Monday, December 15, 2014

MMGM- Biographies

18966051Marrin, Albert. Thomas Paine: Crusader for Liberty
November 11th 2014 by Knopf Books for Young Readers

This book is more than a biography-- it concerns itself with how Paine was a part of the world around him. It talks about his life, certainly, but frames his actions within the larger picture of history, so doesn't come across as a straight biography. Well illustrated with period pictures as well as later photographs of historic places, this sheds light on how Paine came to think the things that he did, how he shared his opinions with the world, and how the world treated him because of this. Marrin clearly did his research, but I found Paine to be an unpleasant character, and as a result, couldn't really get into the book. Debating whether of not to buy this for the library; we often need books set during this time period, but I don't know if students are going to find this any more interesting than I did.

17244238Latta, Sara L. Microwave Man: Percy Spencer and his Sizzling Invention
January 1st 2014 by Enslow Elementary

This slim biography covers the interesting life of Spencer, who was born in 1894 and left school after the 5th grade. Eventually joining the Navy as a radio operator, he was able to get a job at the fledging Raytheon company in the 1920s. He distinguished himself by, among other things, finding a way to vastly speed up production of radio tubes for use by pilots in WWII. Hoping to keep Raytheon viable after the war, he turned his knowledge of radar waves to the invention of a device used for food preparation... the microwave oven. Sadly, Spencer passed away in 1970 before his invention really took off.
StrengthsThis Inventors at Work series covers some unsung heroes, including Ruth Wakefield, whose name SHOULD be immediately known to all and yet is not. I will be ordering this entire five book series. I especially liked how this had some science tie ins with brief explanations of how radio waves worked. Well illustrated and pleasantly formatted, this will be a big hit for readers who like the Abdo Food Dudes series.
Weaknesses: Some of the writing is a bit stiff; early on, the word "tot" is used, which seemed an odd choice!

It's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday at Ramblings of a Wannabe Scribe and What Are You Reading? day at Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers.

While I managed to get a lot done over the weekend, Monday  morning is off to a roaring start with all of the printers in the building not working again. Last week, I swear the 7th graders broke Google! If I were in the classroom, I would be very reluctant to plan any lesson around the computer. STAR testing?? Renaissance Place seems to be down. Web Quest? Network server on the fritz. Showing nonfiction video clip to class? LCD projector not working or teacher computer fried because of netweek server fritz. It makes the chalkboard and overhead projector seem like cutting edge technology.

But PARCC assessment on line? That will totally go through with no problems at all. 


  1. Your seventh graders must've been on the same time as my sixth graders! This isn't the first time Google went gaga either! Yup, yup, yup on PARCC testing! Should be interesting.

  2. I love biographies! Thanks for the reviews.

  3. I'll pass these two biography titles on to our librarians, Karen. They sound worth having. Sorry about the tech disaster. There are those days when paper & pencil are the go-to way to write! Hope it's fixed soon!

  4. Microwave Man sounds intriguing. In fact, I'll probably check out the whole series, since I have a middle schooler who loves inventions. Thanks for the feature!

  5. You always have such interesting titles on your blog. Thanks for the review. Sorry about the tech issues. I don't miss that about when I was teaching.

  6. I once had a student who read nothing but biographies. He'd be college age now and hopefully is creating material for his own biography. Thanks especially for Microwave Man... I have the perfect person to recommend this to.