Friday, August 29, 2014

August Reads

It's the end of the month, so time for my monthly wrap-up of reads. August was a fabulous month! Here's what I read:

All the Light We Cannot See is one of the hottest titles circulating in Fauquier County; no surprise there, as author Anthony Doerr has received incredible reviews for his exquisitely told historical novel of two young people coming of age in Germany and France during World War II. The terror of French citizens during occupation and the manipulation of German youth (to the point that minors are forced to lie about their age in order to fight for a rapidly deteriorating Germany) is depicted through the perspectives of a blind French preteen and a German orphaned teenage boy. This is historical fiction at its best. Definitely one of my favorite reads of the year. Unforgettable.  (Adult historical fiction)

Claudia Mills's Franklin School Friends is a precious, funny, and realistic series ideal for young elementary school students. Each title focuses on the strengths of a Franklin School Friend; Annika Riz, Math Whiz follows Annika as she prepares for a sudoku contest at the library (in between trying to convince her friends that math is fun, and getting ready for and attending the school's carnival).  ADORABLE. We have excellent books about kids that love to read (such as Annika's friend, Kelsey Green, Reading Queen) and kids that love science (Franny K. Stein series), but not so much math lovers. Although Annika Riz is the second title in the Franklin School Friends series, you do not need to read Kelsey Green, Reading Queen first. The third title will feature Franklin School Friend Izzy and her love of track and field (out in Spring 2015).

YES! Science fiction that's not a 400+ doorstopper! Plenty of young readers would love to read stories about aliens and space travel, but too many are either too long or too mature for their level. After reading Blast Off!, I have high hopes for Nate Ball's Alien In My Pocket series. When a small alien crashes into fourth grader Zack McGee's bedroom, he causes a ton of mischief and aggravation for poor Zack. Not only is it super funny (there's some gross-out humor, but it's very mild), there are also scientific explanations tucked into the story (a science experiment that illustrates a key component in the action is also included)!

What comes to mind when you think of China? Probably Beijing and people that belong to the Han ethnic majority. In fact, China is bordered by 14 countries and includes 55 ethnic groups that speak 292 languages, ranging from ethnic Koreans near the North Korea border, Muslims in the Xinjiang province, to Russians living near the Russian border. David Eimer traveled to areas that are rarely visited by Westerners (including disputed borderlands), and chronicled his travels in his revealing account, The Emperor Far Away: Travels at the Edge of China.  Although the entire book is fascinating, I found the descriptions of Tibet, the expatriate North Korean community, and the underground Christian community most unforgettable. I love in-depth accounts of countries and cultures; this one is exceptional. (Adult nonfiction)

I have put off reading Enchantress From the Stars for some time, because I really wasn't in the mood for literary science fiction. However, I want to get back to my Newbery reading project, and it was next on my list (it received a Newbery Honor in 1971).  To my surprise, I was engrossed in this science fiction/fairy tale/Romeo & Juliet story of sorts.  Will definitely keep this in mind for science fiction recommendations!

As I mentioned in a recent blog, I've read enough books about the Romanovs that any new book has to have something unique about it in order for me to want to read it. The assassination of reform-minded Alexander II, the ascension of his revenge-minded son, Alexander III, the ineffectual and wholly unprepared Nicholas II, the immediate hatred of Tsarina Alexandra, the exponentially rising despair over the birth of four daughters, the hemophiliac heir, Rasputin, riots, war, exile, execution, and trading the misery of life under imperialism with the misery of life under's all too depressingly familiar. I'll read anything by Candace Fleming, so I automatically got on the wait list for this book.  If you're familiar with Candace Fleming, especially if you've read her biography of Amelia Earhart or her biography of Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln, you know that she presents history in a revealing, singular, and thought-provoking way. She has OUTDONE  herself with The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, & the Fall of Imperial Russia, and as extraordinary as I thought Amelia Lost was, this is even more so.  Although most books about the Romanovs do touch upon the extremely difficult lives of ordinary Russian subjects at the time, Fleming fully shows the desperation, extreme poverty, and lack of civil rights endured by both peasants and urban workers through diary accounts, letters, and other first-hand accounts, often including those from young children and teens. The (extremely) close-knit nature of Nicholas II's family is strongly depicted (although Tsarina Alexandra's chronic illnesses, isolation, and growing paranoia caused strong conflict at times with her daughters). The extreme and immediate dislike of Alexandra by the Russian elite is notable. Although there was growing disappointment and despair with the birth of each daughter, the pride and love for each infant daughter (expressed in their parents' diaries and letters) is very sweet. The aftermath of the executions and the DNA testing of the family's remains during the 1990s and early 2000s (and the controversial sainthood of the family and their servants by the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad) is also discussed. Don't be fooled by the fact that this is written for young people; this is an involved, difficult, and very sad read at times. But an amazing read.

