Monday, July 18, 2011

Nonfiction Monday

Nardo, Don. Migrant Mother: How a Photograph Defined the Great Depression. (Release date 1/12)

From the Capstone Captured History series. E-ARC from

Dorothea Lange was on her way home when she saw a sign directing people to a Pea-Pickers' Camp. Weary, she debated not going there, but she did, and the picture at the left is the result. This book chronicles not only Lange's involvement with the picture, but its lasting impact on American society. It follows the story of the woman, Florence Thompson, and how her experiences during the Depression mirrored those of many people.
Strengths: For an overview of the Depression from one very specific starting point, this is a great book. I am very interested in seeing the rest of the series. Don Nardo always does such well-researched and interesting nonfiction. I love to read this sort of book! (Which is why I jumped the gun a little, since it doesn't come out until January!)
Weaknesses: Would love to buy the series, but they are so expensive. I already have a biography of Dorothea Lange. Will out 6th grade be doing the unit on the Depression to go along with A Long Way From Chicago? Then I might buy this. It would also be good for the nonfiction unit.

Biskup, Agnieszka. Vampires and Cells.
E-Arc from
I really, really wish that I had been at the development meeting for this book. It would have been fascinating. Someone would have mentioned that it's time for a new science series on the body. These are all dull, so another editor says "Hey, why don't we do it in a graphic format?" Someone else countered with "Oh, it's been done. How can we punch it up even more?" "MONSTERS!" an intern yells. "Let's have different horror monsters go about their business and intersperse those pictures in the background with factual information about cells. "

Then they contacted poor Agnieszka. She had bills to pay; any work was good. Her novel would have to wait while she poured her soul into this.

This was certainly not BAD, but it just made me shake my head. The information was all very thorough and well-presented, which made the vampires cavorting in the background... this must be for 3rd graders, and it is well-documented that I have trouble understanding books pitched to those younger than about fifth. I bought a Scholastic title about zombies and the human body for our science teachers, but this was just for a much younger audience, who would probably find them vastly amusing.

I also picked up about four YA books at the library. Three dropped the f-bomb in the first five pages. I don't care how good they are; I'm just not buying them. There was also one in "verse" that read like prose. *Sigh*


  1. I sometimes wonder what went on at the development meeting for certain books as well, particularly in this publishing climate.
    I really like the format of your reviews. And, thanks for commenting on my blog post, The Shape of Books to Come.

  2. Wow. That Vampires and Cells is...something. Have you seen the Medikidz series? It's a series of graphic novels featuring a team of teen superheroes who help explain various diseases and ailments (breast cancer, HIV/AIDS, food allergies). I ordered one about ADD/ADHD. They're not bad, and they present the information in an interesting way.