Tag Archives: Neal Bascomb

Cybils Reading, Part 2

3 Jan

Today, I would like to introduce the Senior High Nonfiction titles I’ll be reading over ht next six weeks.

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Bonnie and Clyde: The Making of a Legend
by Karen Blumenthal
Viking Books for Young Teaders

Bonnie and Clyde became legends of the outlaw world. Even today their names are known and used–Blumenthal does an excellent job of giving as clear a picture as possible of what is known (or thought to be known) about Clyde and Bonnie and what led them to become outlaws. After reading about the shocking number of people they killed it’s understandable why these two became so famous, but it’s a sad commentary on American society is the fact that these two are still so famous yet their victims have been all but forgotten.

Just Mercy (Adapted for Young Adults)
by Bryan Stevenson
Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers

Based on his own experiences as a nonprofit lawyer defending people whom others have tossed aside and/or tried to forget about, Stevenson offers readers an in-depth look at our all-too-often dysfunctional and biased justice system. His flowing narrative allows us to get to know the individual clients, which drives home the often life-or-death nature of their various legal battles. This is a powerful, impactful, and enlightening book that has the power to transform the way this country thinks about justice, mercy, and compassion.

The Faithful Spy: Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the Plot to Kill Hitler
by John Hendrix
Amulet

A heavily illustrated biography of German theologian and resistance figure Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Hendrix’s almost-graphic novel makes excellent use of color, portraying Bonhoeffer and his allies in blue, and Hitler and the Nazis in red, and the visuals add to the dizzying and terrifying changes in Germany as Hitler’s power grows. A fitting and appealing way to tell the story of a man willing to die for what is right.

The Grand Escape: The Greatest Prison Breakout of the 20th Century (Scholastic Focus)
by Neal Bascomb
Arthur A Levine

Neal Bascomb tell the compelling tale of a group of World War I prisoners who plotted and executed an almost unbelievable escape from a German prison camp. The daring individuals who came together to set this escape into motion are briefly described along with their backgrounds, but the focus is on the circumstances that led up to the escape, the escape itself, and the aftermath. The book reads like a thriller, with near misses, plenty of setbacks, and failures detailed along the way. A fabulously told story that proves the adage: truth is stranger than fiction.

Votes for Women!: American Suffragists and the Battle for the Ballot
by Winifred Conkling
Algonquin Young Readers
Nominated by: Me!

Spanning almost 100 years, this book takes an unflinching and comprehensive look at the fight for (and against) women’s suffrage in the United States. Reading it evokes a wide and ever-changing range of emotions: outrage, shame, shock, awe, empowerment, and, ultimately, hope. Never once, however, does it evoke boredom. The compelling narrative, primary source material, photography, and rich backmatter make this book highly recommended reading for all genders.

We Are Not Yet Equal: Understanding Our Racial Divide
by Carol Anderson
Bloomsbury YA

A sobering look at how the US’s laws and court decisions have systematically disenfranchised African-Americans. Bolden’s Young Reader’s Edition of Anderson’s adult title White Rage focuses not just on landmark court cases but also the smaller moments, putting them into the broader American context. It excels at making complicated legal and judicial proceedings clear and easy-to-understand, showing how these issues are still current, and not just stains on our past.

We Say #NeverAgain: Reporting by the Parkland Student Journalists
edited by  Melissa Falkowski and Eric Garner
Crown Books for Young Readers

Students in the newspaper and TV broadcasting classes at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida write about the shooting and the aftermath, from putting out a memorial issue shortly after the tragic events to covering the March for our Lives. Along the way, they deal with their own feelings about the shooting and wrestle with how to cover a story when they’re part of it. A moving and important collection of teen voices.

This week’s book talks 10/15-19

19 Oct

The Scholastic book fair happened during conferences. I bought two books and students donated two to the classroom library.

Monday

The Grand Escape by Neal Bascomb

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Tuesday

The Plot to Kill Hitler by Patricia McCormick

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Wednesday

The Faithful Spy by John Hendrix…I had an ARC of this one at home and decided to bring it in as a compare/contrast to Tuesday’s book.

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Thursday

Grenade By Alan Gratz

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Friday

The Fever Code by James Dashner…to break the red & black cover cycle.

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YALSA Morris/Nonfiction Challenge Check-in #4

11 Jan

Last summer, I listened to  Neal Bascomb’s  Hunting Eichmann: How a Band of Survivors and  a Young Spy Agency Chased Down the World’s Most Notorious Nazi. I was a little leery when I first saw that a YA version had been published under the title The Nazi Hunters: How a Team of Spies and Survivors Captured the World’s Most Notorious Nazi.

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I was prepared to be disappointed because I have serious doubts about reformatted books as a matter of principle. I always, skeptically, imagine it is a marketing ploy and a money grab. I can be a bit of a cynic at times.

I was pleasantly surprised that the book, definitely a scaled back version of the original, is still excellent. It is eminently readable and maintains the energy and tension of the original. Having read Bascomb’s 2009 book, I had some background knowledge that helped me as I read this book. For readers coming to The Nazi Hunters first, the details that were “left out” of this version do not detract. really, it is a matter of the amount of detail in each book. I think adults would enjoy this work of narrative nonfiction, especially if reading nonfiction is not part of their regular practice.