If you want something much brighter, you must read Half a Chance. I adore it and have it on my Newbery list (as much as I love it, I do think there is a part of the story that might cause some debate).  As can expected from Cynthia Lord,  important lessons about family, friendship, and self-discovery are learned and conveyed in authentic and endearing situations. Lucy and her family have recently moved to a quiet lake community in Maine; luckily, she soon makes friends with a boy who shares her interest in photography. Entering a photography contest judged by her noted photographer father brings a multitude of ethical concerns; I have mixed feelings on the conclusion of the story, so I'm eager to learn what the readers of School Library Journal's Heavy Medal blog will have to say about it when the blog is revived in September! A subplot about early dementia is accurately and heartbreakingly portrayed. This is another winner from Cynthia Lord (and will make you want to book next year's summer vacation in Maine).

Henry Winkler is famous for his "Fonz" character from the 1970s sitcom Happy Days, but he's made a fine second career as a children's author. I recommend his Hank Zipzer series to reluctant and avid readers alike, as many children can relate to Hank, regardless of their academic success. Winkler conveys the frustrations of a child's academic struggles accurately because he knows it first-hand; he has been open about his unhappy childhood due to undiagnosed dyslexia during his school years (he was diagnosed with it after his stepson was diagnosed).  I'm thrilled that Winkler and longtime Hank Zipzer collaborator Lin Oliver have started a chapter book series about a young Hank Zipzer (the original series features Hank in middle school).  Hank deeply wants to be a part of the big school play, but he is overcome with stage fright during his audition. His understanding teacher creates a new role for him; good thing, because the star of the play (and a mean bully) has to be saved during the performance by Hank! This is funny, touching, and authentic--just like the first Hank Zipzer series.  Here's Hank: Bookmarks Are People Too!  is printed in a special font called Dyslexie, which was created by Dutch graphic designer Christian Boer specifically to help readers with dyslexia.

Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy has been bestowed with FIVE starred reviews, which is incredible. (Don't include this in your Newbery predictions, as Karen Foxlee lives in Australia; only authors currently living or maintaining a residence in the United States are eligible for the Newbery)  As you can guess, I'm not a huge fan of fantasy stories; I tend to go for realistic stories, but the impressive reviews require that I not neglect it. Happily, it's deliciously creepy and immeasurably readable.'s under 250 pages, which is unusual for a fantasy novel. (Could the fat novel fad for children's fantasy novels be dying down? Please say yes.) Ophelia is strictly scientifically-minded and has no time for anything hinting at magic or fantasy; while exploring the museum at which her father works, she meets a boy who is locked in the museum and finds that she will play a key role in his release (and in fulfilling an ancient mission). Fans of fairy tale-like stories (an evil queen plays a big role, and Ophelia, like many fairy tale heroines, is mourning her deceased mother) will love this.

Steve Sheinkin's nonfiction is often centered on events that had major social changes or implications. The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, And the Fight for Civil Rights focuses on a little-known event in American civil rights history.  As in all wartime conflicts in American history, African-American men were eager to serve their country in World War II; due to discrimination, many were relegated to segregated conditions that were unfair and even dangerous. Unsafe conditions at the Port Chicago in California lead to a massive explosion that killed more than 300 servicemen, of which many were African-American. After the explosion, 244 African-American servicemen refused to return to the port until the harmful and discriminatory conditions were addressed; they were charged with mutiny, jail time, and even execution. While some supporters have attempted to have their names cleared by presidential pardon, many survivors rejected that, as they felt that being pardoned reaffirmed their guilty sentences. It is so vital to have books about black history that teach history outside the slavery era and the 1960s/70s civil rights era; researching, reading, and learning about those two specific eras will never not be important, but books that highlight other important times in American history are very much needed.  This is published for the YA market (what a great year already for YA nonfiction!), but older history buffs will definitely want to read this.

