Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Themed Reviews: Labor Day

Labor Day differs in every essential way from the other holidays of the year in any country. All other holidays are in a more or less degree connected with conflicts and battles of man's prowess over man, of strife and discord for greed and power, of glories achieved by one nation over another. Labor Day...is devoted to no man, living or dead, to no sect, race, or nation." 
Samuel Gompers, founder of the American Federation of Labor

Besides a long weekend and the end of summer, what does Labor Day mean? It celebrates the achievements and contributions of American workers. A national holiday since 1894, Labor Day emerged from a rather dark period in history for American workers. During the height of the Industrial Revolution the average American worked twelve hours a day, seven days a week, in unsafe conditions, just to earn a basic living. This workforce also included young children, who earned even less money than adults. Then Labor Unions sprang up, demanding change from these harsh circumstances. By organizing strikes, boycotts, and rallies the unions were able to negotiate changes for workers.

On September 5, 1882, 10,000 workers took unpaid time off to march in New York City, in what is regarded as the first Labor Day celebration. The idea of a holiday for workers began to catch on and many states began observing the holiday. Twelve years later, Congress passed legislation declaring Labor Day a national holiday. Labor Day is celebrated annually on the first Monday in September. Today, celebrations still include parades and speeches but over the years Labor Day has also become an end-of-summer celebration, marked with activities such as barbecuesAnd though often associated with students heading back to school, it is becoming more common to see that return in August.

The selections here feature the history of labor unions and the American workforce, as well as highlighting different kinds of jobs.

For more information visit:

Annie Shapiro and the Clothing Workers' Strike
Marlene Targ Brill
Illustrated by Jamel Akib
Annie Shapiro was seventeen years old in 1910 and worked long hours in a clothing factory to help pay her family's bills. It was not fun work. Annie spent long hours sewing pockets for men's pants. The bosses were often mean to the workers, telling them they must work faster and sew more pockets to earn their pay. When the foreman cut the workers' pay, Annie could stand it no longer. She walked out. Fifteen other workers followed. At first the bosses at the clothing company did not take Annie and her coworkers seriously, but eventually the strike she started grew to include forty thousand workers. After many months, the owners of the clothing company offered the striking workers a plan to improve their wages and working conditions, and Annie Shapiro became a hero. Annie's story is part of the "History Speaks" series from Millbrook Press. It is written in clear, easily understandable text and illustrated in full color. What makes this series unique is that it also includes a reader's theatre, with scripts and performance suggestions. This is a great way to make history come alive for students and help them remember what they have learned. Also included are an author's note, glossary, pronunciation guide, bibliography, and suggestions for further reading, as well as teacher notes on conducting a readers theatre, making this an ideal history source for upper elementary classrooms. 2011, Millbrook Press/Lerner Publishing Group, $27.93. Ages 8 to 12. Reviewer: Pat Trattles (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 9781580136723

Contributor: Emily Griffin, CLCD

Monday, August 22, 2011

Robert F. Asleson Memorial ALA Conference Grant

A few words of thanks from Catherine Larson,
2011 Robert F. Asleson Memorial ALA Conference Grantee

            Have you ever eaten blackened alligator? I hadn't until recently. At the end of June of this year, I had the opportunity to visit New Orleans for the American Library Association's Annual Conference as the 2011 Robert F. Asleson Memorial ALA Conference Grantee. Without this grant I would not have been able to meet with my peers, listen to speakers discuss the use of technology in libraries, and yes, I would not have been able to try alligator.

            From what I have learned, Mr. Asleson had been a strong proponent of education and providing assistance to young professionals. Attending the ALA Annual conference offered me that assistance in preparing me for employment, learning about librarianship outside of the classroom, and - without a doubt - offered me the opportunity to advance my professional goals in the field of Information Science, for which I am extremely thankful.

