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New Nonfiction

February 5, 2009

1001 People Who Made America by Alan Axelrod
1001 Events That Made America: A Patriot’s Handbook by Alan Axelrod
These two are just what they sound like — collections of mini-sketches about people and events in American history. The people are arranged alphabetically and the events chronologically. None of the entries are more than a page long, and most are a bit shorter. They are great as reference materials and also great (if you are a history nerd like me) for browsing.

Snake by Chris Mattison — I don’t think this book includes the prehistoric snake I heard about on the radio this morning, but it does include 3000 other snakes. It’s an adult-level book, but a lot of kids have enjoyed looking at the pictures and reading bits and pieces.

Seven Miles to Freedom: The Robert Smalls Story by Janet Halfmann with illustrations by Duane Smith — Robert Smalls was a slave in South Carolina during the Civil War. Seven Miles to Freedom tells the story of how he took control of a Confederate ship and navigated his way to north of the Mason Dixon line and freedom. Halfman’s book starts by giving us an idea of what his life was like as a slave and then takes us along for the suspenseful story of his escape. He went on to become the first African American ship captain in the United States, and in 2004 his name was given to the first Navy ship to be named for an African American.

Slinky, Scaly Snakes by Jennifer Dussling — A great snake book for beginning readers.

The Way We Work by David MacAuley — You probably know some of MacAuley’s other books, which are detailed architectural examinations of everything from castles to machines. This time around, MacAuley decided to take on human architecture, with stunning results.

Now What? The Young Person’s Guide to Choosing the Perfect Career by Nicholas Lore — The blurb for this book begins by quoting a line you never hear in a college commencement speech: “Many of you have just spent four years and a small fortune studying something you will never use.” I might argue that point — my mind works the way it does because of the things I learned from studying Greek and English and history — but he does have a valid point to make. You have to figure out how to translate those habits of mind into something that pays the rent and doesn’t drive you crazy. Lore’s book is packed full of quizzes and exercises that he posits will find you a job that suits your personality.

Phenomena: Secrets of the Senses by Donna M. Jackson — Pretty much just what it sounds like — an examination of the senses and of extrasensory perception and how it might work.

Stichin’ and Pullin’: A Gee’s Bend Quilt by Mat McKissack with illustrations by Cozbi A. Cabrera — Although this picture book is fiction, I am including it in the nonfiction section because it tells a true story, that of the former slaves who have been making quilts in Gee’s Bend, Alabama for over a hundred years.

Knucklehead: Tall Tales and Mostly True Stories About Growing up Scieszka — I think the opening of the Booklist review says it all: “In this arch, glib, unapologetically shame-free outing, Scieszka, who grew up as the second of six sons, has written an autobiography about boys, for boys and anyone else interested in baseball, fire, and peeing on stuff.”


New in November

November 12, 2008

Some of the new books in the Meeteetse library and a few thoughts on how you might use them.

Angel Girl by Laurie Friedman with illustrations by Ofra Amit — Monica Edinger, a fourth grade teacher in New York and one of my favorite education bloggers, has some reservations about teaching the Holocaust to young children. I mention this by way of warning you that although Angel Girl is ultimately a hopeful story, it is also a very dark book. As always, I think that choosing books for children requires us to consider the individual child. You will know whether the topic is appropriate for your classroom or for a particular student. Angel Girl is based on the true the story of a boy imprisoned at a concentration camp and a girl who brought him apples. Decades later, long after the war was over, the two met in New York and are now married.

Duel!: Burr and Hamilton’s Deadly War of Words by Dennis B. Fradin with illustrations by Larry Day — I swear has gotten more interesting in the past few years — or at least the books written about it have gotten more interesting. This book chronicles how Aaron Burr, Vice-President of the United States, and Alexander Hamilton, former Secretary of the Treasury, went from being friends during the war to deadly rivals. It’s a gripping story, but it’s also a good primer on how a lot of things about politics haven’t changed. Pick up this handsome volume to find out who survives!

Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson — We tend to think of history in a rather orderly fashion, with people neatly divided into Loyalists and Revolutionaries, Northerners and Southerners, freedom fighters and evil empires. Anderson takes on some of those groups in this story about slaves owned by Northern Loyalists at the time of the Revolutionary War. Though the book is steeped in historical research, the story itself is gripping. Check it out to see if Isabel and her sister Ruth escape to freedom. There are some great resources for teaching the book on Anderson’s website.