Battle of the Books readers who were moved by Shooting Kabul will be happy to know that Saving Kabul Corner is a worthy companion novel to N.H. Senzai's first book. (You do not need to read Shooting Kabul before reading Saving Kabul Corner.)  Ariana and Laila are cousins, but they do not get along at all; Ariana is all-American, while Laila, recently arrived from Afghanistan, is more like the traditional Afghani girl that Ariana's relatives would like her to be. Laila cooks Puktun food expertly, sews, and can recite classic Puktun poetry beautifully; more than that, she forms a close bond with Ariana's best friend, Mariam, who can relate to the Puktun culture and the upheaval in Afghanistan, unlike Ariana.  Ariana's family owns and operates an Afghani grocery store; like many ethnic grocery stores, it is the heart of the Fremont Afghani community, where customers linger to chat about current events and loved ones left behind....until a rival Afghani grocery store opens in the same shopping center.  Age-old rivalries that were thought to be left behind in Afghanistan erupt, with disastrous results. Ariana, Laila, and their friends take it upon themselves to find the culprit behind the ongoing circulating falsehoods and destruction of property that threaten their family's livelihood.  The "kids save the day" element does strain credulity, but this is such a rich story of family, friendship, and the immigrant experience (not to mention such likable kids) that the overall charm and mystery makes that minor point immediately believable in this story. (And children understandably love "kids save the day" stories.)   Afghani-American culture is lovingly depicted, and the pride that Ariana's family takes in family and work is admirable and realistic. One of my favorite 2014 reads.

Another short science fiction chapter book series! Yes!  Archie Takes Flight is the inaugural entry in the Space Taxi series; Archie knows that his dad is a taxi driver, but what he doesn't know (until "Take Your Kid to Work Day!") is that his dad drives a space taxi for aliens. How cool is that?! As Archie accompanies his dad on a late night shift, they encounter all sorts of aliens, a weird cat, and a mastermind determined to ruin everything.  This is great fun.

Oh, wow. Can you say MIND BENDING? Because that's what We Were Liars definitely is. Cadence and her cousins have spent every summer at their family's exclusive island near Martha's Vineyard; lazy days on the beach, shopping in the Vineyard's quaint downtowns, and luxurious dinners fill the endless days of summer.  Cadence suffers a life-changing brain injury when she is fifteen; the extent and the reason behind her amnesia and crippling headaches is slowly revealed in flashbacks and hints scattered throughout the story. (Can't say much without ruining the story.)  Make sure you have time set aside to delve into the story; this YA novel will grip you until the very last page.  This has received five starred reviews, which is quite an achievement. Definitely putting this on my Printz 2015 short list.

Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated September 15-October 15. I recently blogged about some of my favorite picture books that highlight Latino culture on the ALSC blog (the Association for Library Services to Children is the professional organization for children's librarians; they are the ones that bestow the Newbery, Caldecott, and other great book awards).

Get ready; September and October are strong months for releases of new books. (Last chance to be noticed by the awards committees and the "Best Of" lists!) Make sure you are subscribed to Wowbrary to be among the first to know what titles have been ordered. We just ordered a bunch of awesome books (children's, teen, AND fiction/nonfiction for adults), so get ready!

Jennifer Schultz, Youth Services Librarian, Fauquier County Public Library

To learn more about Fauquier County Public Library's collectionevents, and programs, visit us on FacebookTwitter (Kiddosphere's feed is here), or on our website.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Amazing Astronomy

The waning days of summer and the early days of fall are perfect for attending star parties and astronomy events. If your weekend plans involve star gazing at Sky Meadows State Park or another regional venue, you should definitely check out our excellent children's and adult nonfiction astronomy collection:

Kenneth C. Davis's Don't Know Much About series has been a longtime popular choice for armchair historians and curiosity-seekers in general, but did you know that he also has a similar series for children? Don't Know Much About the Solar System  follows Davis's standard question-and-answer format, covering information about how the moon, planets, stars, and so forth.

Although the National Audubon Society's First Field Guide: Night Sky was written for a young audience, beginner amateur astronomers will find this handy guidebook immensely helpful. Basics of astronomy, such as star formations, eclipses, and constellations are explored in detail, in addition to features on the sun, moon,  Earth, and planets.  Viewing tips for each planet and constellation maps are included.  Its compact size makes it perfect for carrying in a purse or travel bag!