            As I waited for my plane to arrive, I was feeling a mix of both excitement and calm. Some of the best advice given to me about the conference was to go with a plan and then be prepared to have it change. I had my schedule planned out, but I knew to “just go with it.”  I also knew that with the many thousands of attendees, I would be sure to meet some interesting people. I was not disappointed. ALA's Annual conference is different from other conferences in that it has many smaller meetings throughout the weekend, not just the larger events. To get a greater picture of the event, I balanced my time between meeting with my committee that I volunteer for and my section's presentations, as well as attending some of the larger presentations.

            One such presentation was the Public Library Association (PLA) President's Program. There I heard David Simon, the creator of the Wire, and author Laura Lippmann talk about their creative process together. I believe ALA knows its audience well and brings authors to the event to introduce us to new and old works alike. I also attended a session with Sue Gardner the Executive Director of the Wikimedia Foundation. In my library courses we have discussed Wikipedia's role in research, and in how the public gets its information, so I was curious how the presentation would go. The presentation was well done and upbeat. Ms. Gardner ended her session by urging the audience to add to the on-line encyclopedia ourselves. While it was a good presentation, I found myself preferring the smaller sessions because of the ability to converse with fellow attendees.

            I had never been to the city of New Orleans prior to the conference and regrettably, I only had a glimpse of the city while I was there but this was only because my time was so well filled with speakers and exhibits. In many ways, the conference was a blur due to how many sessions were occurring and the throngs of librarians filling the conference halls. But I feel I am on stronger footing for the next time that I am able to attend the conference. I am so thankful that I was given this opportunity to meet with my future fellow librarians. I have learned during this experience of being an award grantee that along with the man the grant is named for, the people Mr. Asleson surrounded himself with have also made a difference by creating this grant. I thank everyone involved in the making of this grant, and I hope to see it grow as it continues to help young professionals such as myself take steps our out into the library world. I thank everyone in their generous work and contribution towards this grant and wish it well in the future!

Catherine Larson

To learn more about the grant and Ms. Larson read: http://www.clcd.com/news/pr_2011_0822.pdf

Monday, August 15, 2011

Themed Reviews: Oceans

Composing of 71% of the Earth's surface, the ocean is a continuous body of water, though divided into several oceans and seas. The largest ocean, the Pacific, covers 30% of the Earth's surface and hosts the deepest point on earth. The Great Barrier Reef is the largest structure built by living organisms on Earth. 90% of all volcanic activity occurs in the ocean. The swordfish and marlin are the fastest fish in the ocean, reaching speeds over 50 MPH.

   There are so many incredible and strange facts about the ocean and its many inhabitants for curious young scientists to discover. These facts are the focus of this new feature, which highlights recent books about the ocean.

    One main role the ocean plays in our environment is to soak up excess heat from the atmosphere. Which means, as the planet warms the ocean absorbs much of that extra energy and impacts, among other things, all the marine life living in the ocean. Of the 1.5 million known species on Earth, around 250,000 live in the ocean. Biodiversity of Coral Reefs by Greg Pyers and World Without Fish by Mark Kurlansky are two books for the classroom or library that highlight the importance of protecting our oceans.

   To combat the August heat try discovering something new about the ocean. For other fun ideas check out our previous feature on the beach:http://www.childrenslit.com/childrenslit/th_beach.html and search the CLCD database for more information on this important, and cool, topic.

For more information visit:

Far from Shore: Chronicles of an Open Ocean Voyage
Sophie Webb

     The Pacific Ocean is very different from the Atlantic. It is bigger and has large rolling waves creating a different type of motion. It also teems with life—fish, mammals and birds which are the focus of this travelogue. The author is a field biologist who specializes in birds and she takes readers along on an expedition into the Tropical Pacific Ocean (ETP). During the next 4 months the scientists will rack animals, create a census of what they see and collect samples of water and sea life to better understand the counts the record. Is sea life increasing or decreasing and are factors such as overfishing and pollution arming any of the species? The trip is clearly no picnic, although the scientists and crew try to have one every Sunday. It is long hours of work in a close environment. Our narrator uses her spare time to paint what she has seen or learned as it is not always possible to really see what is taking place underwater. It is amusing to see how she compensates for the ship movement in her improvised watercolor work area. Her specialty is birds and even when the boat reaches port to refuel and take on supplies, she is off bird watching. We have a compressed account where moments of great excitement occur, such as when a pod of porpoises or whales are spotted and long with days when nothing much happens. Webb is candid about the work of a field scientist—lots of long hours with little to break the monotony, but her dedication and enthusiasm never waiver. As evidenced by her multiple excursions on this and other research vessels. Webb’s drawings enliven this personal journal and the details give readers a good depiction of what various sea animals look like—porpoises with light underbellies and dark tops, stripes and even spots. The boobies hanging on to the mast and not giving an inch to their fellow birds is comical. The ocean and our concern for it is brought to life in this educational and enjoyable book. 2011, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Ages 10 up, $17.99. Reviewer: Marilyn Courtot (Children’s Literature).
ISBN: 978-0-618-59729-1

