Thursday, November 26, 2015

Book Review: Rhythm Ride

RHYTHM RIDE: A ROAD TRIP THROUGH THE MOTOWN SOUND by Andrea Davis Pinkney chronicles the rise of Motown music in Detroit.
Pinkney’s smooth narrative will draw readers into the world of Berry Gordy and the rise of Motown Records. Featuring well-known artists from Smokey Robinson and Stevie Wonder to the Jackson Five, Pinkney connects key political and cultural movements including the Civil Rights Movement to the evolving Motown sound. In addition to the well-known artists, Pinkney also weaves in fascinating information about song writers, choreographers, and others who worked behind the scenes.
The many captioned black and white photos will attract many readers. Students doing research will appreciate the author’s note, timeline, discography, source notes, further reading, and index.
Appropriate for both middle grades and young adults, librarians will find this work of nonfiction to be an excellent addition to the library’s music biography collection.
To learn more about the author, go to
Published by September 29, 2015 by Roaring Brook Press, an imprint of Macmillan. ARC courtesy of the publisher.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Book Review: Oskar and the Eight Blessings

OSKAR AND THE EIGHT BLESSINGS by Richard Simon and Tanya Simon is the heartwarming story of a new immigrant arriving in America in 1938.
Oskar has just arrived in New York City. It’s the seventh day of Hanukkah and Christmas Eve. As a new immigrant escaping the War, he’s trying to find his aunt’s house. Along the way he meets rich and poor, black and white, as well as anonymous and famous people. Acts of kindness from these individuals help him on his holiday journey to a new life.
The poignant story is filled with diverse characters that reflect the racial, ethnic, and religious diversity of New York City. The interesting sequential art and subtle colors add interest to this beautifully illustrated picture book. An author’s note provides interesting insights into the story, a glossary defines a few key words, and a map shows Oskar’s path.
Librarians will enjoy the connections to both Hanukkah and Christmas along with the historical themes. This moving story will make a wonderful addition to the library’s holiday collection.
Published by Roaring Brook, an imprint of Macmillan on September 8, 2015. ARC courtesy of the publisher.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Website Review: Torn in Two

TORN IN TWO from the Boston Public Library is a website that explores defining events from the American Civil War.
The Virtual Tour examines people, places, and events connected with the Civil War. In the People section, users can explore the lives of a dozen different people impacted by the war. Students can explore their lives before, during, and after the war. In addition, users can examine maps related to their experiences and a timeline of events. The Places section provides access to period maps of the world, regions of the United States, and individual states. Finally, the timeline features maps, photographs, and other documents related to key events before, during, and after the war.
Curriculum guides are available for elementary, middle, high school, and special curriculum. These include standards-based lessons, students sheets, and supporting materials.
Librarians will find this website to be an effective way to illustrate the role of maps in understanding history. Consider collaborating with the history teacher on a project focusing on primary source materials, map reading, and history.
Sponsored by the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center at the Boston Public Library, the Torn in Two experience can be extended by exploring other maps in the library’s collection.
To visit the website, go to
To try the Virtual Tour, go to…/take-the-virtual-tour.
To download Teacher Resources, go to

Monday, November 23, 2015

Book Review: Extreme Planet

EXTREME PLANET by National Geographic Kids follows Carsten Peter’s adventures exploring intense environments around the world.
In each exciting chapter, author Carsten Peter explores a different amazing landscape including volcanoes, glaciers and ice sheets, deserts, caves, canyons, and other extreme places. The topics feature maps, diagrams, and full color photographs. In addition to an interesting narrative, each chapter also includes expert tips, notes from the field, necessary gear and gadgets, and sidebars containing related facts.
Activities are woven throughout the book. Youth learn to make a tornado in a bottle, use a topographical map, and grow stalactites. The book also includes a glossary, resources, activity ideas, and an index.
Librarians will find that youth enjoy following an explorer visiting exciting destinations around the work. Connect the book with nonfiction works focusing on the science of each destination such as volcanoes and caves.
Published by National Geographic Kids on October 13, 2015.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Technology Review: Images of Change

IMAGES OF CHANGE is an visually-rich science website and app from NASA.
Both the website and app contain similar features.
From natural disasters to growing cities, users take a close-up look at pairs of images that show before and after scenes. Students can see glaciers that have melted, the devastation from floods and wildfires, and the impact of humans in different settings.
Each photo pair contains background information and a map showing its location. Photo pairs are shown side-by-side. With the app version, images can also be viewed individually or overlaid with a curtain slider to make comparisons easier.
Users can browse through the images or select categories including cites, extreme events, ice, human impact, water, land cover, top picks, and most recent. Images can also be viewed on a map.
Librarians will find uses for the images across the curriculum including both science and social science topics and issues. Use the image pairs to jumpstart discussions or as the basis for an exploration of topics related to climate change.
Because the project is from NASA which is a government agency, students can use their images in their projects. The website contains an option to download the image and also shows how to credit the source.
To explore the website, go to

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Book Review: The Stratford Zoo Midnight Revue Presents... series

THE STRATFORD ZOO MIDNIGHT REVUE PRESENTS graphic novel series by Ian Lendler and Zack Giallongo is an engaging way to introduce youth to the works of Shakespeare.
Designed for the middle grades, Macbeth is the first book in this graphic novel series. A group of animals puts on plays for an animal audience at their zoo. Their first production is MacBeth. This child-friendly retelling includes the basic structure of the play along with hilarious comments from the audience during the performance. Although the most famous lines are evident, the play is shortened to focus on just the key elements.
Romeo and Juliet is the second book in this growing graphic novel series. In this fantasy adaptation of the famous play, animals are both the actors and the audience members. The brightly colored illustrations will draw young readers into the story and provide an engaging introduction Shakespeare for middle grade youth.
Librarians will find this series to be a wonderful way to introduce Shakespeare’s greatest works. Consider building literature circles that focus on each of Shakespeare’s key works.
To learn more about Ian Lendler, go to
To learn more about Zack Giallongo, go to
Published by FirstSecond, an imprint of Macmillan.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Technology Review: Global Shark Tracker

GLOBAL SHARK TRACKER by Ocearch is a science app and website that allows users to track the movement patterns of sharks using a satellite tracking system.
Both the app and website contain the same features.
In the Shark Tracker section, users can track sharks by recent activity, gender, stage of life, or location tags. Shark locations can be explored on a world map. Clicking a shark presents a photo, date, gender, tag date, and location. Clicking the “view more” option provides additional information including the shark’s name, species, stage in life, physical characteristics, and miles traveled. A description provides details such as the shark’s life experiences. It’s also possible to see the path where the shark has traveled.
The Science section provides detailed information about the science behind the project including the approach, methodology, research projects, expeditions, scientists involved, and papers published.
The Education area provides STEM lessons for Grades 3-5 and 6-8.
Users can also use the website and app to connect with the Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, and Blogger social media resources.
Librarians will find this science app to be an engaging way to learn about the navigation patterns of sharks. Pair the app with nonfiction books about sharks and shark conservation.
To visit the website, go to