Here’s a closer look at some of the new nonfiction books in the CA Library collection, with suggested curriculum connections. Teachers, if you are interested in finding out more about how you might integrate narrative nonfiction into the curriculum, let me know!
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Astrophysics For People In A Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson — What is the nature of space and time? How do we fit within the universe? How does the universe fit within us? There’s no better guide through these mind-expanding questions than acclaimed astrophysicist and best-selling author Neil deGrasse Tyson, who brings the universe down to Earth succinctly and clearly. “Even readers normally averse to anything to do with physics or chemistry will find Tyson’s wittily delivered explanations compelling and disarmingly entertaining” (Booklist).
Be The One: Six True Stories of Teens Overcoming Hardship With Hope by Byron Pitts — ABC News chief national correspondent and Nightline coanchor Byron Pitts shares the heartbreaking and inspiring stories of six young people who overcame impossible circumstances with extraordinary perseverance. “They beat the odds against them — surviving and later thriving — despite the torments of abandonment, sexual abuse, bullying, war, drug addiction, mental illness, and violence. Pitts’s sensitive storytelling and deep empathy for young people provide the backdrop for these compelling narratives” (School Library Journal).
Choose To Matter: Your Guide To Being Courageously You by Julie Foudy — Two-time Olympic Gold Medalist and former captain of the US women’s national soccer team Foudy takes readers on a journey to discover their authentic selves, believing every young woman has the power to be a leader who makes a positive impact. Along with sharing stories from her playing days and personal experiences, Julie taps into the wisdom of other incredible female leaders including “Good Morning America” anchor Robin Roberts, soccer stars Mia Hamm and Alex Morgan, and Facebook superwoman and Lean In founder Sheryl Sandberg. “Foudy offers easy exercises for readers and asks them to develop a “choose to matter” plan as a way to improve their community. Large collections could use this title to foster leadership skills” (School Library Journal).
Compassionate Soldier: Remarkable True Stories of Mercy, Heroism and Honor From The Battlefield by Jerry Borrowman — Arranged by war from the American Revolution to the Iraq War and global in perspective, this book features extraordinary stories of grace under fire from valiant soldiers and noncombatants who rose above the inhumanity of lethal conflict and chose compassion, even knowing their actions could put their lives and liberty at risk. “A top choice for proficient readers of military history” (School Library Journal).
Civilianized: A Young Veteran’s Memoir by Michael Anthony — After twelve months of military service in Iraq, Michael Anthony stepped off a plane, seemingly happy to be home–or at least back on US soil. He was twenty-one years old, a bit of a nerd, and carrying a pack of cigarettes that he thought would be his last. Two months later, Michael was stoned on Vicodin, drinking way too much, and picking a fight with a very large Hell’s Angel. Civilianized is a memoir chronicling Michael’s search for meaning in a suddenly destabilized world. “Teens who have grown up witnessing America’s involvement in wars and who may know veterans who experienced warfare firsthand will be drawn to this raw, unsentimental memoir. This fast, immersive work will especially appeal to reluctant readers for its grittiness and humor” (School Library Journal).
Come On In, America: The United States In World War I by Linda Barrett Osborne — On April 6, 1917, the United States declared war on Germany and joined World War I. German submarine attacks on American ships in March 1917 were the overt motive for declaring war, but the underlying reasons were far more complex. Even after the United States officially joined, Americans were divided on whether they should be a part of it. Osborne explores not only how and why the United States joined World War I, but also the events–at home and overseas–that changed the course of American history. “A study of World War I offers a context for discussing world events today, so this volume is a good bet for libraries and classrooms—a well-written treatment that can replace dry textbook accounts. A slim volume big on historical information and insight” (Kirkus Reviews).
Deep Water by Katherine Nichols — This true crime story begins in Coronado, a small southern California beach town, in 1971. For seventeen-year-old Eddie Otero, a skilled waterman and avid surfer, life is simple. Then a friend makes him an offer: Swim an illicit package across the border from Mexico. The intense workout is dangerous. Thrilling. Lucrative. And the beginning of a small business. When the young entrepreneurs involve their former high school Spanish teacher, the smuggling adventure grows into a one hundred million dollar global operation. Soon they become fugitives. Living on the edge, they vow to return to their normal lives–right after one last run. “Deeply researched and evocative, Nichols’ narrative clearly illustrates where a single bad decision can lead. As events unfold, readers experience the emotional roller coaster inherent to dangerous, illegal activities. Readers who love true crime will find themselves engrossed in this true tale of excess” (Booklist).