The Scholastic Atlas of Space is beautifully designed; text, graphics, and pictures are matched perfectly without overwhelming the reader.  Facts about planets, stars, space exploration, and star charts are plentiful but not overbearing.

Although the other titles in this post are fine books, Starwatch stands out because it includes star charts and information for every month, so that young astronomers will know exactly what to look for in any given month! This is valuable information for stargazers of all ages.

Hope the skies are clear whenever you go stargazing!

Jennifer Schultz, Youth Services Librarian, Fauquier County Public Library

To learn more about Fauquier County Public Library's collectionevents, and programs, visit us on FacebookTwitter (Kiddosphere's feed is here), or on our website.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Buzzing About National Honey Bee Day

Beekeeping has enjoyed a renaissance of sorts, due in part to rising awareness of the plight of honey bees and the popularity of homesteading skills in general. Since 2009, National Honey Bee Day has been observed to bring attention to the importance of honey bees and the worldwide plight of bee colonies. If you'd like to introduce your children to the fascinating world of honey bees, check out these books:

Megan McDonald is probably best known for her Judy Moody series, but her Ant and Honey Bee series is just as cute.  Ant and Honey Bee have a number of adventures, from preparing to a costume party, to dressing up for Halloween, and braving the cold for a fun visit.

If you're in search of a sweet cooperation story, Bear and Bee should definitely be on your list. If you were a bear and had just awakened from hibernation, would you be in the mood for honey? This bear certainly is! The only trouble is that the nearest beehive is being guarded by a buzzing honey bee.  Looks like bear is out of luck--or is he?

Jam & Honey  strikes a similar "cooperation" theme, this time involving a young girl and a bee. A little girl gathers berries while a bee gathers pollen; although both are initially wary of each other, they manage to go about their business in a respectful and calm manner.  This is a gentle nod to the importance of respecting nature; it would make an excellent addition to an Earth Day story time.

These Bees Count! follows a class on a field trip to a honey and bee farm.  While observing and counting the various crops and animals on the farm, the students also learn about the intriguing and important work of bees.

If you're in the mood for nonfiction:

The Scientists in the Field series has to be at the top of every fan of children's nonfiction lists (the official website is quite cool as well).  I have not read one book in that series that failed to impress, engage, and enlighten me. It's always a good day when a new entry is published (they're currently researching crows in New Caledonia!) The Hive Detectives: Chronicles of a Honey Bee Catastrophe features the quest to discover why Dave Hackenberg's bee colonies have vanished, and what bee scientists and beekeepers are doing to save honey bees.

Younger readers can be directed to Anne Rockwell's Honey in a Hive and Gail Gibbons's The Honey Makers, which present information about bee culture in simple yet fact-filled nonfiction picture books.

We have many resources for adults interested in bees and beekeeping.

Laline Paull's The Bees has been on my to-be-read adult fiction list ever since I heard it described as "The Hunger Games, but with bees."

If you're a Fauquier County Public Library patron (or staff member!) and you haven't subscribed to Wowbrary yet, you are missing out! I will send my September order in the upcoming last weeks of August (how did THAT happen?), and it is FILLED with amazing-sounding titles. I am having a tough time deciding what I need to order now, and what can wait (in addition to ordering fall-themed books and refreshing the board books collection! Eeek!). Wowbrary also includes the latest adult fiction and nonfiction on order, as well as recently ordered DVDs, CDs, and ebook/eaudio additions.

Jennifer Schultz, Youth Services Librarian, Fauquier County Public Library

To learn more about Fauquier County Public Library's collectionevents, and programs, visit us on FacebookTwitter (Kiddosphere's feed is here), or on our website.

Friday, August 08, 2014

What to Read, What to Read....

With the overwhelming number of children's titles published every year, it's easy to get intimidated by the vast amount of choices available. Of course, lazily browsing the shelves is fun and often leads to new discoveries, but having some sort of guide is extremely helpful. If you're in need of great lists of children's literature, then this post is for you!

Public libraries often curate lists of gems in their collections, and Fauquier County is no exception!  While we do have print booklists available at all locations, we also have a variety of themed booklists for children, including readalikes for popular series such as Diary of a Wimpy Kid, age-appropriate biographies, and lists on popular subjects such as horses and princesses.

