Friday, September 30, 2016

100 Suns by Michael Light

How many times did the United States test atomic bombs?  Where did they test them?  What did the explosions look like?  As Passages’ Living Environment curriculum gets underway and students consider the atom, librarians may supplement instruction with this stunning and disturbing pictorial documenting the testing of nuclear bombs first on the mainland and subsequently on unlucky islands.  Author Michael Light keeps the text to a bare minimum for much of the book, allowing the reader’s curiosity to be piqued and then extended as the images of explosions pile up.  The backmatter reveals Light’s well-researched captions as well as a powerfully succinct timeline of the progression of the development of atomic bombs and key events of World War II.  Notes on stockpiling highlight the escalation of the arms race between the U.S. and the former U.S.S.R.  Struggling readers will appreciate the chance to access the text via the reading of images, and more sophisticated readers may enjoy the initial mystery of the buried captions and will find much to chew on once the backmatter is uncovered. --Jessica Fenster-Sparber

Light, Michael.  100 Suns.  New York: Knopf, 2003.  Print.

Click here for an interview with Michael Light on 100 Suns which was published in afterimage's July/August 2005 issue.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Members Only: Secret Societies, Sects, and Cults -- Exposed! By Julie Tibbot

What are they hiding?  So begins this tantalizing non-fiction title, preparing the reader to delve into the secret (and sometimes not-so-secret) histories of twenty-two groups following alphabetic order and concluding with the Thugees, which, I was fascinated to learn, is with whom the word “thug” originates.  Each chapter follows a template which provides the date or period in which the group originated, their current status, and summarizes in one sentence the group’s exclusivity, secrecy, threat, and quirkiness.  
After this half-page profile in a text box, Tibbott goes on to introduce the reader to the history and background of the group, followed by a section on how to get in and what reportedly goes on within the group.  Interspersed throughout the text are photographs, symbol illustrations, and relevant features on topics.  Examples include Zora Neale Hurston’s account of meeting Felicia Felix-Mentor (an allegedly zombified woman) following the chapter on the Bizango (founded in Haiti in the 18th century), and a list of big name Masons ( including contemporary public figures Jesse Jackson and Shaquille O’Neal along with historical personages like Oscar Wilde and George Washington).  Perfect for older adolescent readers requesting information on the Illuminati (see page 89), the biggest problem with this book is that unsurprisingly, the author chose not to cite her sources. --Jessica Fenster-Sparber

Tibbott, Julie.  Members Only: Secret Societies, Sects and Cults--Exposed!  San Francisco: Zest Books, 2014.  Print.

Monday, September 19, 2016

When Friendship Followed Me Home by Paul Griffin

Thirteen-year-old Ben is convinced nothing in life is forever.  It’s hard to blame him after having spent so much time in foster care and with a revolving door of good and bad people coming in and out of his life.  A fateful encounter with a little dog named Flip brings new friends into his world, and the courageous Rainbow Girl battling cancer, her librarian mom, and magician dad offer him a glimpse of forever.  But can he hold on to it?  A simultaneously heartwarming and heartbreaking story of friendship, family, and lasting moments.  This middle grade novel set in Brooklyn will appeal to fans of realistic fiction, especially if sci-fi also holds a special place in their hearts.  Another fantastic offering from frequent Passages Academy Libraries Visiting Author Paul Griffin.   --Anne Lotito-Schuh

Griffin, Paul. When Friendship Followed Me Home. New York: Dial Books for Young Readers, 2016. Print.