March TBR

I’ve got a few ARCs for this month, so I really need to do better sticking to my TBR in March…fingers crossed.

monthly tbr

So there we go, let’s see how I do!

What books are you planning on reading this month? Link your March TBRs in the comments!

February Wrap-Up & TBR Update

This month went better than I expected it to even if I didn’t stick to my TBR so religiously. My book club ended up going to a library event instead of discussing a book, so The Girl Who Drank the Moon will go back on my TBR for another time. I found that I read more non-fiction and graphic novels this month than usual and I hope that trend continues. Lastly, another observation is that I¬†really need to get better at reading digital ARCs…my bad.

monthly tbr

Also read/reading:

Books finished this month: 8
Books currently reading: 2

Overall TBR:

TBR at the beginning of the year = 383
TBR at the beginning of February = 411
Books added to TBR = 39
Books completed/deleted from TBR = 6
Total on TBR now = 444

How did your reading go this month?

February TBR

In February, I have a couple of book club books to get to and some stuff for work. I’m hoping to get to some other fun stuff too, though! (Not that the other stuff isn’t fun, but when it’s assigned, it’s a little different).

monthly tbr

I’ll limit myself to that for now. I didn’t get through as many books as I would have liked last month–we’ll see how this month goes.

HW Assignment: Book Blog Entry 5 – How to Fake a Moon Landing by Darryl Cunningham

How to Fake a Moon LandingTitle: How to Fake a Moon Landing: Exposing the Myths of Science Denial
Author: Darryl Cunningham
Publisher: Harry N. Abrams
Publication Date: April 2, 2013
Age Range: 12 and up
Lexile Reading Level: No Level

Cunningham addresses and discusses several different controversial topics in this book including the moon landing, climate change, and evolution. He uses hard science to debunk myths and prove conspiracy theories wrong.

The great thing about this book is that the author has very obviously done a lot of research. Instead of believing sensationalized news articles, he looks to science and data to prove whether or not well-known theories are correct. He states at the beginning of the book that while he believes the things he states in his book, he is open to changing his mind if the science is there to back it up. I think that’s a great lesson for kids to learn at a young age. It’s okay to have beliefs and convictions, but it’s also important to not closeHow to Fake a Moon Landing page our minds to other ideas that are logically/scientifically proven to be possible or correct.

While this book is fun in its current graphic novel format, the illustrations really don’t add much to the narrative. Having the text separated by panels may make it easier to read or process, but a lot of the book consists of speech bubbles over our narrator (see panels 2, 3, 4, and 6) or an aside from the narrator over a picture (see panel 5). It seems like the graphic novel format could have been utilized a little better with diagrams or more interesting illustrations.

Overall, I think this book is a great way to introduce youth to using science to inform decisions and beliefs. In addition, it may help them to be a little more informed about some controversial topics and could actually prove to be a launching pad for more in depth research. The library should also try to have resources that contradict the theories posed in this book just to have a balanced collection and to give patrons both sides of the “story”.

This would be a great book for a book club where youth could get together and discuss the different issues, whether Cunningham has them convinced, and why other people may not believe Cunningham’s arguments.

HW Assignment: Book Blog Entry 4 – Shackleton by Nick Bertozzi

ShackletonTitle: Shackleton: Antarctic Odyssey
Author: Nick Bertozzi
Publisher: First Second
Publication Date: June 17, 2014
Age Range: 12 to 18
Lexile Reading Level: GN620L

On Shackleton’s third trip to the Antarctic, he was determined to make it to the South Pole. Unfortunately, the conditions were not ideal and before the crew was even able to set foot on Antarctica, they were forced to turn back. It would take them over two years out on the ice before they were able to get help and make their way back home.

I’d heard about the story of Shackleton when my mother-in-law read a book about him and the crew of the Endurance (I believe it was,¬†Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing, but I’m not sure). His story amazed me. I could not believe that they were out on the ice, in the elements, for so long and that¬†none of his crew died.¬†Shackleton and his crew’s story is so amazing and I think Bertozzi does a really good job translating that story as a graphic novel. He notes at the beginning of the story that, “While [he] strove for historical accuracy in this book, there are some details of the story that are compressed for dramatic reasons”. But he encourages readers who are interested in more details to look to other sources to fill in the gaps. As a reader, I wondered what exactly he meant by having details of the story compressed. After reading the book, I think he means that events seem to happen more quickly in the graphic novel than they actually did in real life. Because of this, I would have appreciated a timeline included somewhere in the book so that I could see where the events were located in the context of other events.

