Spot-Lit for January 2017

Spot-Lit

These titles – many from debut authors – are some of the most anticipated new releases of the month, based on advance reviews and book world enthusiasm.

Click here to see all of these titles in the Everett Public Library catalog, where you can read reviews or summaries and place holds. Or click on a book cover below to enlarge it, or to view the covers as a slide show.

All On-Order Fiction

Urban Lit and Iceberg Slim

Enjoy this new post from Sarah:

Urban lit are the type of books that normally take place in a big city, and can take on dark undertones, demonstrating the gritty side of urban living. These books can be graphic, explicit, and don’t always have happy endings.

Iceberg Slimstreetpoison (i.e. Robert Beck) is considered to be one of the great urban lit authors. Both Ice-T and Ice Cube pay homage to him in their names. His novel Pimp sold over 2 million copies, which is remarkable considering it never made it into mainstream bookstores and was primarily purchased in grocery stores and barber shops.

Robert Beck was born in Chicago and was exposed early on to life on the streets. He was mesmerized by women, pimps, and the possibility of easy and fast money. He briefly attended college, but was lured back to the streets and was determined to become the best pimp ever.

When he got incarcerated, he became a self-taught man, reading copious amounts of books in prison libraries. He also studied pimping from his fellow inmates, gleaning knowledge from an oral tradition known as the pimp book. To succeed at pimping, one must utilize a mixture of psychological manipulations, violence, and maintain control at all times. Gifford does an excellent job of bringing the reader into the mindset of the pimp, and how one can become “street poisoned.”

Beck spent years alternating between the high life of pimping – leisure suits, fancy clubs, lots of cash, and then spending years behind bars in some of American’s hardest prisons. When he retired from pimping, he settled down, had children, and that’s when he began to write. His writing is honest, brutal and crude, and opened people’s eyes to the dark underside of urban cities in the 40s and 50s.

Some authors popular in the urban lit genre include Nikki Turner, K’Wan, and Donald Goines.  We have a display up at the main library displaying some urban titles, come check them out!

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Betty MacDonald and “The Egg” that hatched her career

eggandiEnjoy this post from Joan as she writes about all things Betty MacDonald:

When Pacific Northwest writer Betty MacDonald’s first book, The Egg and I, was published in 1945 it was not just a hit, it was a phenomenon selling over a million copies within the first year of publication. That book, a funny little memoir about early married life trying to make a living chicken ranching and having run-ins with Olympic Peninsula locals, went on to be translated into twenty languages, and spawned several movies: The Egg and I starring Fred MacMurry and Claudette Colbert , and later, The Adventures of Ma and Pa Kettle.

lookingforbettyHow is it possible that such a book could take the book world by storm and land the author on the pages of Life magazine? And how could she still have a fan base so strong in Europe that there was a BBC radio documentary about her commemorating what would have been her 100th birthday in March of 2008 (she died at the age of 49 in 1958)? Seattle historian Paula Becker wondered about this as well, and tells us how she came to unravel Betty’s very complicated life in her book Looking for Betty MacDonald: The Egg, The Plague, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, and I.

Go ahead and add your name to the hold list for both Betty MacDonald’s memoirs and Paula Becker’s book about Betty. Then come to the Main Library to hear Paula talk about all things Betty MacDonald on Saturday, January 7 at 2PM.

Betty entertained her readers and gave them a good inside-out look at Seattle and the Pacific Northwest during the mid-part of the 20th century, political incorrectness and all. Much of how the rest of the country and the world imagined the Pacific Northwest was based at the time on Betty’s books. But Betty didn’t just entertain adult readers. While she was working on her three other memoirs, she also wrote the very popular Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle series of books for children.

anybodyShe makes reference to drinking a lot of coffee, so maybe that explains where she got the energy to write so many books in such a short amount of time. While “Egg” was the blockbuster, her other memoirs are equally entertaining, whether about recovering from tuberculosis in a Seattle Sanatorium (The Plague and I), raising two teenage daughters on the edge of Vashon Island (Onions in the Stew), or how she and her family got through the depression (Anybody Can Do Anything), all written with her irreverence for life and her ability to poke fun at anything and everything.

