The fall publishing season is in full swing and with it comes a selection of stellar nonfiction to add to library and classroom collections.
Bascomb, Neal. The Nazi Hunters. (Scholastic; Gr 6-10).
Adolf Eichmann, the S.S. Commander in charge of the transport of millions of Europeans to concentration and labor camps during World War II, is the focus of this compelling and suspenseful title. Bascomb describes in detail the search for Eichmann across continents, the elaborate plans and courageous team assembled to kidnap him, the man’s capture in Argentina, and his trial in the newly formed state of Israel in 1961. In the end, Eichmann went quietly with his captors, and to the end insisted he was following orders. Average quality black-and-white photos, reproductions of documents, and maps illustrate the book.
Hanbury-Tenison, Robin and Robert Twigger. The Modern Explorers. (Thames & Hudson; Gr 9 Up).
Units of study on exploration begin in the early grades and often continue through high school. In years past the focus was on early ocean voyages and the individuals that led them, but since then many histories have expanded to include underwater and space travel. Asserting that “exploration is alive and well and never more popular than today,” the authors of this volume follow up with 39 accounts (including many first-hand) of travels to deserts, forests, mountain ranges, and the open sea with scientists, photojournalists, and adventurers. Numerous black-and-white archival photos and dramatic color images illustrate these remarkable contemporary journeys in search of river sources, remote populations, and an experience of a lifetime.
Hopkins, H. Joseph. The Tree Lady: The True Story of How One Tree-Loving Woman Changed a City Forever (Beach Lane Books; Gr 2-5). Illustrated by Jill McElmurry.
Growing up in Northern California in the 1860s, Kate Sessions felt “at home in the woods,” that “the trees were her friends.” Later, after graduating from the University of California with a degree in science (the first woman to do so), she took a teaching job in San Diego. In that city’s nearly treeless landscape, it wasn’t long before Sessions became a gardener, determined to find plants that could thrive in a dry, warm climate. Hopkins relates how the woman was soon planting trees “along streets, by schools, and in small parks and plazas all over town.” In preparation for the Panama-California Exposition of 1915, Sessions organized planting parties so that visitors could enjoy a shady City Park (now Balboa Park). Thanks to her love of nature and can-do spirit, San Diego today is a “lush leafy city.” McElmurry’s distinguished illustrations, imbued with a range of greens and earth tones, document the landscape’s transformation.
McClafferty. Carla Killough. Fourth Down and Inches: Concussions and Football’s Make-or-Break Moment. (Carolrhoda; Gr 7 Up).
Here’s a title that combines headline news, medical science, and sports. Stories of injuries sustained by both professional and young football players have been surfacing over the past few years, giving rise to concerns about the safety of the game. McClafferty begins with a history of football, including the 1905 season that ended in 19 deaths and numerous critical injuries, and resulted in early changes to the rules of the sport. Combining personal stories, information on impacts sustained by athletes, the effects of concussions and brain injuries, and current research, the author brings readers up to date on the continuing efforts to make the sport safer. This attractively designed volume is supported by archival black-and-white and color photos, source notes, a bibliography, and a list of further reading. Consider pairing Fourth Down with Perri Klass and David Klass’s fiction title, Second Impact (FSG, 2013) for another look at the topic.
Rosenstock, Barb. Thomas Jefferson Builds a Library (Calkins Creek; Gr 2-5). Illustrated by John O’Brien.
Books were Jefferson’s “constant companions” and he read and purchased them with enthusiasm. His extensive personal library formed the foundation of the second Library of Congress collection after first was destroyed in 1814. Rosenstock tells the story of the man’s passion for collecting “histories and contracts” and tomes on “medicine, music, and math.” Throughout this thoroughly delightful story, the author weaves in information on Jefferson’s personal life and his role as a statesman. Side notes, some framed by an illustration of an open book, offer additional facts and quotes by the man (“All that is necessary for a student is access to a library.”) John O’Brien’s pen-and-ink and watercolor art is rich in detail and its humorous touches that mirror the spirited text.
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