Hank Aaron: Brave in Every Way

On April 8, 1974, America watched as Hank Aaron stepped up to the plate and hit home run number 715! With that hit, he surpassed Babe Ruth’s legendary baseball record and realized a lifelong dream. This is the story of how Hank Aaron became a great ballplayer and an inspiration to us all. 

When Hank was born, his mother wanted him to “make a difference in the world.” Meanwhile, his father wanted him to “know the joy of playing baseball in open grassy fields.” While no one knew it at the time, Hank would fulfill both of his parents’ expectations. Hank Aaron: Brave in Every Way begins with Hank’s early childhood. The story describes how Hank’s family was poor, but there was still plenty of love and an open field for playing baseball. When Hank was in school, he was inspired by Jackie Robinson. Like Jackie Robinson, Hank faced discrimination because of the color of his skin.  

Before blacks were allowed in the major leagues, Hank was determined to play. When Hank received hate mail, he “decided to fight the best way he could. He swore that each angry letter would add a home run to his record.” The closer Hank got to beating Babe Ruth’s record, the more fans cheered for him and Hank received “almost a million letters to offer him support.” In the end, despite facing many obstacles, Hank did something remarkable—he beat Babe Ruth’s home run record.   

Even though Hank Aaron: Brave in Every Way is a picture book, the story will need to be read aloud to a child, rather than for a child to read it independently. Many of the pages are text-heavy with five to thirteen complex sentences. Each two-page spread has one page for the text and one full-page illustration. The realistic illustrations use browns and other primary colors that mostly feature Hank at baseball games. 

Hank Aaron: Brave in Every Way is a motivational biography that focuses on Hank’s ability to overcome obstacles. Hank’s remarkable talent and resilience will motivate young readers to reach for their dreams. Since Hank’s story includes examples of discrimination, young readers may need help understanding why people hated Hank because he was black. Readers who want to learn more about Hank Aaron should also read Baseball’s Best: Five True Stories by Andrew Gutelle. For more motivational non-fiction baseball books, readers should also read Catching the Moon: The Story of a Young Girl’s Baseball Dream by Crystal Hubbard and Baseball Saved Us by Ken Mochizuki. 

Sexual Content 

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Violence 

  • When Hank Aaron started to play on the Braves’ team, “some people resented Hank’s success because of the color of his skin. He began to get one or two unsigned letters each week filled with insults and nasty names.” 
  • One illustration shows letters in the background. The letters are all negative and one reads “Retire or die!” Another letter says, “Quit or youe [sic] dead.” 

Drugs and Alcohol 

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Supernatural 

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Spiritual Content 

  • Hank beat Babe Ruth’s home run record. “That night, when he was alone at last, Hank got down on his knees, closed his eyes, and thanked God for pulling him through.”  

Pigskins to Paintbrushes: The Story of Football-Playing Artist Ernie Barnes

Ernest Barnes was never great at sports. Despite his parents’ encouragement to play football, Ernest loved art. He loved drawing pictures and painting “bright, vivid colors” with “bold, expressive brushstrokes.” However, when his school’s strength coach, Mr. Tucker, helps Ernest succeed in the weight room, Ernest finds his career shifting toward football and away from art. How will Ernest juggle his growing athletic career and his childhood love for art? Can these two elements coexist in his life? 

Ernest, also known as Ernie, is the inspiring protagonist of the story. Told from Ernest’s perspective, the story follows his life from childhood to adulthood, detailing his accomplishments, struggles, and life experiences. Ernest is a charming, lovable character whose determination to pursue his artistic dreams makes him an admirable character. His struggle to balance two prominent aspects of his life–football and art—will be relatable for readers who feel torn between multiple interests. 

Pigskins to Paintbrushes presents a heartwarming tale of the real life of Ernest Barnes, an artist and professional football player for the American Football League. Despite the contrary opinions of others, Ernest discovers that football and art aren’t separate. For him, they were “one and the same” because they reflect who he is as a person. This theme of pursuing one’s dreams and loving oneself permeates throughout the story and culminates with Ernest believing that he “could be anything he wanted to be!” The story ultimately inspires the readers to reflect on their own talents and dreams.  

Despite the encouraging message, Pigskins to Paintbrushes explores some heavier topics, like the effects of segregation and its impact on Ernest’s career. Colorful, full-page illustrations enhance the plot by providing lovely, painted pictures to accompany the story. Overall, Pigskins to Paintbrushes is a beautiful true story about Ernest Barnes discovering who he wanted to be. Although the story can be simple for experienced readers with each page having only two small paragraphs, Pigskins to Paintbrushes will appeal to artists and sports enthusiasts alike because of its use of vivid illustrations and positive themes. 

Sexual Content 

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Violence 

  • Kids bully Ernest at school. The kids “circled him. They shoved Ernest. They snatched away his trombone. Ernest fell and skinned his knee.” 
  • Kids taunt Ernest in junior high, and “one day, someone walloped him over the head with a book!”

Drugs and Alcohol 

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Language 

  • When Ernest tries out for the football team and doesn’t do great, the coach yells, “You never will be nothing!” and “You too pretty to play this game!” 

Supernatural 

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Spiritual Content 

  • When Ernest’s mom tries to decide if her son should play football, she decides “over a prayer and a plate of fried chicken.” 
  • When Ernest was worried about his art exhibit, his mother called him and “offered a prayer.” 

Will It Blow?: Become a Volcano Detective at Mount St. Helens

Will Mount St. Helens erupt again? Will it spit lava or unleash a deadly mudflow? Learn how to be a volcano detective, sifting through the evidence, searching for clues, and solving real-life cases. This classroom favorite has won numerous awards, including being named a Washington Reads pick, a Natural History Magazine Best Book for Young Readers, and an Oregon Book Award finalist. 

Will It Blow? is a highly entertaining book that uses a unique premise to educate readers about volcanoes. Treating the volcanoes like a criminal who needs to be “caught red-handed,” allows readers to interact with the text by learning how to “decipher” volcanic clues, “crack cases,” and “predict volcanic eruptions.” Along the way, readers will explore Mount St. Helens’ real volcanic activity and try to determine if the volcano is about to blow. 

The book includes volcano vocabulary, five short chapters that discuss different types of volcanic activity, and a list of additional sources. To make the facts easy to understand, the book uses short paragraphs, lists, infographics, photographs, and illustrations. Each page has illustrations to help readers understand volcanic activity. For example, one page shows the different seismograms of Mount Saint Helens, while another page shows what the volcano looks like deep underground. Another feature that will delight readers is the “Detective in Training” pages, which encourage readers to make a human seismograph, a soda bottle volcano, and other scientific experiments. 

Even though Will It Blow? has a fun format, younger readers will need assistance with the advanced vocabulary and sentence structure. For example, when discussing glass shards, “The detectives wondered: Would the eruptions continue? Did the glassy fragments mean a new batch of deep, possibly gas-rich magma was surging up? Would this eruption turn explosive? What do you think?” While some of the terminology may be difficult for readers, many of the concepts are explained in a kid-friendly manner that is easy to understand. For instance, the earth is compared to a peanut M&M, and not because “it’s crunchy and chocolatey when you bite into it. . . Because it has three layers, just like a peanut M&M.” 

Will It Blow? will appeal to readers who want to learn more about volcanoes, and the book’s fun format and interesting facts will keep most readers interested in the entire book. The book’s educational value and readability make it a perfect book for the classroom as well as at home. Curious readers who love Ada Twist, Scientist, and The Magnificent Makers by Theanne Griffith will find Will It Blow? a perfect addition to their reading library. 

