Sandler, Martin W. Iron Rails, Iron Men, and the Race to Link the Nation: The Story of the Transcontinental Railroad. Non-fiction. Candlewick, 09/2015. 212p. $22.99. 978-0-7636-6527-2. OUTSTANDING. GRADES 7-12.
An expansive, dramatic photo-filled book design and an engaging, dynamic text combine to make this an essential book on the building of the Transcontinental Railroad in the U.S., which is also a popular topic in California history. Sandler begins with a chapter on the founding of the Central Pacific, which was started in Sacramento by Theodore Judah. Following chapters alternate between the Central Pacific and the Union Pacific, which began in Missouri and forged west to finally join in Utah. The narrative mirrors the momentum and speed needed by each company to surmount so many obstacles, and the author deftly describes the plight of the Chinese workers and the Native American groups that were displaced. The wealth of b&w photos, maps, sidebars, short biographies, and other embellishments both add information and break up the text. Back matter includes a timeline, index, source notes, and bibliography. Many libraries in Northern California may discover adult patrons checking out the book, due to local interest such as the Strobridge House in Castro Valley or fans of the AMC television series Hell on Wheels.
Penny Peck, San Jose State Univ, iSch
Oakland PL Offers Gift Suggestions: For the first time, Oakland Public Library is offering suggestions for parents and others looking for holiday gift book titles for children. Check out their blog if you have patrons needing ideas for books to purchase for holiday gifts: http://oaklandlibrary.org/blogs/childrens-services/opl-2015-holiday-gift-guide-childrens-books
Infopeople Offers New Storytime Course: Infopeople is offering a new course, “Storytime Fundamentals: Adding Literacy Skills and Parent Involvement to Storytime,” taught by Penny Peck, author of Crash Course in Storytime Fundamentals: Second Edition. Along with some storytime basics, participants will also explore the use of technology (such as apps and online book databases) during storytimes, and incorporating more parental involvement and the Five Parent Practices at storytimes. For more information, registration, costs, and other details, see: https://infopeople.org/civicrm/event/info?reset=1&id=534
North Beach Library
850 Columbus Avenue (at Lombard)
San Francisco, CA 94133
ALSC Webinar on Picture Books and Challenges – Dealing with Controversial Topics in Children’s Collections: www.ala.org/advocacy/picturebookswebinar . This webinar on censorship is scheduled for Wed. Nov. 18, 2015 at 11am Pacific time. Go to the website to register for this webinar – $20 for ALA members, free to members of the GLBT and Intellectual Freedom Roundtables. Presenters include Carolyn Caywood and Peter D. Coyl.
Publishers’ Weekly Announces Best Children’s Books of 2015: Check out Publishers’ Weekly magazine’s choices for best children’s book for 2015 – www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/childrens/childrens-book-news/article/68552-pw-s-best-children-s-books-of-2015.html
McDougall, Sophia. Mars Evacuees. Fiction. Mars Evacuees Series, Bk. 1. HarperCollins, 02/2015. 404p. $16.99. 978-0-06-229399-2. OUTSTANDING. GRADES 5-8
Narrated with entertainingly British self-deprecation and sangfroid by twelve-year-old Alice Dare, this intelligent and thought-provoking middle grade novel uses a science-fiction setting to mirror contemporary concerns. After Earth has been invaded, Alice and three hundred other kids are evacuated to Mars for safety. But when all the adults disappear from their base, the kids quickly form into warring factions, and Alice and her new friends, Filipino Australian brothers Carl and Noel, and Anglo African Josephine, are in the minority. Along with Goldfish, a hilariously self-important robot teacher, they decide to journey across unknown terrain to find another human base, using their ingenuity to “MacGyver” their way over obstacles and through alien attacks. Much of life on Mars and on the battle-torn Earth will be completely recognizable to 2015 kids: the main characters are beautifully drawn individuals, and their relationships with peers and family feel utterly authentic and familiar, while school hasn’t changed its essence one jot. Similarly, the central theme of Mars Evacuees is a futuristic twist on a current dilemma: how to react to the “other.” Should they be attacked or empathized with? This novel will have broad appeal, and the sequel, already published to great reviews in the U.K., will be eagerly awaited.
Hayley Beale, San Francisco Univ High School