Adrift at Sea: A Vietnamese Boy’s Story of Survival
by Written by Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch with Tuan Ho, illustrated by Brian Deines
Publisher/ Author Submission
This is the deeply moving, true story of Vietnamese refugees, as told from the perspective of six-year-old Tuan. With graceful illustrations that capture the mood and urgency of a journey fraught with danger, this picture book gently introduces children to the trials and tribulations of the Vietnamese “boat-people” and the timely concept of refugee populations. Appropriate for an age range from upper level elementary to middle grade, the book closes with detailed authors notes, including before and after photos of Tuan’s family and a very brief introduction to the Vietnam War. Adrift at Sea will spark discussion about immigration, refugee experiences, and provide a segue to understanding current events.
Danza!: Amalia Hernández and Mexico’s Folkloric Ballet
by Duncan Tonatiuh
Harry N Abrams
Nominated by: Kate B.
Most people would agree that ALL children should see themselves in books, but truth be told, it simply doesn’t happen often enough. Authors and illustrators like Duncan Tonatiuh are doing their best to address that hole in children’s literature, and Tonatiuh’s newest book certainly fills a gap. DANZA tells the story of Amelia (Ami) Hernánadez, the creator of a Mexican cultural tradition, Ballet Folklorico. Hernandez, born in Mexico City in 1917, studied ballet from very early in her childhood, then became interested in modern dance. Later, she became a choreographer, and went from village to village, studying the dance, music, and costumes of her country. Her interest in native dance led to the formation of El Ballet Folklórico de México, a troupe which is still in existence today. Tonatiuh’s distinctive illustrations, based on the Mixtec style of pre-Columbian tribes, and enhanced by digital mixed media, are lively and interesting, and carry the text. An important book for any school or library.
Dazzle Ships: World War I and the Art of Confusion
by Chris Barton, illustrated by Millbrook Press
Nominated by: Jen Robinson
During World War I, the British desperately needed a way to protect their ships from German submarines who were attacking all shipping as part of their military strategy. This is when Norman Wilkinson, a British lieutenant-commander in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, came up with a very unusual idea – camouflage the boats. The idea of camouflage was not new, but how does one camouflage such a large boat? One couldn’t make them invisible! Wilkinson instead suggested painting the boats in crazy, dazzling patterns which would confuse the Germans and make it harder for them to determine where to fire. This is a fascinating tale about a lesser-known period of history. Chris Barton’s retelling is simply written so as to appeal to a wide range of readers. The fact that Barton includes the role of women in painting the boats adds to the diversity of the tale. Ngai’s vibrant and striking illustrations of geometric shapes, patterns, and lines enriches the story line. This is a brilliantly illustrated book with an inspirational message; when nothing seems to be working, trying something, anything, is better than doing nothing.
You don’t need an egg tooth to crack this book open! Caroline Arnold’s photography documents the hands-on science happening in Jennifer Best’s kindergarten classroom. The book is organized chronologically by key days in the 21 day process of hatching chicks and once the hatching has occurred, the learning continues. The layout of the book includes full size photos and “eggs” of information. The backmatter includes online resources such as videos of different steps of the process and suggestions for further reading. Hatching Chicks in Room 6 offers an opportunity for students who might not have an incubator in their own classroom to get a close-up look at the life cycle of a chicken. Readers will scramble to get their hands on Hatching Chicks in Room 6.
Using visually stunning illustrations composed of crisp, vibrant colors, Once Upon a Jungle is designed to give younger readers a great overview of the concept of a food chain. Perfect for story time, with surprising visual depth and simple, bold text, this picture book presents the circle of life in a jungle setting. The book closes with a foldout page and additional text, rounding out the basic concepts of trophic levels in simple, clear language. Once Upon a Jungle should provoke conversation with budding nature explorers everywhere.