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Tyrannosaurus Rex vs. Velociraptor

What would happen if a Tyrannosaurus rex and a velociraptor met each other? What if they had a fight? Who do you think would win? 

Even though Tyrannosaurus Rex vs. Velociraptor ends with a battle scene between the two dinosaurs, the book also has several pages discussing fossils as well as the reasons dinosaurs may have become extinct. Throughout the book, interesting facts are included such as “a newborn T. rex skeleton has never been discovered. Maybe you will be the person who unearths it.” Each page has large pictures as well as fun facts including dino trivia, gross facts, and definitions. For example, one gross fact is “A raptor’s arms and hands seem perfect for a dinosaur that is an aggressive hunter—quick, long, and strong. A raptor could easily rip apart its prey.”   

The nonfiction reader is packed full of interesting information about the two bear species. The book also has two pages devoted to funny bear stories. Similar to a picture book, each page has a full-page illustration. With 6 to 11 simple sentences per page, Tyrannosaurus Rex vs. Velociraptor is accessible to most readers. However, younger readers may need help with some of the vocabulary such as excavation, articulated, paleontologist, and proportionally.  

Tyrannosaurus Rex vs. Velociraptor fun format will appeal to most readers. Each two-page spread has large illustrations and explains the characteristics of each bear. Readers may be surprised by the ending battle the T. Rex dies. However, the text also explains why the outcome could have been different.  

The box is jam-packed with interesting facts, photos, and illustrations. The nonfiction text will spark reader’s attention as it teaches readers about dinosaurs. To learn more about dinosaurs, read about famous fossil hunters in Barnum Brown Dinosaur Hunter by David Sheldon and The Dog that Dug for Dinosaurs by Shirley Raye Redmond. Dinosaur-loving readers would also enjoy these fictional books: the Dino Files Series by Stacy McAnulty and Don’t Disturb the Dinosaurs by Ada Hopper.  

Sexual Content 

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Violence 

  • One illustration shows a T. Rex eating a smaller dinosaur. The illustration shows some blood.   
  • The end battle between the T. rex and the raptor is illustrated and includes some blood. While fighting, “the raptor slices the T. rex with its sickles. The angry R. rex bucks, and the raptor gets flung into the air. . .” The raptor calls to its pack and the pack appears. “The raptor pack slashes and cuts the T. rex. It’s over The T. rex crashes to the ground. . .” The fight is illustrated over six pages. 

Drugs and Alcohol 

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What If You Had Animal Eyes!?

What if you woke up one morning to find that you had a completely different pair of eyes? What if you now had chameleon eyes, and were able to look in two directions at once? What if you had the glowing eyes of a colossal squid, and were able to shine light in a dark room?  These are some of the many examples explored in What If You Had Animal Eyes!? 

In What If You Had Animal Eyes!? Markle asks readers to imagine their lives with several different pairs of animal eyes, from an eagle’s eyes to a dragonfly’s eyes. Each page describes the eyes of a different animal, listing their unique abilities and showing how these abilities could be used in the reader’s life. For example, eagle eyes can see up to eight times better than the human eye, with a field of vision that stretches as far as two miles. While eagles use these abilities to catch prey, the reader could use them to have the best view of the football game despite sitting in the very back of the stadium! Each description is brief and informative; however, each two-page spread has seven to eight complex sentences that beginning readers will need an adult to read aloud to them.  

The book is brought to life by illustrator Howard McWilliam, who visualizes each scenario with funny, exaggerated drawings of children making the most of their new animal eyes. While one child uses her leopard eyes to see in the dark, another uses his yellow mongoose eyes to help him win a game of laser tag. These illustrations match Markle’s clear, engaging writing to create a book that manages to educate readers while also encouraging them to use their imagination by asking the question of how these eyes would play into their daily lives. What If You Had Animal Eyes!? is an engaging book that uses humor to educate readers of all ages. 

Sexual Content 

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Drugs and Alcohol 

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Otters Love to Play

On the edge of a river sits a neat pile of sticks, leaves, and grass. Last year, this was a beaver lodge, but now, in spring, it has become the home of a new family of otters! Inside this otter den, a mother otter feeds her three newborn pups (the pups’ father, readers will learn, is chased away by the mother after the pups are born). Readers will follow the mother otter as she shows the pups how to swim, hunt for fish, and perhaps the most important lesson for an otter pup – how to play!  

Written by the author of Froggy and nature-lover Jonathan London, Otters Love to Play is a quick and straightforward book that educates readers on the early lives of otters. While readers may already know that otters live in dens and hunt for fish, they may be surprised to learn that the species’ powerful tails and waterproof fur allow them to swim faster than Olympic swimmers! Each page features the otters learning something new – from walking to swimming. With each new thing the pups learn, the reader also learns a fact about the otters which are at the bottom of every other page. For example, while the story shows how fiercely protective otter mothers are of their pups, a note at the bottom of the page explains how adult otters can run up to eighteen miles an hour on snow, making them intimidating forces to predators.  

Otters Love to Play is brought to life by the illustrations of Meilo So. Throughout the book, readers witness the pups as they experience each season for the first time. So’s beautiful mix of colors gives life and variety to each season. Pages set in spring are painted with beautiful swabs of pink and purple skies, filling the reader with the same wonder felt by the pups, while pages set in winter are made with harsh whites and grays, sharing the idea of brutal climates and perilous conditions endangering the pups. All these illustrations are brightened by So’s adorable drawings of the otters, which are sure to delight readers of all ages. 

Even though Otters Love to Play is intended for younger readers, the story is intended to be read aloud to a child, rather than for the child to read it for the first time independently. As part of the Read and Wonder Series, Otters Love to Play introduces readers to natural history and fascinating facts that show how wonderful the natural world is. If you are looking for a book that educates young readers on a fascinating species while also providing plenty of fun and cute moments, Otters Love to Play is an excellent choice. Readers who love the ocean should jump in and read Way Down Deep in the Deep Blue Sea by Jan Peck. 

Sexual Content 

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Drugs and Alcohol 

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Pilgrims

After Jack and Annie’s feast in Magic Tree House #27: Thanksgiving on Thursday, the pair was still hungry for more information about the Pilgrims’ history. When they go to the library to research, they are flooded with stories, illustrations, and facts that help them better understand life in the 1600s. Pilgrims gives readers more information about the history by introducing readers to historical figures such as William Bradford, the governor who led the Pilgrims, along with familiar faces like Squanto and Priscilla Alden. By reading Pilgrims, readers can follow Jack and Annie as they find the deeper meaning of Thanksgiving. 

The non-fiction story follows the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag tribe from the first meeting to the first Thanksgiving feast. There are many connections between Pilgrims and Thanksgiving on Thursday. For example, in Thanksgiving on Thursday Jack and Annie learn how Squanto helped the Pilgrims grow crops by using rotting fish. Pilgrims goes into more detail about this as well as the other actions Squanto did to help them. On the other hand, Squanto lies about the Pilgrims to create tension which causes the two groups’ problems.  

The first couple of chapters explain the impact religion had on the people leaving England as well as their many months on the Mayflower. Black-and-white illustrations appear on almost every page and include historical people and places as well as props to reenact scenes and show examples. One of the illustrations gives an inside look at the Mayflower, which helps the reader better understand the close quarters the Pilgrims lived in for months. Illustrations also show the clothing that both the Native Americans and Pilgrims wore. Along with the illustrations, there are many pictures of historical people.  

