Tag Archives: nonfiction

Plague!

17 Apr

In October 2015, a teenage Oregonian was diagnosed with bubonic plague. Seriously.

Screen Shot 2016-04-16 at 7.54.49 AM

That week, we did some reading about it and the history of the plague in the every-other-day Reading Enrichment class I taught. The kids were fascinated and horrified, just as I’d hoped they’d be.

A few months later, when I was at the ALA Midwinter Meeting in Boston, I picked up an arc of Gail Jarrow’s  Bubonic Panic: When Plague Invaded America.

Unknown

I shared my arc with my students and added it to my classroom collection. It has been out a lot! The final book was published earlier this month and has already received starred reviews from School Library Journal and  Kirkus Reviews, and is a Junior Library Guild selection.

Chapter one opens with a personification of the disease.

The killer was a master of stealth. It moved undetected, sneaking from victim to victim and always catching its targets by surprise.

Their end usually came after three or four horrific days of suffering. For a few – the ones spared that agony – life drained away in hours.

Jarrow is a superb storyteller and the rest of the book reads like a medical thriller. The book includes disturbingly fascinating photos and  drawings that will have readers of all ages turning pages quickly, then rubbernecking to learn more.

Writer’s workshop these last few months have been about informational writing and we’ve spent a lot of time discussing text features and the layout of modern informational texts. Bubonic Panic incorporates the best of these, without becoming distracting.

There is ample back matter, including  a glossary, timeline, further resources, author’s note, bibliography, source notes, picture credits,and index, all of which will lead to further investigation.

Publisher’s Summary: In March 1900, San Francisco’s health department investigated a strange and horrible death in Chinatown. A man had died of bubonic plague, one of the world’s deadliest diseases. But how could that be possible? Bubonic Panic tells the true story of America’s first plague epidemic—the public health doctors who desperately fought to end it, the political leaders who tried to keep it hidden, and the brave scientists who uncovered the plague’s secrets. Once again, acclaimed author and scientific expert Gail Jarrow brings the history of a medical mystery to life in vivid and exciting detail for young readers.

 

I’m a sucker for a good dog story

19 Feb

Unknown-1

Even though the subtitle of Gary Paulsen’s  This Side of Wild is   Mutts, Mares and Laughing Dinosaurs I didn’t realize it was going to be the kind of book it was. I knew it was nonfiction, but assumed it would be more like expository than memoir, which is what it is.

He got me with the first story about Corky, a three-toothed poodle no one wanted,  who could frighten off bears. It made me think for a moment, and only a moment, that maybe my next dog should be a poodle. The other stories in the book tell of remarkable animals Paulsen has encountered. Although marketed for middle grades, it is listed s 10 & up. By up, I think they mean way up:  I think many adults would enjoy reading this.

Publisher’s Summary: Longlisted for the National Book Award

The Newbery Honor–winning author of Hatchet and Dogsongshares surprising true stories about his relationship with animals, highlighting their compassion, intellect, intuition, and sense of adventure.

Gary Paulsen is an adventurer who competed in two Iditarods, survived the Minnesota wilderness, and climbed the Bighorns. None of this would have been possible without his truest companion: his animals. Sled dogs rescued him in Alaska, a sickened poodle guarded his well-being, and a horse led him across a desert. Through his interactions with dogs, horses, birds, and more, Gary has been struck with the belief that animals know more than we may fathom.

His understanding and admiration of animals is well known, and in This Side of Wild, which has taken a lifetime to write, he proves the ways in which they have taught him to be a better person.

What I’m Reading Now…mostly

21 Jan

Although I’ve been free range reading a bit in these post Morris Committee days, I still have some required reading.

Cybils-Logo-2015-Web-Lg

I am a round 2 judge in the CYBILS YA Nonfiction category. Fortunately, as a round 2 judge I only have to read the finalists the round 1 judges selected. And these are what I am (mostly) reading these days.

