Thursday, January 09, 2020

Notorious and Notorious RBG

Korman, Gordon. Notorious
January 7th 2020 by Balzer + Bray
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Keenan ends up living with his father on an island that is part Canada and part US when he is diagnosed with tuberculosis. He got the disease in his travels with his mother, who flits from country to county, and being in Canada is both restful and boring, especially since he is not allowed to do anything but sit in a lawn chair. Things become less boring when he meets ZaraBeth, who likes to be called ZeeBee. She is obsessed with gangsters from the 1930s, and all of their activities with Prohibition. She is also sure that her dog, Barney, was murdered. This suspicion has merit-- Barney was a huge dog who wreaked havoc on the island, tearing up gardens, damaging property, and stealing food from stores. ZeeBee has another dog, a small, fluffy pooch called Barney Two, but she wants nothing to do with him. The two have a good summer, but when Keenan starts school on the island and ZeeBee has to take a ferry to the Canadian school, she is upset when he starts to hang out with other kids, who think that ZeeBee is a little weird because of her dog and her gangster obsession. The other kids aren't perfect, and at one point trash the local lighthouse. Keenan wants to stay friends with ZeeBee, so helps her to investigate Barney's death, and in doing so, comes across information that leads to the unraveling of a Prohibition Era mystery as well.
Strengths: If you liked Swindle, definitely take a look at this one. Korman is clearly a dog person, and I immediately loved Barney Two, even if the first Barney was a hellion! Working in problems with parents and an interesting health complaint (T.B.- this is why all teachers have to be vaccinated!), this twofold mystery is a quick read. The little bits of history are fun as well, and I can see this being read by students who enjoyed Al Capone Does My Shirts.
Weaknesses: Not quite as funny as Korman's other titles. There usually always a ripsnorting scene or two, but this didn't have one.
What I really think: Definitely purchasing, since Korman is so popular in my library.

Carmon, Irin  and Knizhnik,Shana. Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg (Young Readers' Edition)
November 28th 2017 by HarperCollins

Gift to the Blendon Middle School Library

I don't know how I missed this wonderful book; it's certainly something we need right now. Young people need to read books about people who are passionately devoted to making the world a better place, despite the personal sacrifices that have to be made. Bader Ginsburg is a bit older than my mother and is an inspiration for everyone, no matter what the politics. Anyone who can keep working at a very demanding job at the age of 86 is to be admired, even if I do worry about her and think it would be better for her if she retired. I can understand, however, her determination to keep going as long as she can-- she certainly fought hard to get where she is, and there is no reason for her to give up her position until she has to!

Ah, the book. This is beautifully formatted for young readers. The pages have lots of white space, bright red headings, and there are lots of photographs of Bader Ginsburg throughout her life, sort of like the Sally Ride biography by Tam O'Shaughnessy, which is the gold standard of illustrations for me. If the pictures exist, let's see them! I love that the authors start out with the memes of the justice, because that will draw in students who are somehow unaware of her, and also how they very carefully lay out what the world was like when Bade Ginsburg was young.

There's just enough information about court cases that young readers can understand their impact but also not be overly confused. The balance between personal and professional life is also well maintained, and this leads to a well rounded picture of an impressive professional. I was especially intrigued by the description of her collars-- I'd love to be a fly on the wall if Queen Elizabeth and Bader Ginsburg ever got together to compare the subtle messages sent by the queen's broaches and the justice's collars!

This really should be required reading for all young girls, many of whom have never had it explained to them how hard women had to work to get the rights we have now!
Ms. Yingling

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