Pilgrims is packed with information that is easily digestible for young readers. There are many tools to help a young audience follow along. For example, each chapter is broken into small sections that give historical information. Plus, the illustrations break up text into much smaller pieces and some pages only have an image. The tribe’s name, Wampanoag, is explained. “Today we know them as the Wampanoag (wahm-puh-NO-ag) Nation. This means ‘People of the First Light’ or ‘People of the East.’ They were hunters, gatherers, farmers, and fishermen.” Also, complicated words like “Patuxet”, and “moccasins” are sounded out, (puh-TUX-it) and (MOCK-uh-sinz), and explained to expand vocabulary. Readers will find it interesting to learn the difference between the original Thanksgiving meal versus today’s Thanksgiving meal, and they will find humor in the faces Jack makes when he tries the unsweetened cranberry sauce.  

Pilgrims presents nonfiction information in a way that will engage young readers. Adults can use Pilgrims as a conversation starter because the Pilgrims’ journey was not only the start of a holiday with delicious food but also the start of a nation. The book is perfect for readers who are interested in doing research because the author includes the best way to research Pilgrims as well as more resources such as books, videos, and museums. Pilgrims is packed full of historical information that is fun to read. Whether it is for research or for fun, reading Pilgrims will delight those who love Thanksgiving. Readers who are interested in learning more about the Pilgrims’ journey should also read The Voyage of the Mayflower by Allison Lassieur. Those who are ready to jump into another imaginative story based on the Mayflower should add Mayflower Treasure Hunt by Ron Roy to their must-read list. 

Sexual Content 

  • None 

Violence 

  • A section of the book is titled “Cruel Treatment” which describes some ways the Pilgrims and native people treated each other. “Sometimes the strangers [Pilgrims] treated the Native People badly. They shot at them without reason. They stole their corn and furs. Sometimes they even captured them and sold them into slavery.” There is also non-physical cruelty explained too. “Too often, Native People died from diseases the newcomers brought…Their bodies had no way to fight the new infections. Whole villages were wiped out. Later more settlers arrive. They forced the Native People from their lands. Farms and towns grew where native villages once stood.” 

Drugs and Alcohol 

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Language 

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Supernatural 

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Spiritual Content 

  • The term “Separatists” is explained and sometimes used to describe the individuals who “separated for the Church of England.” This group took the trip on the Mayflower because they wanted the freedom of religion and “the Separatists wanted to worship their own way.” 
  • The Mayflower Compact explains how the Pilgrims governed themselves during their time on the Mayflower. The compact said, “The people were united in their belief in God.” 
  • Once the Mayflower reached land, the individuals on board “felt their prayers had been answered. They fell to their knees and gave thanks.” 
  • After Squanto helps the pilgrims, “they were so grateful to him, they called him ‘an instrument of God.’” 
  • The first Thanksgiving is described as, “a harvest festival. The 50 surviving Pilgrims met to praise God for their good fortune.” 
  • A section is titled “Church” and explains that many of the Pilgrims came on the Mayflower to “worship as they wished.” Also, it is revealed there was no physical Church, only a room, and Sunday was a day no one worked or played but rested.   

What If You Had an Animal Tail!?

What if, one morning, you got out of bed to find that you had grown an animal’s tail overnight? What if you now had the tail of a spider monkey, allowing you to swing through trees? What if you had a crocodile tail, allowing you to swim at Olympic speed? These are some of the possibilities shown in What If You Had an Animal Tail!? 

In What If You Had an Animal Tail!?, Markle invites young readers to picture their lives with the tails of different animals, from the extravagant peacocks to the deadly scorpions. Each page is dedicated to the tail of a different animal and describes each tail’s unique abilities. Readers will explore how the animal’s tail would help them in their lives. For example, South African ground squirrels use their big, bushy tails to shade themselves in hot temperatures. If readers had these tails, they could forget about ever needing an umbrella, as they would already have one attached to their body! Each description is brief and informative; however, each two-page spread has seven to eight complex sentences that beginning readers will need an adult to read aloud to them. 

The full-page illustrations, drawn by Howard McWilliam, provide each example with funny, exaggerated drawings of children enjoying their new animal tails. While one child uses his thresher shark tail to hit home runs, another uses her giraffe tail as her own paintbrush. The illustrations are an excellent companion to the book’s educational content, creating a unique non-fiction book that will educate and engage the reader’s imagination. What If You Had an Animal Tail!? gives readers a lot of animal information in an engaging format with illustrated examples of how animal tails would play into their daily lives.  

Sexual Content 

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Drugs and Alcohol 

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Polar Bear vs. Grizzly Bear

What would happen if a polar bear and a grizzly bear met each other? What if they had a fight? Who do you think would win? In this nonfiction read, two ferocious bear species are compared and contrasted.  

Polar Bear vs. Grizzly Bear’s fun format will appeal to most readers. Each page has large pictures of bears as well as fun facts, true stories, language facts, and definitions. For example, one fun fact is that “a grizzly is faster on land. A polar bear is probably faster on ice.” Each two-page spread compares the characteristics of the bears. Readers may be surprised by the ending battle because “the polar bear sees no point in fighting anymore. There is no reason to fight to the death. The polar bear runs away.” The battle between the two bears is illustrated over two pages; however, no blood is shown.  

The nonfiction read is packed with interesting information about the two bear species. The book also has two pages devoted to funny bear stories. Similar to a picture book, each page has a full-page illustration. With six to eleven simple sentences per page, Polar Bear vs. Grizzly Bear is accessible to most readers. However, younger readers may need help with some of the vocabulary such as translucent, apex predator, and carnivore. 

Polar Bear vs. Grizzly Bear will spark readers’ attention and make them want to learn more about bears. It is part of the Who Would Win? Series, which has 20+ books that will satisfy all kinds of animal fans. Readers looking for more bear humor should also read the graphic novel, Bird & Squirrel on The Edge by James Burks. 

Sexual Content 

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Violence 

  • Polar bears can eat humans, “but it hardly ever happens.” However, “each year grizzlies eat a few people.” 
  • When the polar bear and the grizzly bear see each other, “the grizzly charges at the polar bear, growing and showing his teeth. . . [The polar bear] fights back. Whap! He smacks the grizzly in the face. Ouch! They claw, scratch, and bite.” The polar bear eventually walks away from the fight.  

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I (Don’t) Like Snakes

Some families have dogs, some have cats. Some have both. What’s less often heard of is a family with not just one, but several pet snakes! Unfortunately for one girl, this family is her family. While she states that she “really, really, REALLY doesn’t like snakes,” her family doesn’t see what’s not to love. They let their pet snakes rest on their shoulders. The snakes sit beside them on the couch while they watch TV. Their house is covered wall to wall in pictures of their many pet snakes. So, when they learn that a member of their own family can’t stand snakes, they can only ask, “Why?” 

For the girl, there are many reasons she doesn’t like snakes. They slither. They’re slimy. Their eyes are creepy, and their sharp, flickering tongues are just as off-putting! With each reason the girl gives, her family shows the reasons people fear snakes come from simple misconceptions. For example, their “slimy, icky skin” is actually dry. It only looks wet because its outer skin is see-through and naturally shiny. Each fact that the family gives is followed by a page that expands their point in greater detail. 