Whether you’re looking for a good children’s book that has stood the test of time or a memoir where the northwest landscape figures as prominently as its colorful characters, Betty MacDonald’s books are still a good bet. Most of all, they’re just plain fun to read because she is first and foremost a really good writer. Read just one and you’ll see why Paula became a little obsessed with Betty’s story and why she needed to tell it.

Heartwood 7:1 – Greene on Capri by Shirley Hazzard

greene-on-capriThis blog post is prompted by the news that Shirley Hazzard died this past December at age 85.

It’s kind of funny to me that I read this book without ever having read Graham Greene (though he’s long been on my radar, and I’m a fan of the film The Third Man). Funnier still since I’d also not read anything by Shirley Hazzard (her Transit of Venus won a National Book Critics Circle Award in 1980, and The Great Fire won the National Book Award in 2003). But a few years ago, one of my book-talking buddies handed me this book and said I should read it. I must say I was quite taken by the cover, and seeing the book’s slim length, I decided to give it a try.

In the opening scene, Hazzard has run into Greene at a café on Capri where he is dining at a separate table with friends and reciting part of a Browning poem to them. Before leaving, Hazzard supplies him with the line he’s struggling to recall. This literary showiness rankled me enough that I put the book aside. But some weeks later, I picked it up again and found myself very much enjoying Hazzard’s stately prose, the descriptions of Greene’s home and the island of Capri (accent on the a, she tells us), and the friendship that develops between Greene, Hazzard and her husband, Francis Steegmuller.

Hazzard devotes much of the book to Greene, mostly during their shared time there in the 1960s and ’70s, but she also includes some interesting details about the history of the island. Her account of Tiberio, the island-top ruins, features some fine descriptive language, and we learn that a number of Russian writers visited the island in their day, such as Gorky, Turgenev, and Ivan Bunin.

For the most part, Hazzard writes admiringly of Greene, but not without particular criticisms, such as in the passage here:

Repeatedly singled out as a writer of his “era,” Graham, even so, long eluded literary chronology. His best work, with its disarming blend of wit, event, and lone fatality, has not staled; and he himself, always ready, with eager skepticism, for life’s next episode, did not seem to “date.”  However, in one respect – his attitudes to women – he remained rooted, as man and writer, in his early decades.

From the 1920s into the 1940s, Greene and several of his talented male contemporaries were working, in English fiction, related veins of anxiety and intelligence, anger and danger, sex and sensibility, and contrasting an ironic private humanity with the petty vanities and great harm of established power.  Their narrative frequently centered on the difficulty of being a moody, clever, thin-skinned – and occasionally alcoholic – literate man who commands the devotion of a comely, plucky, self-denying younger woman.

The book doesn’t have chapters as such, but in one section, on the importance of reading to Greene, she tells how Greene insisted his biographer, Norman Sherry, travel to every place Greene had been, as background to writing his biography. Remarkably, Sherry did this – but Hazzard notes:

Had Graham enjoined his biographer to read, rather, the countless thousands of books, celebrated or obscure, that fuelled his life, thought, and work, consoled and informed his passions, and caused him, as he said, “to want to write,” that request would have been absurd, unfeasible, and entirely apposite.

Literature was the longest and most consistent pleasure of Graham’s life. It was the element in which he best existed, providing him with the equilibrium of affinity and a lifeline to the rational as well as the fantastic. The tormented love affairs of adult years – and, supremely, the long passion for Lady Walston – brought him to the verge of insanity and suicide. It was in reading and writing that he enjoyed, from early childhood, a beneficent excitement and ground for development of his imagination and his gift… Our own best times with Graham usually arose from spontaneous shared pleasures of works and words – those of poets and novelists above all – that were central to his being and ours.

In its closing pages, Hazzard returns to the literary exchange that opens the book: in 1992 she received a letter from Michael Richey, one of those present when Hazzard supplied Greene with the words of the Browning poem at the restaurant all those decades before, and this letter, coming the year after Greene’s death, is what triggered her decision to write this book.

After finishing Greene on Capri, I looked for Capri on a map and discovered it is off the west coast of Italy, near the mainland city of Sorrento. And it strikes me that this would be the perfect book to take along to a “silent reading night” at the Sorrento Hotel in Seattle. Or maybe one of Greene’s novels.

Spot-Lit for December 2016

Spot-Lit

These titles – from established, new, and emerging authors – are some of the most anticipated new releases of the month, based on advance reviews and book world enthusiasm.

