Junior High Non-Fiction
A tropical ocean at the North Pole? Lieutenant Commander George De Long, in 1879, agreed to pilot the steamer Jeanette to the Arctic to discover this unusual phenomenon. Sandra and Rich Wallace have penned a thoroughly absorbing account of this ultimately unsuccessful quest. Using primary sources, the whole book leaves readers feeling like they are there on this doomed voyage, battling weather, thirst, hunger, and the fear of never seeing home again. Well-captioned historical photographs and actual etchings cement that you-are-there feeling.
Isaac the Alchemist: Secrets of Isaac Newton, Reveal’d
by Mary Losure
Nominated by: Lackywanna
Isaac Newton, the father of physics, an amazing mathematician, and one of the most brilliant men to ever walk this earth, started off as a young boy, while living with a local apothecary, experimenting with alchemy. He recorded his observations in a small notebook in tiny handwriting. He combined chemicals to see what reactions would do, even experimenting on himself by drinking his own concoctions. It is a wonder he didn’t poison himself. Isaac Newton was the first physicist and the last of the great alchemists. Isaac the Alchemist , Mary Losure’s easy to read narrative, traces Isaac’s young life as a childhood thinker to the scientist he became. The book includes copies of pages from his small notebooks and lots of other reference materials.
Locked Up for Freedom: Civil Rights Protesters at the Leesburg Stockade
by by Heather E. Schwartz
Publisher/ Author Submission
The Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s can be difficult to wrap one’s mind around, especially when one considers everything that lead up to it. Many activists during that period were arrested for participating in marches, sit-ins, and freedom rides. A surprising number of these activists were young people. After one such series of marches and protests, a group of thirty plus girls from Americus, Georgia were arrested and secretly taken to an old Civil War stockade outside of Leesburg, Georgia. After interviewing some of the participants, Schwartz recounts the experiences of some of those girls, both leading up to and including the imprisonment in the stockade. Being stuck in a run-down, filthy single room, the girls faced unhealthy food, lack of fresh water, no cleaning facilities and overflowing toilets. The girls’ courage and determination were tested to the limit as exhaustion and sickness took its toll. Amazingly, after their release, many of these girls remained committed to the movement for which they had suffered so much. Beautifully designed and highly readable, the author has clearly documented her sources and photographs making it easy to find additional information about a little known story from an important time in United States history.
Motor Girls: How Women Took the Wheel and Drove Boldly Into the Twentieth Century (History (US))
by Sue Macy
National Geographic Children’s Books
Nominated by: Ms. Yingling
Libraries could use more compelling true stories about capable, independent women who pave the way toward change. Now seems more vital than ever to share those kinds of stories with girls in our lives. Award-winning author Sue Macy delivers with this well-told, well-researched history about inspiring women who drove the first automobiles. Motor Girls will inform and engage readers age 12 and up about how driving came to represent an act of freedom and empowerment for women. With a gorgeous cover and overall design, the book also includes an eloquent foreword from pro racing driver Danica Patrick.
Poison: Deadly Deeds, Perilous Professions, and Murderous Medicines
by Sarah Albee
Crown Books for Young Readers
Nominated by: Celebrate Science
There are readers who will be both fascinated and repulsed by Sarah Albee’s expository masterpiece Poison. Librarians will certainly enjoy recommending this wonderful STEM title (which, the author notes, is not a how-to manual). A well-researched book designed for readability, Poison links the history of toxins, the history of medicine and the rise of public health advocacy. Readers age 12 and up will finish the book to the end and find the “Tox Box” and “Freaky Fact” sidebars both fun and informative.
The Whydah: A Pirate Ship Feared, Wrecked, and Found
by Martin W. Sandler
Nominated by: Linda Baie
Whether you’re pirate obsessed or pirate ambivalent, there is something in this book that will hook your imagination and not let it go.
Pirate Black Sam Bellamy helms the Whydah in its search for treasure, and he leads a cast of characters that spans continents and
centuries, including both John King, the child pirate, and John F. Kennedy, Jr., deep sea diving summer intern. With a narrative
that encompasses shipwrecks, trials, orchestra concerts, democratic votes and diving for long lost relics, the tale of the Whydah
will make you ask yourself why you don’t read more books about pirates.
Undefeated: Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian School Football Team
by Steve Sheinkin
Roaring Brook Press
Nominated by: Heidi G.
Books like Undefeated clearly illustrate the struggle in writing about America’s past in a way that honors the admirable while not shying from the shameful. While Sheinkin, a white author, has been criticized for what he has omitted in his telling of the story of Jim Thorpe, the facts he does include encompass both the admirable and the reprehensible, and he presents them honestly and without needless sentimentality. Sheinkin clearly lays out the inherently racist origins of the Carlisle Indian Industrial school, and sketches out the larger history of what led up to its creation, but spends more time detailing the deep personal losses Thorpe suffered early in life–the deaths of his twin brother, mother, and eventually father, all before he turned fifteen–and the impact they had on the course of his life, a life that changed the sport of football forever.
