Saturday, December 20, 2008

Blah Blah Blah More Book Reviews

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The Story of Costume (The Not-So-Random Shelf: Nonfiction)

If you know a child/tween interested in fashion, hand them this book. It’s not lengthy, but the descriptions and beguiling illustrations will keep readers of all ages intrigued. Beginning with ancient Egypt and ending with the present day, readers are provided with numerous examples of clothes worn by both everyday people and the nobility/royalty/upper class of the day. John Peacock gives us succinct examples of the fashion of the day. “In the early 1980s padded shoulders and big sleeves were fashionable for day and evening. Hair was very curly and women liked big earrings.” Hahahaha…oww. The pictures further illustrate the beauty (or the horror) of each era’s fashion. Very cool.

A More Perfect Union: The Story of Our Constitution (The Not-So-Random Shelf: Nonfiction)

For lower elementary school students needing information about the Constitution, A More Perfect Union is a satisfactory choice. Betsy Maestro takes a tricky subject and transforms it into an understandable and readable concept for young students.

The Big Milly-Molly-Mandy Storybook (The Not-So-Random Shelf: Chapter Book)

For an old-fashioned and charming read, check out The Big Milly-Molly-Mandy Storybook. This collection of 1920s short stories about a small-town British girl is quite sweet. To paraphrase Abraham Lincoln, those who enjoy that sort of thing will enjoy it. You know who you are.

The Bone Detectives (The Not-So-Random Shelf: Nonfiction)

CSI and spinoffs have made forensic science very popular. The Bone Detectives takes us into the world of forensic anthropology, in which dedicated scientists attempt to identify victims and solve crimes with very little information. The science and methodology are undeniably intriguing, but the focus on one unfortunate woman’s identity and fate tempers down the “cool” factor of the work (and rightly so).

White Sands, Red Menace (read for Capitol Choices)

When looking at the later part of the last century as represented in children’s/young adult historical fiction, it’s obvious that World War II, the civil rights era, and Vietnam War are quite well represented (Vietnam War becoming more so), but the pre-Cold War era is pretty much nonexistent. Luckily, we now have the superb White Sands, Red Menace to help fill in that gap. There’s just so much that is awesome about this book that it’s hard to describe. You have two fabulous tween girl characters. You have an author who can input historical details of the era (soda jerks, the dawn of television sets) without it being forced or too obvious. You sense that something really big is about to happen with the women’s movement, the space race, and nuclear science, but it’s only a slowly moving current at the time. This is an era in which, on the surface, not much happened, but American society was on the brink of major cultural changes. And it’s not done in a wink wink, nudge nudge style. That would have cheapened the book enormously. Add in the universal theme of first love/first kiss, and the unexpected return of an absent parent, and you have a very remarkable book. If it received a Newbery Honor, I would be very pleased.

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