Click here to see all of these titles in the Everett Public Library catalog, where you can read reviews or summaries and place holds. Or click on a book cover below to enlarge it, or to view the covers as a slide show.

Remember to check back monthly: Many of the titles we feature here each month end up in major media lists of best books of the year, alongside lesser-touted gems you won’t want to miss. You can see all of this year’s Spot-Lit titles here.

Notable New Fiction 2016 | All On-Order Fiction.

Best of 2016: DVDs & Music

We conclued the Best of 2016 staff picks list with our DVD and music selections. So many titles so little time. If you want to take a look at the full list of staff picks, check out the Library Newsletter.

DVDs

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The Nice Guys
In 1970s Los Angeles, a mismatched pair of private eyes investigate a missing girl and the mysterious death of a porn star.

Director Shane “Lethal Weapon” Black uses action genre as background for brutally funny and incredibly twisting and twisted story performed with brio by Crowe as the brutal private eye and Gosling as his incompetent sidekick. Pure fun. -Alan’s pick

Zootopia
Zootopia city is a melting pot where animals from every environment live together. But when optimistic Officer Judy Hopps arrives, she discovers some are turning vicious.

A terrific film for old and young alike, Zootopia says as much about racism and bigotry as it does in believing in yourself. And it’s masterfully done. And funny. Good for 8+ -Alan’s pick

Where to Invade Next
Presents the theory that the American dream, all but abandoned in the United States, has been adopted successfully in other countries, including Italy, France, Finland, Slovenia, Germany, Portugal, Norway, Tunisia, and Iceland.

Love him or hate him, agree with him or not, Moore is a brave filmmaker who knows how to craft a compelling film filled with evidence and lots of style and humor. -Alan’s pick

Legend
The true story of the rise and fall of London’s most notorious gangsters, Reggie and Ron Kray, both portrayed by Tom Hardy. This crime thriller takes viewers into the secret history of the 60s and the events that secured the infamy of the Kray twins.

Tom Hardy continues to be the best actor of his generation, and he has so much to work with here: one brother is conflicted, complex, genteel, the other savage. Beyond this acting showcase, this is the best gangster film since Goodfellas. See it. -Alan’s pick

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Deadpool
The origin story of former Special Forces operative turned mercenary Wade Wilson, who after being subjected to a rogue experiment that leaves him with accelerated healing powers, adopts the alter ego Deadpool.

As a longtime fan of snark and a new fan of comic books, I was excited to see this on Valentine’s Day with my husband (my idea–it’s totally a love story!). I loved every second; it has the best opening credits sequence EVER! -Carol’s pick

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Season 1
A successful, driven, and possibly crazy young woman impulsively gives up her partnership at a prestigious law firm and her upscale apartment in Manhattan in a desperate attempt to find love and happiness in suburban West Covina, California.

Hilarious, heartwarming, and utterly frustrating at times (Rebecca Bunch, what are you thinking?), this musical comedy is unlike any TV show I’ve ever seen. Season 2 just started, so now’s the time to catch up with this award-winning show! -Carol’s pick

Hunt for the Wilderpeople
A defiant and troubled orphan finds himself on the run with his grizzled and very reluctant foster father in the wild New Zealand bush. With the two at the center of a national manhunt, they are forced to work together to survive.

This unaffected, emotional story has everything–drama, action and comedy! This mismatched-buddy pursuit movie was directed by Taika Waititi, who directed/wrote/starred in one of my fave films from 2014. What We Do in the Shadows. This film is PG-13. -Joyce’s pick

The Fits
Director Anna Rose Holmer’s gripping feature debut is a psychological portrait of 11-year-old Toni (Royalty Hightower), a tomboy assimilating to a tight-knit dance team in Cincinnati.

The dreamy, beautifully syncopated movie—a coming-of-age tale—is extraordinarily watchable, made more so thanks to the thrillingly kinetic, fierce dancing. -Joyce’s pick

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Everybody Wants Some!!
Richard Linklater (Dazed and Confused and Boyhood) hits it out of the park with this story of a freshman’s move from constant adult supervision to a new exciting life with his skirt-chasing, rabblerousing college baseball teammates in 1980s Texas.

