March 24, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Highlighting Boyds Mills Press Spring 2014 | Preview Peek

2014Mills-Press-Spring-PeekPre_stripOne of the little-known facts about the American Library Association’s (ALA) Midwinter Meeting is that several publishers take the opportunity to unveil their upcoming titles via librarian preview events. Boyds Mill Press, a division of Highlights, did just that at the recent Midwinter Meeting, held in Philadelphia, PA earlier this year.

Editorial director Liz Van Doren showcased upcoming books from various imprints, including the nonfiction-focused Calkins Creek. In March, the imprint will release works about two great names in sports: Joe DiMaggio and Babe Didrikson Zaharias. Both books approach their subjects in highly visual formats that will appeal to young readers.

Barb Rosenstock’s The Streak: How Joe DiMaggio Became America’s Hero is set at the brink of World War II during baseball legend DiMaggio’s record-hitting streak. Illustrated by Terry Widener, this picture book for older readers (Gr 3 Up) intensifies as the slugger’s famous bat—Betsy Ann—goes missing. Primary source material and statistics are mixed within the narrative, and back matter will ground kids in that particular time in history.

In Babe Conquers the World: The Legendary Life of Babe Didrikson Zaharias (Gr 4 Up), husband-and-wife team Rich and Sandra Neil Wallace collaborate for the first time to tell the story of Didrikson Zaharias, who is ranked as one of the 10 greatest athletes of the 20th century. Using a novel-type format, the Wallaces tackle the sportswoman’s personality, marriage, and early death in this biography. It should be of interest to budding athletes and women’s history buffs.

This April, Calkins Press will also publish a well-researched work that revisits an illness that swept America’s South 100 years ago. Author Gail Jarrow’s Red Madness: How a Medical Mystery Changed What We Eat (Gr 5Up) uses archival photos and historical accounts to explain how the aftermath of a mysterious disease—pellagra—influenced the now common practice of enriching food with vitamins. Kids will surely pick up this engrossing volume because of the graphic images and stay for a fascinating lesson on medical science.

Boyd Mills has the only poetry imprint in children’s publishing, Wordsong, which counts on its list Nikki Grimes’s Words with Wings (2013), which was recently named a Coretta Scott King Honor Book. Their upcoming The Great Big Green by Peggy Gifford and illustrated by Lisa Desimini is an ode to the earth. Out in April and geared at PreK–Gr 2 students, it should be a nice fit for language arts and Earth Day activities.

If you want to add fractals to your “Green” programs, there is also Mysterious Patterns: Finding Fractals in Nature (Gr 2-5) by Sarah C. Campbell, available from the Boys Mills Press imprint in April. The author uses photographs from parks, river, and her backyard to find repeating patterns in nature. It’s perfect for Common Core.

Contact the publisher for more information on upcoming Boyds Mills titles and access to educator guides, bookmarks, posters, and storytime event kits.

Rocco Staino About Rocco Staino

Rocco Staino @RoccoA is the retired director of the Keefe Library of the North Salem School District in New York. He is now a contributing editor for School Library Journal and also writes for the Huffington Post.