Contributor: Emily Griffin, CLCD

Monday, August 8, 2011

Today's Sparkler

Working for CLCD and Children's Literature means I use the database a lot. I mean, a LOT a lot. One aspect of my job is to maintain what we call "Select Books" data; which includes all the awards and honors, best book lists, state reading lists, curriculum tools, etc. I edit it, add new listings, and generally just make sure we are giving you the most comprehensive and accurate information possible.

In doing this, I come across a lot of good books that may have fallen off my radar or I discover books that may have several honors but that I am unfamiliar with. Compiling Select Books data is detective work and so I thought I would start sharing gems I discover with youa review selected from the over 400,000 reviews and 2 million MARC records found in CLCD.

The first "Sparkler" is a title I found this week while updating a Best Book list: Smithsonian Notable Children's Books. The review, found in the database, is by Leta Tillman and appeared in The Lorgnette.

Make A Wish: Wishing Traditions Around the World
Roseanne Thong
Illustrated by Elisa Kleven

        "Making wishes is something that we learn as children but continue through our adult life. Did you ever think about all the different ways that wishes are made around the world? Tong gives readers 15 different traditions from 15 different countries. Each one is different, but each one is a way for readers to wish for something better. The Guatemalan children fly giant kites that carry wishes up to the gods in the sky for those who have died. Japanese children write their wishes on narrow strips of colored paper and tie them on bamboo branches while Russian children put lucky coins in their left shoe. In Ireland, children blow dandelion fluffs to make their wishes, and here in the United States, we blow out candles on our birthday cakes. Kleven’s bright-colored illustrations almost sparkle with excitement. Children of countries around the world are shown having exhilarating occasions believing their wishes will come true. Children will enjoy hearing about or reading about the different cultural events surrounding each wish. A more detailed explanation of each festival is given at the end of the book. But the most exciting part of the book is at the end when Tong asks the readers to share their wishing traditions with her. She even includes her website to contact her with additional ways to wish. This will make a great read-aloud book and also a good addition to any collection."

2008, Chronicle Books, $16.99. Ages 5 to 10.
Reviewer: Leta Tillman (The Lorgnette - Heart of Texas Reviews (Vol. 21, No. 3)).
Best Books:
Children's Catalog Supplement to Nineteenth Edition, 2009; H. W. Wilson Company
Smithsonian Notable Book for Children, 2008; Smithsonian Magazine ISBN: 9780811857161

Emily Griffin

Monday, August 1, 2011

Selected Reviews: The 2011 Skipping Stones Honor Awards

Each year Skipping Stones magazine recognizes books that "promote an understanding of the world’s many cultures, cultivate cooperation and encourage a deeper understanding of the world’s incredible diversity, ecological richness, respect for differing viewpoints and relationships in and between human societies." CLCD is highlighting a few of this year's Skipping Stones Honor Award winners below. To see reviews of the full list sign up for a free one week trial.