The title (and movie poster) seemingly indicate dumbed-down, predictable shenanigans, but as author and director, Linklater has a bewitching touch which makes this comedy worth watching. –Joyce’s pick

Dark Matter Season 1
Awoken from stasis with their memories erased, the crew of the spaceship Raza has to find out who they are and why everyone hates them so much as they rampage through the galaxy.

This TV series is classic over the top Sci Fi complete with a universe ruled by evil corporations, a sentient AI, self-repairing nanotechnology and, of course, space zombies (kind of). -Richard’s pick

Music

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Good Times! by The Monkees

The Monkees reunite to create an album that sounds like the best of their 1960’s output due mainly to excellent guest songwriters from Ben Gibbard to Andy Partridge.

Tuneful, hook-laden, and loaded with perfect pop songs, what’s not to like? Plus, you get to hear the voices of the dearly departed Harry Nilsson and Davy Jones on 13 new songs. Much better than their last, dreadful 80’s reunion. -Alan’s pick

Blackstar by David Bowie
David Bowie’s heavy, difficult, yet meditative industrial art-rock masterpiece recorded as he was dying from liver cancer.

Bowie recorded Blackstar to say goodbye. No one, including the musicians, knew this. They may have been distracted by this inspired genius incorporating hip-hop, jazz, folk, etc., into a stunning, sad, and beautifully dark album. Best of the year. -Alan’s pick

Everybody Wants by The Struts
Rock music with toe-tapping melodies, clever lyrics, and attitude.

ROCK IS NOT DEAD. Anyone who has told you that needs this CD. Lead singer Luke Spiller has an amazing vocal range, guitarist Adam Slack has some hot licks, and the whole band is covered in glitter and yelling at me– and I love it. -Carol’s pick

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Laurie Berkner’s Favorite Classic Kids’ Songs by Laurie Berkner Band
Laurie Berkner presents a treasure trove of well-loved traditional children’s songs plus six of her most popular originals.

This is classic kid’s music at its best!  From “Alouette” to “Zodiac,” these songs have great arrangements and delivery. Not just kiddie music, you’ll love it too. Fantastic! -Leslie’s pick

Puberty 2 by Mitski
Gritty but lovely indie rock.

Mitski Miyawaki explores love, loss, anxiety, and depression in this emotionally-raw album. -Lisa’s pick

Habib Galbi by A-Wa
Three sisters with a love for electronic music, reggae, and Yemenite women’s chants.

It’s a really fun, upbeat, dancy album. -Lisa’s pick

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Awo by uKanDanz
This group considers their style “Ethiopian Crunch Music,” which is a wonderful combination of world music styles.

It’s a thoroughly-satisfying mashup of metal and hard rock guitar riffs and power chords; a blues and jazz horn section; and amazing vocals that expressively wail, croon, and keen. -Lisa’s pick

LateNightTales by Ólafur Arnalds
Down-tempo dreamscapes with some trip hop beats interspersed.

Fans of Bjork, Prefuse 73, and Sigur Rós would probably be into it. ‘Icelandic’ would be the best adjective to describe this album. -Lisa’s pick

No Manchester by Mexrrissey
A bit mariachi, a little bit rock and roll – all Morrissey.

I love the variety of artists and styles used to cover some very well-known Morrissey hits. Dedicated fans and those only slightly familiar with his work will find something to enjoy. -Lisa’s pick

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Buenaventura by La Santa Cecilia
A fusion of Latin jazz, rock, Mexican folk music, rockabilly, and more.

Toe-tapping tracks are full of guitars, horns, accordion, and gusty bluesy vocals in Spanish and English. -Lisa’s pick

The Impossible Kid by Aesop Rock
This is the kind of hip-hop album that you’ll listen to a hundred times and probably notice something different each time.

Intricate, powerful rhymes do acrobatics with the English language, making the listener sit up and take notice. -Lisa’s pick

Adore Life by Savages
Adore Life is a solid rock album that brings to mind the likes of Joan Jett, The Pixies, and Fugazi.

I really appreciated the progression of the album; it has the ability to rip things apart and then slow everything down with a lyrical and melodious groove. -Lisa’s pick

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Outskirts of Love by Shemekia Copeland
A fiery, driving mix of blues, rock, and soul.

It’s the type of album you want to listen to on repeat. -Lisa’s pick

Tower Music by Joseph Bertolozzi
A hard album to define! This album was made by using the Eiffel Tower as a percussion instrument.

