Category Archives: readers’ advisory

Moon books


We have a lot of great new books about the moon landing! Check out our display in the Children’s Services Department!

Did you know that a 10-year-old helped solve a problem during the mission’s return to Earth? Follow the link to hear the true story on StoryCorps, or check out the picture book Marty’s Mission.



The Giacomettis and my dad

This new book just came in:

Two Brothers, Four Hands: The Artists Alberto and Diego Giacometti by Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan; illustrated by Hadley Hooper
The inspiring true story of the Giacometti brothers, one an artist, the other a daredevil, both devoted to their craft . . . but even more devoted to each other.

It reminded me of a story that my dad told about walking to the bus stop for school. One of the houses he used to pass had a really interesting sculpture out front. He saw someone who seemed to be the homeowner one day and let him know how much he liked the piece of art.

I’m not sure how much later my dad found out that the sculpture was a Giacometti, and that the owner was a major collector of modern art who owned 70 works by that artist alone!

Reading the book, I found out that Giacometti had his first one man show in the US the year my dad was born. The Museum of Modern Art held a retrospective of his work in 1965, about the time my dad would have been walking to the bus stop in Pittsburgh.

This book was the first time I heard of Diego Giacometti, the artist’s younger brother. He helped out at his brother’s studio doing things like building bases for the sculptures. He later started to make work of his own, and is especially known for furniture that incorporates little cast metal animals (he loved the outdoors). Reading about him online this morning, I learned that while collectors call Alberto Giacometti’s sculptures “Giacomettis,” Diego Giacometti’s pieces are called “Diegos.”

This book includes drawings and photos of both brothers’ creations. I don’t know of anywhere that you can currently see a Giacometti outside someone’s house, but there are several at the Art Institute of Chicago.


E.B. White at 120

I bet a lot of you have read Charlotte’s Web (maybe Stuart Little or The Trumpet of the Swan, too). Have you seen this beautiful new biography of author E.B. White? July 11 will mark 120 years since he was born.

Learning from history

“Do you think there could ever be concentration camps in the USA?” asked my eighth grade teacher.

Some students answered no. I remembered one of the short stories collected in The Big Book For Peace, about a boy in an internment camp for Japanese Americans during World War II. That was the topic my teacher was leading to, the fact that our country once had concentration camps.

We read another short story that day, The Bracelet by Yoshiko Uchida, who was put in a camp with her family in Nevada. As best as I can remember, this was in English class and we didn’t really cover the topic as part of the history curriculum. In college a Japanese American man visited and spoke about his experiences being interned as a boy. Since two of these experiences (a library book and a lecture) were voluntary, perhaps it isn’t surprising that sometimes even adults have never heard of these internments during World War II.

At the end of 2016, I shared a list of fiction and nonfiction about Japanese American internment. We still own most of those books (and all of them are available through Pinnacle). Some new ones have been published since then, including a title on the list of nominees for the 2020 Rebecca Caudill Award: Fred Korematsu Speaks Up.

So far not many copies of that book have been checked out compared to other nominated titles, but I think now would be a good time to read it. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez recently referred to the places where migrants are detained as “concentration camps.” Some people were shocked, thinking of how the term is primarily applied to Nazi death camps. Some books, including Uchida’s, use the term to refer to the internment of Japanese Americans. Some do not. There is more than one Library of Congress subject heading, including:

Japanese Americans evacuation and relocation, 1942-1945


World War, 1939-1945 — Concentration camps — United States

Here are some of the new books on Japanese American internment:

Enemy Child: The Story of Norman Mineta, a Boy Imprisoned in a Japanese American Internment Camp During World War II by Andrea Warren
A biography of Norman Mineta, from his internment as a child in Heart Mountain Internment Camp during World War II, through his political career including serving in congress for ten terms during which time he was instrumental in getting the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 passed which provided reparations and an apology to those who were interned. Suggested for grades 4-6 or ages 10 and up

Fred Korematsu Speaks Up by Laura Atkins and Stan Yogi; illustrations by Yutaka Houlette
Fred Korematsu’s life changed when the United States went to war with Japan in 1941 and the government forced all people of Japanese ancestry to leave their homes on the West Coast and move to distant prison camps. This included Fred, whose parents had immigrated to the United States from Japan many years before. But Fred refused to go. He knew that what the government was doing was unfair. And when he got put in jail for resisting, he knew he couldn’t give up. Suggested for grades 4-8

Uprooted: The Japanese American Experience During World War II by Albert Marrin
A nonfiction Sibert Honor Book about the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. Suggested for ages 12 and up

Write To Me: Letters from Japanese American Children to the Librarian They Left Behind by Cynthia Grady; illustrated by Amiko Hirao
This nonfiction picture book includes excerpts from children’s letters held at the Japanese American National Museum. Suggested for ages 4-8 or kindergarten to grade 3.