Shark Lady: The True Story of How Eugenie Clark Became the Ocean’s Most Fearless Scientist
by Jess Keating, illustrated by
Nominated by: Jessica
Is Shark Lady a book about Eugenie Clark or about sharks? It doesn’t much matter, because you will learn about both and their stories are seamlessly intertwined in such a way that you won’t want it any other way. Eugenie Clark’s story is one of not just overcoming, but defying the odds; looking them straight in the eye and steaming full speed ahead. Eugenie Clark had several strikes against her in her quest to become a scientist in the 1940’s. She was a woman and she was an American of Japanese descent. She received her undergraduate degree, followed by her master’s, followed by her doctorate, and pursued a career doing exactly what she loved and proving everyone wrong along the way. Marta Alvarez Miguens’ illustrations are fun and tropically colored, like the underwater treasures that Eugenie discovered where sharks made their homes. Jess Keating’s storytelling imparts information and lessons of perseverance and knowing oneself. The “Shark Bites,” Timeline, Author’s Note, and Bibliography all offer more information for curious minds.
What Makes a Monster?: Discovering the World’s Scariest Creatures (The World of Weird Animals)
by Jess Keating
Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
Nominated by: Gary Anderson
Jess Keating’s What Makes a Monster?: Discovering the World’s Scariest Creatures features horrible-looking creatures such as the fangtooth moray eel, the vampire bat, the Humbolt squid, and worst of all, the goblin shark. Another fabulous book in Keating’s “The World of Weird Animals” series, What Makes a Monster? is filled with facts just as weird as the pictures. The text also doesn’t shy away from positive aspects of these animals. For example, some of them are less endangered than they used to be, and some look for ways to help each other. As with Keating’s Pink Is for Blobfish, the previous book in this series, the format is the definition of engaging. Bright colors, captivating photos, funny illustrations, and cleverly written text make this a book that young people will read repeatedly, and share with each other. If curiosity is the best impetus for motivating students to study science, What Makes A Monster? will provide plenty to ponder.
Middle Grade Non-Fiction
Beauty and the Beak: How Science, Technology, and a 3D-Printed Beak Rescued a Bald Eagle
by Deborah Lee Rose and
Nominated by: Becky
When faced with the challenge to help an eagle named Beauty, whose beak had been badly damaged in the wild, Jane Veltkamp, raptor biologist and rehabilitator thought inside the box of a 3-D printer. She also knew she couldn’t do it alone. While presenting about Beauty, she connected with an engineer who thought he could help and she enlisted dental assistants as well. Each of these experts in their respective fields worked together to make Beauty’s new beak a reality. And Deborah Lee Rose, along with Veltkamp, brought Beauty’s story to the masses in Beauty and the Beak. The photographs document Beauty’s journey to health and the backmatter delves deeper into details of Eagle biology, Beauty’s journey post-beak, and 3-D prosthetics production. Beauty and the Beak digs into the successes and challenges of wildlife rehabilitation and the ongoing research involved in learning more about these majestic creatures.
Toyasoburo Korematsu, born in 1919, was the third son of Japanese immigrants, who had moved to the United States in 1905. His first grade teacher could not get her tongue around his first name, and so Toyasoburo became Fred. When Korematsu was 23, all persons of Japanese heritage were ordered into internment camps. Fred refused to go, and was arrested and thrown into jail. While he was imprisoned, Korematsu was visited by the ACLU, who asked him to allow his case to become the test case to challenge the constitutionality of the government’s imprisonment of Japanese Americans. The case ultimately went all the way to the Supreme Court. Korematsu lost, but forty years later, new evidence was uncovered and Korematsu was pardoned. In addition to a compelling story of a horrific injustice, an interesting aspect of this nominee is the format. The book alternates between sections presented almost as a novel in verse, followed by other sections that read like a more traditional nonfiction text with photographs, propaganda cartoons, and timelines. A fascinating presentation of a true American hero.
Lost in Outer Space (Lost #2): The Incredible Journey of Apollo 13
by Tod Olson
Nominated by: Becky L.
