“The girl with all the gifts” M.R. Carey

Rated 3 stars *** 2015. Orbit (Hatchette). 431 p. (Includes “Interview [with the author],” “Reading group guide,” and a chapter from an upcoming book.)

The girl with all the giftsA strange type of spore has invaded the world, changing most of the population into zombies. Mindless “hungries” are left to wander the ruined land seeking blood. There are just a few pockets of normal civilizations, who shut themselves behind barricaded walls guarded by soldiers. Ten-year-old Melanie has grown up in such a place with other children, strapped into wheelchairs by soldiers for school, and kept in cells at all other times. Her mind is eager for knowledge, and she longs for the times when Miss Justineau, her favorite teacher, visits the classroom.

After hungries attack her secure area, Melanie, Miss Justineau, an evil doctor and two soldiers are left to make their way South towards one of the only remaining civilizations left in Great Britain knowing that hungries lie in wait on every crumbled street in every forsaken city. It is the ingenuity of little Melanie, and the love she has for her teacher, which powers the book towards its inevitable ending. I wasn’t a fan of that ending, but it seemed to make the most sense given everything else that happened in the book.

At first I was bored, and couldn’t get into the book. It wasn’t until the hungries invaded that I became more invested. Though it had a slow start it raised a lot of thinking about what happens when an Apocalypse occurs, but it also left quite a few unanswered questions. The Q & A with the author at the end was very enlightening.

I recommend this book for Adults.

“Hannah’s war” Jan Eliasberg

Rated 5 stars **** ARC. To be published March 3, 2020. 313 p. (Includes Author’s note, Further exploration, and Reading group guide.)

Hannah's warLise Meitner,  a physicist who discovered nuclear fission, is an unknown figure to those of us not part of the scientific world. Eliasberg wrote “Hannah’s war” to get Lise’s story “out there,” and to explain why Hitler’s scientists were never able to produce an atomic bomb of their own.

Hannah Weiss, a brilliant scientist who lived in Germany during Hitler’s brutal reign, has been denied her rightful place among scientists because she’s female and Jewish. When her arrest by the Gestapo was forthcoming she was whisked away to the United States where she joined other scientists to work on the Manhattan Project, (the American race to create a bomb before Hitler).

In time the commanding officer of the Project was informed that there was a spy amongst the scientists, which led to Major Jack Delaney being assigned to the case. His dogged determination to uncover the spy’s identity, and the revealed secrets that follow, are the basis for this historical fiction tale of romance, intrigue, and betrayal during a time that forever changed our world.

I really enjoyed “Hannah’s war,” and know other readers will also enjoy it.

Recommended for Adults.

“The Dozier School for Boys: Forensics, survivors, and a painful past” Elizabeth A. Murray, PhD

Rated 5 stars ***** Twenty-first Century Books (Lerner Publishing). 2020. (Includes Photographs, Source Notes, Glossary, Selected Bibliography, Further Information [books, audio/video, newspaper/magazine/web articles], and an Index.)

The Dozier School for BoysAs mentioned in an earlier post, I read Colson Whitehead’s “The Nickel Boys,” and wanted to find out more about the school on which he’d based the book’s events.

Survivors from the Dozier School for Boys in Marianna, Florida formed support groups, which gave them the strength to contact the media about the years of abuse they’d suffered as young boys. After the media got involved the state of Florida allowed teams from the University of South Florida to investigate the school cemetery and exhume bodies for identification purposes.

Interviews, primary sources and detailed forensic techniques combine to give a view of the school that was eye opening because the town in which it was located knowingly allowed the abuse to continue over the years. To me this is similar to how towns, in which Nazi concentration camps were located, willingly allowed atrocities to happen with their full knowledge. It was interesting how the town of Marianna kept denying their culpability, when they were just as guilty in covering it all up for decades as were the school staff and the state of Florida.

Highly recommended for teens ages 14 and older, as well as for Adults.

“March: Book three” by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell

Rated 5 stars ***** 2016. Top Shelf Productions. March #3. 246 p.

March book 3Death, White mob mentalities, racism, police brutality, and violence fill the pages of “March: Book three” as John Lewis and thousands of  volunteers nonviolently protested for the right to register to vote in the White strongholds of Mississippi and Alabama. Hundreds were arrested, beaten and intimidated. Some were even murdered by policemen, and other White supremacists.

Day after day, month after month, year after year nonviolent protests continued as their basic American right to vote was continually denied in these states. Lewis’ accounts of that time, along with detailed black and white illustrations, will bring even the most stoic of readers to tears. The evils perpetrated on the marchers by Jim Clark, Sheriff of Selma, as well as the struggles they faced that led to the signing of the 1965 Voting Rights Act are closely laid out in this amazing book.

