Monday, October 19, 2015

They Called Themselves the K.K.K.: 
The Birth of an American Terrorist Group

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Bartoletti, Susan Campbell. 
They Called Themselves the K.K.K.: The Birth of an American Terrorist Group. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2010. Print.

Plot Summary:

Susan Campbell Bartoletti recounts events that led up to the formation of the Ku Klux Klan (K.K.K.) Stories from the victims are the focus of this informational text.

Critical Analysis:
Susan Campbell Bartoletti, author of Hitler Youth: Growing Up in Hitler’s Shadow, has written another compelling non-fiction book, They Called Themselves the K.K.K.: The Birth of an American Terrorist Group.  Organized chronologically, the author recounts the beginnings and consequences of the formation of the K.K.K. Through photographs, portraits, newspaper articles, and first person accounts of those living during this time, Bartoletti expertly documents the Klan's horrific reign of terror. Descriptions of violent acts are painfully told by those who experienced them.

Bartoletti's style is truly a work of literature, and not just a book of facts. The research is chronicled much like a journal entry that includes personal accounts. Because the text provides reference aids, such as a table of contents, a time line, quote attributions, a bibliography, an index, and notes, the reader is able to choose where to start reading. However, it is easily read from cover to cover.

The design of the text is inviting, as Bertoletti makes excellent use of photos. The illustrations allow for a personal feel, connecting the readers to the content, as they complement the text, allowing the reader to "connect a face" with the event being described. 

This text, because of it’s honest, uncensored reporting of events, would be best for older elementary students and up.

Review Excerpt(s):
"An exemplar of history writing and a must for libraries and classrooms." ~Kirkus Reviews

"Susan Campbell Bartoletti examines the beginnings of the Ku Klux Klan, a group that became a country within a country, a shadow government with its own constitution, leaders, laws, and police-all dedicated to the principle that white people only should control all aspects of government and society." ~Junior Library Guild

~Read more award-winning books by Susan Campbell Bartoletti:
  • Hitler Youth: Growing Up in Hitler's Shadow ISBN 978-0439353793
  • Black Potatoes: The Story of the Great Irish Famine ISBN 978-0618548835 
  • Kids on Strike ISBN 978-0618369232
  • Growing up in Coal Country ISBN 978-0395979143

Awards & Recognitions:

  • 2011 ALA Notable Children’s Books Older Readers
  • Booklist 2011 Top 10 Books for Youth, Black History
  • 2011 NCTE Orbis Pictus Recommended
  • IRA Notable Books for a Global Society 2011 
  • Booklist 2010 Editor’s Choice, Books for Youth, Nonfiction, Older Readers 
  • Booklist Lasting Connections of 2010, Social Studies
  • Horn Book Fanfare, Best Books of 2010, Nonfiction
  • Kirkus Reviews 2010 Best Books for Teens
  • Publishers Weekly Best Children’s Books 2010, Nonfiction 
  • School Library Journal Best Books 2010: Nonfiction
  • YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults Finalist, 2011

Bones: Skeletons and How They Work

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Jenkins, Steve. Bones: Skeletons and How They Work. New York: Scholastic, 2010. Print.

Plot Summary:
In this picture book, Jenkins compares human bones with animal bones, with many shown to scale. 

Critical Analysis:
Steve Jenkins has written an informational text that will appeal to children of all ages. The text reveals the parts of the skeletal system in a unique and authentic way. Because most of the bones are shown as actual size, the text is exciting to read.

The design of the book is attractive and appealing, for instance, the paper cut illustrations float on solid colored pages, surrounded by crisp white text of information on each page. The layout helps communicate information about bones through comparisons of feet, femur, ribs, spine and skull bones, from various humans and other animals. The organization is simple and easy to understand, for instance, the "Arm Yourself" page shows images of arm bones from different animals.  The reader is able to see pictures of arm bones of the gray whale, turtle, and the fruit bat.

As informative and exciting as the beautiful book is, it lacks components that would support the text as a reference aid.  There are no table of contents, page numbers, nor are there suggestions for further reading.