The music is somehow lively and minimal at the same time. It really is impressive how intricate each track is, and the range of sounds the artist was able to create using the iconic landmark. -Lisa’s pick

Love & Hate by Michael Kiwanuka
First and foremost a soul album, but with hints of rock, blues, gospel, and even a kind of classic rock feel at times.

It’s very beautiful, grand, and political. -Lisa’s pick

Best of 2016: Adult, Young Adult & Children’s Non-Fiction

We are all about non-fiction in our Best of 2016 staff picks list for today. All things true for adults, young adults and children. As always, you can access the full list of our 2016 picks at the Library Newsletter.

Adult Non-Fiction

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Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman by Lindy West

Shrill is an uproarious memoir, a feminist rallying cry in a world that thinks gender politics are tedious and that women, especially feminists, can’t be funny.

This book seriously changed my life. I gained confidence in my body, my voice, and my own thoughts and opinions. I can’t really put into words what this book means to me; I just want you to read it now. Lindy is a Seattle writer and is pretty much the best. -Carol’s pick

Hogs Wild by Ian Frazier

A decade’s worth of Frazier’s delightful essays–Frazier goes wherever his curiosity takes him. Whether the subject is wild hogs (they’re gaining ground!), or making a Styrofoam substitute from fungus, he makes the reader his willing companion.

I enjoyed (or was terrified by–Asian carp–oh no) all of these essays, but I loved learning about Dutch artist Theo Jansen and his strandbeests. -Eileen’s pick

Simple: Effortless Food, Big Flavors by Diana Henry

Another wonderful cookbook by James Beard Award winning author Henry. You may need to go to the grocery store first, but these recipes are worth it. And yes, once you have what you need on hand, they are simple.

I love how Henry encourages home cooks to expand their flavor options. Her recipes are easy to follow, too. -Eileen’s pick

Evicted by Matthew Desmond

Desmond spent four months interviewing poor inner-city families of Milwaukee who were dealing with eviction from poorly maintained units owned by slumlords. Most were spending 70% or more of their income on rent, making their lives very difficult.

Evicted has three distinct sections. The majority tells the individual stories of these people. There is a section of national facts, figures, and many ideas for solutions. Wrapping up this excellent book is the author’s own experiences with his research. -Elizabeth’s pick

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Lust and Wonder by Augusten Burroughs

In another chapter of Burroughs life, (what happened after Dry), he delves into his love-life. After he settles for years in a bland but stable relationship, the lies he’s been telling himself surface, and he endeavors to see more clearly.

Each time I read a book by Burroughs I hesitate first, since it’s not my usual fare, but then I remember why I love his books. He still has it: honesty, humor, depth, and he really knows how to tell his story! -Elizabeth’s pick

The Perfect Horse: the Daring U.S. Mission to Rescue the Priceless Stallions Kidnapped by the Nazis by Elizabeth Letts

This book traces the lesser-known efforts of Hitler to build a master race of the finest purebred horses, and the heroic achievements of American soldiers to rescue them.

I loved her other book entitled the Eighty Dollar Champion. -Leslie’s pick

Cooking For Jeffrey by Ina Garten

Ina’s most personal cookbook yet, Cooking for Jeffrey is filled with the recipes Jeffrey and their friends request most often, as well as charming stories from Ina and Jeffrey’s many years together.

Ina always includes gorgeous photos and foolproof recipes. I have already tried a few and they are winners. -Leslie’s pick

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance

One young man’s journey from a poverty-stricken area of Ohio to the elite halls of Yale Law School.

Far from being a feel-good story of ‘bootstraps’ upward mobility, most of the discussion revolves around why his case is so rare for individuals growing up in Rust Belt and Appalachian towns. It’s a powerful look at the effects of generational poverty. -Lisa’s pick

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Simple Matters: Living With Less and Ending Up With More by Erin Boyle

The author explains that living in small apartments all her life has forced her to pare down and keep only the items that she really loves.

Of all the books I’ve been reading on organization lately, this has been one of my favorites. The simple and beautiful design of the book is a good representation of the author’s main message. -Liz’s pick

Mad Enchantment: Claude Monet and the Painting of the Water Lilies by Ross King

King masterfully chronicles the story of the creation of the “Water Lilies,” even as Monet was challenged with aging, failing eyesight, the loss of his wife, and the advancing horrors of World War I.