In these pages, the book’s charming, pencil-drawn illustrations are exchanged for more detailed, photorealistic drawings of snakes, complete with several individual facts about the nature of snakes and their many abilities. One diagram shows that the tail of a rattlesnake is actually leftover skin that creates a rattling sound that frightens predators. As any of the many people scared of snakes would tell you, this trick works! 

Written by zoologist and author Nicola Davies, I (Don’t) Like Snakes is a quick and simple book that is almost guaranteed to ease some of the many snake-related fears held by younger and older readers alike. Luciano Lozano draws the illustrations in a cute and colorful style. Plus, readers will relate to the funny protagonist who narrates. The book manages to be entertaining and educational. While most of I (Don’t) Like Snakes is occupied with informing the reader about the many traits of snakes, Lozano humors the detail-oriented reader with plenty of laughable background gags – a snake reading over the shoulder of the girl’s big brother might be the best one. 

Even though I (Don’t) Like Snakes is intended for younger readers, the story is intended to be read aloud to a child, rather than for the child to read it for the first time independently. The book features about 1-9 sentences per page. Some pages include fun facts about snakes written in a smaller font. As part of the Read and Wonder Series, I (Don’t) Like Snakes introduces readers to natural history and fascinating facts that show how wonderful the natural world is. If you are looking for a book that will make you laugh while teaching you and your young reader a few things too, I (Don’t) Like Snakes will make for an excellent read. For another educational and humorous book that teaches about animals, slither to the bookshelf and find What If You Had Animal Teeth!? by Sandra Markle.  

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Who was Edgar Allan Poe?

Filled with broken hearts and black ravens, Edgar Allan Poe’s ghastly tales have delighted readers for centuries. Born in Boston in 1809, Poe was orphaned at age two. He was soon adopted by a Virginia family who worked as tombstone merchants. In 1827 he enlisted in the Army and subsequently failed out of West Point. His first published story, The Raven, was a huge success, but his joy was overshadowed by the death of his wife. Poe devoted his life to writing and his tragic life often inspired his work. He is considered to be the inventor of detective fiction and the father of American mystery writers. His work continues to influence popular culture through films, music, literature, and television.

Who was Edgar Allan Poe? begins with his early childhood which was filled with hardships. Edgar’s father abandoned the family. Soon after, his mother died of tuberculosis. Edgar and his siblings were sent to live with different foster parents. In his early years, several women influenced Edgar—his mother, his foster mother, and one of his friend’s mother, Jane Standard. Unfortunately, all of the women’s lives were cut short by tuberculosis. The grief over the women’s deaths affected Edgar’s writing throughout his life.

Who was Edgar Allan Poe? has an easy-to-read format with large font. Large black-and-white illustrations appear on almost every page. Many of the illustrations include people and places that were important to Edgar. While the wide array of illustrations and the short chapters will help keep readers interested, some may have difficulties with the book’s advanced vocabulary. The text does explain some of the terms readers may be unfamiliar with. In addition, some pages explain historical information such as West Point’s background, important people in Poe’s life, as well as tuberculosis, and the development of a vaccine. The back of the book also includes a timeline of Edgar’s life and a timeline of the 1800s.

Because of the many hardships in Edgar Allan Poe’s life, many of his poems and stories are gloomy and discuss death. Even though some of Edgar’s stories were popular during his time, Edgar didn’t live long enough to see how his writings influenced many other writers. Learning about Edgar’s life will give readers a better understanding of the man and his literary work. Plus, the book would be a good starting point for those who want to research Edgar. 

While many readers will recognize Edgar Allan Poe because of his short and often scary stories, the book explains that he “was a complex man who struggled to overcome a series of sad events to become a major American writer. He influenced so many writers after him that his work is still studied in high schools, colleges, and universities more than 165 years after his death.” Who was Edgar Allan Poe? will entertain and educate readers who want to learn more about the author who created the first gothic, gloomy stories and poems.

Sexual Content 

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Violence 

  • Poe wrote a novel that “told tales of suffering and death, and even cannibalism.” 

Drugs and Alcohol 

  • As an adult, Edgar had a drinking problem. “When he had a good job at a magazine, he lost it by drinking too much.” Edgar’s drinking was a habit which caused him to switch jobs frequently. “Sometimes he didn’t get along with his bosses. Other times, he was fired for drinking.” 
  • Edgar’s father, David “began drinking too much and quarreling with [his wife].” David eventually abandoned his family.
  • Edgar’s foster father was a successful merchant. “The company bought and sold tobacco. . . but it also sold a variety of other goods, including books, frying pans, wine, and even tombstones!”
  • In his stories, Poe “sometimes wrote from the point of view of a crazy person. Some of the characters in his stories were drug addicts.”

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My Diwali Light

Devi loves the Diwali season. It’s a time to wear her favorite red dindi and eat samosas until she bursts! Make mithai and design rangoli with her papa. And paint diyas with her nani—a reminder to shine her light brightly all year long.

The story, with vibrant collage illustrations, follows one girl’s Diwali traditions as her family celebrates their favorite holiday with the ones they love. The illustrations are full of interesting details that feature Devi’s clothing, her family, and her neighborhood. The pictures’ brilliant, bright colors give the book a joyous, festive tone. Each page has one to five sentences. However, both the complex sentence structure and the frequent use of Hindi words will require the book to be read aloud to a child, rather than for the child to read it for the first time independently. Since the book doesn’t contain a glossary, My Diwali Light will not help children from other cultures to understand the customs associated with Diwali. 

Devi’s activities show a strong sense of family and the importance of learning from your elders. For example, “Nani says when we clean our home, we remember to keep our hearts clean, too.” During the holiday preparations, Devi’s family strings marigolds and twinkling lights and also paints diyas. While they are preparing for the holiday, Nani says “the flame is a reminder for all of us to shine our lights brightly, to be kind, helpful, and loving.” 

While readers unfamiliar with the holiday may have difficulty understanding some of the book’s language, the general concept of allowing your kindness to shine will be understood by all readers. My Diwali Light revolves around Devi’s family, who show kindness to each other as well as others. 

While all of Devi’s family celebrates the season, they all celebrate differently, which allows readers to understand that the holiday is about sharing the Diwali light and sparkle. 

Sexual Content 

  • None

Violence 

  • None

Drugs and Alcohol 

  • None

Language   

  • None

Supernatural

  • None

Spiritual Content 

  • As part of the holiday tradition, Devi’s Papa gets the thali ready and Devi “sprinkle[s] the rice and the water and help[s] shower the statures in the mandir with milk, yogurt, honey, ghee, and sugar. We offer flowers and mithai. I shake the coins. Mama sings the aarti, and I ring my bell loudly.”
  • Devi’s family prays “our own prayers, quietly whispering words of hope from deep in our hearts.” The family prays for health, happiness, peace, and that “we are always together on Diwali.” 

Mummies and Pyramids

When Jack and Annie got back from their adventure in Magic Tree House #3: Mummies in the Morning, they had lots of questions. Why did people make mummies? What was the mysterious writing on mummy cases? How did most ancient Egyptians spend their days? How were the pyramids built? Find out the answers to these questions and more as Jack and Annie track the facts.

Filled with up-to-date information, photos, illustrations, and fun tidbits from Jack and Annie, Magic Tree House Fact Trackers are the perfect way for kids to find out more about the topics they discover in their favorite Magic Tree House adventures. Teachers can use Fact Trackers alongside their Magic Tree House fiction companions to meet common core text pairing needs. Mummies and Pyramids pairs with Magic Tree House #3: Mummies in the Morning.