One of the things that has been most interesting to me as a librarian and a reader is the development of graphics in literature. Graphic novels — stories that are told as much in pictures as they are in words — have really come in to their own in the past few years. Visual story telling is not just for superhero comics any more. All kinds of stories, for all kinds of readers, now get graphic treatment. We’ve known for a long time that there are different styles of learning, and more and more we have the materials to meet those different styles. Two particularly great — and very different — graphic stories arrived in the library this month.
Thoreau at Walden by John Porcellino and Henry David Thoreau — Porcellino is a comic book artist in Denver who was approached by the Center for Cartoon Studies (yes, there really is such a thing) about doing some kind of life of Thoreau for a series they were planning. He spent quite awhile reading and taking notes on Thoreau’s works, and the result is this combination of text from Thoreau and drawings from Porcellino. It’s categorized as a children’s book, but I think almost anyone of any age would get something from it. Of course, I am also a Thoreau fanatic, so I may be somewhat biased.

Into the Volcano written and illustrated by Don Wood — I’ll let author and illustrator Wood tell you about this book himself.

The Red Tree by Shaun Tan — If you picked this up right after finishing Angel Girl, you might conclude that this is Depressing Picture Book Month.

Here Lies Arthur by Philip Reeve — Another retelling of the Arthur story, with starred reviews from Booklist, Publishers Weekly, and Kirkus, a confluence almost always guaranteed to mean a great book.

Toot and Puddle written and illustrated by Holly Hobbie
Fanny written and illustrated by Holly Hobbie — A patron recently asked if we had any of Holly Hobbie’s Toot and Puddle books. As it happens, we did not, so I thought it was high time to get one. Toot and Puddle are pigs — probably among the most charming pigs you have ever met –and they are also friends, though their tastes are very different. As I was looking through reviews, I discovered her new book, Fanny, which is about a girl who wants a very specific kind of doll that her mother will not buy her, and what kind of a doll she makes instead.

Monster Goose by Judy Sierra with illustrations by Jack E. Davis — Devilish takes on familiar nursey rhymes.

In a Blue Room by Jim Averbeck with illustrations by Tricia Tusa — Alice claims she can’t go to bed unless everything in her room is blue.

Alvin Ho: Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things by Lenore Look with illustrations by Leuyen Pham — A beginning chapter book about a boy who can’t seem to speak at school, though he is smart and funny on the page.

Steinbeck’s Ghost by Lewis Buzbee — A few years ago, the public library in Salinas, California, John Steinbeck’s old stomping grounds, almost had to close due to budget cuts. In this novel, Buzbee introduces 13-year-old Travis Williams, who gets involved in the fight to save the library and gets some help from several of Steinbeck’s characters.

Minn and Jake by Janet S. Wong with illustrations by Genevieve Cote — A novel in verse about the emerging friendship between 5th graders and outsiders Minn, who just lost her best friend, and Jake, who is teased mercilessly for being short.

Before Green Gables by Budge Wilson — A prequel to Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables series.

The Hunger Games by Suzane Collins — It’s the near future, and the United States has been replaced by a dystopic North American conglomerate called Panem. Every year, Panem chooses two teens — a boy and a girl — to participate in the Hunger Games, a fight to the death. Think 1984 meets Survivor.

New for October

October 17, 2008

Here are few of the most recent arrivals in the library. We get new books in almost every week! If there’s something you don’t see that you want, let us know, and we can borrow it for you from another library or buy it if it meets the standards our collection development policy (and fits in our budget!).

Physics by Dan Green with illustrations by Simon Basher

Cyber Ethics by Diane Bailey

My Muslim Year by Cath Senker

The Karate Handbook by Ray Pawlett

MySpace/Our Planet: Change Is Possible by Jeca Taudte with a forward by Tom Anderson

John McCain by Catherine Wells

Barack Obama: The Politics of Hope by William Michael Davis

King George: What Was His Problem? Everything Your Schoolbooks Never Told You About the American Revolution by Teve Sheinkin with illustrations by Tim Robinson

YA Fiction
Playing with Matches by Brian Katcher

Mexican WhiteBoy by Matt de la Peña

Cricket Man by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

Impossible by Nancy Werlin

J Fiction
Hate That Cat by Sharon Creech

Chiggers by Hope Larson

The Dragon’s Child by Jenny Nimmo with illustrations by Alan Marks

The Cabinet of Wonders by Marie Rutkoski

Wombat and Fox: Tales of the City by Terry Denton

Picture Books
Papa, Please Get the Moon for Me by Eric Carle

Bump in the Night by Edward Hemingway

Your Classes, My Schedule, and Resources For This Year’s Election

September 16, 2008

I had a great time talking to Kandi Bennett’s health class about doing online research a couple weeks ago, and it’s been great to have the 5th grade come to the library for some library instruction. The 4th grade is scheduled to come in to learn a little bit about how we organize and find things in the library. If your idea of library research involves the card catalog and the Readers Guide to Periodical Literature, you might like to come see some of the amazing new things we can do. (Imagine searching for articles, putting them all in a folder, emailing them to yourself, and getting perfectly formatted citations for all of them in the style of your choice!)

