Friday, January 29, 2010

Capstone Press Bonanza!

After I had a question about the Bloodiest Battles series put out by Capstone, a lovely publicist there offered to send me a few books to look at. I've bought from Capstone in the past and know that they have some wonderful resources, especially for struggling readers. Since the books are for the library, rather than trade, market, they tend to be pricier, so I was grateful to be able to take a look! The interest level on most of these is grades 5-9, but the reading level is about 2-3.

Did like the Bloodiest Battles Series and will definitely buy all of them. Looked at D-Day, Iwo Jima and Gettysburg. What was helpful about these titles was the discussion of the precursors to the battle: overview of the onset, key players and world situations leading up to the battle. Students will pick these up because of the covers but receive more information than they expect. Web resources, further reading and additional info at the back is great as well.

The Stone Arch fiction books on sports are well-received in my library because they are easy to read but don't look like "baby books" In Jake Maddox's On Guard, two cousins who play basketball for different schools end up playing against each other, in much the same way their fathers did in college. The rivalry puts them both off their game until they realize that they won't remember the outcome, and it's not worth it to fight. Discussion questions and writing prompts at the back.

Point Blank Paintball is a graphic novel. Twins Peter and Noah like to play paintball and work together, but get a chance to try out for one spot on an elite paint ball team. Their father is very competitive (no doubt a result of looking like an evil overlord, see top left hand cover!) and wants to see which boy comes out on top, but the two decide that being on the team is not worth crushing each other. Don't have much interest in paint ball here, but this was fun and the format is worth looking into for other titles.

The World's Greatest Football Players offers two page spreads on a variety of players. Apparently, statistics about players is something that the students really like. I had no idea. This was the book that kept getting away from me as I was trying to process it. No, dear, you can't have it until we put the card, pocket, and labels on it. Yes, I'll put it on reserve for you.

This motorcycle book was very complete, even though it was short. Most of these books were visually confusing for me, because I am used to black words on white pages. Often, different paragraphs will be in different colors of different places on the page. I imagine a lot of research has gone into how students process text. This title will be popular.

As much as it pains me to have Hip-Hop books, there is a demand, and there is an entire series of these covering clothing, etc. Again, these are amazingly complete (Debbie Harry and Rapture are discussed!) given the short length and easy reading level. This is definitely a series I will consider purchasing.

Also had a lot of interest in Basketball: How It Works. This also has the busy visual format that students like, lots of information packed in a short space, and well-done pictures. I did find myself wishing there were a similar book that was a little longer-- my strong readers will be done with this by the end of study hall!

My favorite book was Float and Sting: one round with Muhammad Ali by Davis Miller. The graphic novel format and the presence of Ali will entice boys to pick this up, but the story is an inspirational tale of Miller's own struggles with his small size and his triumph in finding motivation by training and eventually sparring with The Greatest. Again, a lot is packed into a small book, and I'm looking forward to handing this to students.

I had no idea there was something called Mixed Martial Arts, but there is a series concerning different facets of this. I may pass it on to the elementary school, just because it's a topic students haven't mentioned to me. Again, quite well done. The Incredible Rockhead was goofy fun, but stepped over that fine goofy line that made it better for elementary school students. There is a series of these, and I can see second graders being thrilled to have this.

Hard to go wrong with Capstone titles, especially their graphic titles or their high-low ones. If you haven't take a look at what they carry, definitely check out their web site. I find their print catalogs useful as well-- I'll hand them to students and have the students mark which titles seem appealing to them.

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