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review 2017-08-11 15:47
The man behind the spider and the mouse
Some Writer!: The Story of E. B. White - Melissa Sweet

Up til this point, I could most likely count the number of biographies written for children that I've read. Actually I could probably count how many biographies in total I've ever read because I have to admit biographies in general not my favorite genre. However, there are always exceptions and every now and again there are people who I find intriguing enough to seek out more information about them. Last year I read My Ears Are Bent which included different excerpts from The New Yorker along with background on the magazine itself. I discovered from this book just how much of the writing was done by E.B. White. (You might recognize him from such things as Stuart Little and Charlotte's Web.) This piqued my interest in White but I had so many other things on my TRL that I somewhat forgot about him until I saw Some Writer!: The Story of E.B. White by Melissa Sweet pop up as a recommended read. I think E.B. White would have heartily approved of this biography even though he was an intensely private, low-key individual. This book delivered not only on giving me the biography that I was looking for but also offering up beautiful mixed media layouts which make it more accessible to children.  His approach to writing and his proliferation of works is fascinating and astonishing. Sweet manages to educate the reader about his works but she also manages to paint a portrait of a writer that was passionate about his craft, his family, and his farm. She does this almost from the start. This book is great if you want to learn more about E.B. White yourself or if you want to introduce your kids to biographies. It's easily accessible and the layout is beautiful. Quick, fun read that I'd recommend for reluctant biography readers (like myself). 10/10

 

To give you a taste of what I mean about the mixed media approach:

 

Source: NPR

Source: NPR

 

What's Up Next: Brian Selznick Masterpost including The Invention of Hugo CabretThe Marvels, and Wonderstruck

 

What I'm Currently Reading: Alice by Christina Henry

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2017-05-19 00:00
Leaving Vietnam: The Journey Of Tuan Ngo (Ready to Read)
Leaving Vietnam: The Journey Of Tuan Ngo (Ready to Read) - Sarah S. Kilborne,Melissa Sweet My spouse and I went off in search of a new dehumidifier, but first, we stopped at the library to replenish her stock of cheesy mysteries. She sent me to the children's collection to pick stuff to read to our 5-year old grandson. This is one of the books I chose, but more for me than for him, I think. I have a cyber friend who was a Vietnamese refugee. I believe that he said he'd had a pretty smooth path to the U.S., but that his spouse had a more circuitous rout, and spent considerable time as a boat person.

So, I read this to better understand what had gone on back in the day. To better understand what hell we had wrought for other people. Sadly, we're still doing it—albeit in the Middle East now—even though we declare ourselves be a Christian Nation. WTF?
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review 2017-04-05 21:01
Little READ This Book!
Little Red Writing - Joan Holub,Melissa Sweet

"Little Red Writing" surpassed all of my expectations. I expected it to be a simple story about little red riding hood except the girl is now a pencil. I was very wrong. This book teaches while entertaining! It goes through the writing process, details many different parts of speech, and talks about punctuation. I would use this in an upper grade classroom by reading it aloud to the class before the students have to write a story or paper. It would remind them of grammar rules and sentence structure while letting their minds think about what they want to write. Just like in the book, I would give students 15 categorized words to use in their story. After reading the book aloud to the class, I would have the students come up with a 2 page story using those 15 words. 

 

Lexile: AD 740L

Guided Reading: O

Grade Level Equivalent: 3.5

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review 2016-05-16 18:00
Girls Think of Everything by Catherine Thimmesh
Girls Think of Everything: Stories of Ingenious Inventions by Women - Catherine Thimmesh,Melissa Sweet

So I may have mentioned before that I love a good anthology, particularly of the contributions of women in history. The point is not that men haven't done great things that we deserve learning about but that they aren't the only ones who have. Despite hardship and opposition, women have invented lots of things, some that we couldn't live without today and others that are so common, I didn't even realize that it used to be a problem. 

 

This book takes just about an hour to listen to. It has some women I was already familiar with (like my hero, Admiral Grace Hopper) and others that were new (Margaret Knight invented the machine that makes paper grocery bags, they had to be made by hand and were expensive before that). 

 

If you want to see some more great anthologies of women making history, I have a shelf dedicated to them. 

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text 2016-04-12 17:00
TTT: Top Ten Herstory books every new feminist should read
The Good Girls Revolt: How the Women of Newsweek Sued their Bosses and Changed the Workplace - Lynn Povich
At the Dark End of the Street: Black Women, Rape, and Resistance--A New History of the Civil Rights Movement from Rosa Parks to the Rise of Black Power - Danielle L. McGuire
The Birth of the Pill: How Four Crusaders Reinvented Sex and Launched a Revolution - Jonathan Eig
I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban - Christina Lamb,Malala Yousafzai
Narrative of Sojourner Truth (Dover Thrift Editions) - Sojourner Truth,Olive Gilbert
Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots - Deborah Feldman
Fragments Of Gender - Lisa Lees
Mighty Be Our Powers: How Sisterhood, Prayer, and Sex Changed a Nation at War - Leymah Gbowee
Headstrong: 52 Women Who Changed Science-and the World - Rachel Swaby
Girls Think of Everything: Stories of Ingenious Inventions by Women - Catherine Thimmesh,Melissa Sweet

This is my first Top Ten Tuesday! 

