Sunday, March 25, 2012

Awarded: Nick Higgins!

A hearty congratulations to the extraordinary Nick Higgins at New York Public Library, who received the Feder award on Friday! This special award asks employees of the library to nominate their own colleagues at NYPL. You can read more about it here. You can read an interview with the man himself here. And you can read about NYPL's Correctional Services Program here. We caught up with Nick working amidst the piles of letters he receives and responds to and the walls of books he uses to meet his patrons' reading needs. If you'd like to donate, get in touch! --Jessica Fenster-Sparber

Friday, March 16, 2012

Guest Post: Eyes of the Emperor by Graham Salisbury

Eddy Okubo is a Japanese-American teenager living in Hawaii as World War II continues to rage. Only 16, he lies to join the Army alongside two of his older friends to fight for his country and destroy the Nazis. Just after Eddy enlists, the Japanese air force bombs Pearl Harbor. Suddenly the war changes. Eddy, Chik, and Cobra- all of Japanese ancestry- are viewed as the enemy, finding themselves imprisoned in their own barracks.

As the American army decides what to do with its Japanese-American soldiers, Eddy and his troop are sent to various base camps on the mainland to train, eventually ending up on a small, abandoned island in the Gulf of Mexico, just off Louisiana. Here, the troop of Japanese-American soldiers are given a secret mission that just may hold the key to defeating the Japanese enemy- training dogs to identify and kill based on the scent emitted by Japanese people.

Based on actual history, Eyes of the Emperor shows its readers a side of history not often presented in school. The Japanese-American soldiers Salisbury has created are full, dynamic characters through whom one can legitimately feel all the complex emotions felt by Eddy and his buddies. The absurdity and stark reality of the whole predicament, including the use of the Japanese-American soldiers as training targets for attack dogs, are expertly contrasted by Salisbury. One student who read this novel on my suggestion- a mid-level, but avid reader- loved it so much that he pleaded with both me and the library coordinator for another Salisbury title, Under the Blood-Red Sun, which is now on order. --Julie Weber

Guest blogger Julia Weber currently teaches ELA and Math at Passages Academy's Blum site.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Zombies by Matt Mogk

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Zombies promises the reader quite a lot and I’m happy to say it delivers!  Part filmography, part survival guide, this mid-size tome runs the undead gamut with section headings such as: zombie basics, zombie science, zombie survival, and popular culture.  Liberally sprinkled throughout are real-life scenarios and how to navigate them in a post-zombie-apocalypse world (helpful hint: other survivors are not your friends).  Full of useful information (such as what to include in a 72-hour emergency kit), entertaining snippets from famous zombie works of art, and “know your zombie” features on the famously undead, Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Zombies is a very entertaining non-fiction read.  It’s structure and clear organization allow the reader to zero in on points of interest and spend as much or as little time as they like on any one topic.  This reader, for one, feels immeasurably better prepared for any (un)natural disaster that may strike, thanks to Mr. Mogk’s book. --Regan Schwartz

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Eat This, Not That! by David Zinczenko

This is the book you’ve been waiting for. We all know how important diet is if you’re looking to lose weight and get healthy, but trying to figure out what’s good and what’s not can be an overwhelming experience. In this appealing little book, David Zinczenko, Editor-in-Chief of Men’s Health Magazine, shows the reader how to take small but important steps towards eating better. In the chapters on supermarket foods and famous fast food restaurant chains, Zinczenko explicitly tells the reader not to eat one item, and to instead swap it for a similar, healthier substitute. He includes the reasons why -- usually the foods to avoid have high calorie counts, too many grams of fat, or they’re surprisingly high in sodium. Thankfully, the alternatives he suggests often look and sound just as appetizing, and somehow, becoming informed about what’s really lurking in the unhealthy choice can make that food much less appetizing. For instance, did you know that the innocuous Multi-grain Bagel at Dunkin’ Donuts is one of the unhealthiest options they have? Surprisingly, you’ll find fewer calories in their Ham Egg & Cheese English Muffin Sandwich.

Also informative are the notes and sidebars full of tips, and the chapters on beverages, foods to eat every day, menu decoding, and what to eat when. This book (and others in the series) was a perfect complement to last week’s ELA Media Unit focusing on analyzing food media.  --Anja Kennedy

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Wolverine: Prodigal Son by Antony Johnston, art by Wilson Tortosa

This is a refreshing and interesting new take on the story of Logan, better known as Wolverine.  Wilson Tortosa, the artist, uses manga style art with black and white graphics to re-write Wolverine’s origin.  The story takes place before Wolverine joins the X-Men, and introduces Logan as a 16 year old living in a martial arts monastery.  Logan, who was abandoned in the forest, was taken in by the master of the monastery.  Readers learn how Logan obtained his nickname “Wolverine” and his unique fighting skills.  When the monastery comes under attack, Logan is left full of questions and yearning for answers.  Prodigal Son is a never before seen take on Logan’s origins because the Marvel Universe has always kept Wolverine’s past a tightly guarded secret, including his actual age, birth place and family background.   In addition to this new revelation about Wolverine’s past, readers may particularly enjoy the manga format of this volume. --Claudio Leon