Category Archives: Non-Fiction

Marching for Freedom: Walk Together, Children and Don’t You Grow Weary

Marching for Freedom: Walk Together, Children and Don’t You Grow Weary

Marching for Freedom

Marching for Freedom tells the story of hundreds of men, women and children who marched in Selma, Alabama in the 1960s to help win black Americans the right to vote.

In 1963 Joanne Blackmon was ten. She went to the courthouse with her Grandmother so that her Grandmother could register to vote. They waited in line for hours and finally were arrested and put in jail. An old lady and a little girl…arrested…for patiently waiting in line.

That’s how it was in 1963. If a black person wanted to register to vote there were all kinds of outlandish rules they had to follow that made actually registering virtually impossible. A lot of people were afraid to even try to register for fear of being arrested, fired from their job or beaten.

In order to bring attention to the problem, people began to organize peaceful marches. The author interviewed several people who were child marchers – it is really interesting to listen to them tell their stories. What was it really like to be a ten year-old in jail? How did it feel? What was it like to march and have people yell mean things at you and throw things at you? It’s much better than a history book that just tells you what happened. These kids were actually there. You can tell how much they believed in what they were doing because they were able to be brave even though they were very scared. It’s a great story about the power of kids, ordinary kids, who helped changed the course of American history.

There are also great pictures throughout this book. If you like them you can look at more at the Take Stock website links below. By looking at the photos you can be a witness to history too. The author says, “I wondered…would I have been that brave?” After reading this book I asked myself the same thing. Author: Elizabeth Patridge

Freedom Song

While the people were marching, they often sang songs to communicate their purpose and to help them overcome their fear. One of the most famous songs is “We Shall Overcome.” Have you heard of that one? In the book Freedom Song, you can read the words to the songs and learn about them. A CD comes with the book so you can listen also.

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Truce: the Day the Soldiers Stopped Fighting

Truce: the Day the Soldiers Stopped Fighting

Truce

This book is the story of what took place in December, 1914 during World War I. At that time there were two sides fighting. On one side was the German army, and on the other side was Britain and France. They had been foughting for a long time, and a lot of men on both sides died, but neither side could gain any ground.  Each side had dug a trench, an actual ditch, that stretched for miles and miles and miles. The two trenches ran parallel to each other.

The soldiers on both sides lived in the trenches. The land in between the trenches was called “No Man’s Land.” Kind of like kids playing, “you don’t you cross this line!” The two sides would clash in No Man’s Land, kill each other, and then retreat into their trenches. This went  on and on and on for months.

The men on both sides were cold and hungry and sick. The trenches were so close to each other, the two sides could sometimes hear each other talking. Isn’t that weird? It sounds like a game, only this wasn’t a game and the guns were real.

On Christmas Day in 1914 several groups of troops, from both sides, arranged a truce. They actually came out of their trenches into No Man’s Land and shook hands, exchanged presents and sang songs together. This was highly forbidden by the commanders, but the soldiers did it anyway. Even if the political leaders and the commanders weren’t done with the war, the soldiers fighting it were.

The Chrismas Day Truce didn’t last, and the war went on for four more years after that, but it did make a statement. It’s a great book to read in honor of Christmas Day - peace on earth, good will toward men.

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Nic Bishop Marsupials

Nic Bishop Marsupials

Nic Bishop Marsupials

Nic Bishop is on a roll cranking out animal books with stunning pictures and interesting information. Spiders, Frogs, Butterflies and now, Marsupials. Nic’s motto seems to be, “have camera, will travel.” This time he heads to Australia where the world’s largest concentration of marsupials live.

Mammals are warm-blooded animals that have fur and raise their babies on milk. Mammals are dogs, cats, cows, bears, etc. Marsupials are a special kind of mammal whose mothers raise their babies inside a furry pouch. The most well-known marsupials are probably kangaroos. But there are lots of marsupials – opossums, koalas, wombats…and bettons, bilbies, potoroos & dibblers. I’ve never even heard of those, have you? This book will give you an up close look at these furry little pouched creatures. Some of them look made up – like someone took parts of different animals and stuck them together.