Dust Bowl Girls: The Inspiring Story of the Team That Barnstormed Its Way To Basketball Glory by Lydia Reeder — The Boys in the Boat meets A League of Their Own in this true story of a Depression-era championship women’s basketball team. In the early 1930s, Sam Babb began to dream. Like so many others, this charismatic Midwestern basketball coach wanted a reason to have hope. Traveling from farm to farm near the tiny Oklahoma college where he coached, Babb recruited talented, hardworking young women and offered them a chance at a better life: a free college education in exchange for playing on his basketball team, the Cardinals. Despite their fears of leaving home and the sacrifices that their families would face, the women joined the team. And as Babb coached the Cardinals, something extraordinary happened. These remarkable athletes found a passion for the game and a heartfelt loyalty to one another and their coach–and they began to win. “[Reeder’s] personable narrative is as much about the daily lives of the players as it is about the sport of basketball, and young adults will love details that bring the time and place to life. Useful for curriculum support, this compelling offering makes for good recreational reading, too. Hand it to anyone who relishes a good sports underdog tale” (School Library Journal).
Hidden Human Computers: The Black Women of NASA by Sue Bradford Edwards — Explores how black women made critical contributions to NASA in the 1950s by performing calculations that made it possible for the nation’s astronauts to fly into space and return safely to Earth. “Archival photos and sidebars enhance the appealing text, which concludes with a brief look at black women who made more advances as astronauts. Extensive back matter, including a time line, facts, additional resources, and a glossary, extend the research value. An essential purchase for STEM collections” (Booklist).
How Dare The Sun Rise: Memoirs of a War Child by Sandra Uwiringiyimana — This profoundly moving memoir is the remarkable and inspiring true story of Sandra Uwiringiyimana, a girl from the Democratic Republic of the Congo who tells the tale of how she survived a massacre, immigrated to America, and overcame her trauma through art and activism. “This title is a critical piece of literature, contributing to the larger refugee narrative in a way that is complex and nuanced but still accessible for a YA audience…a must-have for teen collections” (School Library Journal).
A New Model: What Confidence, Beauty and Power Really Look Like by Ashley Graham — Model Ashley Graham shares the story of her life and career, from her childhood in Nebraska to smashing beauty standards in New York City as the first plus-size supermodel to grace the cover of Sports Illustrated. “A public figure who embraces social media, she understands that comments—sometimes shockingly hurtful—about her body will be tossed around carelessly, but from her unique position she is working on a different conversation, of body diversity and inclusion for all women. Positive, understanding, and uplifting” (Booklist).
PhilanthroParties: A Party-Planning Guide For Kids Who Want To Give Back by Lulu Cerone — PhilanthroParties are “parties with a purpose.” In 2010, then ten-year-old Lulu Cerone was deeply affected by the earthquake in Haiti. She set out to raise money for Haitian relief by selling lemonade, but she upped the ante on the classic lemonade stand: she got her entire class to participate, boys against girls. Their lemonade “war” raised $4,000! Now seventeen, Lulu is bringing her message of social activism to kids and teens around the world, showing them how to have fun while taking action, giving back, and generally having an impact on the world and the communities they live in. “An excellent, well-organized resource for schools or youth organizations” (School Library Journal).
Racial Profiling: Everyday Inequality by Alison Marie Behnke — The high-profile deaths of unarmed people of color at the hands of police officers have brought renewed national attention to racial profiling and have inspired grassroots activism from groups such as Black Lives Matter. Combining rigorous research with powerful personal stories, Racial Profiling explores the history, the many manifestations, and the consequences of this form of social injustice. “The extensive back matter makes this valuable for research. [This is] a mandatory addition to teen collections for discussions on inequality and social justice” (School Library Journal).