The New York Public Library has a number of excellent booklists, including 100 Great Children's Books and an extensive bibliography of the year's most distinguished children's and YA books, grouped by genre or format.

The Association for Library Services to Children publishes an annual list highlighting the publishing year's best books (as chosen by its committee).  Unlike the Newbery and Caldecott committees, the Notable committees's proceedings are open to the public. Their discussion list for their 2015 list is already available online!

The Cooperative Children's Book Center (affiliated with the University of Wisconsin-Madison's School of Education) has a number of unique booklists, with an eye toward books that represented the diversity of this country.

If you'd prefer more extensive lists and information on children's books, I recommend the following:

If you ever need a gift for an expectant parent that will (hopefully) have a lasting impact, you can't get much better than Jim Trelease's The Read Aloud Handbook. The title is slightly misleading, for it's not just a "how to read aloud" book, but it's also a "WHY to read aloud" guidebook, complete with an extensive and annotated list of children's books.

As a fan of lists, one of my favorite series is the "1001 Things to Do Before You Die" series. The 1001 Children's Books to Read Before You Grow Up has an international flair, which may make tracking down several titles tricky.  It's still a fun read for children's literature fans!

Nancy Pearl's Book Crush is also a terrific guide; long enough to be extensive, but short enough to not be very overwhelming.

For a compact guide, Anita Silvey's 100 Best Books for Children is a must read for those interested in the history of classic children's literature.

Happy reading!

Jennifer Schultz, Youth Services Librarian, Fauquier County Public Library

To learn more about Fauquier County Public Library's collectionevents, and programs, visit us on FacebookTwitter (Kiddosphere's feed is here), or on our website.

Friday, August 01, 2014

It's Time to Think Back to School!

Did this summer fly by for you? It definitely did for me! Summer is winding down, and soon everyone will be back in the school routine.  School stories are a perennial favorite topic for authors of children's literature; every year brings fantastic additions to our collection.  I haven't seen our latest ones because they are either constantly checked out, or they haven't arrived on our shelves yet.  I'm anxious to read them!

Neil Gaiman and Adam Rex's adorable panda returns in Chu's First Day of School.  This little panda is quite nervous, as many children are about the first day of school.  Luckily, he finds that his worries about his classmates, his teacher, and the daily routine are unfounded.

What's the best part of the school day? Many would say that it's recess.  Comics Squad: Recess! features comics about recess from outstanding children's authors and illustrators.  Modern graphic novel favorites characters such as Babymouse and Lunch Lady make appearances, along with original characters not seen before this collection. Cannot wait!

Dinosaur has battled (or attempted to battle) potty training, bedtime, Santa Claus, and the library, but this little dinosaur may have met his match in Dinosaur vs. School.  As you can imagine, pasting, meeting new friends, and playing musical instruments is initially a challenge for this new preschooler, but Dinosaur learns the fun of school and making friends.

The Little School Bus  stars Driver Bob and a very happy school bus as they pick up students, drop them off at school, and take care of minor repairs.  Riding the school bus is an exciting yet intimidating experience for many young children, so I'm excited to find another fun read aloud about school buses.

Parents of kindergarten students! We have a special story time for rising kindergarten students on August 14 at all branches (10:30 a.m.).

Want to know about our latest additions to our catalog? You should subscribe to Wowbrary!

I recently blabbered on about summer reading lists at the ALSC blog

Jennifer Schultz, Youth Services Librarian, Fauquier County Public Library

To learn more about Fauquier County Public Library's collectionevents, and programs, visit us on FacebookTwitter (Kiddosphere's feed is here), or on our website.

Friday, July 25, 2014

July Reads

Read any good books in July? I sure did! Let me tell you about them:

Books about dogs are hugely popular at our libraries; Duke's great cover attracted many young dog fans, and its superbly created story about a young boy who volunteers his dog for the World War II effort has undoubtedly introduced many readers to Kirby Larson's exceptional talents (Hattie Big Sky is a 2007 Newbery Honor book, and her The Friendship Doll is one of the handful of stories about dolls that I actually really enjoy). Hobie is reluctant to volunteer Duke, but is reassured by the fact that most dogs in the service remain stateside.  When Hobie learns that Duke is actually being trained for combat, he begins a letter writing campaign to Duke's trainer in the hopes of having him returned.  We've seen an increase in books about military dogs; Duke is a great choice for readers not quite ready to (emotionally) handle Cracker! The Best Dog in Vietnam or Dogs of War. Dash (out in late August) is Larson's follow-up to Duke, and features a Japanese-American girl who is separated from her dog when she is sent to an internment camp.