A mesmerizing story of an artist’s creative vision and process as well as the challenges Monet overcame in his 30-year effort to paint his magnificent masterpiece at Giverny. -Pat’s pick

Of Arms and Artists: the American Revolution through Painters’ Eyes by Paul Staiti

Chronicles the American Revolution through the stories of the five great artists whose paintings animated the new American Republic: Charles Willson Peale, John Singleton Copley, John Trumbull, Benjamin West, and Gilbert Stuart.

The stories of these five artists and their vision of America during the Revolution is a fascinating study of the effect of history on art, and art’s lingering shaping of our view of history. -Pat’s pick

Fields of Battle: Pearl Harbor, the Rose Bowl, and the Boys Who Went to War by Brian Curtis

Curtis connects two seemingly unrelated events: the Pearl Harbor attack and, a few weeks later, the Rose Bowl, — played in Durham, North Carolina, because more air strikes were feared on the West Coast.

Fields of Battle is a detailed intersection of sport and war in World War II that is gripping, occasionally tragic, but always rewarding, as heroes on the field become heroes in war. -Pat’s pick

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Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War by Mary Roach

Roach examines the odd intersection between science and the military with surreal and humorous results through interviews with the “experts” in the field.

You have to admire the author’s gung ho attitude and ability to keep a straight face when investigating things like caffeinated meat, army fashion, and maggot therapy. -Richard’s pick

While the City Slept by Eli Sanders

In 2009, Isaiah Kalebu broke into a home in the South Park neighborhood of Seattle, and brutally raped and attempted to kill two women.  Sanders tries to explain how Isaiah’s untreated mental illness lead him to Teresa and Jennifer’s house.

This is an unfortunate new classic in true crime literature, with an overpowering sense of love between two women, and a rational voice for change. -Sarah’s pick

Kill ‘Em and Leave by James McBride

James McBride sets off to explore the roots of the iconic soul legend, James Brown.

This is a lyrical account of the racial environments that produced a legend. -Sarah’s pick

Networks of New York: an Illustrated Field Guide to Urban Internet Infrastructure by Ingrid Burrington

Behind our Internet connection on our phones, tablets, laptops, televisions, and refrigerators is a vast system of hardware, cabling, and radio waves that join forces to make the whole thing work.

Despite the New York City setting, this book deals with the same infrastructure used across the US. The author breaks dense technicalities into digestible chunks, so you’ll never look at a radio tower or traffic camera the same way again. -Zac’s pick

Young Adult Non-Fiction

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Blood Brother: Jonathan Daniels and His Sacrifice for Civil Rights by Rich Wallace and Sandra Neil Wallace

The story of Jonathan Daniels, who travelled from New Hampshire to Alabama in 1965 to stand up against oppression, register black voters, and march with other heroes of the Civil Rights movement.

This is a taut, thrilling and terrifying account of Daniels experiences in the Deep South. This biography does an excellent job of depicting the courage of Daniels and his comrades and the horrible abuse that they fought against. -Jesse’s pick

The Duel: The Parallel Lives of Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr  by Judith St. George

Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr were two men who seemed drawn to each other, as if by gravity. This book explores their lives, from their early days fighting the British, to their infamous final meeting on the shores of the Hudson River.

It’s the year of Hamilton! St. George does an incredible job detailing the lives of these notorious frenemies, separating myth from truth, and showing the mirrored nature of their lives. – Jesse’s pick

Children’s Non-Fiction

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National Geographic Kids Awesome 8

Introduces the top eight examples of specific subjects, from wicked water slides and perilous predators to remarkable ruins and weirdest wonders.

This book is perfect for a curious mind with a short attention span. Each two-page spread is a list with eight awesome things in each category. There are 50 picture-packed lists that will capture the attention and interest of children and adults alike. -Andrea’s pick

Dear Pope Francis by Pope Francis

Questions written by children from across the world are presented to Pope Francis — and the Pope himself answers each letter.

This is a beautiful book that is not just for children or Catholics. In very simple words, Pope Francis answers some very difficult questions. Wonderful! -Leslie’s pick

The “What Was” Series by Various Authors

The “Who Was” biography series was so successful that now there’s an historical series of books about the San Francisco Earthquake and other events.

I like this series because kids love them!  They’re interesting reads and good for AR points. -Leslie’s pick