During the present and past narratives Lewis employs, he’s with Obama at his 2009 inauguration. He presents the President with a commemorative card to sign, and Obama wrote “Because of you, John.” That phrase struck a deep cord in me. Barack’s rise was because of John, and others like him, who endured years of beatings and imprisonments to get out the Black vote. They showed that going out to vote is important. I have to add that if you’re reading this, and are old enough to vote and haven’t, please vote. Our country needs your vote.

The second moment that moved me to tears took place that 2009 evening when Lewis received a call from Ted Kennedy. Ted’s words of reminiscence, along with the names of those who were part of the battle but had been murdered for the cause, also made me emotional.

As a reminder to the reader, everything John Lewis writes about his time fighting for Civil Rights is educational. Maya Angelou once said (and I paraphrase): “We need to remember where we’ve been to know where we’re going.” The March series tells our history, no matter the color of your skin. It’s AMERICA’S history, and we’re all part of it.

RUN and get all 3 copies of this amazing series. I will repeat what I said in my review of “March: Book two” because it’s very important: All books in the March series are important to be read, not just by young adults, but also by all adults. 

Highly recommended for ages 14 and older.

PS – Below is the picture I took of John Lewis as he got ready to speak to the thousands and thousands of us marching in the 2017 Women’s March of Atlanta. I was proud to shake his hand before we set off on that rainy, chilly day in January. 

John Lewis

 

“More deadly than war: The hidden history of the Spanish Flu and the First World War” by Kenneth C. Davis

5 stars ***** 2018. Henry Holt & Company (Macmillan). 291 p. (Includes Appendices, a Bibliography, Notes and an Index.)

MoreDeadlyThanWarUsing period photographs, timelines and quotes from historians and physicians, Davis’ attention to detail puts the Spanish Flu outbreak of 1918 into its historical time and place. His finely researched book gives background information about the causes of World War I, in easy-to-read chapters, while also thoroughly explaining the pandemic that cost millions of lives around the world.

In a story like, narrative manner, Davis weaves in details of how the flu affected armies and civilians across the world. Readers are introduced to physicians who worked over the centuries to isolate the cause of various illnesses, showing the mindsets of their times. Fascinating facts about the spread of the flu, long hidden to history, are laid out and dissected.

High school and adult lovers of history will find this book to be an important one to add to their collections.

Highly recommended for ages 18 and up.

 

“Agua, aquita”: “Water, little water” Jorge Tetl Argueta

Rated 5 stars ***** 2017. Piñata Books.

AguaAguitaA little droplet of water narrates its birthplace travels from deep within Mother Earth, describing how it becomes “a river, a lake, an ocean. Drop by drop.” Young readers can use scientific guesses and observations to figure out why water is “one color in the morning and another in the afternoon. And then at night another color.” The interesting riddle of how water can be many colors, yet be colorless; have all flavors, yet have no flavor, and be all shapes yet have no shape will leave them intrigued.

Through full-page colorful illustrations and simple text, the enormous impact water has on the world is unveiled to its readers. The full poem about this water droplet, written in the author’s native language of Nahuat, (spoken by the Pipil-Nahua Indians, a San Salvadorian tribe) closes out this informative book.

Highly recommended for ages 5-9.

“Olinguito, from A to Z! /Olinguito, de la A a la Z!” Lulu Delacre

Rated 5 stars ***** 2016. Illustrated by Lulu Delacre. Children’s Book Press (Lee & Low). IncludOlinguitofromAtoZOlinguitoDelaAalaZes descriptive narratives on the Discovery of the Olinguito, The Cloud Forest and The Illustrations. Also includes ways readers can become explorers within the pages of the book as well as through online activities. The book also includes a detailed Glossary of scientific names of plants and animals in the cloud forest, complete with illustrations of each one, a list of More Helpful Words, and a detailed list of the Author’s Sources.

This amazingly detailed, well-researched and beautifully illustrated bilingual picture book for older and younger readers is more than an A to Z book of plants and animals found in the Ecuadorian Andes cloud forest. Used in conjunction with the very detailed Glossary, each page unveils unique and varied life forms found in this fascinating cloud forest.

Readers will learn about unusual creatures such as the tanager, quetzal, barbet and, of course, the olinguito. Not to be outdone, reading about vegetation with interesting sounding names like the Bomarea flower, passiflora, wax palm and epiphytes will also pique their curiosity. Each page contains rich stores of knowledge waiting to be explored. Each of the more than 40 plants and animals in the book have a story to tell, and can easily become extensive research projects for its elementary and middle school readers.

Well known author and illustrator Lulu Delacre has outdone herself with her latest book. I expect “Olinguito, from A to Z! /Olinguito, de la A a la Z!” will create quite a stir at next year’s American Library Association’s Youth Media Awards. I consider it a candidate for the Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Award, as well as for the Pura Belpré Author Award. Remember that you read it first here!

Highly recommended for ages 7-14.