For the most part, I'm pretty "meh" about new books about the last Romanovs. I've read quite a number of them, ever since I picked up my grandparents' copy of Nicholas and Alexandra when I was in middle or high school (can't remember).  What possible new angle could a historian bring to this family, which has been obsessively studied? And an entire book just on the daughters? They were so secluded during their entire lives, and the oldest (Olga) was only 22 when they were killed, so it's hard to imagine a lengthy nonfiction book just about their lives. However, this has received a ton of attention and great reviews, so I decided to check it out.   From the moment I read that curious tourists touring the Russian palaces shortly after the executions were able to still see indentations in young Alexey's wheelchair, I knew that Helen Rappaport's new biography of the Romanov grand duchesses was going to be an eye-opening read.  Rappaport brilliantly evokes the increasing paranoia of Empress Alexandra and the suffocating reclusive life of the family (especially when the oldest girls reached puberty), which lead to distrust and hatred by the Russian elite (and on the other side of society....when the Tsarina and her daughters become involved in nursing activities during the war, the peasantry was disturbed by their very average appearances).  Even those familiar with the Romanovs will want to read this unique addition to imperial Russian history.  Young history fans might be interested in The Lost Crown, Sarah Miller's excellent YA novel about the Romanov grand duchesses and/or Candace Fleming's (very very) new biography of The Family Romanov.

(Question: Which book cover do you think is the best? The one pictured above is the American edition, and the one that is on the covers of our copies. This cover:

Four Sisters: The Lost Lives of the Romanov Grand Duchesses.  UK Hardback Edition.

is the UK edition and features the girls at very young ages.  I think they are both gorgeous, but I'm partial to the American cover, because it shows the girls as they appeared shortly before their deaths.)

Sally Ride: America's First Woman in Space is an exceptional biography of the first American female astronaut.  Sally Ride was a Stanford graduate student when she came across an ad in the student newspaper recruiting women and minorities for NASA's new shuttle program; intrigued, she applied, became one of six women in the history-making NASA Group 8, and the rest is history.  Although her public life and career were well known, her private life and cancer diagnosis were not fully revealed until her death.  As the first comprehensive biography for adults, Lynn Sherr's account of this complex person is an intriguing and engrossing read (my minor criticism is that scattered references to pop culture--i.e. Angry Birds--may date the biography more quickly than necessary). Space fans of my generation and older will recognize that the graphic design for the main title is in the same style of NASA's logo during Sally Ride's active years in NASA.  I love carefully designed cover art! 

A Time to Dance has earned three starred reviews, which is a remarkable feat!  This YA novel in verse about a young Bharatanatyam (a form of classical dance in India) dancer who struggles with her new life post-amputation is deeply moving and illuminating.  Readers interested in dance stories, stories about young people with disabilities, or multicultural stories should definitely read this. I'm crossing my fingers that the Schneider committee doesn't miss this!

While we have several books about assistance or therapy dogs, Tuesday Tucks Me In is unique in that it addresses (in an age-appropriate way) Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (without actually naming it). Some of Luis Carlos Montalvan's combat wounds are internal; he suffers nightmares and is extremely uncomfortable in crowds, but having Tuesday allows him to be a functioning member in society (the picture of Capt. Montalvan hugging Tuesday while on a crowded subway is heartbreaking and heartwarming).  Based on Montalvan's memoir, Until Tuesday, this is a gentle and stirring tribute to a very special friendship.

We're getting ready for the fall publishing season! Make sure you are subscribed to Wowbrary so you won't miss the great new additions to our collection!

Jennifer Schultz, Youth Services Librarian, Fauquier County Public Library

To learn more about Fauquier County Public Library's collectionevents, and programs, visit us on FacebookTwitter (Kiddosphere's feed is here), or on our website.

Friday, July 18, 2014

45 Years Ago

Do you know what July 20th is? If you're a space nerd, you know that it's the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing!  What better opportunity than to check out our awesome books on space!