Mummies and Pyramids is broken into small sections. Almost every page has a black-and-white illustration. Because readers may not be familiar with some of the vocabulary, unfamiliar words are explained in the book’s margins. Pictures of Jack and Annie are also scattered throughout the book. 

Those interested in mummies should read Mummies and Pyramids. The easy-to-read text is packed full of interesting facts about mummies, pyramids, and Ancient Egyptians. Even though the book includes information about how mummies are made, the matter-of-fact tone and non-gory descriptions will put readers at ease. There is only one drawing of a body being mummified, but the person is mostly wrapped in linen. Because the book explains the Ancient Egyptians’ belief in the afterlife, parents may want to discuss their beliefs with their children. 

Mummies and Pyramids is an engaging nonfiction book that brings Ancient Egypt alive. Readers who want to learn more should also read the nonfiction book The Curse of King Tut’s Mummy by Kathleen Weidner Zoehfel. To take a step back in time while learning more about Egypt, read Escape from Egypt by Wendy Mass and Secret of the Prince’s Tomb by Marianne Hering.

Sexual Content 

  • None

Violence 

  • Tomb robbers would steal from mummies. “Sometimes tomb robbers even burned the mummy to light the tomb while they worked. . . Ancient Egyptians thought tomb robbers were committing crimes against the gods. If they were caught, they were beaten and often put to death.”

Drugs and Alcohol 

  • Food and jugs of beer have been found in mummies’ tombs.

Language 

  • None

Supernatural

  • While a body was being mummified, “the priest wrapped magic charms in the mummy’s linen strips. The Egyptians believed these charms would bring good luck and protect the person in the Next Life.”
  • Before a mummy was laid in its tomb, there was a ceremony called The Opening of the Mouth. “Egyptians believed the Opening of the Mouth ceremony made it possible for the dead person to eat, drink, and speak in the Next Life.”
  • To help a mummy make the journey to the Next Life, “mummies were buried with prayers, magic spells, and maps of the underworld.”

Spiritual Content 

  • Ancient Egyptians believed in many Gods and these beliefs are explored throughout the book. There is one chapter dedicated to the different Gods. Because of this, not every reference to the Gods is listed below. 
  • Egyptian rulers, called Pharaohs, “had total power over their people. . . Egyptians thought their pharaoh was more than a person. They worshipped him as a god.” 
  • Some of the Egyptian Gods “were like ordinary men and women. Some were like animals. Many were half-human and half-animal. The Egyptians believed the gods and goddesses watched over everything they did.”
  • Egyptians created statues that were cared for by priests. The priest “washed and dressed them. They even served them meals. . . At home, they prayed to their own statues of their favorite gods and goddesses.” 
  • When taking a mummy to be buried, the “priest said prayers and recited magic spells.” 

Ultimate Shark Rumble

Sixteen different sharks battle it out in a huge underwater fight! Who will be the champion? 

This nonfiction read compares and contrasts 16 ferocious sharks. Readers will learn about each animal’s anatomy, behavior, and more. Then, they’ll the animals will compete before finally revealing the winner!  

Ultimate Shark Rumble’s fun format will appeal to most readers. Each page has large pictures of sharks as well as shark facts, true stories, language facts, and definitions. For example, one fun fact is that “some Native Hawaiians believe that tiger sharks are the spirits of their ancestors.” Each “shark rumble” explains the characteristics of each shark as well as which shark would win in a battle. The pictures show the battles, including a shark’s sharp teeth biting another shark; while not gory, some blood is shown.  

Anyone who wants to learn more about sharks needs to read Ultimate Shark Rumble. Similar to a picture book, each page has a full-page illustration. With six to eleven simple sentences per page, Ultimate Shark Rumble is accessible to most readers. However, younger readers may need help with some of the vocabulary such as cartilage, positioned, caudal fins, and remoras.  

Ultimate Shark Rumble is jam-packed with interesting shark information. The nonfiction book will spark readers’ attention and make them want to learn more about sharks. The Who Would Win? Series has 20+ books that will satisfy all kinds of animal fans. Readers who want to take a bite out of more shark-related books should add The Great Shark Escape by Jennifer Johnston and Shark Lady by Jess Keating. 

Sexual Content 

  • None 

Violence 

  • In each shark rumble, the text explains which shark would win and why. For example, in a fight between a hammerhead shark and a tiger shark, “the tiger shark glides to the side and bites off one of the hammerhead’s eyes. The hammerhead is in trouble. The tiger shark then bites it in the back. Tiger shark wins!”

Drugs and Alcohol 

  • None

Language 

  • None 

Supernatural 

  • None 

Spiritual Content 

  • None 

She Persisted: Maria Tallchief

Maria “Betty” Tallchief was one of the most famous American ballerinas who trailblazed onto the international ballet scene, but her rise to prima ballerina did not come easy. As another installment in the She Persisted series, Maria’s story follows her from her early years through her rise to international stardom.

Maria Tallchief was raised as part of the Osage Nation in Oklahoma and moved to California as a child. Her mother signed Maria up for ballet, and she loved it. Although she faced adversity because of her mixed heritage, she persisted because she loved the sport. Desiring to be a professional ballerina, Maria worked hard and moved to New York City to pursue her dreams.

To help her stand out in the ballet world, “Betty” was encouraged to change her name. While she changed her first name to Maria, she adamantly refused to change her last name from Tallchief, as she was proud of her Osage heritage. Because of Maria’s hard work, she became one of the most famous American ballerinas, and she became the first American to dance with the Paris Opera Ballet and work with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, the famed Russian ballet company. Most famously, she performed the role of the Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker

Among her other notable achievements as a ballerina, her signature role Firebird helped launch her fame, and she became the first American to perform at the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow. Even in retirement, Maria continued to dedicate her time to ballet, moving to Chicago and opening her own ballet studio. She also continued her work in fighting for Native American rights in the United States, proudly speaking of her Osage heritage. Many organizations in Oklahoma to this day have dance studios and awards in her honor, including the University of Oklahoma’s Maria Tallchief Endowed Scholarship, which provides financial assistance to college-level dance students.

Young readers will find Maria Tallchief’s story engaging even if they don’t understand the magnitude of her fame and the scope of her impact on the ballet world. To help keep readers engaged, the book has short chapters and black-and-white illustrations that appear every three to five pages. Maria’s perseverance shines throughout the book and will appeal to a wide audience. 

Readers who enjoyed Dancing in the Wings by Debbie Allen and other biographies will enjoy Maria’s story because both books show that dreams can come true. She Persisted: Maria Tallchief 

ends with a list of ways that readers can be like Maria and highlights the importance of working hard to achieve your dreams. She Persisted: Maria Tallchief will appeal to readers interested in dance; however, it is also a worthwhile book for all young girls to read because it encourages chasing your dreams through dedication and passion, even in the face of adversity. For more inspirational dance-inspired stories twirl to the library and check out Parker Shines On by Parker Curry & Jessica Curry and Tallulah’s Ice Skates by Marilyn Singer.

Sexual Content 

  • None

Violence 

  • To help readers understand Maria’s upbringing, the book gives a brief overview of the Osage Nation. The narrator describes, “In the 1800s, the Osages and other Native Nations suffered in the area known as Indian Territory, which got smaller and smaller until it made up only most of what is now the state of Oklahoma . . . many Osage children were sent to boarding schools, and Osage elders could only share their histories and traditions in secret.”