If you’re interested in having your class come to the library or having me come to your class, that’s great, but please schedule with me ahead of time. Starting next week, I’m going to be traveling quite a bit for conferences and such. I’ll be gone September 25-29, October 1-3, October 9-12, and October 19-23. Also, I will be traveling to the other Park County libraries fairly regularly on Thursdays (or occasionally on other days) in order to do public and staff training.

A number of you may be doing or considering units on the Presidential elections. I have orders out for biographies of the major political party candidates, but they have not arrived yet. In the meantime, though, there are lots of other great resources available to you for learning more about the candidates, the issues, and the electoral process. Here, Q&A style, are some of the places to look online at or in the library.

Who the heck are these people running for president, anyway?
Wilson Web has the complete run of Current Biography, which will give you some good general background information on the candidates.

So what are the issues in this campaign?
Try CQ Researcher, SIRS Researcher, and the Opposing Viewpoints Research Center for great coverage of issues and perspectives on the candidates.

Whoa, those sites are awfully text heavy for my primary grade students! Don’t you have something simpler?
Try Searchasaurus, Kids Search, or eLibrary Elementary.

Searching Hint: use the terms election 2008 to get material on this current election.

I really, really, really just want something that’s on paper.
The library subscribes to Time, U.S. News & World Report, the Billings Gazette, the Casper Star-Tribune, the Cody Enterprise, the Powell Tribune, and the Northern Wyoming Daily News. We keep the magazines for a year, the Cody and Powell papers for a month, and the other papers for a week or so.

Candidate so and so said thus and such. Is that really true?
Check out For voting records, try Project Vote Smart.

That’s enough for now! Happy researching!

More New Nonfiction

September 10, 2008

Three books dealing with math at various levels (and if you’re looking for a book for yourself, why not check out One to Nine: The Inner Life of Numbers by Andrew Hodges?

These two are huge books, with even larger fold-out illustrations, and they are sure to be a hit with kids who cannot get enough of trains, planes, automobiles, dump trucks, etc.

As you may know, we have a small selection of children’s books in Spanish. To that, we now add one bilingual story book and a well-done introduction to Cinco de Mayo. That holiday is a long way off, of course, but you can dream about it during the long, cold winter months.

Hidden back at the end of the juvenile stacks are the juvenile biographies, many of which you may remember from your youth: Amelia Earhart, Kansas Girl or Patrick Henry, Boy Spokesman. I keep these out of nostalgia, but we also have new biographies coming in. Here’s a selection with something for every age and interest:

Science and Nature, from parasites to dinosaurs:

Two books of tales, one full of short selections and one of longer retellings:

And a grab bag of history and culture:

Pop Quiz: Call Numbers, Searchasaurus, Google, and More

September 9, 2008

Greetings! Here’s a little pop quiz for a Tuesday morning:

  • Do you know what all these call numbers mean and where to find them in the library? JE, ER, JI, J, YA, BIO, E 123.456, REF 123.456
  • Can you construct a Google search that will tell you what information the FDA website has on nicotine addiction from 2000 to 2003?
  • Do you know how to use all the resources at

If you answered no to any of these questions, perhaps it’s time to schedule a time for some library instruction! I am always happy to do classroom visits or to have classes come to the library to learn some of this stuff, and I can also meet with you individually if you would like some one-on-one instruction. The examples above are just a very few of the things I can teach you. Whether it’s editing an entry on Wikipedia, tracking a bill through Congress on THOMAS, or finding historical photographs for a history lesson, the library is here to help you out. And, of course, we have books! More about them in the next post!

Great New Nonfiction!

August 27, 2008

Virtually True: Questioning Online Media by Guofang Wan
TV Takeover: Questioning Television by Guofang Wan
Coming Distractions: Questioning Movies by Frank W. Baker
The five books in the Fact Finders Media Literacy series may not be anyone’s first choice for fun reading, but they are fascinating, provocative, and informative on a number of levels. For instance, the book on television invites readers to look for examples of product placement, but it also introduces concepts such as “airtime” and “target audience,” and it outlines the various people who are needed to create a TV show and the jobs that they do. Given the increasingly networked nature of our world, the volume on online media is invaluable to anyone trying to make sense of the 21st century.

