Combining excellent texts and outstanding visuals, this month’s selection of titles are must-have purchases for libraries and classrooms looking to expand their nonfiction collections.
Freedman, Russell. Becoming Ben Franklin: How a Candle-Maker’s Son Helped Light the Flame of Liberty. (Holiday House, 2013; Gr 5 Up).
Freedman’s reputation precedes him, and for the uninitiated, Franklin is a stellar example of his exemplary skills as a storyteller, a historian, and a biographer. The book covers the statesmen’s life from his early years and apprenticeships in Boston and Philadelphia, to his role in the fight for American independence, and his later years when he served as a diplomat. Freedman relates information on Franklin’s well-known experiments with electricity as well as some of the lesser-known accomplishments as a printer, writer, inventor, scientist, and postmaster, played against a vibrant period of American history. The book is profusely illustrated with reproductions of paintings, engravings, sketches, and maps, both period and later. Rich with detail and telling anecdotes about the fascinating and colorful man, this is a book for all collections.
Lowe, George and Huw Lewis-Jones. The Conquest of Everest: Original Photographs from the Legendary First Assent. (Thames & Hudson, 2013; Gr 9 Up).
If you have teen readers interested in true-life adventures, you’re likely own a copy of Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air (Villard,1997; Gr 9 Up). Chances are that after reading that story about the 1996 expedition that led to the deaths of eight climbers on the slopes of Mt. Everest, the same group of armchair adventurers will devour anything they can get their hands on about Everest expeditions. In celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Sir Edmund Hillary’s historic ascent in 1953, Thames & Hudson has released this spectacular edition of more than 160 black-and-white and color photos taken during that climb by the legendary climber and photographer George Lowe. The book includes photos of base camp, portraits of the mountaineers and locals, and breathtaking panoramas taken from the slopes. In addition to commentary by the authors, the book contains the reflections of Sir Edmund Hillary, Norbu Tenzing Norgay, and others who participated on the legendary climb.
Paxmann, Christine. From Mud Huts to Skyscrapers: Architecture for Children (Prestel, 2012; Gr 4 Up), illustrated by Anne Ibelings.
An oversize, beautifully illustrated and designed survey of dwellings and monuments from caves and pyramids to blobitecture and “Eco-architects, flood houses, and vertical gardens.” Each spread in the book explores one or more structures with an introductory paragraph, highlighted facts, and large watercolor-and-collage illustrations. The images feature number tabs, which correspond to additional bits of information on the building(s) ornamentation, design, dimensions, architect(s), materials, and cultural relevance. As the author notes, “Architecture is far more than the construction of buildings, it is the visible chronicle of history.”
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