George Takei will also publish a new graphic memoir for young adults next month.

You can also read about how Japanese Americans who lived in these camps are responding to current events.

I need something to read this summer!

readersNow that the summer reading program is about to start, all you need is something to read! Are you looking for some fresh ideas? The ALSC Summer Reading Lists are a great resource, featuring new and popular books for different age groups. The Association for Library Service to Children has more recommended reading lists including topics like  graphic novels and audiobooks.

There are plenty of other places to look for ideas, too. To see recommended titles available at this library, try our lists of books for each grade level. You can also browse our newest children’s books on the library website. You can even sign up to get lists of new books sent to you!

Do you have a book you want to tell everybody about? Coming soon, you can fill out a shelf talker to help point out your favorite book to other readers! Look for your neighbors’ notes to help you find something new to try.



Walt Whitman is turning 200

Walt Whitman was born 200 years ago on May 31, 1819. Robert Burleigh, who has written poetry and a number of historical biographies, has a new book to mark the occasion:

O Captain, My Captain: Walt Whitman, Abraham Lincoln, And the Civil War words by Robert Burleigh; illustrations by Sterling Hundley
Nonfiction picture book recounts how President Abraham Lincoln inspired the poet Walt Whitman during the Civil War.

Most of my memories of Walt Whitman come from high school. When we studied American Literature, our teacher had us all purchase copies of Leaves of Grass. I was surprised to see the poet mentioned on an episode of Beverly Hills 90210, and my dad explained to me that the show’s writers were probably using the reference to hint that a character might be gay.

“I sing the body electric” and “I am large, I contain multitudes” are two familiar phrases that come from Whitman’s poetry. For my generation, the words “O Captain, my Captain” will probably bring to mind this scene from the movie Dead Poets Society.

Several years ago I had a chance to attend the ALSC National Institute, which featured Brian Selznick as a special guest. He spoke very movingly about what it was like for him, as a gay man, to illustrate a biography about this gay icon.

We no longer have that beautiful book at this library, but here are a couple of biographies we do own:

Walt Whitman / by Catherine Reef
Illustrated with old photographs, this biography includes intriguing details like Whitman’s leaving school at age 11 and the time he spent as a Civil War nurse. 0395687055

Walt Whitman : a biography / Milton Meltzer.
A biography of the nineteenth-century poet, which presents his life in the context of his times, and includes samples of his writing. 0761322728

For an introduction to his poetry, this is an appealing choice for younger listeners:

When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer by Walt Whitman; illustrated by Loren Long

You can find more of his writing in these collections:

American Poetry

Americans Who Tell the Truth

Edgar Allan Poe’s Pie: Math Puzzlers in Classic Poems

A Family of Poems: My Favorite Poetry for Children

Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out

New books about Hedy Lamarr

Have you seem Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story or any of the buzz on social media when the movie about this actress and inventor was released? For the first time, our library has two new children’s books that tell her story:

Hedy And Her Amazing Invention by Jan Wahl; illustrated by Morgana Wallace
Hedy and her Amazing Invention teaches kids about the pioneering scientific work and inspiring courage of Hedy Lamarr, the famous Hollywood actress who fought against old-fashioned parents, a domineering husband, prejudice, and stereotypes to become an accomplished inventor whose work helped pave the way for many of the communications technologies we enjoy today.

Hedy Lamarr’s Double Life written by Laurie Wallmark; illustrated by Katy Wu
Hedy Lamarr became a movie legend, but her true loves were always science and engineering. During World War II, Hedy collaborated with another inventor on an innovative technology called frequency hopping. It was designed to prevent the enemy from jamming torpedo radio signals and commanding weapons to go off course. Frequency hopping is still used today to keep our cell phone messages private and defend our computers from hackers. In this biography, meet the real Hedy Lamarr: not only a beloved film star, but a visionary scientist who helped create the world we live in today.