Drugs and Alcohol 

  • Maria developed arthritis later in her life, and she treated it with “herbs and Tylenol.”

Language 

  • Maria was often bullied by classmates for being Osage. Classmates made “war whoops” whenever they saw her. They asked her why she didn’t wear feathers in her hair. In addition, they made racist, hurtful comments about her father. They made fun of her last name, pretending to be confused by whether it was Tall or Chief.

Supernatural

  • None

Spiritual Content 

  • Maria is part of the Osage nation in Oklahoma, and they have their own religious beliefs and practices. The book notes that her parents “took the family to powwows held in remote corners of the Osage reservation. If they had been caught, they could have gotten in trouble. At the time, Native American ceremonies and gatherings were illegal. (And they would remain illegal until Congress passed the American Indian Religious Freedom Act in 1978, when Betty was fifty-three years old!)”

What If You Had Animal Hair!?

If you could have any animal’s hair, whose would you choose? If you chose a polar bear’s double coat, you would never have to wear a hat when playing in the snow. If you had a reindeer’s hair, it would help you stay afloat in water. And if you had a porcupine’s hair, no bully would ever bother you again! The animal kingdom has lots of awesome types of hair, but yours is pretty great, too!

If you love animals and want to learn more about their hair, then you must read What If You Had Animal Hair!? The simple, entertaining format uses a two-page spread that features a photographic image of the animal and its hair on the left and an illustration of a child with that animal’s hair on the right. The large pictures of children with animal hair are so humorous they will cause giggles.

While What If You Had Animal Hair!? is intended for younger readers, it will appeal to older readers because of the interesting facts and fun illustrations. Each two-page spread has seven to eight complex sentences that beginning readers will need an adult to read aloud to them. Despite this, the story is a quick read that is informative as well as entertaining. Readers will not only learn about familiar animals such as a lion and a zebra but also less familiar animals such as a pangolin and a star-nosed mole.

Introduce a child to non-fiction text by reading What If You Had Animal Hair!? The fun format, silly photos, and engaging text will entertain as it teaches children about animal hair. For more fun facts, fly over to the library and grab a copy of 13 Ways to Eat a Fly by Sue Heavenrich.

Sexual Content 

  • None

Violence 

  • None

Drugs and Alcohol 

  • None

Language 

  • None

Supernatural

  • None

Spiritual Content 

  • None

She Persisted: Claudette Colvin

Children are often taught about Rosa Parks refusing to give up her seat on the bus, but before her, there was Claudette Colvin, a teenage girl from Montgomery, Alabama. Strongly influenced by her Christian upbringing and her staunch belief in racial equality, Claudette Colvin was almost the face of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States. The chapter book She Persisted: Claudette Colvin recounts her life and her impact on the Civil Rights Movement.

Born in Alabama and sent to live with her aunt and uncle at a young age, Claudette spent a lot of her time at church, so much so that when she would play with her sister, they would pretend to be at church. For Claudette, who lived in the Jim Crow-era south, the church touted the importance of being a good person, of perseverance and equality. These tenets in Claudette’s life became even more pronounced after her sister’s death from polio, and these themes are strongly referenced throughout the book. For instance, in the wake of Delphine’s death and the end of segregation in schools, Claudette “was learning there were plenty of other ways she could fight.”

When Claudette was 15 years old she moved to a new high school. New bus laws had been enacted, but this did not mean that white people necessarily followed them. One day Claudette was sitting on the bus when the bus driver demanded that she give up her seat to a white passenger. Knowing the law and her rights, Claudette refused. Quickly, she was removed by several police officers who treated her poorly, using racial slurs and violence. Claudette did not fight back.

The local government and police force were against Claudette, but the local chapter of the NAACP worked to build a case for Claudette to fight this injustice. Her case sparked a massive bus boycott in Montgomery. Despite their efforts, Claudette was found guilty of breaking the law. Just nine months after Claudette’s case, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on the bus as well.

To help keep readers engaged, the book has short chapters and black-and-white illustrations that appear every three to five pages. Kids may need help understanding certain references in the book such as the NAACP, Rosa Parks, and the United States Constitution. Despite this, Claudette’s story is one that kids will be able to understand as it is fundamentally about fairness, justice, and equality.

The Montgomery of Claudette’s childhood would look very different after she took a stand that day since her actions helped lead to desegregation on buses. Claudette’s fearless behavior is inspirational, and this book gives a great example of a young girl standing up for what is right rather than doing what is expected of her. Much like the other She Persisted books, there is a list of ways to be like Claudette in the back of the book, including, “Know your rights. Visit your local library and ask for help in learning more about state and local laws,” and, “Read a copy of the Constitution.” Claudette Colvin’s story is less known than Rosa Parks’, but Claudette is worth reading about at any age. Readers who want to learn more about the civil rights movement should also read A Girl Named Rosa by Denise Lewis Patrick. Readers can find more inspirational stories in Bold Women in Black History by Vashti Harrison.

Sexual Content 

  • None

Violence 

  • Claudette is arrested for refusing to give up her spot on the city bus. The narrator describes, “One of the officers grabbed her hands, the other grabbed her arm and they pulled her out of her seat and into the aisle. Her schoolbooks tumbled onto the floor. As they dragged her backward down the aisle and off the bus, one of the officers kicked her.” This event is described over several paragraphs.
  • The narrator describes how the boycott on the city buses ended in Montgomery. “To intimidate them…protestors were fired from jobs, received death threats, and were even bombed in their homes. Many were the victims of violence.” 
  • Claudette is arrested and put in a police car. “Crying Claudette became more and more afraid as she listened to officers of the law call her every horrible word white people called Black people.” 

Drugs and Alcohol 

  • None

Language 

  • When Claudette is unfairly found guilty, there is a newspaper headline that reads, “Negro Girl Guilty of Violation of City Bus Segregation Law.”

Supernatural

  • None

Spiritual Content 

  • Religion was a large part of Claudette’s formative years. The narrator mentions that “Reverend H.H. Johnson traveled from Montgomery to Pine Level to preach the Sunday service on what folks called Big Meeting Sunday. From midday to well after dark, Claudette sat with her parents in the pews through regular service, selections from the choir and the glee club, Reverend Johnson’s afternoon sermon, early supper, Reverend Johnson’s evening sermon and a late supper.” 
  • As a child, Claudette loved church so much that she “set up chairs in her backyard, sang hymns, read scripture and shouted out sermons with her best friend.”
  • The narrator says Claudette Colvin “loved learning and God in equal measure.”
  • Claudette wonders, “When [her dog] dies, will she go to heaven?”
  • Racism and religion meet when Claudette is little. The narrator notes, “In Sunday school, the Bible taught that God created everyone equal, but Claudette wondered, why aren’t Black people treated as equals?”
  • Passages from different prayers are included in the book. For example, Claudette prays the beginning of the Lord’s Prayer, saying, “Our Father, who art in heaven / hallowed be thy name. / Thy kingdom come, / thy will be done…”
  • When Claudette’s sister, Delphine, dies of polio, Claudette questions God and asks, “Why Delphine?”
  • At church, Reverend Johnson “led the entire congregation in prayer for the young woman who stood up to racism.”
  • Before testifying in court, Claudette “bowed her head in prayer.”

What If You Had Animal Teeth!?

If you could have any animal’s front teeth, whose would you choose?

What If You Had Animal Teeth?! takes children on a fun, informative, and imaginative journey as they explore what it would be like if their own front teeth were replaced by those of a different animal. Featuring a dozen animals, including a beaver, a great white shark, a narwhal, an elephant, a rattlesnake, and more, this book explores how different teeth are specially adapted for an animal’s survival. And at the end of the book, children will discover why their own teeth are just right for them. They’ll also get a friendly reminder to take good care of their teeth because they are the only teeth they’ll ever have.

If you love animals and want to learn more about their teeth, then you must read What If You Had Animal Teeth?! The simple, entertaining format uses a two-page spread that features a photographic image of the animal and its teeth on the left paired with an illustration of a child with that animal’s teeth on the right. The large pictures of children with animal teeth are so humorous they will cause giggles.

While What If You Had Animal Teeth?! is intended for younger readers, it will appeal to older readers because of the interesting facts and fun illustrations. Each two-page spread has seven to eight complex sentences that beginning readers will need an adult to read aloud to them. Despite this, the story is a quick read that is informative as well as entertaining. 

One of the best aspects of the book is the fun facts that appear for each animal. For example, readers will learn that hippo teeth were used for dentures and were even worn by President George Washington. What If You Had Animal Teeth?! is both entertaining and educational. While many children aren’t interested in learning about teeth, What If You Had Animal Teeth?! is such a fun book that kids will be eager to read it as well as other books in the series. 

Sexual Content 

  • None

Violence 

  • None

Drugs and Alcohol 

  • None

Language 

  • None

Supernatural

  • None

Spiritual Content 

  • None

Ham-Ham-Hamsters

Did you know that some hamsters live in the wild? Did you know that hamsters carry food inside their cheeks? Their tiny feet scamper across cages and sprint on exercise wheels. Their little noses sniff the air and their whiskers twitch as they stuff their cheeks with food. As some of the most adorable members of the rodent family, hamsters make very popular pets. Especially in the classroom! In this non-fiction read, kids will learn all about how to care for these cute critters.

As part of the Penguin Young Readers Series, Ham-Ham-Hamsters is perfect for progressing readers who are ready for longer sentences that are still accompanied by pictures and context clues. Each page has one to four sentences and a large picture that will help readers understand a hamster’s habits. This nonfiction book is full of facts and photos that will engage young readers. 

Little readers who love animals will find lots of interesting facts about hamsters, including how to care for them, different types of hamsters, and how they live in the wild. Each page has a cute picture of a hamster that readers will adore. But beware: reading Ham-Ham-Hamsters will make readers want a hamster for a pet! If you’ve ever wondered what the classroom pet does when all the kids are gone for the day, read Pets on the Loose by Victoria Jamieson; it is sure to entertain and delight young readers.

Sexual Content 

  • None

Violence 

  • None

Drugs and Alcohol 

  • None

Language 

  • None

Supernatural

  • None

Spiritual Content 

  • None

She Persisted: Florence Griffith Joyner

Considered the fastest woman of all time, Florence Griffith Joyner, also known as Flo Jo, set two world records in 1988 that still stand today. But getting there wasn’t easy, and Flo Jo had to overcome many challenges along the way. The book begins with Florence’s early childhood when she raced her siblings and the jackrabbits that lived in the Mojave Desert. As she raced the jackrabbits, she “got faster and faster. Then one day she caught a jackrabbit.”

Florence loved running and she loved fashion. When Florence began school, the other kids teased her about her clothes, but Florence’s mother taught her to “just move on.” This mantra served Florence throughout her life. Florence persisted in reaching her goals even when circumstances were unfair. When others doubted her, Florence just worked harder.

After overcoming many obstacles, Florence won silver at the 1984 Olympics for the 200-meter race. Despite medaling, Florence was disappointed in herself. “She did not want to be remembered as being second best,” and she vowed to do better in the next Olympics. Throughout her running career, Florence still had many other interests, including fashion. Florence continued to embrace bright colors and she even “found ways to stand out in her colorfully self-styled track outfits.” In the end, Florence embraced both her love of fashion and her love of running.

She Persisted: Florence Griffith Joyner introduces young readers to an Olympian who was known as the fastest runner in the world. The chapter book gives glimpses of Florence’s early years, her family life, as well as the racial and economic obstacles that she overcame. Through her can-do attitude and her ability to move past hardship, Florence trained and pushed herself until she reached her goals. However, Florence also continued expressing her artistic side through her fashion and by painting, writing, and even acting. In 1993, Florence was named as co-chair to the President’s Council on Physical Fitness; she used this platform to help “educate children about the importance of exercise, healthy eating and excelling.”

Despite those who doubted Florence’s ability, she never gave up. She said, “when anyone tells me I can’t do something. . . I’m just not listening anymore.” Florence’s story will encourage readers to work hard and persevere through difficult situations. Her encouraging story highlights the importance of staying true to yourself. While educating children, Florence said, “I always encourage kids to reach beyond their dreams. Don’t try to be like me. Be better than me.” 

Florence’s story includes fun anecdotes from her childhood that will pull children into the book. To help keep readers engaged, the book has short chapters and black-and-white illustrations that appear every three to five pages. The book is packed full of information about Florence’s life, and while younger readers may not understand the significance of some of the events, they will be inspired by Florence’s attitude and accomplishments. The book ends with advice on how readers can be like Florence.

She Persisted: Florence Griffith Joyner is the perfect book for adults to read to a child. The encouraging book reinforces the importance of persistence as well as teaching other important life lessons. For more inspiring biographies, add these picture books to your list: Fauja Singh Keeps Going by Simran Jeet Singh and Emmanuel’s Dream by Laurie Ann Thompson & Sean Qualls.

Sexual Content 

  • None

Violence 

  • Joyner’s family moved to the same neighborhood where the Watts Rebellion took place. The rebellion began when “white police officers attempted to arrest a Black motorist who was suspected of drunk driving. A scuffle ensued between the man and the police. . . the scuffle had turned quickly into police brutality.”
  • One of Florence’s competitors, Valerie Brisco, dedicated her races to her brother, who was “a track star who had been killed by a stray bullet while he worked out.” 

Drugs and Alcohol 

  • When Florence won multiple gold medals during the Olympics, “murmurs and whispers spread rapidly. Many believed Florene cheated by using illegal drugs to make her stronger, increase her stamina and allow her to run faster.” Even though all the drug tests came back negative, rumors still spread.

Language 

  • None

Supernatural

  • None

Spiritual Content 

  • When having a difficult time, Florence’s “mother reminded Florence to keep God near, while her father reminded her that she could face any challenge.”
  • For a time, Florence doubted herself which caused her to pray daily. 

She Persisted in Science: Brilliant Women Who Made a Difference

Throughout history, women have been told that science isn’t for them. They’ve been told they are not smart enough, or that their brains just aren’t able to handle it. In this book, Chelsea Clinton introduces readers to women scientists who didn’t listen to those who told them “no” and who used their smarts, skills, and persistence to discover, invent, and create.

She Persisted in Science is for everyone who’s ever had questions about the world around them or the way things work—the kind of people who won’t give up until they find their answers.

She Persisted in Science shows how many women from different backgrounds made groundbreaking contributions to science. This book features Florence Nightingale, Rebecca Lee Crumpler, Ynes Enriquetta Julietta Mexia, Grace Hopper, Rosalind Franklin, Gladys West, Jane Goodall, Flossie Wong-Staal, Temple Grandin, Zaha Hadid, Ellen Ochoa, Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, Mari Copeny, Autumn Peltier, Greta Thunberg, and Wanjiru Wathuti.