Bugs and Bugsicles:
Amy S. Hansen
Illustrated by Robert C. Kray
     Arctic wooly bear caterpillars freeze like a “bugsicle” in order to survive the winter. A field cricket lays as many as 400 eggs underground; but she will not live to see them hatch. The eggs are coated with an antifreeze called “glycerol” to keep them soft all winter. Ladybugs join in a “slow-moving dance, their bodies merging into one big red and black bundle…(holding) on to just enough warmth to keep them from freezing.” Amazing moments in the life of a refuge’s tiniest creatures abound on every page. Filled with intriguing and vital facts about bugs in winter, this carefully illustrated book also includes the praying mantis, dragonflies, honeybees, pavement ants, and monarch butterflies. Simple experiments help youngsters learn what happens when water freezes and how some insects are able to slow down the freezing process. 2009, Boyds Mills Press, $17.95. Ages 7 up. Reviewer: Karen Leggett (Children's Literature).
Best Books:
Best Children's Books of the Year, 2011; Bank Street College of Education
John Burroughs List of Nature Books for Young Readers, 2010; John Burroughs Association
ISBN: 9781590782699

Harriet McGregor
     Globalization is an educational hard cover book in a series on "Global Issues" for students at 6th grade levels and up. Illustrated with color photographs and complete with a glossary at the end, Globalization presents chapters on the history, definition, causes, impact, and responses to globalization in addition to information on the role of the media and the future of globalization. Further information and web sites are also suggested at the book's end. Highlighted paragraphs present pertinent facts and bits of information and history in brief, easy to assimilate sections. Globalization is an excellent educational resource for students age 12 and up. Other titles also recommended in this series include Human Trafficking Around the World (by Kaye Stearman, 97814481879), Refugees (by Cath Senker, 9781448818808), Terrorism (by Alex Woolf, 9781448818815), AIDS and HIV (by Katie Dicker, 9781448818761), and Fundamentalism (by Sean Connolly, 9781448818778). Rosen Publishing Group, $26.50. ages 12+. Reviewer: Midwest Book Review (Children's Bookwatch, March 2011).
ISBN: 9781448818785

A Hare in the Elephant's Trunk
Jan L. Coates
     When troops from the North attack the people of his village in southern Sudan, seven year-old Jacob Deng must flee, leaving his mother, sisters, and uncle behind. Guided by his older nephew Mongoor, Jacob walks through barren deserts in the midst of bloody political strife to refugee camps in Ethiopia and Sudan. Along the way, he grows up fast with his wisecracking best friend Oscar, their younger pal Willy, the mean-spirited Majok, and hundreds of other boys (not all of whom survive the journey). Though Jacob considers joining the Liberation Army, soldiers from south Sudan who engage in constant battle with their enemies from the North, he soon discovers that peace and liberation can be obtained through education rather than violence. Inspired by a number of teachers who are willing to stand up to the militant force for the sake of education, as well as the memory of his mother, Jacob uses his own intelligence to raise enough money to attend a Kenyan boarding school. But will his ambition and drive be enough, since Jacob has lost almost all of his family in the midst of the brutal Civil War? Author Jan L. Coates tells the true story of Deng, a former refugee who went on to establish the Wadeng foundation for displaced citizens of Sudan, in a realistic and emotional way that will appeal to young adult readers with its sympathetic young hero and his quest for a better life. Jacob’s story, as well as the plight of Sudanese refugees in general, needs to be told to inform Western audiences of the relatively recent turmoil in the nation. Coates’ book, a stirring piece of historical fiction, does this well. 2010, Red Deer Press, $11.26. Ages 9 to 12. Reviewer: Zachary Snow (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 9780889954519

Mali Under The Night Sky:
Youme Landowne
     This beautifully illustrated and sensitively told story of Mali, a young Laotian girl, begins with her enjoying life in her native country. Her daily existence, including traditions are revealed. One of these traditions is the tying of strings around each other’s wrists for special occasions or when someone is traveling far away. The string tying symbolizes that even if separated, family and friends will always be together in their hearts. Civil War erupts in Laos and one day Mali finds a string tied to her wrist as her family flees. After a journey through the night, and across the Mekong River, Mali and her family land in jail in another country. The strings tied around Mali’s wrists remind her of her home in the heart and she shares her powerful memories with the other refugees, who, in turn, are inspired to remember. The exquisitely rendered watercolor spreads throughout the book convey the particular emotion of each scene. There are scenes bursting with color and celebration as when Mali climbs flowering trees or feasts with her family. Other, more monochromatic scenes depict somber situations such as Mali’s family escaping Laos in the dark of the night or caught behind bars in prison. The book maintains its child’s perspective and emotion throughout, never entering into a political debate. Patterned borders surround each spread and Laotian words are sprinkled throughout the text in a thoughtful manner. Laotian script is incorporated into many spreads. At the end of the book, readers meet and learn about the real-life Mali, who escaped Laos when she was five and is today an artist formed by her experiences of civil war and as a refugee. Landowne’s sympathetic and authentic telling of Mali’s escape offers hope that the strength of family and culture endure through hardship. 2010, Cinco Puntos Press, $17.95. Ages 4 up. Reviewer: Margaret Orto (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 9781933693682