One of the marsupials is a tasmanian devil – like Taz on Looney Toons. The real tasmanian devils don’t really look like Taz, they look like cute mini black bears. Their behavior, though, is more like Taz. They get really excited when they eat and like to fight over food, their favorite being animals that have been dead for so long they smell bad. Yuck! They also have really, really strong jaws that can crunch through bones. When I think about those habits, then I can picture crazy, slobbery Taz and see where he got his name.

Nic Bishop’s Official Website

More Nic Bishop animal books you might like:
Spiders Frogs Butterflies & Moths The Tarantula Scientist
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The Frog Scientist

The Frog Scientist

The Frog Scientist

I wish all science books were written like this one! This is the story of Dr. Tyrone Hayes who started out as a boy collecting frogs, turtles and snakes in the swamp near his home in Columbia, South Carolina. Fast forward 20 years and Tyrone is a Harvard graduate studying frogs. He’s a frog scientist, just like he always wanted to be.

As you read the book you learn about how Tyrone became a scientist, but you also learn about how he does his research. You see pictures of Tyrone out in the wild collecting samples and inside his lab studying frogs under a microscope. Tyrone’s research is about the affects of pesticides on frogs. Pesticides are chemicals that farmers spray on crops to kill pests like insects or weeds. In particular, he studies atrazine, a chemical used to kill weeds. Atrazine is used in Indiana on corn crops. Reading this book just might make you want to follow the debate about whether or not atrazine should be used. According to Tyrone’s research, the chemical causes all kinds of problems in frogs…they can  grow extra legs… and the chemical can even make a boy frog turn into a girl frog.

This book has fabulous pictures of frogs, frog parts & frog insides. There are also great pictures of Tyrone and his students in his lab or out in the wild collecting specimans. The pictures are all crisp and clear and full of color. I really liked the pictures inside the lab. I also liked hearing about being a scientst right from Tyrone. The author used Tyrone’s real words throughout the book. It was cool to read about a little boy who grew up to do exactly what he dreamed of doing. It’s also cool to read about someone that is really passionate about what they do. Watch the video below – Tyrone raps about what atrazine does to frogs. Author: Pamela Turner

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Mission Control, This is Apollo

Mission Control, This is Apollo

Mission Control, This is Apollo

This is the story of the Apollo space program. Apollo is the name NASA gave to the missions that put men on the moon.

The book is full of interesting (and funny!) stories about how the space program developed. If you read it you will find out how the scientists, engineers & astronauts figured out how to make everything work.

Since the author interviewed 28 astronauts, the book is full of inside stories based on their memories. Because the words are right from the astronauts you get a really personal sense of what it was like to work on the Apollo project and to be a person that actually walked on the moon. You can read stories that only the astronauts would know.

By telling the story of each Apollo mission, from Apollo 1 to Apollo 17, you can see what they learned each time. For example, at first they were really worried about the astronauts bringing germs back to earth. After the Apollo 11 astronauts brought back space dust that could be tested, the scientists could prove that no germs can live on the moon because of the intense heat, intense cold and radiation from the sun. By Apollo 14, they weren’t worried about moon germs anymore.

The book has lots of diagrams and photos as well as paintings done by Alan Bean, the lunar module pilot on Apollo 12 and the fourth man to walk on the moon. After Mr. Bean retired from being an astronaut he became an artist. You can see his pictures for yourself on his website. His paintings are fantastic, plus, he is not painting from his imagaination – he actually saw and walked on the moon.

Don’t miss the Apollo Archive links below to images and audio from the Apollo Missions. Listening to the astronauts’ actual words is really something. The whole group: the scientists, engineers, astronauts…I admire this team of smart, confident team players that could make something like landing on the moon actually happen. Even 40 years later it’s still a marvel. Author: Andrew Chaikin

One other thing…on the book jacket there is a picture taken in April 1969. The picture is of Alan Bean during his training for the Apollo 12 mission. The other person in the picture is a 12 year-old boy, Andrew Chaikin - this book’s author! And now here they are 40 years later writing a book together. I love it when a kid’s dreams come true!

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