In reading  The Nazi Hunters: How a Team of Spies and Survivors Captured the World’s Most Notorious Nazi,  I have read all of the nonfiction books. All are excellent and I think I will keep my decision about which should win the award until I’ve finished the Morris nominees, too. In my last post before the announcement f the winners, I  declare my thoughts about which books deserve to win both awards.

I also finished Charm & Strange by Stephanie Kuehn this week.

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Strange is a good word to have in the title. It took me a few chapters to get a real sense of this book and I questioned its presence on the list of Morris nominees. Real clarity doesn’t even come until the very end, at which point you want to say “WOW!”. Having said that, I won;t go into a lot of plot details because it would ruin the impact of the ending. Let me just say that the mind is a strange place. While reading this I had flashbacks to my time in Denmark where I convinced myself that I was  a jinx. I am quite serious. I loved the first host daily I lived with and didn’t want to move to my second home. Just before I did so, the second family’s daughter fainted at work, suffered a brain hemorrhage and died. Just after I moved in, my host dad was shot in a hunting accident and nearly died. Somehow my brain convinced me that it was all my fault.

Andrew Winston Winters, the main character of Charm & Strange, is struggling with his sanity. Over the course of one night, while stuck at a party deep in the New England woods, Andrew battles both the pain of his past and the isolation of his present. Slowly, we come to see is life, understand his struggle and see what the mind does to understand incomprehensible events.

if you start this book and get frustrated or confused, I highly encourage you to persevere.

Morris/Nonfiction Reading Challenge, Part 2

6 Dec

The 2014 YALSA Nonfiction Award Finalists were announced yesterday. My goal is to read all the books on both lists by January 27th. Will you join me? If not, wish me luck? Here’s the nonfiction list.

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The Nazi Hunters: How a Team of Spies and Survivors Captured the World’s Most Notorious Nazi written by Neal Bascomb, published by Arthur A. Levine Books, an imprint of Scholastic Inc.

At the end of World War II, Adolf Eichmann, the Nazi leader responsible for organizing the deportation and imprisonment of millions of Holocaust victims, went into hiding under an assumed identity.  Eventually he fled to Argentina where he lived and worked under a false name for 10 years.  Bascomb tells the story of Eichmann’s crimes, his years in hiding, and his eventual capture and trial with rich detail and riveting suspense.  At the same time, Bascomb introduces readers to the courageous Israeli agents, Holocaust survivors, and their families who worked together to track down, capture, and bring Eichmann to justice.

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Go: A Kidd’s Guide to Graphic Design written by Chip Kidd, published by Workman Publishing Company.

This innovative book offers an introduction to the history and basic concepts of graphic design from one of the most successful designers working today. Using real world examples and rich visual aids, Kidd teaches readers how effective design can communicate ideas and messages, and he suggests ways to think critically about the design elements that infuse the media around us. Kidd invites readers to experiment with design themselves by ending the book with a series of 10 design challenges and offers a venue to share their work online.

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Imprisoned: The Betrayal of Japanese Americans During World War II written by Martin W. Sandler, published by Walker Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing, Inc.

After the Japanese military bombed Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, forcing the internment of over 100,000 Japanese-Americans. This detailed and compassionate chronicle of the internment years incorporates many first-hand accounts and photographs. Sandler skillfully provides context for the internment and also examines its lasting legacy by examining anti-Japanese sentiment in America before World War II and then the redress movement, which advocated for compensation and formal apologies for internees after the war.

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Courage Has No Color: The True Story of the Triple Nickles, America’s First Black Paratroopers written by Tanya Lee Stone, published by Candlewick Press.

“What is it like to jump out of an airplane? Imagine.” From these opening sentences, Stone chronicles the courage and persistence that were the hallmarks of the Triple Nickles, the African-Americans who pushed through military barriers to become the first black paratroopers. Their individual efforts, the eventual recognition of the 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion, and the broader issues of segregation during the war period are illustrated with a with a rich collection of interviews, letters, and photos. Stone’s afterword, the timeline, and the detailed source notes offer valuable insights into her research methods. Ashley Bryan’s foreword and artwork add personal insight and extend the power of this skillfully told story.

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The President Has Been Shot! The Assassination of John F. Kennedy written by James L. Swanson, published by Scholastic Press, an imprint of Scholastic Inc.

James Swanson takes readers back in time with a thoroughly researched and tightly written narrative of John F. Kennedy’s assassination.  Beginning with a succinct introduction to Kennedy’s early life and presidential administration, Swanson sets the scene for a detailed and engaging examination of the events before, during, and after November 22, 1963, when JFK and Lee Harvey Oswald crossed paths in Dallas with tragic results.  The book brings events to life with extensive photographs, diagrams, and primary documents, and illuminates Swanson’s research and writing process with detailed source notes, an extensive bibliography, suggestions for further reading, and a comprehensive index.

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