Energy Island: How One Community Harnessed the Wind and Changed Their World by Alan Drummond (2011)
Juvenile NonFiction, 36 pages
Caring for our planet can seem like an overwhelming task. but this book is a great example for children of working together and starting slowly. The people of Samso, an island in the middle of Denmark, have been able to harness wind and other sources of renewable energy to reduce their dependence on fossil fuels and methods that are harmful to Earth. It did not happen overnight, and they started out small. The information is presented to children in an easily understandable way, and I enjoyed the illustrations, which remind me of Quentin Blake’s style. Children can read this and be inspired to look for ways in their own geographic areas to help reduce carbon emissions and be less wasteful. Suggested for grades 2-6.
In Search of Sasquatch by Kelly Milner Halls (2011)
Juvenile NonFiction, 64 pages
Could Sasquatch be real? Kelly Milner Halls takes a scientific approach, looking throughout history, anthropology, and globally at all the information collected that may suggest that Sasquatch is a possible link between apes and humans. So many people from so many different cultures all over the world have described a creature so similarly it is hard to just dismiss as a story. Children’s minds are generally more open to wonder and exploration of things that are not easily explained. Halls gives children a framework to study these subjects objectively without fear. Suggested for grades 5-8.
Truce by Jim Murphy (2009)
Juvenile NonFiction, 116 pages
What was it like for the soldiers during World War I? How did they feel about going to war? I have learned more about war conditions from this book than I remember learning about in history class in school. The enlisted men did not necessarily understand why their countries were involved, but they were patriotic and wanted to defend their countries. There were some moments of peace, such as Christmas Day 1914, which Murphy talks about in this book. The soldiers were able to recognize their similarities with the opposing side, and sang to each other and exchanged Christmas presents. The commanding officers tried to stop them because the longer they fraternized with each other and saw what they had in common, the harder it would be to go back to being enemies once Christmas was over. Murphy uses real photographs (most of which were taken by amateur photographers since the assigned war photographers were not taking pictures during this truce). Children will get a much fuller picture reading this book of what it is like to be at war. Suggested for grades 6-10.
Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans by Kadir Nelson (2011)
Juvenile NonFiction, 107 pages
It is absolutely essential to have this book in as many libraries as possible. Most of us know history, but Kadir Nelson’s gorgeous paintings and the voice of a female African American bring America alive. It is one thing to read about historical events, but when a reader can get a first-person, personal account it means so much more. As a white person, I have struggled with our country’s history and our treatment of African Americans and other minorities. I have experienced depression and guilt that African Americans and other minorities have been treated so horribly. I am thankful in my family that we were taught to see the person and not the color of their skin. As we go into the future, I welcome people of all races coming together and building a peaceful world together. I hope that Kadir Nelson and others like him create many more such wonderful works as this one. Suggested for all ages, for younger children I would probably show the paintings and talk about what is going on in them, and with older children this book can lead to many great discussions.
The Good, The Bad, and The Barbie: A Doll’s History and Her Impact On Us by Tanya Lee Stone (2010)
Juvenile NonFiction, 130 pages
I had some Barbies as a child, but I did not play with them much as I was too busy making up stories in my head. Also, I realized that I should not get too attached to my Barbies after my best friend’s older sister chose to burn my Barbie. Was the smell ever bad! My mom was neutral to Barbie, and my stepmother could not stand her. For all the protests about how Barbie promotes an unhealthy body image for girls, I have to say it never occurred to me to think that I should try to make my body look like Barbie’s did. Also the efforts to give Barbie different careers went over my head too. I think this is a good book to have in a library’s collection, as Barbie is a big part of our culture and people may be interested in how Barbie came about. Suggested for grades six and up.