Jim Thorpe’s is a story deserving to be told, and Sheinkin’s treatment is a strong first entry in what one hopes will come to be a long list of books celebrating and illuminating the successes and struggles of American Indians.
Senior High Non-Fiction
Dogs are man’s best friends, right? Maybe that isn’t just a saying, but a reality. In A Dog in a Cave we learn about the intricate history of dogs and men. We have helped shape their evolution, from wolves to the hundreds of dog breeds we have today. And dogs, in return, may have made us in the humans we are today. With a look at fascinating fossil discoveries, current research, biology, and even medical science A Dog in the Cave will open your eyes about the importance of dogs to our evolution and make you want to hug your best friend even harder.
Alice Paul and the Fight for Women’s Rights: From the Vote to the Equal Rights Amendment
by Deborah Kops
Calkins Creek Books
Nominated by: RebeccaGAguilar
Using archival photos and primary sources, Kops has written an inspiring biography on Alice Paul, a champion of women’s rights. Staging hunger strikes while in jail, Paul worked tirelessly to get women the right to vote. After the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment – the Susan B. Anthony Amendment – Paul would go on to write the first draft of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) and would spend the rest of her life trying to see it ratified to the Constitution. (To this day, the ERA is still short of being ratified to the Constitution by three States) This book is very well-documented. A captivating narrative about a much overlooked historical figure.
In this powerful memoir, Uwiringlyimana recounts her childhood in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where war was ever present. While staying in a refugee camp in Gatumba, Burundi, on the night of August 13, 2004, armed factions entered the camp and mercilessly slaughtered 166 people, maiming and injuring 116 others. Though Uwiringlyimana and her family escape, her little sister, Deborah was killed. Eventually, the family resettled to the United States. How Dare the Sun Rise speaks honestly about the struggles of being accepted in a racially divided America. Uwiringlyimana hopes her book will help humanize refugees so the world will know that “we have the same goals to succeed and do what’s best for our children.” This is a moving story of survival, loss, and hope.
Queer, There, and Everywhere: 23 People Who Changed the World
by Sarah Prager
Nominated by: DLacks
Sarah Prager has taken an incredible amount of meticulous research and distilled into a breezy yet earnest fact- and fun-filled book. Covering multiple aspects of the GLBTQ experience, including transgender and genderqueer figures, Prager’s book lets queer teens know they have a place in history as well as in today’s society, and the breadth and depth of what it means to be queer.
The March Against Fear: The Last Great Walk of the Civil Rights Movement and the Emergence of Black Power
by Ann Bausum
National Geographic Children’s Books
Nominated by: Joanna Marple
Ann Bausum tells the powerful story of the 1966 March Against Fear, begun by James Meredith and his followers and finished by Martin Luther King Jr., Stokely Carmichael, and other heavyweights of the Civil Rights Era. During the march, Carmichael introduced the term “black power,” which did not go over well with the media and many whites. This book provides not only a look at a specific series of events, including the sometimes violent response, but it also looks at the changes that the Civil Rights Movement was experiencing along the way. The book shows that history is rarely smooth sailing, but full of bumps and storms with a few calm patches mixed in. The detailed notes, bibliography, photo credits, index, and black and white illustrations add to the effectiveness of Bausum’s excellent presentation. The quotes scattered throughout the book are particularly powerful.
Uprooted: The Japanese American Experience During World War II
by Albert Marrin
Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
Nominated by: Lackywanna
On February 29, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066 calling for all necessary measures to protect the country, especially ‘military areas’. The purpose of the order was to justify moving all Japanese American people living on the mainland to what were called internment camps (really concentration camps). Marrin presents a thorough look at what led up to this decision (going back to our encounters with the Japanese in the 1880s), what happened as a result of that decision, and what happened afterward. This compelling narrative holds nothing back, providing a look at blatant racism as a cause of Japanese Americans being uprooted, but also the cause of Japanese aggression and brutality during the war. Some of the stories and photographs included are rather graphic, but necessary in telling what really happened. In addition to telling the stories of those imprisoned by their own government, Marrin tells the stories of some Japanese Americans who played key roles in helping the Allies win the war, as interpreters with military intelligence and also as soldiers in segregated units. Discussion of the legalities of the executive order and how it has been dealt with since are also included. The last chapter compares the events that lead to the unfair imprisonment of the Japanese Americans to the current furor over Muslim extremists after September 11, 2001. Marrin repeats the quote by George Santayana, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” He makes a very strong case.
We’ve known and loved Vincent Van Gogh’s art our whole lives. But did you know that he had a brother who helped make Vincent into the artist he became? Vincent and Theo is a story of brotherly love. The Van Gogh children were raised to help and look out for each other. Theo, though younger than his brother Vincent, took this advice to heart. He spent his lifetime helping, encouraging, prodding, and saving his brother. It was at Theo’s urging that Vincent became an artist at all. It was Theo’s financial support which kept the artist afloat when no one was buying his art. It was Theo who introduced Vincent’s art to the world. Author Deborah Heiligman meticulously researched the Van Goghs by poring over hundreds of letters written by Vincent to Theo and in the process brought to life this marvelous story of love between brothers.