I was on the 2010 Jefferson Cup committee that named Mission Control, This is Apollo as one of the honor books (I wrote the annotation on this page); it's a gorgeously written and illustrated book that covers all aspects of space travel (including the question of toilet matters that every astronaut is asked about) and all 17 Apollo missions. 

I have been recommending the You Choose series ever since we received them, and order new ones when I can; these choose-your-own-adventure stories are not only super fun interactive stories, but they are also packed with amazing facts! The Race to the Moon focuses on the space race and the Apollo moon landing. Readers can choose to be a young rocket scientist, a journalist, or a mission control specialist. 

The Apollo 11 moon landing involved many more people than just the three astronauts (Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins). Team Moon pays tribute to the 400,000 people involved not only with mission control, but engineers, seamstresses, software technicians, and many more.  

We recently enjoyed an Out of This World story time at our branches, which featured stories about space and space activities (making paper rockets, drawing constellations, and making flying saucers).  Warrenton's toddler story time enjoyed stories and fingerplays about the moon and space travel, including these favorites:

Christine Loomis's adventurous bunnies star in Astro Bunnies, an intergalactic experience with stars and bunnies from another planet. Super silly and fun to read aloud! 

It's hard to beat 8 Spinning Planets for an introduction to the 8 planets. Told in a (workable!) rhyme scheme, young readers and listeners are introduced to basic facts about each planet.  Young children will enjoy the 3-D representation of each planet. 

Happy Birthday Moon features Frank Asch's young and lovable bear, who takes a fancy to the moon.  It has a bit more conversation than what I normally like to include in a story time selection, but it's a must read for a moon/space story time. 

The bumbling and wacky sheep from the classic Sheep in a Jeep are back in Sheep Blast Off .  Instead of causing chaos in a jeep, they wreck havoc in a space ship! This is a quick read aloud, but you should practice beforehand to minimize the chance of tripping over your tongue! 

Finally, if you're a grown up space enthusiast, these might catch your eye. I searched our catalog for related books and immediately wanted to bring every book home that I found. I managed to settle on the following:

Several articles about the Apollo astronauts mention that First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong is the book to read about this famously private man.  

Buzz Aldrin has become an elder statesman of the space program; with the 45th anniversary approaching, he's in much demand for his thoughts on Apollo 11's legacy, the current state of NASA, and the future of Mars exploration.  The stress and fame of being the first astronauts on the moon took their toll on the Apollo 11 astronauts, including depression (Neil Armstrong spoke about randomly bursting into tears in the days and months after the flight) and marital strife, which Buzz Aldrin is open about in his memoir, Magnificent Desolation: The Long Journey Home From the Moon.

Tom Wolfe's classic account of the space race and the Apollo missions is brought to new life in this expanded and illustrated edition. I peeked at this dense account right before I went to sleep, and it looks fantastic. 

While the astronauts were away from home training for space mission (and occasionally getting into mischief), their wives were holding down the home front, raising the children, and dealing with the constant media attention on their hairstyles, wardrobe, and their interactions with their husbands and children.  The Astronaut Wives Club is a hugely entertaining, fascinating, and occasionally heartbreaking tribute to these unique women. 

(ALSO....I won't talk about it until later in the month, but Lynne Sherr's new biography of Sally Ride is a must read for space fanatics.  Now, someone PLEASE write a history of the six women who were in NASA's first class of female astronauts. The success of The Astronaut Wives Club, The Girls of Atomic City, and Sherr's biography strongly demonstrate that books about women's history, especially science history, can and will be well received by the general book buying--and borrowing!-- public.  I also want an overview of NASA Group 8. Someone--make it happen! ) 

As you can guess, there are tons of awesome websites about the Apollo 11 mission and anniversary: 

Smithsonian Air & Space Museum tribute. They ran a mock "live tweet"  @Relive Apollo11

@NASAKennedy also ran a mock "live tweet" of the launch on July 16.

(Did you know that astronauts on the International Space Station are active on Twitter?)

Buzz Aldrin is spearheading a major social media campaign to collect people's memories of the moon landing (as he says, he, Armstrong, and Collins were "out of town" for the big day). You can get more details about #Apollo45 on his website. has information on NASA's planned activities for the anniversary.

Jennifer Schultz, Youth Services Librarian, Fauquier County Public Library

To learn more about Fauquier County Public Library's collectionevents, and programs, visit us on FacebookTwitter (Kiddosphere's feed is here), or on our website.