Category Archives: Non-Fiction

Sandy’s Circus

Sandy’s Circus

Sandy's Circus

Read about Alexander Calder in Sandy’s Circus – As a boy, Sandy was always fiddling with odds and ends, making objects for friends. When he got older he started creating wire sculptures. Sandy made a lion. Next came a lion cage. Before he knew it, he had an entire circus and was traveling between Paris and New York performing a brand-new kind of art for amazed audiences.

Alexander Calder (nicknamed “Sandy”) was an American artist in the early 1900s. He is best known for making mobiles. He is also famous for making a miniature circus out of wire and bits of metal and string. This book is the story of Mr. Calder and his circus. The circus figures were tiny mechanical toys that used springs and string and air to move. Mr. Calder carried the little circus around in suitcases and would unload all of the pieces and perform the circus himself – kind of like a puppet show. You can watch the video below and see the real Mr. Calder performing his circus show. Remember that each of those circus figures he made out of bits of trash. Now that’s an artist – making a work of art out of trash! In the video, the circus pieces balance and move and do exactly what he wants them to do – and they look like what they are supposed to look like too…the lion, the trapeze artist, the elephant. Watch the horse rider figure flip in the air and land balanced on the horse – how did he do that? Amazing!

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Books Set in the 1960s

Books Set in the 1960s


Countdown Countdown (1962)
Wiles, Deborah
Franny Chapman just wants some peace. But that’s hard to get when her best friend is feuding with her, her sister has disappeared, and her uncle is fighting an old war in his head. Her saintly younger brother is no help, and the cute boy across the street only complicates things. Worst of all, everyone is walking around just waiting for a bomb to fall. It’s 1962, and it seems the whole country is living in fear.
Cracker: The Best Dog in Vietnam Cracker: The Best Dog in Vietnam (1960s)
Kadohata, Cynthia
Trained to sniff out bombs and traps, Cracker the German Shepherd is prepared for action in Vietnam, but when she is teamed up with Rick, a young man whose family doubts he can handle infantry life, the new soldier must find a way to build trust between the two so that they can do their jobs well and make it back alive. A Junior Library Guild selection
Dead End in Norvelt Dead End in Norvelt (1962)
Gantos, Jack
In the historic town of Norvelt, Pennsylvania, twelve-year-old Jack Gantos spends the summer of 1962 grounded for various offenses until he is assigned to help an elderly neighbor with a most unusual chore involving the newly dead, molten wax, twisted promises, Girl Scout cookies, underage driving, lessons from history, typewriting, and countless bloody noses.
Newbery Medal winner 2012
Criss Cross Criss Cross (1960s)
Perkins, Lynne Rae
Teenagers in a small town in the 1960s experience new thoughts and feelings, question their identities, connect, and disconnect as they search for the meaning of life and love. Newbery Medal Winner 2006
Gentle’s Holler Gentle’s Holler (1960s)
Madden, Kerry
In the early 1960s, twelve-year-old songwriter Livy Two Weems dreams of seeing the world beyond the Maggie Valley, North Carolina, holler where she lives in poverty with her parents and eight brothers and sisters, but understands that she must put family first. Young Hoosier Book Award, 2008-2009, 6-8 Nominee
Glory Be Glory Be (1964)
Scattergood, Augusta
In the summer of 1964 as she is about to turn twelve, Glory’s town of Hanging Moss, Mississippi, is beset by racial tension when town leaders close her beloved public pool rather than desegregating it.
Kaleidoscope Eyes Kaleidoscope Eyes (1968)
Bryant, Jennifer
In 1968, with the Vietnam War raging, thirteen-year-old Lyza inherits a project from her deceased grandfather, who had been using his knowledge of maps and the geography of Lyza’s New Jersey hometown to locate the lost treasure of Captain Kidd. A Junior Library Guild selection
Kizzy Ann Stamps Kizzy Ann Stamps (1963)
Watts, Jeri Hanel
Taking things in stride is not easy for Kizzy Ann, but with her border collie, Shag, at her side, she sets out to live a life as sweet as syrup on cornbread.