In this gripping adventure, readers will learn about the history behind the famous words “Houston, we’ve had a problem.” Lost in Outer Space tells the story of the ill-fated third mission to the moon in an accessible and compelling fashion. Based on NASA recordings and interviews, history is presented not only from the perspective of the astronauts and Mission Control, but also from the viewpoint of the 16-year old daughter of the mission commander. The book provides a broad-based perspective that immerses the reader in the time period and generates a sense of urgency as readers get caught up in the frantic efforts to get three men back to Earth safely. Including historic photographs, diagrams and an admirable list of sources, Lost in Space is an exciting and vibrant read.
Pathfinders: The Journeys of 16 Extraordinary Black Souls
by Tonya Bolden
Harry N Abrams
Nominated by: Shelley Diaz
Tanya Bolden chronicles the lives of sixteen African-Americans who had bold dreams, fought against many odds, and made it big in their own unique way. Readers will delight in evocative profiles of an entrepreneur, a magician, a physician, a spy, a combat pilot, and even a filmmaker. Each profile includes a historical narrative coupled with several images in the form of photographs or paintings. Sidebars titled “In His/Her time” break the main text and provide necessary historical context for the time period. The book includes end-notes, a timeline, and a bibliography. Well researched, cleanly presented, and well organized, Pathfinders is a great collection of biographies and will extend readers’ knowledge beyond traditional black history biographies as well as intrigue and inspire them.
by S.D. Nelson
Abrams Books for Young Readers
Publisher/ Author Submission
Red Cloud: A Lakota Story of War and Surrender is S. D. Nelson’s impressive biography of Red Cloud, the Lakota leader who waged successful battles against the U. S. Army in the 1860s. Although Red Cloud defeated the U. S. Army, he understood that a war of attrition would ultimately destroy his people, so he accepted the transition of moving to what would become Native American reservations. For the rest of his life, Red Cloud aggressively resisted the changes brought to his people by governmental agencies. S. D. Nelson, a member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, brings Red Cloud to life through the warrior’s first-person narration and remarkable photos, paintings, and other graphics. The compelling voice and large, colorful page spreads will engage young readers as they learn about leadership qualities and a population underrepresented in children’s literature. The endpaper maps are informative and intriguing, and the excellent back matter provides contemporary context for Red Cloud’s story and additional resources for further exploration.
In the year 2017 (soon to be 2018), information literacy and digital literacy are more important than ever before. Or, maybe they are just as important as they have ever been, but with internet publishing capabilities accessible to, well, everyone, our young people (and old people) are navigating a veritable minefield of information and mis-information on a daily basis. Enter Ammi-Joan Paquette and Laurie Ann Thompson’s Two Truths and a Lie and we are welcomed to our own challenge to decipher what’s real and what’s fake. Some are familiar hoaxes like the Pacific Northwest tree octopus and other examples had me scratching my head. All of the stories encourage readers to figure it out and implement some good ol’ fashioned research to find the truth. But there’s also an answer key in the back, preceded by a research guide and followed by extensive source material listed for each topic. Paquette and Thompson take a topic that could be otherwise dry and make it interactive and engaging for readers.
Author Patricia Newman takes us behind the scenes and inside three zoos, the Smithsonian’s National Zoological Park, the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, and the Lincoln Park Zoo to showcase the research done selected scientists. In the following chapters, the author introduces the conservation efforts behind some of these endangered species; for example, Meredith Bastion of the National Zoological Park explains how her experiences in Borneo helped her educate zoo visitors about palm oil products which harm orangutan environments. Each of the chapters includes fact boxes highlighting scientific information, colorful animal photographs, and maps and other diagrams to present different points of interest. Readers learn not just about conservation and research, but a little about the scientists as well and how these scientists came to specialize in their fields. Zoo Scientist is a fascinating book highlighting how a handful of passionate folks are making a real difference in the conservation of critically endangered species today.