Thursday, May 26, 2011

Scholastic Titles

As if it weren't crazy enough, it's book fair week! There wasn't much that new looked and fabulous that I hadn't read, although I did take home these two titles.

Albee, Sarah. Poop Happened: A History of the World From the Bottom Up.
Wow. Ms. Albee has done some SERIOUS research in putting this book together. While clearly it is meant to amuse as well as inform, the information is very complete. Starting with why the mismanagement of poop can lead to disease, there are thorough discussions on sanitary measures from Egypt, Greece and Rome through medieval Europe ("The Age of Shovelry") and preindustrial London up through the present day. Famous people, awful jobs, and all the minutiae anyone might ever want to know about toilet practices is included here!
Strengths: The formatting of the book, with sidebars, highlighted information, and plentiful illustrations, makes it something that students will pick up to read. And seriously, Ms. Albee should be able to submit this as a PhD thesis.
Weaknesses: The Euro-centric nature of the information is explained; if a culture doesn't write about something, it's hard for researchers to uncover much about it. Also, Ms. Albee doesn't see to have a web site so I could contact her and tell her how much I loved this!

Abadzis, Nick. Laika.
Since this was in a box with The Clique graphic novel and a bunch of Batman books, I was not expecting this to be so gut-wrenchingly sad! This follows both the story of Korolev, a designer for Sputnik who had served time in the gulag, with a stray dog who gets picked up by the space program and trained to go up in space. The imagined life of the dog before coming into the care of Yelena is sad enough, but then we find out that most of the dogs used in the program die. While this had a lot of information on the Russian space program, too sad for middle school. Yelena's descent into alcoholism brought on by the abuse she must suffer upon the dog was just too sad, and Laika's forlorn look in all of the pictures will make my dog loving students, who will pick this up, cry.


  1. Laika is a ver potent book. A couple years ago a boy read it in my class and just started crying. He said you told me it was sad but really?

  2. Oh, LAIKA. That book slayed me.

  3. I had the same reaction to the Scholastic Book Fair in my library this year; ho hum.