Not Your Typical Book about the Environment
Elin Kelsey
Illustrated by Clayton Hanmer
     Not Your Typical Book About the Environment is aptly named. Elin Kelsey has put together an amazing collection of chapters that each deals with ways in which children’s lives affect the environment. As a science teacher for over 30 years, I was educated by reading this book. In her first chapter, “ Fast Fashion,” Kelsey clearly explains the benefits and drawbacks of four types of T-shirts: bamboo, hemp, organic cotton, and vintage. Similar treatments are employed when dealing with food choices, technology, and energy consumption. Each topic is illustrated in comic-book style, and the characters depicted are very diverse. These illustrations drive home the connections made between seemingly unrelated subjects throughout the book—polar fleece and plastic bottles, sea otters and fish sticks, honeybees and hamburgers, and electronics and gorillas, to name a few. Kelsey has selected real people who are making a difference in the “Meet an Expert” segments. These people include the co-creator of the Ecological Footprint, an ecological economist, a sustainable-happiness teacher, and a local chef. Although this book is geared for children ages 9 to 12, I highly recommend it to Earth citizens of all ages. It would not only be a fine addition to a school library, but also an informative volume in any home. Index; C.I.P. Highly Recommended, Grades 5-8. 2010, Owl Books, 64pp., $22.95. Ages 10 to 14. Reviewer: Mary Jane Davis (Science Books and Films (Vol. 46, No. 5)).
ISBN: 9781897349793

Red Umbrella
     Lucia Alvarez is a normal fourteen-year-old girl until the revolution begins to take hold. It is 1961, and her homeland of Cuba is falling under Fidel Castro’s control. Her friends are joining the brigades and losing interest in the fashions and makeup that used to be so important to them. She could never have imagined the danger that faces her family when they try to remain uninvolved. When it becomes clear that Castro’s people will arrest and possibly execute anyone who appears to be anti-revolutionary, Lucia’s parents find a way to send her and her seven-year-old brother Frankie to America. The siblings end up in Grand Island, Nebraska, and must become accustomed to a very different way of life while also worrying about their parents, left behind in danger. Based on experiences of the author’s parents and in-laws, Lucia’s story conveys a fullness of setting. Both Cuba and Nebraska are richly described and add to the characters and the history. Lucia is a girl that many will identify with, making her story compelling. While the historical context is specific, it is easy to believe that this could happen to anyone, and it is easy to follow Lucia’s understanding of the revolution from a na├»ve belief that it would not affect her to a mature appreciation for true freedom. Her American foster parents, the Baxters, are given unexpected depth of character as they grow to love the Alvarez family. Operation Pedro Pan, the largest exodus of unaccompanied minors ever in the Western Hemisphere, is given a face, a personality, and a voice. Gonzalez has not only memorialized her own family history, she has put it in a form that will connect with many and let this important story be told. 2010, Alfred A. Knopf/Random House Children’s Books, $16.99. Ages 14 up. Reviewer: Jennifer Lehmann (Children's Literature).
Best Books:
Best Children's Books of the Year, 2011; Bank Street College of Education
Choices, 2011; Cooperative Children's Book Center
YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults, 2011; American Library Association
ISBN: 9780375861901
Christina Diaz Gonzalez
A Lao Story of Home
Insects in the Winter