Rest In Power: The Enduring Life of Trayvon Martin by Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin — This portrait of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed teen killed by a neighborhood watchman in 2012, shares previously untold insights into the movement he inspired from the perspectives of his parents, who also describe their efforts to bring meaning to his short life through the movement’s pursuit of redemption and justice. “Highly recommended. This historic memoir captures the heartbreak of loss complicated by a broken legal system, and will appeal to anyone interested in the ongoing struggle for civil rights” (Library Journal).
The Science of Science Fiction by Matthew Brenden Wood — Explore the science behind classic and modern science fiction stories, including artificial intelligence, androids, and the search for alien life, and learn how cutting edge concepts, including time dilation and genetic manipulation, influence today’s fiction. “Jam-packed with high-interest material, this selection will be useful for science classes or literature units that cover the books mentioned within” (School Library Journal).
Sioux Code Talkers of World War II by Andrea M. Page — Many have heard of the role of the Navajo Code Talkers during World War II, but less well-known are the Sioux Code Talkers, who used the Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota dialects as a secure, reliable means of coded communication. Told by the great-niece of John Bear King, who served in the First Cavalry as a Sioux Code Talker, this informative title explores not only the importance of the indigenous peoples to the war but also their culture and values. “A valuable work for teens studying code talkers and American Indian contributions to the U.S. victory in the Pacific theater” (School Library Journal).
A Soldier’s Sketchbook: The Illustrated First World War Diary of R.H. Rabjohn by John Wilson — Private Rabjohn was a trained artist, and as such he was assigned to draw dugouts and map newly captured trenches. This allowed him to carry an artist’s sketchbook on the battlefield – a freedom he put to good use, drawing everything he saw. Author John Wilson brings his skills as a historian and researcher to bear, carefully curating the diary to provide context and tell the story of Private Rabjohn’s war. “This unique compilation of firsthand impressions of the Great War will be a valuable resource for adults and teens with an interest in this turning point in world history” (Kirkus Reviews).
Talking Guitar: Conversations with Musicians Who Shaped Twentieth-Century American Music by Jas Obrecht — In this lively collection of interviews, music writer Jas Obrecht presents a celebration of the world’s most popular instrument as seen through the words, lives, and artistry of some of its most beloved players. In their own words, these guitar players reveal how they found their inspirations, mastered their instruments, crafted classic songs, and created enduring solos. “For music fans, especially those with an affection for the guitar, it’s essential reading” (Booklist).
Vincent and Theo: The Van Gogh Brothers by Deborah Heiligman — The deep and enduring friendship between Vincent and Theo Van Gogh shaped both brothers’ lives. Confidant, champion, sympathizer, friend—Theo supported Vincent as he struggled to find his path in life. Meticulously researched, drawing on the 658 letters Vincent wrote to Theo during his lifetime, Heiligman weaves a tale of two lives intertwined and the extraordinary love of the Van Gogh brothers. “This illuminating glimpse into the Van Goghs’ turbulent lives and historical period will add compelling depth to readers’ understanding of the iconic painter. Art-loving teens will be captivated” (Booklist).
The Whydah: A Pirate Ship Feared, Wrecked and Found by Martin W. Sandler — The exciting true story of the captaincy, wreck, and discovery of the Whydah — the only pirate ship ever found — and the incredible mysteries it revealed. For more than two hundred years, the wreck of the Whydah (and the riches that went down with it) eluded treasure seekers, until the ship was finally found in 1984 by marine archaeologists. The artifacts brought up from the ocean floor are priceless, both in value and in the picture they reveal of life in that much-mythologized era, changing much of what we know about pirates. “Sandler’s approach to the Whydah and other submerged ships as “sunken time capsules” is an interesting angle that is sure to resonate with aspiring archaeologists. A captivating read on pirates, with insights into contemporary underwater research techniques” (School Library Journal).
We Have No Idea: A Guide To The Known Universe by Jorge Cham & Daniel Whiteson — Prepare to learn everything we still don’t know about our strange, mostly mysterious universe. PHD Comics creator Jorge Cham and particle physicist Daniel Whiteson have teamed up to spelunk through the enormous gaps in our cosmological knowledge, armed with their popular infographics, cartoons, and unusually entertaining and lucid explanations of science. “Its irreverent sensibility, clearheaded writing, and optimistic outlook make this a great read for reluctant science readers and even for young adults interested in the big ideas on the scientific horizon” (Booklist).