Review Excerpt(s):
"Jenkins’s signature collages are ideal for illustrating this introduction to the way bones work in humans and other mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and most fish." ~Kirkus Reviews

"With applications that range from anatomy to evolution and mathematics, this book will find a place in every collection."  ~School Library Journal, starred review

~Read other books by Steve Jenkins:
  • What Do You Do With a Tail Like This? ISBN 978-0618997138
  • Eye to Eye: How Animals See The World ISBN 978-0547959078
  • Actual Size ISBN 978-0547512914

Awards & Recognitions:

  • A Junior Library Guild Selection for Fall 2010
  • Society of Illustrators Original Art Show
  • 2011 SB&F Prize Finalists Children's Science Picture Book
  • 2010 Cybils Nonfiction Picture Book Finalists
  • ALA Notable Books for Children 2011

Our Eleanor: 

A Scrapbook Look At Eleanor Roosevelt's  Remarkable Life

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Fleming, Candace. 2005. Our Eleanor, A Scrapbook Look at Eleanor Roosevelt’s Remarkable Life. New York, NY: Atheneum Books For Young Readers. ISBN 978-0-689-86544-2

Plot Summary:
A description of Eleanor Roosevelt's life, from her painful childhood, to her stay in the white house as the first lady, is found in this biography, Our Eleanor, A Scrapbook Look at Eleanor Roosevelt’s Remarkable Life.    

Critical Analysis:
Candace Fleming has written several award winning biographies, such as, Amelia Lost and The Lincolns. Her credibility for writing biographies that are well documented, and unbiased is, once again, demonstrated in her book, Our Eleanor: A Scrapbook Look At Eleanor Roosevelt's Remarkable Life. The extensive dialogue sources provided in Fleming's book, are one example of how this book is well researched and documented. Fleming organized this scrapbook-style biography in a way that draws the reader in and sets the stage for the rest of the text by providing a timeline of her life and family tree. Fleming also includes an author's note, explaining how she chose to organize the chapters, a very helpful resource for the reader. Adding to the credibility and the appeal of the biography, Fleming includes photographs of the family, letters, telegrams, newspaper clippings, and even political cartoons.

This biography addresses Eleanor’s personal life and her contributions to politics and social programs, such as women's rights, civil rights, and public assistance programs, all in a very personal way. Her early years and relationship with her parents are chronicled and also her adult life with Franklin.  Eleanor Roosevelt's life story is told in a way that leaves the reader with an unbiased telling of a former First Lady's extraordinary life. 

Review Excerpt(s):
“Candace Fleming has chronicled the life of Eleanor Roosevelt as no other. With photographs on every page and with special attention having been given each important person, place, and project, this book provides an exciting glimpse into a remarkable life. It will appeal to young and old alike.”
~Chandler Roosevelt Lindsley and Elliott Roosevelt Jr., Eleanor Roosevelt's grandsons

"Had Eleanor Roosevelt kept a scrapbook—an incredibly well-organized and thorough scrapbook—this is how it might feel to look through it." ~Kirkus Review

~Read other books by Candace Fleming:
  •  Ben Franklin’s Almanac, an ALA Notable Book and an ALA Best Book for Young Adults
  • Muncha! Muncha! Muncha!, Gabriella’s Song
  • When Agnes Caws, ALA Notable Books. 
~Discuss timelines and create one with the amazing life of Eleanor Roosevelt
~Explore companion titles:
  • Amelia and Eleanor Go for a Ride by Pam Muñoz Ryan, illustrated by Brian Selznick, Scholastic
  • Dear Mrs. Roosevelt: Letters to Eleanor Roosevelt through Depression and War, edited by Cathy D. Knepper, Da Capo Press
  • Eleanor Roosevelt: a life of discovery by Russell Freedman, Clarion Books
  • Eleanor Roosevelt: a photographic story of a life, by Kem Knapp Sawyer, Dorling Kindersley
  • Grandmère: a personal history of Eleanor Roosevelt by David B. Roosevelt and Manuela DunnMascetti, Grand Central Publishing
  • My Day: the best of Eleanor Roosevelt’s newspaper columns, 1936-1962, edited by David Emblidge, Da Capo Press 
  • A World Made New: Eleanor Roosevelt and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by Mary Ann Glendon, Random House

Awards & Recognitions:

  • ALA Notable Book
  • Best Book for Young Adults
  • Jefferson Cup winner, Virginia Library Association
  • Junior Library Guild Selection
  • New York Public Library 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing 2005
  • Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Medal Winner
  • Parent's Choice Gold Medal
  • Publishers Weekly Best Book 2005
  • School Library Journal Best Book 2005

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