Unknown-1I Will Always Write Back: How One letter Changed Two Lives by Caitlin Alifirenka and Martin Ganda

Symphony for the CitySymphony for the City of the Dead: Dmitri Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad by M. T. Anderson

UnknownTommy: The Gun That Changed America by Karen Blumenthal

Unknown-2Courage & Defiance: Stories of Spies, Saboteurs and Survivors in World War II Denmark by Deborah Hopkinson

Unknown-4Bayard Rustin: The Invisible Activist by Jacqueline Houtman, Walter Naegle and Michael G. Long

Unknown-3Give Me Wings: How a Choir of Former Slaves Took on the World by Kathy Lowinger

Most DangerousMost Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War by Steve Sheinkin

Round 2 of Round 2

18 Sep

Cybils-Logo-2015-Round-Lg

Yesterday, the CYBILS judges were announced and I will be a Round 2 judge for YA nonfiction again this year.

I debated about whether or not I should apply to be a judge again because of my Morris Committee responsibilities. The bulk of that reading will be done by early December when we announce our five finalists. From that point until the ALA Midwinter meeting, I will concentrate on reading this five novels.  Fortunately, the ALA Midwinter Meeting comes early this year, so that will be wrapped up by January 12th.

Being a Round 2 judge is easier than being a round 1 judge, where you have to read everything. on January 1st, round 1 judges announce a shortlist of the best books they read. Round 2 judges get busy reading that shortlist. That will be my job and the timing is good. I can take the week between the announcement and my trip to ALA to putting the books I need on hold at the library. I can go to ALA prepared to debate which of our 5 Morris books is the best and when I come home, exhausted and exhilarated, I can start reading the CYBILS books that have arrived at the library.

Let’s just hope my master plan works.

Cybils-Logo-2015-Web-Lg

Birdwatching

14 May

Yesterday, while walking the dogs, a Northern Flicker hopped across the sidewalk less than a meter in front of the girls. The girls, attentively sniffing the grass, barely noticed, but I marveled.

Unknown

I marveled, too, reading  Fire Birds:  Valuing Natural Wildfires and Burned Forests by Sneed B. Collard.

Unknown-1

The photographs captured my attention first, as I saw this book sitting on the shelf of my local public library. Full page photos of fire scenes contrast with close-ups of the birds who help rebuild the forest after the fire.

The opening chapter, “Inferno!”, quickly drew me in. Written in the present tense, it describes a forest fire from the initial strike of lightning to the vast wasteland left behind. It suggests that the forest might not be quite as devastated as it seems. The chapters that follow explain how birds use burn areas. We learn that more than fifteen kinds of birds prefer to nest in burned forests. Here they can find an abundance of food and places for shelter, often in the absence of predators.

 Fire Birds explores the complex  life of a forest after a fire. It contains many features of non-fiction that can be used as models with students including a powerful introduction, a table of contents, index, glossary, text boxes featuring different birds, and interesting headings.

The Fat Squirrel Speaks

Knitting, spinning, and assorted awesomeness.

Global Yell Blog

A blog about children's & YA lit, with some basset news thrown in

Jone Rush MacCulloch

Deo Writer: Musings to Spark the Spirit

Klickitat St. Readers

Just another WordPress.com site

Readerbuzz

A blog about children's & YA lit, with some basset news thrown in

PLUMDOG BLOG

A blog about children's & YA lit, with some basset news thrown in

Gail Carriger

A blog about children's & YA lit, with some basset news thrown in

Kate Messner

A blog about children's & YA lit, with some basset news thrown in

Cybils Awards

A blog about children's & YA lit, with some basset news thrown in

Someday My Printz Will Come

A blog about children's & YA lit, with some basset news thrown in

The Librarian Who Doesn't Say Shhh!

Opening books to open minds.

andrea gillespie

Inquiring My Way Forward

Kirby's Lane: A Place for Readers and Writers

A blog about children's & YA lit, with some basset news thrown in

The Horn Book

A blog about children's & YA lit, with some basset news thrown in

The History Girls

A blog about children's & YA lit, with some basset news thrown in

Books Around The Table

A potluck of ideas from five children's book authors and illustrators

%d bloggers like this: