Game Changers: The Story of Venus and Serena Williams by Lesa Cline-Ransome

Game Changers: The Story of Venus and Serena WilliamsGame Changers: The Story of Venus and Serena Williams by Lesa Cline-Ransome; illustrated by James E. Ransome. 2018. Cut paper, pencil, and acrylic paints. Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.

Brief summary:  Six days a week, Venus and younger sister, Serena learn how to play tennis early in the morning on a public court after sweeping off the trash. Their three older sisters lose interest in tennis but not them! With hard work and determination, the sisters slowly start to win more and more tournaments and are soon able to compete in some of the most famous ones like the Australian Open, Wimbledon, New York City’s U.S. Open, and even the Olympics.   They began to gain fame and are known as the Sister Act, ranking first and second in the world.

Comments: This is a great book to teach grit! The rags to riches story is encouraging to those who are trying to beat the odds. Readers will learn that it does not matter what your background is as long as you excel at something, are determined, and willing to work really hard.

Afterword, Source Notes, Selected Bibliography, and Further Reading sections are in the back.

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All That Trash: The Story of the 1987 Garbage Barge and Our Problem with Stuff by Meghan McCarthy

All That Trash: The Story of the 1987 Garbage Barge and Our Problem with Stuff by Meghan McCarthy; illustrated by Meghan McCarthy. 2018. Illustrated with acrylic paint. Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.

Brief summary: In 1987, New York’s landfill was almost out of room.  Lowell Harrelson, owner of National Waste Contractors in Alabama, suggested to get rid of the 3, 186 tons of trash from New York City and Long Island by renting a barge(Mobro 4000) and a tugboat(Break of Dawn) and haul it to North Carolina where it would decompose creating methane gas to be used for energy. It was refused in North Carolina. The story goes on about the traveling story of this barge and tugboat being rejected everywhere.  It made national news and brought the need to recycle even clearer. Finally, a judge ruled for it to be burned.

Comments: What a great book to share at the beginning of a recycling unit. So many questions could be asked to get the students thinking. What would you have done with all that trash? Would could be done to prevent this from happening again? What would have happened to the sea if a storm came and dumped all of it into the water?

This book has several informational text features such as captions, diagrams, maps, and speech bubbles. The back of the book has an excellent bibliography and sections such as: Come Aboard the Break of Dawn, Garbage Barge Facts, Recycling Facts, Garbage Facts, and Ocean Facts.

Brave Jane Austen: Reader, Writer, Author, Rebel by Lisa Pliscou

Brave Jane Austen

Brave Jane Austen: Reader, Writer, Author, Rebel by Lisa Pliscou; illustrated by Jen Corace. 2018. Gouache, ink, acrylic, and pencil. Published by Henry Holt and Company.

Brief summary: Readers learn about Jane’s childhood in the 18th century including how children lived during that time; what they did; and the limitations of career choices especially with girls. Jane did not have the same dreams and did not follow the usual footsteps of women during that time period.  Although she lived in a large house with many brothers and sister and students of her father’s, the family does have periods of poverty. We learn how difficult it was for Ms. Austen to have her stories published and how she was inspired to keep writing despite the odds against her.

Comments: This narrative nonfiction book does not have a glossary or index in the back. It does have these back sections: From the Pen of Jane Austen, Jane’s Admirers, and Learning More About Jane Austen.  The biography does not go into deep detail of her life but does give readers an idea of what it was like to be raised as a female and the limited career options women had in the 18th/19th centuries. Students will learn that it was rebellious of Jane to not marry and write instead. It was not common for women to earn their own money.

Doing Her Bit: A Story About the Woman’s Land Army of America by Erin Hagar

Doing Her Bit: A Story About the Woman's Land Army of America by Erin Hagar

Doing Her Bit: A Story About the Woman’s Land Army by Erin Hagar; illustrated by Jen Hill. 2016. Painted in gouache and Adobe Photoshop.

Brief summary: This story is based on Helen Stevens’s life of becoming a 1917 Woman’s Land Army of America member and becoming a a farmerette. With many men away to fight in WWI, there was a shortage of farmers. There was a lot of doubt that women could do the hard farm work.  Women would go to camps to be trained and then to local farms to work thus feeding the country and allies.

Comments: This is another grit story about not giving up and getting the job done no matter how hard it became. There are photos on the front and back pages reminding us just how farming was in the early twentieth century unlike the agricultural technology we have now.

(I may get a commission for purchases made through links in this post through the Amazon Affiliate Program.  Books reviewed were checked out of the public library and not sent to me free for review).

Ada Lovelace, Poet of Science: The First Computer Programmer by Diane Stanley

Ada Lovelace, Poet of Science: The First Computer Programmer by Diane Stanley

Ada Lovelace, Poet of Science: The First Computer Programmer by Diane Stanley; illustrated by Jessie Hartland. 2016. Gouache.

Brief summary: Ada Lovelace, daughter of Lord Byron and math whiz Annabella, did not like the things and interests of other young women of her time. She co-worked with Charles Babbage to invent the Analytical Engine which could run any mathematical calculation by using punched cards and considered the first programmable all-purpose digital computer. Ada wrote the mathematical code. Ada wrote a scientific paper about the invention giving it scientific and mathematical attention. She translated the work from French to English.

Comments: Back pages explain  how  both scientists worked on the engine, but there was some concern of what each contributed.  Good addition for a coding study.

(I may get a commission for purchases made through links in this post through the Amazon Affiliate Program.  Books reviewed were checked out of the public library and not sent to me free for review).

Best in Snow by April Pulley Sayre

Best in Snow by April Pulley Sayre

Best in Snow by April Pulley Sayre; illustrated by April Pulley Sayre. 2016. Photography.

Brief summary: Superb photos of snow in nature with all its forms and shapes. Begins with snow on a squirrel’s nose and then explores how snow looks and forms in the forest with snow in its full water cycle and then ending on a squirrel’s nose again.

Comments: Very well done. You really need to see it to appreciate the beauty of this book. I can’t imagine the patience it took to get all of these high end photos of the various forms of snow and in the forest. I nominate this as the number one winter book this year. I would suggest pairing it with her companion that came out last year, Raindrops Roll. I can’t wait to see what she creates next.

raindropsroll

(I may get a commission for purchases made through links in this post through the Amazon Affiliate Program.  Books reviewed were checked out of the public library and not sent to me free for review).

Around America to Win the Vote: Two Suffragists, a Kitten, and 10,000 Miles by Mara Rockliff

Around America to Win the Vote: Two Suffragists, a Kitten, and 10,000 Miles by Mara Rockliff

Around America to Win the Vote: Two Suffragists, a Kitten, and 10,000 Miles by Mara Rockliff; illustrated by Hadley Hooper. 2016. “Pencil printmaking techniques then scanned and completed digitally.”

Brief summary: In 1916,  Nell Richardson and Alice Burke travel across America beginning in New York City traveling in a yellow car with a black kitten wearing a yellow ribbon. Roads in America at that time were more like dirt paths and without maps. They gave many speeches urging and encouraging that women had a right to vote. Sometimes they were well received, and sometimes not.

Comments: In the back of the book, there is an information page about the cross country car trip, an explanation of the color yellow, and a further reading section.  This could be shared around election time to help students understand the history women endured to just have the right to vote. It could inspire young girls to not take for granted this right and encourage them to give thanks to suffragists brave enough to fight for them.

Elizabeth Started All the Trouble by Doreen Rappaport

Elizabeth Started All the Trouble by Doreen Rappaport

Elizabeth Started All the Trouble by Doreen Rappaport; illustrated by Matt Faulkner. 2016.

Brief summary: This narrative nonfiction begins the women suffragists’ history with Abigail Adams urging her husband not to forget about the rights of the women when he and other men were drafting the Declaration of Independence and features other suffragists, women activists and women social reformers over the decades.

Comments: Sections in the back of the book include:  trailblazer biographies of some of the most famous women, important dates, selected research sources, websites, and author’s notes. This book could be used with intermediate, middle, and h.s. students for units of voting, women’s rights, and equality.

The Marvelous Thing That Came From a Spring: The Accidental Invention of the Toy That Swept the Nation by Gilbert Ford

The Marvelous Thing That Came From a Spring: The Accidental Invention of the Toy That Swept the Nation by Gilbert Ford

The Marvelous Thing That Came From a Spring: The Accidental Invention of the Toy That Swept the Nation by Gilbert Ford; illustrated by Gilbert Ford; photography by Greg Endries. 2016. “Drawn and colored digitally with found objects into dioramas, and photographed.”

Brief summary: Richard James worked as an engineer of the U.S. Navy in 1943 trying to invent an object that would keep ship equipment from vibrating when on the rough seas. A torsion spring fell onto his desk and bounced in an interesting way. He took it home where his son dropped it on the stairs and was amused how it appeared to walk down the steps. His wife came up with the name slinky which means “graceful and curvy in movement.” Mr. James had four hundred made and took them to several toy stores until one allowed him to demonstrate how it worked selling all 400 in ninety minutes. The couple created more with its instant popularity and built a small factory.

Comments: Mrs. James took over at this point, as her husband left to do missionary work in Bolivia. She advertised the slinky on television, which I found one of the commercials on youtube along with the famous song from my own childhood days. Betty James was inducted into the Toy Industry Hall of Fame. Narrative nonfiction/biography. Author’s notes. I found the illustrations to be unique and interesting.

Brave Like Me by Barbara Kerley

Brave Like Me by Barbara Kerley

Brave Like Me by Barbara Kerley; illustrated by National Geographic. 2016. Photography.

Brief summary: This book depicts a variety of parents in different military branches saying good-bye to their children before deployment.  It talks about how the children and soldiers cope with the worry and frustration of this separation. It encourages being brave and strong.

Comments: A narrative nonfiction. The large photos throughout include diversity of military branches, ethnic backgrounds, and female/male soldiers.  I like how this was a very real book about employment and  talks about the anxiety of separation for the children as well as the parents including  how to cope in the days to follow. These are actual families and includes a world map to show where the soldiers were stationed.  In the back of the book, there is a  section on separation  along with what brave means, who serves, a note to caregivers, and further resources sections. I’d like to see more patriotic books like this one. I plan to share this book with my students before Veterans’ Day.