Must-Read Nonfiction from Tavi Gevinson, Aly Raisman, & Others | March 2018 Xpress Reviews

Must-read nonfiction from Tavi Gevinson, Aly Raisman, & others.

Anderson, Tracy. Total Teen: Tracy Anderson’s Guide to Health, Happiness, and Ruling Your World. 220p. glossary. index. photos. Rodale. Dec. 2017. pap. $19.99. ISBN 9781623369323.

Gr 9 Up –Anderson offers tips on maintaining health and happiness through smart eating, emotional awareness, and exercise Anderson, a health coach to the stars, counts Gwyneth Paltrow as one of her clients. She has used what she’s learned by working with her adult clients to put together this advice book for teens., the first quarter of which has very dense text with few illustrations. Though Anderson’s suggestions are solid, much of the writing is repetitive and slow. The majority of the book is made up of exercises for arms, legs, and abs, with colorful photographs of Anderson demonstrating the movements of each exercise. There is also a small section that suggests a diet for each meal of the day and a few recipes. Readers do not have to follow from cover to cover to glean good advice. VERDICT For large library collections where self-help books are extremely popular.–Elizabeth Kahn, Patrick F. Taylor Science & Technology Academy, Avondale, LA

Capucilli, Alyssa Satin. My First Yoga Class. photos by Jill Wachter. 32p. illus. S. & S. Aug. 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781534404854; pap. $3.99. ISBN 9781534404847.

PreS-Gr 1 –Full-color photographs and doodles depict young children demonstrating a variety of yoga poses. This book puts the know-how to do fun yoga right in the hands of beginning readers. Kids will want to read this over and over again, stopping on each page to first try out the movements. The text contains a clear beginning, middle, and ending—opening with the importance of comfy clothes and water and moving through the positions at an accessible, even pace. Children will surely be using this guide for their own at-home yoga classes. Educators can also use the book as a small group read-aloud and activity during a well-needed midday break. The included vocabulary and sentence structure align perfectly with the skills of the intended audience. Picture clues help with the text, as well as with the expected motions. ­VERDICT Capucilli offers an excellent beginning reader on yoga. A fine addition to most collections.–Elizabeth Swartz, Warrior Run School District, PA

Drimmer, Stephanie Warren. Hey, Baby!: A Collection of Pictures, Poems, and Stories from Nature’s Nursery. 192p. index. maps. National Geographic. Nov. 2017. Tr $24.99. ISBN 9781426329319.

Gr 3-5 –This jam-packed collection of enchanting photographs focuses on baby wild animals from North and South America, Africa, Australia, Europe, the Arctic, and the oceans. In North America, mountains and plains are home to such creatures as bison, bears, rabbits, bighorn sheep, and prairie dogs. The two frisky little bison pictured merely hint at their future as the largest land animal in North America, and the diminutive opossum dangling from a branch is a far cry from the lumbering adult it will become. Folk tales and poems scattered throughout enliven the informational write-ups of the animals. Although the text is small and more suitable for adults to read to children, the varied scope and content makes this an enjoyable selection to browse. VERDICT Recommended for larger school and public libraries.–Frances E. Millhouser, formerly at Fairfax County Public Library, VA

Gevinson, Tavi , ed. Rookie on Love. 288p. illus. Penguin/Razorbill. Jan. 2018. pap. $14.95. ISBN 9780448493992.

Gr 9 Up –Essays, comics, poetry, interviews, conversations, advice, and how-to articles examine the ups and downs of affection in young lives in this anthology. Standout pieces include Janet Mock’s advice on crushes and rejection, Jenny Zhang on self-respect and demeaning relationships, Emma Straub’s “Book Love” about books and opening a bookstore, Sukhai Rawlins’s beautiful ode to her Wampanoag grandmother, and John Green and Rainbow Rowell’s conversation about writing about teenagers. Other contributions address digital communication in modern relationships, sibling bonds, confessional letters, emotional fortitude, boundaries, being single, music, dogs, crushes, jealousy, and friends. Most entries are short—only a few pages—and the variety of formats helps the collection feel lively. Black-and-white spot art, with small touches of pink, is scattered throughout, bringing the zinelike feel of Rookie to the page. The inclusion of various kinds of love (for romantic partners, for books, for music, for siblings) with all different outcomes makes for an inclusive reading experience. Readers may most enjoy dipping in and out of this collection or jumping around to find what speaks to them at a particular moment in time. An assortment of teenage Rookie readers, grown-ups, Rookie regular contributors, and high-profile names mean some pieces are more polished than others, but all brim with honesty, passion, and, often, humor. VERDICT An empathetic, genuine, and affirming collection that will attract older teens.–Amanda MacGregor, Parkview Elementary School, Rosemount, MN

Hopkins, Lee Bennett, ed. Traveling the Blue Road: Poems of the Sea. illus. by Bob Hansman & Jovan Hansman. 32p. Seagrass. Oct. 2017. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9781633222762.

Gr 6-8 –Focusing on the themes of “migration and resilience,” this collection, featuring original poems by Jane Yolen, Naomi Shihab Nye, Margarita Engle, and others, reinterprets significant sea voyages from the 15th century to the present day. The poems capture well the emotions of the travelers, though all together they are somewhat incongruous: a poem from the perspective of the sailors on Christopher Columbus’s ships appears alongside those about enslaved Africans, Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi Germany, and Cubans emigrating to the United States in 1980. Brief notes corresponding to each poem and explore in more detail the circumstances and outcomes of the journeys. While slight, the notes could be used to springboard into more in-depth conversations. The majority of the entries focus on Western transatlantic journeys. With only 11 poems, as elegantly written and vibrant as they are, there are many more seafaring stories left to explore. The verse is juxtaposed with quotes from historical and contemporary figures, as well as full-color illustrations that composite archival images with more abstract creations, done in pastels, charcoal, cut paper, and more. VERDICT This slim volume offers a narrow slice of seafaring poetry for advanced readers.–Kate Stadt, Manchester-by-the-Sea Public Library, MA

Peabody, Erin. Werewolves. illus. by Victor Rivas. ISBN 9781499804591; ISBN 9781499804584.

