This book, while non-fiction, reads like an adventure novel. The story of Minamoto Yoshitsune is larger than life and the bravery, betrayals, and brutal ending felt like the best kind of Hollywood epic. When Yoshitsune was just a baby, his father was killed by a rival clan. Raised in a monastery, Yoshitsune was determined to escape and learn the way of the Samurai. Despite a late start in training, he became one of the most famous samurai of all time known for his fearless leadership in battle and the fierce loyalty he inspired among his men. But not everyone loved Yoshitsune, and when he was finally betrayed his death by seppuku would solidify the practice in Samurai tradition. Don't miss this thrilling tale!
Samurai Rising by Pamela S. Turner, Illustrated by Gareth Hinds
Erica's Picks 6th & up Tags: Adventure, Biography, Fast-Paced, History, Nonfiction, People of Color
Have you heard of the great chocolate strike where children took to the streets to protest the rising cost of a chocolate bar? Do you know the difference between the varieties of cocoa bean? How scientists are working towards producing better tasting, more sustainable chocolate? What role does chocolate play in history? How does it influence cultures all over the world? If you like learning about history, science, social justice, and of course chocolate--then this is the book for you!
I love all the different topics this book explores under the unifying umbrella of one of my favorite treats. It is absolutely jam-packed with interesting tidbits and poses many important and eye-opening questions about the future of chocolate and how it is produced today. Plus it includes a few recipes in case all this reading activates your sweet tooth. Don't feel guilty for indulging--there's plenty of health benefits to chocolate that Frydenborg is sure to point out!
Chocolate: Sweet Science & Dark Secrets of the World's Favorite Treat by Kay Frydenborg
John Brown is a controversial figure: depending on your perspective he could be seen as an inspiration who stopped at nothing to fight for what he thought was right or as one of the earliest domestic terrorists. The truth lies somewhere in the murky area between these two extremes. Read this book to uncover the bloody and complicated history of slavery, the civil war, and John Brown.
I really enjoyed the nuanced approach Marrin took towards John Brown but my favorite parts were when he pulled back to provide further context. His section on the history of slavery was excellent. Marrin doesn't pull any punches and he doesn't come down on any one side but allows the reader to explore the complexities of history and see multiple perspectives.
A Volcano Beneath the Snow: John Brown's War Against Slavery by Albert Marrin
The Romanov family reigned over Russia in a time when unrest was growing and trouble was on the horizon. As the world outside changed, they grew increasingly out of touch as their isolation both protected and endangered them. Then, on one infamous day, the whole family was murdered to end the imperial line. Rumors of the survival of the young Anastasia spread, but the fate of the family was sealed. What led to this event and what was it like to grow up in Russia's last royal family? Find out in The Family Romanov!
This nonfiction book reads like a novel as the characters are developed and the plot races towards its inevitable tragic end. Fleming did an excellent job taking a really complicated era and making it understandable. Additional excerpts about lives of the peasants at the time helps to provide a wider context and make sense of what happened. An excellent read!
The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, and the Fall of Imperial Russia by Candace Fleming
"My mother has a gap between her two front teeth. So does Daddy Gunnar. Each child in this family has the same space connecting us."
It's hard to write anything about this book that will do it justice. On the surface it's a memoir about an African American author growing up during the Civil Rights Movement. But it's not really about any one thing just as a person's life isn't about any one thing. There are parts about her family, her struggles with learning to read, and how she eventually found her voice as an author. The things Woodson chooses to describe are just as interesting as the way she chooses to describe them. The language is simply gorgeous. If you have an interest in memoirs, history, poetry, family life, or just want to read something extremely well-written then this is the book for you.
"On paper, things can live forever. On paper, a butterfly never dies."
Erica's Picks 4th - 7th Grade Tags: Biography, Family Life, History, Novels in Verse, People of Color, Poetry
Come one, come all and learn about the extraordinary life of P.T. Barnum and the stupendous history of his American Museum and the Barnum and Bailey Circus. Barnum was famous for many attractions: 25 in. tall Tom Thumb, Zazel the human cannonball, Salamander the fire horse, and an 11 and a 1/2 ft. tall elephant named Jumbo to name a few. But perhaps the biggest attraction was P.T. Barnum himself. He made the famous American Museum, watched it burn down, and built it again only to have it catch fire once more. He then entered the circus business at age sixty, inventing the three ring circus layout. P.T. Barnum was a showman above all else, and his life was one great show.