Math Fables Too: Making Science Count by Greg Tang with illustrations by Taia Morley — For young readers who like some rhyme with their science and math, this book offers ten poems about animals that incorporate basic math and science concepts.

When Bugs Were Big, Plants Were Strong, and Tetrapods Stalked the Earth: A Cartoon Prehistory of Life Before Dinosaurs by Hannah Bonner — The title pretty much sums up this great book, which is all done in cartoons but also packed with information about prehistoric creatures.

The Periodic Table: Elements With Style by Adrian Dingle with illustrations by Simon Basher — Early elementary teachers will be familiar with the Little Mr. books by Roger Hargreaves–Mr. Sneezy, Mr. Happy, Mr. Quiet, and all the rest. Adrian Dingle’s book is the Little Mr. book of elements. We meet an element in every spread, and in addition to useful information such as the element’s symbol, atomic number, and classification, we also get a little bit of personality. Take Zinc: “Here to protect and serve, I’m more useful than you’d zinc! I’m a very sociable element that’s always happy to mix with other metals. Brass is probably my most well-known ally, formed when I got together with copper.” It’s enough fun to make me want to take chemistry again!

Alien Invaders: Species That Threaten Our World by Jane Drake and Ann Love with illustrations by Mark Thurman — Although they get mentioned frequently in the press, kids may have only a dim understanding of what an invasive species is. This book, with its gorgeous illustrations and informative text, will change that. The authors start by giving just a little bit of history to explain how species started to migrate and take over new environments. The rest of the book deals with particular invasive species and with the ecosystems that are affected by them. Full color spreads on each page depict species such as walking catfish, purple loosestrife, and moves on to cover some of the landscapes that these species and others have overtaken. The final section, “Who Cares?” points out some of the reasons that we should care and gives suggestions for action. And, with the recent discovery of walleye in the Buffalo Bill reservoir, there’s even a current events tie-in!

Bill Nye The Science Guy’s Great Big Book of Tiny Germs by Bill Nye and Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld with illustrations by Bryn Barnard — Everyone’s favorite science guy takes us on a germ tour, introducing bacteria and then talking about the ways we fight back against germs. Each chapter also includes a related experiment (growing your own germs, killing germs with alcohol), and although when the world ends, there will probably still be more books of science experiments than anyone needs, these are nicely put together, and many would work in your classrooms.

Penguins by Seymour Simon — Who doesn’t love penguins, especially as photographed by Simon, who is the force behind many good books in our library.

Emperor Qin’s Terra Cotta Army by Michael Capek — This book is part of a series called Unearthing Ancient Worlds (other volumes will be arriving soon), each of which looks at a famous archeological site.

Elizabeth Leads the Way: Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the Right to Vote by Tanya Lee Stone with illustrations by Rebecca Gibbon — A brand new picture book biography of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, just in time for election year! We also have a biography of her for slightly older readers, You Want Women to Vote, Lizzie Stanton? by Jean Fritz. While Wyoming has the privilege of being the first state in the country to allow women to vote, it is worth remembering the long hard struggle that it took to secure that right in the rest of the country.

Praying Mantises: Hungry Insect Heroes by Sandra Markle — This arrived too late for Catch the Reading But, our summer reading program, but this is still a fabulous book to use for introducing the insect kingdom, and with its stunning close up pictures and hexagonal “Mantis Facts” on every spread, it would be a good choice for reluctant readers, especially those more interested in the real than the fictional.

Lady Liberty by Doreen Rappaport with illustrations by Matt Tavares — A gorgeously illustrated biography of the Statue of Liberty. On each page you hear from another person who was involved in her creation and installation — a process that took over twenty years!

Otto Runs For President by Rosemary Wells — This is fiction, but it’s another great election year choice. Tiffany, the most popular girl in school, and Charles, the school’s best athlete, are both running for school president. Then Otto decides to enter the race. This book works both as a primer on campaigning and as a good story about an underdog.

Sea Queens: Women Pirates Around the World by Jane Yolen with illustrations by Christine Joy Pratt — Pirates, cool. Female pirates, more cool. Stories of female pirates as related by folktale master Jane Yolen and illustrated with woodcuts by Christine Joy Pratt? Best. Thing. Ever.