The overall tone of the book is kept fairly light despite the grim events (see page below).shackleton page

In this scene, they had to operate on one of the crew member’s frostbitten toes. Note how the crew still treats this situation somewhat lightheartedly and even the crew member says afterwards, “They couldn’t kill me, lads!”.

This book would work great in an activity or book club about explorers. There could be different stations set up for each explorer with an activity or two that fit. Other books about other explorers:

Charles and Emma: The Darwins’ Leap of Faith by Deborah Heiligman (nonfiction)
Freedom Beyond the Sea by Waldtraut Lewin (fiction)
First Flight Around the World: The Adventures of the American Fliers Who Won the Race by Tim Grove (nonfiction)


HW Assignment: Book Blog Entry 3 – Terrible Typhoid Mary by Susan Campbell Bartoletti

Terrible Typhoid MaryTitle: Terrible Typhoid Mary: A True Story of the Deadliest Cook in America
Author: Susan Campbell Bartoletti
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: August 4th, 2015
Age Range: 12 and up
Lexile Reading Level: 980

Mary Mallon was just a cook in New York City but unbeknownst to her, she was a living carrier of the disease Typhoid. Before doctors caught up with her she’d already been the cause of outbreaks in several families that she had worked for. When she refused treatment, she was “arrested” quarantined on a remote island. The case of Typhoid Mary has been a confusing one for years as other living carriers did not suffer similar fates and were generally allowed to live with their families. Mary alone was unjustly villain-ized by the local media at the time. With her name splashed across headlines and her new nickname, “Typhoid Mary”, Mary Mallon’s reputation was destroyed. This is her story from the beginning, when she is first informed that she is a living carrier, to the end of her life.

To young people, a world where germs are widely thought of as a myth is incomprehensible. Hygiene wasn’t as important and cities were often filthy places where disease was rampant. This book does a great job of helping the reader see the realities of what it was like to live in the 1900’s. Medicine was not nearly as advanced as it is now and a lot of medical treatments and operations were little better than guesswork. I think this book would do great in a display with other books featuring diseases–possible in a Fall or Winter month as cold and flu season is beginning. Here are some other books that could go in the display (both fiction and nonfiction):

In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters (fiction) – Spanish Influenza
Fatal Fever: Tracking Down Typhoid Mary by Gail Jarrow (nonfiction) – Typhoid
When Plague Strikes: The Black Death, Smallpox, AIDS by James Cross Giblin and David Frampton (nonfiction) – Black Death, Smallpox, AIDS
Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson (fiction) – Yellow Fever
The Secret of the Yellow Death: A True Story of Medical Sleuthing by Suzanne Jurmain (nonfiction) – Yellow Fever
Queen of Hearts by Martha Brooks (fiction) – Tuberculosis

HW Assignment: Book Blog Entry 1 – We Are the Ship by Kadir Nelson

We Are the Ship Title: We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball
Author: Kadir Nelson
Publisher: Jump At The Sun
Publication Date: January 8, 2008
Age Range: 8-12 years
Lexile Reading Level:

We Are the Ship is a book about the history Negro League Baseball and how it fits in with the overall history of Major League Baseball. The author goes into detail about specific teams and players. Using realistic illustrations, the author is able to hit home the fact that this book is about real people and real baseball players. The book is divided into ten different sections–nine innings plus extra innings–and it is narrated by the collective voice of all those who played Negro League Baseball.

The foreword is written by Hank Aaron (a Negro/Major League Baseball player) which lends credibility to the book as a whole. Hank Aaron was around when some of the events detailed in the book happened. The book also includes end notes, a bibliography, and an index. Overall, the book seems to be historically accurate and those with doubts can look into the author’s sources. While the content is sound, the tone of the book is oddly upbeat and doesn’t seem to give heavy topics enough weight. The included illustrations are strikingly realistic and showcase each of the highlighted players as individuals. However, not all illustrations are historically accurate and the author explains about the artistic licenses he took with the illustrations in an author’s note at the end of the book.

Overall, this book would be a great read for any youth who are interested in the history of baseball. While many are probably familiar with the names Babe Ruth and Joe DiMaggio, less will recognize the names Satchel Paige and Josh Gibson. In addition, this book is also a good resource for introducing the topic of racism to younger children in a way that they may be able to process better.