Friday, June 26, 2015


It is with heavy hearts that we will say farewell today to two of our co-editors, Anja Kennedy and Regan Schwartz.  Anja co-founded this blog in 2009, and she and Regan have worked very hard to provide leadership, editing, and reviews to What’s Good? these last five years.  We will miss them more than words can say and wish them all good things as they move on.

What’s Good?  will take a summer hiatus and we will return in September. --Claudio Leon and Jessica Fenster-Sparber

Thursday, June 25, 2015

ALA 2015

We are excited that our teammate, and fellow What’s Good? blogger, Claudio Leon, is traveling today to San Diego to accept the Association’s prestigious Spectrum Scholarship.  If you’re headed to ALA's Annual Conference, find him and say hello!--Anja Kennedy, Regan Schwartz, and Jessica Fenster-Sparber

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Red Madness: How a Medical Mystery Changed What We Eat by Gail Jarrow

Have you ever stopped to wonder why our cereals are all fortified with niacin and other vitamins and minerals?  The answer is rooted in a mysterious disease called pellagra.  Its symptoms included: thick, painful, scaly red skin on the hands, feet, face, and chest; foul-smelling, chronic diarrhea; progressive insanity; and, finally, death.  As it ravaged the countryside, and occasionally the parlors of the rich, in the early 1900s, doctors struggled to determine its cause and to find an effective treatment.  Is it infectious?  A parasite?  A deficiency?  In Red Madness, author Gail Jarrow has woven together a vast collection of primary documents (including photographs, newspaper articles, journals, advertisements, and maps) to tell the harrowing tale of the race to cure pellagra.  Backmatter includes frequently asked questions, a glossary, timeline, author’s note, source notes, bibliography, index, and sources for further information.  --Regan Schwartz

Educator's guide available from the publisher here.

Jarrow, Gail. Red Madness: How a Medical Mystery Changed What We Eat. Honesdale, PA: Calkins Creek, 2014. Print

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

World War Hulk by Greg Pak, illustrated by John Romita Jr.

When the Illuminati (Iron Man, Namor, Mr. Fantastic, Black Bolt, Professor X and Dr. Strange) decided to send the Hulk into deep space, they had no idea of the repercussions their action would have. It was only a matter of time before the Incredible Hulk found his way back home and he’s returned with a vengeance. Shortly following the events of Planet Hulk, this direct sequel follows Bruce Banner’s return to planet Earth seeking revenge on those who deep-sixed him. The Hulk returns under the impression that the Illuminati wanted to make sure he stayed away permanently by bombing the planet where the Hulk had made his new home. Little did the perpetrators know that the Hulk would survive both his wife and son. The Illuminati become the Hulk’s primary target as he wages war on some of Earth’s most intellectual heroes. Can they survive the full might of an angry Hulk? This all-out brawl between the smartest and the toughest will keep readers on the edge of their seats until the very end. --Claudio Leon

Pak, Greg. World War Hulk. New York: Marvel Entertainment, 2014. Print.

Monday, June 22, 2015

The New Earth From Above: 365 Days by Yann Arthus-Bertrand

This rectangular pictorial seeks to bring immediate attention to the plight of the earth and its peoples through 365 fascinating and gorgeous aerial photographs of a wide variety of ecosystems around the world.  Originally presented as an international travelling photo exhibition, this dense volume shrinks the exhibition into a compact, portable portal for readers everywhere.

The New Earth is broken into twelve chapters corresponding to the twelve months of the year, and each chapter begins with a three-page essay by a different French author.  These contributors cover topics like climate change, biodiversity, renewable energy, abolishing poverty, and fair trade.  Students will be interested in seeing a garden greening a desert, olive groves, rice fields and frozen forests.  Each full-page photograph is accompanied by one paragraph of text explaining the image  and connecting it to the environmental and/or social context and threats alluded to in the visual.  The text is supplemented by a map detail with a “you are here” marker, providing geographical context, as well as the latitude and longitude address for the location.  Social Studies teachers planning lessons on map skills or preparing students for initial phases of inquiry brainstorming may find this book to be of use.  This text will likely appeal to browsers and reluctant readers.  Backmatter contains an index of countries, acknowledgements, and an overview of  --Jessica Fenster-Sparber

Arthus-Bertrand, Yann.  The New Earth From Above 365 Days.  New York: Abrams, 2009.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Magic Card Tricks by Nicholas Einhorn

I cannot begin to tell you how many times students have asked me for books about card tricks.  Magic Card Tricks features a range of tricks at different levels of ability, each with step by step instructions and full color photographs illustrating each step.  Most tricks are managed with a deck (or two) of cards, though more advanced gimmicks require materials that may not be immediately available to students.  A thorough introduction gives an overview of magic performance and a brief history of card magic that segues smoothly into a section on basic card handling techniques.  Front and back matter includes a table of contents, glossary, index, and an international list of suppliers.  While there is no substitute for learning from a pro (or from video), Magic Card Tricks is a well-organized resource which manages to pack a great deal of information into a slim, accessible volume.  --Regan Schwartz

Einhorn, Nicholas. Magic Card tricks. Leicestershire, UK: Southwater, 2012. Print.