Every page contained an amusing tidbit--much like the museum Barnum built his fame and fortune on. My favorite anecdote from the book is that of ivy island, but I don't want to give it away--you'll have to read it for yourself! I'd give this to anyone with an interest in life in the Victorian Era or entertainment, especially of the circus and sideshow variety.
The Great and Only Barnum: The Tremendous, Stupendous Life of Showman P. T. Barnum by Candace Fleming
There are stories waiting under the ground. Our ancestors buried their history along with their dead, and for those who have been trained to read the signs, a pile of bones can be a buried treasure. Find out how to read a jaw bone to see the infections and pain hidden there. Discover how a spine can reveal a life of hard labor. Bones can even tell you if a person who died hundreds of years ago was left or right handed! Take a tour of the harsh life of early settlers viewed through the evidence that it left in their very bones.
Being able to understand the jargon on popular crime investigation shows is obviously a big draw for the book, but there are great details about other fields of study as well.They get a physicist to develop an x-ray that can penetrate lead, mathematicians to calculate how heavy the coffins will be, and historians to find documents that lead to identifying the bodies. At the end they have artists create a sculpture based on a skull they find. It is all beautifully formatted and explained in a clear way. An excellent example of narrative nonfiction.
Written in Bone: Buried Lives of Jamestown and Colonial Maryland by Sally Walker
World War I marked the beginning of modern warfare, but its commanders still used the old war tactics. The results were disastrous. Soldiers were stuck in mud-filled trenches full of disease, afraid to lift their head above the edge for even a second for fear of being struck down by a sharpshooter. The two sides would exchange grenades and fire and occasionally be ordered out on doomed charges. Yet surrounded by death and violence, peace triumphed for a brief period. On Christmas Day 1914, hundreds of thousands of soldiers defied orders and laid down their arms to meet their enemies in the no-man's land between the trenches and celebrate together.
Murphy details the events leading up to World War I in a clear way. His descriptions are compelling and it is an excellent read all around. The ample excerpts of letters and photographs from the time help to give an authentic sense of the events. I'd give this to kids looking for a narrative nonfiction book with an interest in history.
Truce: The Day the Soldiers Stopped Fighting by Jim Murphy
The ratification of the 15th Amendment in 1870 prohibited denying anyone the right to vote based on race, but in Alabama in 1965, they found enough ways to get around that amendment that even though half the population of Selma was black, 99 % of the voters were white. The people of Selma decided to make a stand by marching to protest the unfair voting practices. The marchers were jailed, bombs were set off in the houses of the leaders, protesters were fired from their jobs, and the violence escalated leading up to what came to be known as Bloody Sunday. On Sunday, March 7th protesters gathered to march to Montgomery. Many of the protesters were children and teenagers who did not have jobs to lose. Despite this fact the police released tear gas on the peaceful protesters and came at man, woman, and child with clubs swinging. But trips to jail and even the hospital were not enough to stop them. These children and teenagers would gather again, and this time they would make it all the way to Montgomery.
The story of how many children and teenagers were involved in these marches knowing the violence that awaited them is absolutely amazing. The book relies heavily on pictures taken during the events described. This really helps to communicate the story visually and draw the reader in. Partridge also uses excerpts from protest songs to tell the story. I’d recommend it to anyone looking for a narrative nonfiction book, especially those with an interest in the Civil Rights Movement.
Marching for Freedom: Walk Together Children and Don’t You Grow Weary by Elizabeth Partidge
Erica's Picks 6th - 8th Grade Tags: History, Nonfiction, People of Color
Nathan Hale is about to be hanged when he utters his famous last words ("I only regret that I have but one life to give for my country.") and the Big Huge Book of American History swallows him up. This infuses him with knowledge beyond his life and allows Nathan to stay the hand of the executioner as long as he keeps entertaining him with historical tales.
This first volume is all about Nathan Hale and the Revolutionary War. The comic is chock full of historical facts as well as humor and action. The second book in the series, about the American Civil War is just as funny and informational. This is a great choice for students who want to learn more about history or those just looking for a funny comic.
Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales: One Dead Spy by Nathan Hale