Monday, March 16, 2009
This biography of a relatively unknown civil rights pioneer should be in every middle and high school library. I had heard of Claudette Colvin because I read Freedom Walkers by Russell Freedman, but I had no idea of the real story behind this 15-year-old girl who was arrested for not giving up her seat on a Montgomery bus months before Rosa Parks came along. Instead of being hailed as a hero, Claudette was actually ostracized and vilified by most of her fellow students. She faced criminal charges and was shortly after expelled from school due to her unplanned pregnancy. She could have given up the fight for justice but the next year she was the key witness in the federal lawsuit that officially ended bus segregation in Alabama. She risked her life to testify and never really got much credit for her efforts. Author Phillip Hoose tracked down Claudette Colvin in New York City and personally interviewed her numerous times for this book. It's well-written and absorbing and a great example of using primary sources. Recommended for readers of all ages—including adults.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Imagine if someone found your body 400 years from now. What would they know about you? What could they learn from your skeleton? Believe it or not, scientists and anthropologists can learn a lot from human remains and this book tells about several mysterious bodies found in Virginia and Maryland. All the bodies were from people who died in the 1600s during the time in which Europeans were colonizing the "new world." In most cases historians knew absolutely nothing about the individual people found, but scientists were able to learn how old they were, whether they were male or female, how hard they worked, what country they came from, how long they had been in the colonies, and what diseases they suffered from. In some cases they have been able to figure out exactly how they died and who they were. This book is not only brilliantly written by award-winning author Sally Walker, it's full of stunning photographs and information about how these scientists do their jobs. A great choice for social studies teachers as well as curious middle or even high school readers.
Monday, March 09, 2009
This is the 10th and final book in the Princess Diaries series. Mia has grown up and matured and is now turning 18. In the beginning she finds herself telling lies to everyone—her parents, her boyfriend, and even her best friends. She lies about her college acceptances (she got in to every college and she thinks it's because she's a princess) and her senior thesis (which is really a steamy 400 page romance novel). Most importantly, she's lying to herself in thinking that she is in love with her current boyfriend, J.P. But when former boyfriend Michael returns from Japan she can't deny her real attraction to him. One of the most satisfying parts is that she and former best friend Lilly resolve their issues and Mia concludes that her oldest friends are the most important ones in her life. It's a believable and happy ending to the series and those who have read all of the books will not want to miss this one. Meg Cabot is, as always, funny and hip and in touch with teen girls. However, as a middle school librarian I have to say that a major plotline of this story is whether or not Mia will have sex after prom. She is the only remaining virgin among all of her friends and it is discussed a great deal. While Mia ends up making thoughtful decisions, the attitude of her friends toward sexuality is pretty flippant. I have always thought that Meg Cabot was writing for teenagers, not little girls or tweens, and that is definitely the case here. I have not seen this mentioned in any other reviews and I think it's a significant part of this book.