonist Lester “Pres” Young. A wonderful snapshot of one specific place and time.
PreS-Gr 1–Gorgeous photographs complement evocative and economic verse in this poetic exploration of the winter water cycle. Alliterative language flows and pulses in a rhyming progression: “Air warms./Snow softens./It drip, drip, drips./Snowmelt/forms/icicle tips.” A perfect storytime or one-on-one selection; readers of all ages will want to snuggle up and settle in to appreciate this gem.
Gr 2-5–A brilliant practitioner of the eponymous poetic form conveys both the drama and pathos of myths that have entertained throughout the ages, while establishing that there are two sides to every story. Full-page artwork, bathed in dazzling blue and gold tones, sets the stage for these timeless tales of gods and mortals told with a poignant and commanding lyricism.
Gr 1-5–Through a simple text and vivid mixed-media collage art, the author evokes the life and work of the Brooklyn-born Basquiat, who was nurtured in a loving family and schooled in the museums and streets of New York City. Incorporating found materials into the illustrations, Steptoe captures the originality and urban vibe of a charismatic artist whose talent revealed itself early on and matured into a powerful social and political voice.
Gr 3-7–In this spirited and splendidly illustrated biography, Sweet brings the beloved author to life for a new generation of readers, capturing his love of words, bighearted sensibilities, and reverence for the natural world. In addition to containing the artist’s colorful assemblages, the book is full of photos, letters, realia, and excerpts from E.B. White’s most famous works, making it a treasure trove for Charlotte’s Web fans and aspiring writers everywhere.
Gr 2-5–A striking examination of how the great auk, a once-thriving species, became extinct. Thornhill traces the evolutionary traits (ultimately disadvantages) and happenstance occurrences that primed the auk for human exploitation. The digitally created illustrations convey the dwindling auk numbers with emotion, while the swirling, deep ocean waters will entrance readers as they learn about the implications of extinction and the development and importance of animal conservation movements. A superb addition to science and animal collections.
PreS-Gr 2–Courted by many gift-bearing suitors, the beautiful poet princess Izta chooses the poor but honest warrior Popoca. His only gift to her is the promise to love her forever. Izta’s father agrees to the match under one condition, that Popoca challenge a rival ruler. Battles, bravery, and betrayal follow in this intimate Aztec origin tale of two volcanoes in present-day Mexico. The bold colors and dynamic fight scenes, inspired by motifs from the Mixtec codices, complement this accessible epic story of loyalty.
Gr 7 Up–Turner reconstructs the life and legacy of “Japan’s greatest samurai,” the 12th-century warrior Minamoto Yoshitsune, from his childhood to his rise as a reckless and awe-inspiring fighter. Turner deftly explores this intricate history, not only crafting a compelling tale but also providing readers with the historical importance of the samurai. Skillful storytelling and meticulous research combine to create an epic sure to satisfy teen history buffs and thrill seekers alike.
Gr 1-3–Couplets count down the days of the week and detail the daily labor duties of those who were enslaved in New Orleans—all leading up to Sunday, the day of rest and an afternoon in Congo Square. Acknowledging and contrasting the brutal toll of slavery with the exuberance and collective power of their one half-afternoon of free expression, Weatherford has created a masterly and multifaceted work. Christie’s illustrations, so loaded with color and movement, are the perfect accompaniment to this must-have book.
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