Neil Armstrong is My Uncle and Other Lies Muscle Man McGinty Told Me Neil Armstrong is My Uncle and Other Lies Muscle Man McGinty Told Me (1969)
Marino, Nan
Frustrated with ten-year-old Muscle Man McGinty constantly telling lies, Tamara dreams of the day when it all catches up to him and the entire town sees him for who he is, but when an incredible event takes place in the summer of 1969, Tamara gains a new sense of spirit towards her fellow man that alters her outlook on life in the most surprising way.
One Crazy Summer One Crazy Summer (1968)
Williams-Garcia, Rita
In the summer of 1968, after traveling from Brooklyn to Oakland, California, to spend a month with the mother they barely know, eleven-year-old Delphine and her two younger sisters arrive to a cold welcome as they discover that their mother, a dedicated poet and printer, is resentful of the intrusion of their visit and wants them to attend a nearby Black Panther summer camp. Young Hoosier Book Award, 2012-2013, 4-6 Nominee. A Junior Library Guild selection
The Rock and the River The Rock and the River (1968)
Magoon, Kekla
In 1968 Chicago, fourteen-year-old Sam Childs is caught in a conflict between his father’s nonviolent approach to seeking civil rights for African Americans and his older brother, who has joined the Black Panther Party. 2010 Coretta Scott King-John Steptoe Award; 2010 ALA Notable Books for Children
Sources of Light Sources of Light (1962)
McMullan, Margareth
Fourteen-year-old Samantha and her mother move to Jackson, Mississippi, in 1962 after her father is killed in Vietnam, and during the year they spend there Sam encounters both love and hate as she learns about photography from a new friend of her mother’s and witnesses the prejudice and violence of the segregationists of the South. Young Hoosier Book Award, 2012-2013, 6-8 Nominee
This Means War This Means War (1962)
Wittlinger, Ellen
In 1962, when her best friend Lowell begins to hang around new friends who think girls are losers, Juliet, a fearful fifth-grader, teams up with bold, brave Patsy who challenges the boys to a series of increasingly dangerous contests.
A Thousand Never Evers A Thousand Never Evers (1963)
Burg, Shana
As the civil rights movement in the South gains momentum in 1963–and violence against African Americans intensifies–the black residents, including seventh-grader Addie Ann Pickett, in the small town of Kuckachoo, Mississippi, begin their own courageous struggle for racial justice. Young Hoosier Book Award, 2011-2012, 6-8 Nominee
Twerp Twerp (1960s)
Goldblatt, Mark
Returning after a week-long suspension from his 1960s Queens school, Julian accepts an offer from his English teacher to keep a journal and writes about the incident, which involved blowing up homemade fireworks, maintaining his record as the fastest kid in school and writing a disastrous love letter for a friend.
Uncle Andy's Uncle Andy’s (1962)
Warhola, James
The author describes a trip to see his uncle, the soon-to-be-famous artist Andy Warhol, and the fun that he and his family had on the visit.
War & Watermelon War & Watermelon (1969)
Wallace, Rich
As the summer of 1969 turns to fall in their New Jersey town, twelve-year-old Brody plays football in his first year at junior high while his older brother’s protest of the war in Vietnam causes tension with their father.
The Watson's Go to Birmingham--1963 The Watson’s Go to Birmingham–1963 (1963)
Curtis, Christopher Paul
The ordinary interactions and everyday routines of the Watsons, an African American family living in Flint, Michigan, are drastically changed after they go to visit Grandma in Alabama in the summer of 1963. Newbery Honor Book; Coretta Scott King Award Honor Book, 1996
The Wednesday Wars The Wednesday Wars (1967)
Schmidt, Gary D.
During the 1967 school year, on Wednesday afternoons when all his classmates go to either Catechism or Hebrew school, seventh-grader Holling Hoodhood stays in Mrs. Baker’s classroom where they read the plays of William Shakespeare and Holling learns much of value about the world he lives in.
Yankee Girl Yankee Girl (1964)
Rodman, Mary Ann
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When her FBI-agent father is transferred to Jackson, Mississippi, in 1964, eleven-year-old Alice wants to be popular but also wants to reach out to the one black girl in her class in a newly-integrated school.