I've always been a bit of a history nerd, but as I became comfortable with calling myself a feminist, I realized I didn't know nearly enough about women in history. Or women's accomplishments in general. Or about people who don't identify as women or men. Or that people even existed that didn't identify as women or men. Or how bad the struggle still is all around the world. 

As I delved into feminist ideology, I also found the herstory genre. Here are my top ten herstory books for new (or any) feminists!

 

  1. The Good Girls Revolt: How the Women of Newsweek Sued their Bosses and Changed the Workplace - Lynn Povich  This was a great one for me becaue I have always thought of myself as a good girl too. I don't want anything special, just not to be held back by someone else's antiquated ideas about what I'm capable of. These girls loved their jobs and where they were working, they just wanted to be treated fairly and they were willing to go after that together. Loved it!
  2. At the Dark End of the Street: Black Women, Rape, and Resistance--A New History of the Civil Rights Movement from Rosa Parks to the Rise of Black Power - Danielle L. McGuire  I had learned a lot of the things covered in this book in Black History Month specials in middle and elementary school, but history just wasn't real to me back then. Of course, all these stories also get sanitized for children in schools so it's never as poignant as it should be. By the time we get to high school, we can recite the key points but it almost feels too late to actually digest and understand it. Then I read this book and it was like I heard it for the first time. More than the key points, this is a peak behind the curtain. It all finally made sense in a way that I never thought it could. 
  3. The Birth of the Pill: How Four Crusaders Reinvented Sex and Launched a Revolution - Jonathan Eig I'd had no idea how bad it was before the mighty pill. I took it for granted. That'll never happen again. There are just too many things that we don't have to deal with or worry about or can take a stand against now that I can't even begin to explain the impact that little pill has made. Reading about it coming to fruition was fascinating. 
  4. I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban - Christina Lamb,Malala Yousafzai I have been in awe of Malala since I first heard her story. She is an amazing young woman who has already done more with her life than most. What do you do after being awarded a Nobel Peace Prize? I can't wait to find out.
  5. Narrative of Sojourner Truth (Dover Thrift Editions) - Sojourner Truth,Olive Gilbert  I had heard the name of Sojourner Truth countless times. I knew it from those same February showcases mentioned above. I just never knew much about her. It wasn't until I listened to one of the many famous actresses recite her "Ain't I a Woman?" speech that I realized I had to read her narrative. I love that speech. You can find it here, read by my favorite of the actresses who has done so. 
  6. Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots - Deborah Feldman I never knew much about Hasidic Jews but this had sounded interesting when I first saw it and it was. I know it isn't the picture of modern Jewish life and probably doesn't paint the kindest of pictures about being a Hasidic Jew, but it was still interesting to read about a world that was so foreign and yet not so far from where I am. 
  7. Fragments Of Gender - Lisa Lees This is a collection of essays that explore life along the gender spectrum, rather than stuck on one side of it or the other. I knew relatively little about transgender and non-binary gendered people, so this was a revelation at just the right time. Don't get me wrong, I still don't have all the answers and make faux pas around people about this sort of thing, but I know more than the average cisgendered person, I think. I hope. I'm still learning, but as I said at the beginning, this was a great place to start. It gave me that first idea about what people went through and that was invaluable. 
  8. Mighty Be Our Powers: How Sisterhood, Prayer, and Sex Changed a Nation at War - Leymah Gbowee  Another Nobel Laureate, Gbowee has accomplished great feats by what seems like sheer will. She is amazing beyond belief and hearing her story was remarkable. She just understands so much about everything, especially healing. If you have ever doubted what women could be capable of if we just stuck together, pick up this book! 
  9. Headstrong: 52 Women Who Changed Science-and the World - Rachel Swaby I LOVE a good anthology! I've even talked about it a few Femme Fridays ago. The thing about these anthologies is that they prove that while we may not have been prevalent, we have always been present in STEM and war and other places some say we don't belong. This book has one woman for every week to learn about that did great things in science. I tore through it much faster than that, though. It's one of my favorites. 

 

Ok, I only had nine of my herstory books that I could honestly put on this list. The others that are on my shelf are good, but I don't feel like they exemplify parts of the experience quite the same way these do. While I strive for diversity in my reading, I also realized that I don't reach all groups. 

I had hoped to read Girls Think of Everything: Stories of Ingenious Inventions by Women by the time of this post, but it wasn't meant to be. I connected it anyway because what I saw in the table of contents led me to believe that I'll wish I had when I do get to read it. 

 

For more Top Ten Tuesday posts, check out the originator The Broke and the Bookish!

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