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
Hand in Hand tells the stories of 10 African-American men from different periods in American history. Each story is written like the author really knew the person. She didn’t, of course, she wasn’t even alive for most of them. What she did, though, was write about each person’s whole life, not just their accomplishments. It helps you understand how and why they accomplished what they did. This makes them much more real and their stories interesting. Author: Andrea Pinkney Illustrator: Brian Pinkney 2013
Today, February 8, 2013 is National Girl Scout Cookie Day. Girl Scouts selling cookies are all over town. Find one and stock up on some thin mints. The best kind. Obviously.
In honor of this day, here is a new biography of Juliette Gordon Low (otherwise known as “Daisy”). Juliette knew how to make things happen.
Daisy is ready for adventure and when she grows up she goes and gets it. She rides an elephant. She rides in an airplane. And when she’s done she goes home and teaches girls how to have adventures too. Daisy is Juliette Gordon Low, the founder of the Girl Scouts. She held the first meeting of the Girl Scouts on March 12, 1912 and together they discovered they could do anything!
When Juliette Gordon Low founded the Girl Scouts in 1912, the first uniforms were blue and their handbook was “How Girls Can Help Their Country.” The Girl Scouts were organized around a set of principles known as the “Girl Scout Law”: honor, loyalty, friendliness, courtesy, befriending animals, obeying orders, cheerfulness, thriftiness and cleanliness. This first aid kit and game handbook was used in 1929 one year after the group adopted a green uniform. IndyPL Digital Collections: Artifacts from the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis
Juliette Gordon Low began the Girl Scouts based upon Sir Robert Baden-Powell’s Boy Scouts and Girl Guides program in England. Now in 90 countries, 3.6 million Girl Scouts explore the world around them developing important life skills. Beginning in 1935 any Senior Scout troop could choose to be a Mariner troop. These troops devoted time to outdoor activities including boating and camping to explore recreational and vocational activities. Much like the Boy Scout’s Sea Scouts, the program ended when girls could join the coed Sea Scouts in 1971. Instead of wearing the traditional green uniform, Mariners wore this blue uniform worn by Peoria, Illinois scout Colleen Cowan in the 1960s. IndyPL Digital Collections: Artifacts from the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis
This book doesn’t have a single word in it. Not one. The story is told entirely in picture, and you have to look at the pictures carefully to figure out what is going on. The little girl on the cover is headed to the barn. Why do you think she is looking over her shoulder like that? She looks a little scare to me. Her feet are all business, heading purposely in one direction but her eyes and her head, they are definitely on alert. Open this one to answer this question for yourself – would you be brave enough to do what she does?
Ivan the gorilla lives at the Exit 8 Bigtop Mall and Video Arcade. Ivan lives in a small glass domain with nothing but a food bowl, a stuffed toy and a television…and the humans that come and press their faces to the glass and point and stare. The zoo owner sometimes gives Ivan a crayon or paint. Ivan likes to draw pictures.
Hello. I am Ivan. I am a gorilla. It’s not as easy as it looks. People call me the Freeway Gorilla. The Ape at Exit 8. The One and Only Ivan. Mighty Silverback. The names are mine, but they’re not me. I am Ivan, just Ivan, only Ivan. (pages 1-2)
Doesn’t that remind you of Harry Potter when he says to Hagrid in the Sorcerer’s Stone movie, “But I’m just…just Harry!”
Ivan does have a couple friends, an old elephant named Stella and a stray dog named Bob that sneaks into Ivan’s cage every night to sleep on his warm belly. The three of them get by. They don’t talk much about what could be better, they just deal with every day. When the Exit 8 Big Top owner realizes attendance is way down he buys a baby elephant, a terrified baby elephant named Ruby, to make more people want to visit.
We’ve got a new arrival. This is Ruby, folks. Six hundred pounds of fun to save our sorry butts. This gal is gonna sell us some tickets.” (page 69)
Ruby’s arrival makes Stella and Ivan see their situation in a different way. Stella, in particular, can’t stand the idea of Ruby growing up at the mall. While Ivan and Stella have grown old and gotten to the point where life at the mall is good enough, they don’t think life at the mall is good enough for Ruby. So, in the spirit of Charlotte’s Web, Ivan hatches a plan hoping to save Ella from a lonely life at the mall, a plan that just might save the others too. You’ll cry and cheer both. It’s cool to see Ivan get his Mighty back. He isn’t just Ivan. He’s Ivan the Mighty Silverback. Author: Katherine Applegate
Ivan’s story is based on a real gorilla that lived for 27 years in a mall zoo but now lives at Zoo Atlanta in a habitat made especially for gorillas. Ivan will turn 50 this year! You can read about him and the effort it took to move him to his current home.
NPR: Ivan Dies at 50 – a Gorilla Life Remembered Best Quote “Ivan’s story has touched thousands of people. He reminded us that even as we must face the “big” conservation and environmental problems with an ecosystem approach, we can’t forget the individuals, each of whom has a story, a personality and a history.” ~Barbara J. King Now Katherine Applegate’s book will help Ivan’s story touch thousands more.
If you like Ivan here are some more stories that imagine what life would be like from the animal’s point of view. We can never really know of course, but it IS interesting to imagine. You also might like to read about the gorilla Koko. Koko learned sign language, which makes you wonder if we CAN learn a little about what animals think. The last four books are about scientists who study gorillas in the wild or in captivity. Really, really fascinating. And I’m warnin’ ya…the animal stories will make you cry, just like Ivan. If you have a pet you’ll go hug it and think more about your responsibility and what it means to have an animal friend.