Each person is introduced in a two-page spread. One page includes a short introduction of the woman. Both pages have a beautiful picture that highlights each woman’s passion. While most of the women are adults, the book also includes teenager Mari Copeny, who helped bring Flint, Michigan’s water situation into the public’s light. Her story shows that “You’re never too young or too small to change the world.” 

Because of the advanced vocabulary, She Persisted in Science will need to be read aloud to a child, rather than for the child to read it independently. However, the book is an excellent way to introduce a wide variety of women who overcame obstacles and made their dreams come true. Many of the biographies explain how these women from the past are still impacting today’s world. For example, Rosalind Franklin studied DNA and her work “is still being used today by scientists investigating many viruses, including the virus that caused COVID-19.”  

She Persisted in Science will encourage readers to reach for their dreams and explore the world around them. While many of the women featured in the book needed higher education to pursue their careers, other women impacted the world through activism. In the end, these diverse women and their amazing accomplishments highlight that “the world. . . should be full of people raising their voices, using their power and presence, standing up for what is right.”

Sexual Content 

  • None

Violence 

  • None

Drugs and Alcohol 

  • None

Language   

  • None

Supernatural

  • None

Spiritual Content 

  • None

Swish!: The Slam-Dunking, Alley-Ooping, High-Flying Harlem Globetrotters

In this book you will find one-finger ball-spinning, rapid-fire mini-dribbling, and a ricochet head shot! You will find skilled athletes, expert players, and electrifying performers — all rolled into one! You will find nonstop, give-it-all-you’ve-got, out-to-win-it, sky’s-the-limit BASKETBALL!

You will find The Harlem Globetrotters, who played the most groundbreaking, breathtaking ball the world had ever seen. With rhythmic writing and dynamic illustrations, Swish! is a celebration of the greatness, goodness, and grit of this remarkable team.

Swish! uses a fun format to show how The Harlem Globetrotters’ accomplishments shaped basketball history. Each full-page illustration has bright colors and many of them contain humorous elements. The book also includes the racial segregation of the time and explains how it affected the players. Even though the Globetrotters’ games often sold out, “as soon as the game ended, the cheers stopped. The tired, hungry players weren’t always welcome in hotels or restaurants. They couldn’t use most gas station restrooms or phones.” 

Even though the Globetrotters were amazing athletes, people thought they should not be allowed to play in the MBA because only white players were allowed. That started to change when the Globetrotters challenged the Minnesota Lakers to a game—and won! Many thought the Globetrotters’ win was a fluke until they played the Lakers again—and won! NBA team owners finally realized that “their ‘whites only’ rule seemed ridiculous.” 

Not only did the Globetrotters open the door to the MBA for black players, but they also traveled the world with amazing crowds, and “they also made thousands of new friends, met popes, princesses, and presidents, and even sipped tea with the queen of England!” 

Slam! is a fun and educational book that shows the power of persistence. The text not only brings the Globetrotters’ story to life, but it’s also fun to read aloud. The text uses alliteration, oversized color font, and other elements that give the story added pizzazz. Slam! is sure to please basketball fans as well as readers who aren’t into sports. Plus, the book will encourage readers to dream big as well as to use their skills to make the world a better place. Basketball fans who want to bounce into the realm of fiction should check out the series STAT: Standing Tall and Talented by Amar’e Stoudemire.

Sexual Content 

  • None

Violence 

  • None

Drugs and Alcohol 

  • None

Language   

  • None

Supernatural

  • None

Spiritual Content 

  • None

Bold Women in Black History

Featuring 40 trailblazing black women in history, this book educates and inspires as it relates true stories of women who broke boundaries and exceeded all expectations. Irresistible illustrations bring to life both iconic and lesser-known female figures of black history, such as chemist Alice Ball, pilot Bessie Coleman, abolitionist Harriet Tubman, poet Gwendolyn Brooks, mathematician Katherine Johnson, filmmaker Julie Dash and astronaut Mae Jemison

Among these biographies, readers will find heroes, role models, and everyday women who did extraordinary things—bold women whose actions and beliefs contributed to making the world better for generations of girls and women to come. Whether they were putting pen to paper, soaring through the air, or speaking up for the rights of others, the women profiled in these pages were taking a stand against a world that didn’t always accept them. 

Bold Women in Black History is an excellent educational book that will introduce readers to women who have changed the world. The interesting stories show a wide range of women who each used their unique talents to make a difference. The short biographies are interesting and will spark readers’ interest and make them want to learn more about these bold women. In addition, the book celebrates a wide range of women, including singers, astronauts, educators, athletes, and more. Bold Women in Black History shows readers that perseverance and dedication can make dreams come true. It also highlights women who persisted through difficult times, such as Harriet Tubman who “was always looking to help other people. What little she had she gave to others. She lived in poverty most of her life and donated her time, money, and property to people in need.” 

Each brave woman is introduced on a two-page spread that includes a one-page illustration. While the biographical information is relatively short with 4 to 5 paragraphs, younger readers will need help in order to tackle the difficult language. While the format of Bold Women in Black History uses fun illustrations that will appeal to young readers, this is not a book that should be read in one sitting for several reasons. Since the book features 40 women, readers will need to have time to absorb the information. Plus, the advanced language will give some readers difficulties. 

Inspire readers to make the world a better place by introducing them to the women in Bold Women in Black History. To motivate readers even more, add She Persisted in Sports by Chelsea Clinton to your library. Both books have a positive message that features women who have overcome challenges and made their dreams come true.

Sexual Content 

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Violence 

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Drugs and Alcohol 

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Supernatural

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Testing the Ice: A True Story About Jackie Robinson

Sharon Robinson, the daughter of baseball legend Jackie Robinson, has crafted a heartwarming, true story about growing up with her father.

When Jackie Robinson retires from baseball and moves his family to Connecticut, the beautiful lake on their property is the center of everyone’s fun. The neighborhood children join the Robinson kids for swimming and boating. But oddly, Jackie never goes near the water. In a dramatic episode that first winter, the children beg to go ice skating on the lake. Jackie says they can go—but only after he tests the ice to make sure it’s safe. The children prod and push to get Jackie outside, until hesitantly, he finally goes. Like a blind man with a stick, Jackie makes sure the ice is safe to play on. 

Testing the Ice is a metaphor for Jackie Robinson’s legendary breaking of the color barrier in Major League Baseball. While the book introduces Jackie by discussing his role in Major League Baseball, the story focuses on his family’s move to Connecticut and Jackie’s refusal to go into the water. While the two events show Jackie’s bravery, younger readers will need help connecting the two events and understanding the story’s deeper meaning. 

Even though Testing the Ice is a picture book, the story is intended to be read aloud to a child, rather than for the child to read it for the first time independently. Unlike most picture books, Testing the Ice uses some difficult vocabulary and complex sentences that make it more appropriate for older readers. Many of the pages are text heavy and have up to 16 sentences on the page. The realistic illustrations often feature Jackie’s family as well as the neighbor’s children, which makes Jackie more relatable. 

Sharon Robinson’s childhood experience will allow readers to see Jackie Robinson’s bravery through new eyes. Sharon’s love and pride in her father is evident, and readers will come to understand why Sharon believed that, “My dad is the bravest man alive.” Readers who are interested in learning more about Jackie Robinson and sports history should also read Miss Mary Reporting by Sue Macy.

Sexual Content 

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Violence 

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Drugs and Alcohol 

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Language   

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Supernatural

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Spiritual Content 

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