––––. Zombies. illus. by Jomike Tejido. ISBN 9781499804614; ISBN 9781499804607.

ea vol: 128p. (Behind the Legend). further reading. notes. little bee. Sept. 2017. Tr. $17.99. pap. $9.99.

Gr 4-8 –Naturalist author Peabody’s lively and informative guides bring historical and geographical context to the abundance of mythological creature lore. This humorously illustrated series explains these creatures’ existence from a scientific, myth-busting perspective, citing information from ancient manuscripts and oral tradition from Haiti, France, and Germany. Readers will learn through engaging and sensitively written text how the Vodou religion, sorcery, misunderstood mental illness, and centuries-old rumors have contributed to past and present monster manifestations. (Due to the potentially distressing nature of zombie origins in Haitian slavery, there’s a warning to consult a trusted grown-up before reading.) Accompanying black-and-white comic illustrations lend the right amount of silliness to otherwise terrifying topics: e.g., an average zombie family sitting down to an evening meal of arms, legs, and finger kabobs. Werewolf sightings are more easily explained with theories of dog-wolf hybrids or hyena attacks, but readers will enjoy the grisly retelling of the 16th-century French girl Pernette Gandillon, who ran around on all fours and viciously attacked two unsuspecting berry-picking children. Rational explanations provided by researchers should satisfy skeptics, while fans of the latest television, movie, and book portrayals will savor the rich vocabulary, meaty quotes, and fun facts. The series is not as fanciful as it is factual, skewing its appeal solidly toward the middle grades. VERDICT Middle schoolers of all interest levels will devour the thought-provoking history, enticing language, and hilarious illustrations.–Jane Miller, Nashville Public Library

Raisman, Aly. Fierce: How Competing for Myself Changed Everything. 358p. photos. websites. Little, Brown. Nov. 2017. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780316472708. POP

Gr 7 Up –In this lively and straightforward biography, gymnastics champion Raisman chronicles the path of dedication and determination she traversed during childhood and young adulthood to fulfill a dream of starring in the Olympics—not just once but twice. Detailed descriptions of training and competitions capture readers’ attention through well-paced narratives balanced by pertinent, smartly added dialogue and a selection of full-color photos. The disturbing experiences of sexual abuse by sports medicine doctor Larry Nassar, recently sentenced for child pornography and for molesting a large number of adolescent female gymnasts, including Raisman, are shared. Her honest account is effectively woven in without being graphic, and she makes a strong point about courageously speaking up when necessary (a hotline phone number and web address are given). Although her route was taxing, uplifting, exhilarating, frustrating, disappointing, and downright painful at various times, Raisman stayed the course and in the process succeeded and learned a great deal about herself as an individual and as a team player. The book concludes with a sensible “fierce guide to life” list. VERDICT Raisman’s inspiring and enlightening story belongs in every teen biography collection and will be especially appealing to readers with an affinity for gymnastics.–Diane P. Tuccillo, Poudre River Public Library District, CO

Resler, T.J. How Things Work: Inside Out: Discover Secrets and Science Behind Trick Candles, 3-D Printers, Penguin Propulsions, and Everything in Between. 208p. bibliog. further reading. glossary. illus. index. photos. websites. National Geographic. Dec. 2017. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781426328770.

Gr 4-8 –Visually appealing photographs and bright color backgrounds with a large, eye-popping font catch the attention of readers. Meant to meander through rather than read page by page, the volume has something for everyone: facts, trivia, and detailed views of the inner-workings of some remarkable inventions. A step beyond Resler’s 2016 edition of How Things Work, this one features five chapters on more complex inventions (3-D printers, telescopes, and cell phones), those inspired by nature (Gecko-like adhesives), novelty (lava lamps and Silly Putty), architecture (tunnels, skyscrapers), and innovations that have made lives easier (self-driving cars, and ATMs). Each chapter includes a “Try This!” project. There is also useful back matter to help those inspired to learn more. VERDICT With the many topics included, this would be a useful starting point for many science fair topics, reports, science classes, or for those who wish to just browse and learn.–Jane Hebert, Glenside Public Library District, Glendale Heights, IL

Ridley, Kimberly. Extreme Survivors: Animals That Time Forgot. 48p. bibliog. chart. chron. further reading. glossary. photos. websites. Tilbury. Dec. 2017. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9780884485001.

Gr 3-5 –Older than the dinosaurs, the 10 fascinating animals described here have survived, mostly unchanged, for more than 100 million years. These exceptions to the understanding of evolution have modified some of their behaviors and physical properties, but they have essentially stayed the same. They have managed to persist as 99 percent of living things have died out around them. The comb jelly can regrow its brain, ancient sea sponges can reassemble themselves, and the blue blood of horseshoe crabs can stop infections from spreading. Scientists today are studying the abilities of these animals in order to find new treatments for diseases. Ridley offers fascinating facts, along with excellent photographs and clear explanations of evolution and natural selection. The lively narration is instructive without being dull. Each two-page spread includes “Extreme Survival Secrets,” which give bits of additional information relating to the animals’ unusual abilities and habits. VERDICT Offering new information with excellent illustrations and a lively text, this will be a very useful and valuable addition to the natural science curriculum, especially on evolution and ancient animals.–Eva Elisabeth VonAncken, formerly at Trinity-Pawling School, NY

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