Blowin' in the Wind Bob Dylan Puff the Magic Dragon Waking Up is Hard to Do Yellow Submarine
Max Said Yes The Woodstock Story Elvis Jimi : sounds like a rainbow : a story of the young Jimi Hendrix The Beatles were fab (and they were funny)


Marching for freedom : walk together, children, and don't you grow weary March on! : the day my brother Martin changed the world Freedom on the Menu Sit In
To the Mountaintop Miles to Go to Freedom The 1960s The 1960s
The 1960s Decade in Photos The 1960s Mods and Hippies The 1960s from the Vietnam War to Flower Power We March
We've got a job : the 1963 Birmingham Children's March I Have a Dream The Civil Rights Act of 1964 The Vietnam War
César : sí, se puede! = yes, we can! Jack's path of courage : the life of John F. Kennedy Mission Control This is Apollo Moonshot the Flight of Apollo 11


Sandy's circus : a story about Alexander Calder Fabulous a Portrait of Andy Warhol


Twelve rounds to glory : the story of Muhammad Ali Wilma unlimited : how Wilma Rudolph became the world's fastest woman You never heard of Sandy Koufax?! Clemente!


Peter, Paul & Mommy
All You Need is Love
All Together Now
Bedtime with the Beatles
Kidz Bop sings the Beatles
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Staff Picks: Step Inside! A Look Inside Animal Homes

Staff Picks: Step Inside! A Look Inside Animal Homes

Using rhyming text, explores the homes of various animals, including spiders, moles, warthogs, and tree frogs, and describes how the animals use these homes for protection or for hunting food. Author: Catherine Ham

Animals are awesome, but let’s face it; there are a bazillion animal books out there. Emilie, you ask, why should I read this one? (Let’s pretend you asked that.) This book is different. It’s about animal homes. Not only that, there are incredible pictures of the animals in their homes. Also, the book rhymes. Did you know the spittlebug (I didn’t even know there was a spittlebug) makes his house from his spit? It looks like bubble wrap. There are ants that build enormous nests high up in trees. Do you know what a warthog home looks like? You will if you read this book!

Recommended by: Emilie Lynn – East 38th Street Branch

More Staff Picks

More books about animals and their amazing homes:

A Strange Place to Call Home Home Sweet Web Even an Octopus Needs a Home Burrows, Nests and Lairs
Extreme Builders
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Staff Pick: Life in the Ocean

Staff Pick: Life in the Ocean

Life in the Ocean

A picture book biography telling the story of Sylvia Earle’s growing passion for the wonders of the sea and how her ocean exploration and advocacy have made her known around the world. Author: Claire Nivola

Try to imagine swimming with whales, walking the ocean floor, and spending over seven thousand hours underwater. This beautiful picture book biography introduces young readers to a woman who has done all that and more. Sylvia Earle has been a scientist about as long as she can remember. When she was a little girl her laboratory was the pond and woods on her family’s New Jersey farm. At the age of twelve Sylvia moved with her family to a new home in Florida bringing the Gulf of Mexico right up to her backyard. The ocean became Sylvia Earle’s new laboratory where she has dedicated her life to exploring what she calls, “the blue heart of the planet”.

Recommended by: Catherine Lutholtz Bridge – The Learning Curve at Central Library

More Staff Picks

More about Marian Biologists:
Marine Biologist Under the Ice Sylvia Earle Guardian of the Sea Rachel Carson
The Fantastic World of Jacques Cousteau Manfish the Story of Jacques Cousteau
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Bomb: the Race to Build – and Steal – the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon

Bomb: the Race to Build – and Steal – the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon

This one is a big “WOW.” Sheinkin weaves three stories together: 1) Robert Oppenheimer leading the Manhattan Project (especially the part in Los Alamos, New Mexico) to design and build an atomic bomb before the Germans can. 2) The effort by British Special Operations to destroy Germany’s ability to build their bomb, focused on the incredibly brave secret mission by Norwegian underground fighters to destroy the Vemork Heavy Water factory in Norway. 3) The Russian spies who successfully stole the plans to the atomic bomb and passed them to Russsia, leading to the Cold War’s nuclear standoff.

Sheinkin involves the reader by focusing on the stories of the people involved, from Oppenheimer and physicists like Richard Feynman to Norwegian hero Knut Haukelid, and to Americans turned Russian spies: Harry Gold and Ted Hall. The book reads like a combination of war epic and spy thriller. Sheinkin read dozens of books and hundreds of declassified government documents to prepare for this telling and there is an extensive bibliography if you want to pursue any story line further. Let me give this one more “Wow!” Author: Steve Sheinkin

Recommended by: Steve Bridge, Irvington Branch Library

The Secret of the Manhattan Project J. Robert Oppenheimer the Brain Behind the Bomb Why Did Hiroshima Happen? The Manhattan Project
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