Sunday, January 08, 2012

Nonfiction Monday-- Blizzard of Glass

Walker, Sally M. Blizzard of Glass: The Halifax Explosion of 1917.
In December of 1917, several ships containing hazardous chemicals in the harbor of Halifax collided. The resulting explosion was the biggest man made one until Hiroshima. Not only did the heat and shock waves destroy all of the buildings nearby, but the resultant tsunami also caused major damage. Thousands died. The devastation was incalculable, and this book does an excellent job of explaining this for middle grade readers-- after an introduction of how things aligned for this to occur, the catastrophe is followed through what happened to the members of several families. Maps, copious period photographs, and well-researched information and harrowing tales of survival make this a book that many readers will enjoy.

Thanks to Deb Marshall, of Just Deb for recommending this! One of our school volunteers, a former history teacher, really enjoyed it as well!

Turner, Pamela S. The Frog Scientist.
Like the honeybees in The Hive Detectives, the frog population in the US has been at risk for years. Not only are the numbers decreasing, but there has been a decided increase in the number of frog mutations that are turning up. One scientist, Tyrone Hayes, has dedicated his life to finding out what chemicals may be harming frogs. One of the most common chemicals that farmers use and that ends up in the pond water is atrazine, and Hayes has determined that this chemical often feminizes male frogs, leaving them unable to procreate, which may be one big reason behind the drop in population. This book details how he goes about his research, describing days in the field and at the labs, and also discusses the long term ramifications of this research.
Strengths: This series was recommended to me by my public librarian, and it is a very good one with lots of information. The books are engagingly presented in an easy to read but informative way.
Weaknesses: Again, the picture book format orientation of this series may work to its disadvantage in the middle school setting. Might take some arm twisting to get students to read them, but I will definitely be purchasing some when I have the money.

There's a new Nonfiction Monday page by Ms. Suen, and today's roundup is hosted at The Swimmer Writer.

Middle Grade Monday can be found at Shannon Whitney Messenger's blog.


  1. Hmmm. I hadn't thought of Scientists in the Field as a picture-book format, but I guess so. I like them because it shows the life and journey of the scientist, too.

  2. Anonymous8:41 PM EST

    Great sum up of Blizzard of Glass--glad you've got it and the history teacher enjoyed it, as well.

  3. Hi Ms Yingling! Nice to see that you reviewed not just one but two nonfiction books here! Nice. I have seen another review previously of Blizzard of Glass and it seems uniformly-loved by book bloggers who have reviewed it thus far. Will check out whether we already have this available in our library.