Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Flurry of Nonfiction

Got a book order in at 2:30 on the Friday before break, so hauled a huge number of them home. Probably will not place another order with the company; they've stopped offering the processing for free, which was the main reason I used them. That saved a dollar per book, which is significant, but they give no idea on their web site on the status of one's orders, so I will go back to Follett, which really is the best jobber but, of course, also the most expensive!

Mattern, James and Joanne. Great Moments at the Olympics.
Trying to update my sports books, and also beef up the readable nonfiction. Had great success with some of my runners and Boston Marathon. This was another good one, just 64 pages, and filled with short snippets of information about a variety of interesting events throughout the history of the Olympics. Jesse Owens, Nadia Comaneci, Mark Spitz and Keri Strug all earn a mention. There are pictures, boxes with fun facts, and Olympic trivia at the end. The only weakness in this book is the incredibly small print. This matters a great deal to readers and would be easy to remedy.

Franklin Watts 24/7 series.
The War in Iraq: From the Front Lines to the Home Front
Gettysburg: The Bloodiest Battle in the Civil War.
Other titles in this series (such as Vietnam: The Bloodbath on Hamburger Hill) have gotten quite a lot of wear in my library. They are formatted in a very graphic way, with good pictures, diagrams, maps and other information. Making them especially effective is the use of eyewitness accounts, whether done from interviews or taken from historical sources. The only downside is how quickly these are read, returned and checked out again!

These two Abdo titles by Nancy Tumminelly are well-designed, with two page spreads that show the ingredients and instructions very clearly. They include notes on kitchen safety and techniques, and have very fun recipes. My only objection was that each should have had more projects; they were all so fun that eight just was too few! (Especially at $17.95 for each book. Sigh.)

Jablonski, Carla and Purvis, Leland. Resistance: Book 1
Paul and Marie feel removed from World War II while living in Vichy, France, until their friend Henri's parents go missing and they become involved in the French Resistance. Their schemes and adventures are relayed in graphic novel format. I was concerned that the format would not convey the emotion and the deeper concerns of the rounding up of the Jewish people, but somehow, this captured everything. This is the first book of a trilogy;
comes out in July 2011. Since Maus is a bit too graphic for middle school, this will be a perfect addition to our canon of Holocaust books for the 8th grade unit. Of course, I only have the one copy and ALL of the 8th graders will want it!

Venditti, Robert. (Adaptor) The Lightning Thief Graphic Novel.
Hopefully, Rick Riordan is well aware of how strong his following is, but this certainly is yet more proof. Graphic novel versions of regular novels are great for enticing struggling readers to pick up Stormbreaker or Coraline, so this is a welcome addition. (Unlike the graphic novel of Redwall, which I have but do not understand!) The pictures in this aren't bad (although a little dark), it follows the plot closely enough, and is generally okay. Of course, the BEST thing about Riordan's writing for me are the clever turns of phrases and the rich language, which is of course missing entirely. We don't even get the clever chapter titles. Still, every middle school library needs a copy.

The Cybils chat went well in the end-- technology is great when it works and the whole concept of a chat room was fascinating to see at work. We got our books all shortlisted with a minimum of bloodshed and hurt feelings (I hope!). I think the finalists are listed on January 1st or so, with the winners being announced on Valentine's Day. It has been absolutely fascinating to be part of this process, and I can't wait to see who wins in all of the categories.

1 comment:

  1. I'm sorry, but I didn't like the gn version of The Lightning Thief very much. The artwork was just plain lame. Our daughter, who's a huge PJ fan, wouldn't even finish it. However, You've made me want to check out Brain Jack! And, once again congrats on being asked to be a Cybils judge. Couldn't have picked a better person. Happy New Year to you and yours!