Thursday, November 16, 2017

Programming Spotlight: Pre-theater and Post-Theater Visits from the New Victory Theater

Stepping during a pre-theater visit on 11/6/17.

A gallery walk during a post-theater visit on 11/13/17.

On November 8th we teachers and our administrators took all of our students at Passages Academy--Belmont to the New Victory Theater to see Step Afrika’s The Migration: Reflections On Jacob Lawrence.  The performance blended step, jazz, and African choreography with jazz, African, and gospel music to bring panels from Jacob Lawrence’s essential Migration Series to life for a young audience.  When I asked students what they thought of the show one student, D., responded by telling me the next time I take her to a dance performance, it needs to be longer.  Presumably so that she may enjoy it all the more.

We weren’t able to take pictures inside the theater, but here are a couple of moments we captured of the New Victory’s excellent pre-theater and post-theater workshops provided by teaching artists Chad Beckim and Janet Onyenucheya.  Pre-theater workshops  included step dancing exercises which helped students identify what they would see and appreciate the depth of performers skill and preparation.  Post-theater workshops invited students to engage with Lawrence’s artwork and recreate poses from selected panels, and think about how it feels to experience the poses of the figures from the paintings.  Click here for more photos and more about the interdisciplinary collaboration--Jessica Fenster-Sparber

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Billie: A Memoir by Billie King

Growing up is always hard, but for Billie it was especially difficult. At the age of 10, she already has to protect her mother from her abusive father and learn the ugly truth about her always distant sister, Nia. One day Billie, her mom, and sister finally decide to leave it all behind and move to a new neighborhood, but that's when the real problems begin. Their new neighborhood is slowly changing from a decent place to live to a crack-infested ghetto and Billie's mom starts to spiral out of control. She's barely home and the days that she is home, she spends in her room sleeping, caring very little for Billie and Nia. This is Billie King’s story as she tries to find her way through life and grow up in the middle of a dysfunctional family, riddled with both physical and sexual abuse, drugs and poverty. Billie: A Memoir is a rough read; there are some detailed graphic scenes which make this book more suitable for mature high school readers. Students who enjoyed reading Random Family and Tweak should pick this one up. --Claudio Leon

King, Billie. Billie: A Memoir. Beverly Hills: PRK Publishing, 2014. Print.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Saving Marty by Paul Griffin

It takes a runt pig, Marty, for Lorenzo the protagonist in Paul Griffin’s latest novel, Saving Marty, to reveal his belief in the importance of friendship and the value he places on it.  Lorenzo, who is an eleven year old boy, lacks confidence in his abilities and social skills.  However, he has become overwhelmed by a fervent desire to defend and protect his pet pig, that pretends to be a dog, from his mother who wants to sell the pig for much needed cash.  Marty, who is more a friend than a pet, has helped Lorenzo fill a tremendous gap in his life left void by the loss of his father.
     Lorenzo knows Marty trusts and depends on him.  Marty’s reliance on Lorenzo has compelled him to guard and keep Marty from the butcher’s knife.  Lorenzo needs to use all his resources to find a way to save Marty.  Lorenzo has to find an immediate solution to save his pet, but his resources are very limited and he has a very short time.
This book will appeal to students in middle school, grades 6 - 8, looking for realistic stories. --Elaine Roberts

Griffin, Paul. Saving Marty. Dial Books for Young Readers, Penguin Young Readers group, An Imprint of Penguin Random House LLC, 2017. Print.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Guest Post: Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

The morning after Will’s brother, Shawn, is shot and killed, Will steps onto the elevator with a gun tucked into his pants, knowing what he has to do. Will is pretty sure a guy named Riggs killed Shawn, and he is definitely sure it is his responsibility to do the same to Riggs. But on the long ride down, Will is joined by unexpected visitors in the elevator, making him question whether killing Riggs is really what he owes Shawn. Reynolds’ latest book is written in verse, using brief and powerful free verse phrasing to detail Will’s struggle with carrying out the rules that have been instilled in him his whole life. The format should work well for both independent reading and for read-alouds, as well as for a unit on free verse forms and structure. While some readers may be frustrated by the book’s ending, it (and the nature of who Will meets on the elevator) provides ample opportunity for group discussion and creative writing activities. A good choice for readers who may find Reynolds’ previous work too literary.--Vikki Terrile

Expected release date: October 17th, 2017. The text reviewed was an Advanced Readers' Copy.

Reynolds, Jason. Long Way Down. Atheneum, 2017. Print

Vikki Terrile has been a public librarian for almost twenty years and is currently the Director of Children and Teen Programs and Services for the Queens Library.  Right now, she is reading War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy (eight pages a day, so she should be finished by New Year’s) and Undocumented: A Dominican Boy's Odyssey from a Homeless Shelter to the Ivy League by Dan-el Padilla Peralta.  She dreams of one day owning an alpaca farm and cat rescue.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

The Great Migration: An American Story Paintings by Jacob Lawrence

The Great Migration: An American Story is a picture book collecting the sixty panels Lawrence painted over seventy years ago to tell the story of the period in American history which saw huge numbers of African Americans leave the South for northern industrial cities.  The numbered panels are accompanied by short text.  Although the picture book format is frequently shunned by older students afraid of appearing less mature than they are, I have not heard that complaint from a single adolescent student at Belmont where the books were distributed this week.  Highly recommended for young people of all ages, this book begins with a two-page preface authored by the artist himself in 1992 and closes with a poem on the topic of the Great Migration by Walter Dean Myers, and short paragraphs about the artist, the poet, and the art.--Jessica Fenster-Sparber

Lawrence, Jacob.  The Great Migration: An American Story.  New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 1993.  Print.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

How Dare the Sun Rise: Memoirs of a War Child, by Sandra Uwiringiyimana with Abigail Pesta

Opening with the pivotal and devastating night of the Gatumba massacre, Uwiringiyimana brings the reader into the perilous moment of having her own life threatened at gunpoint and the tragic murder of her little sister, Deborah.  But this memoir is about more than a single night, and Uwiringiyimana leads the reader back to the beginning to describe in detail her happy life in the Democratic Republic of Congo, albeit one periodically interrupted by conflict and challenged by poverty, before the Gatumba massacre.  Equal focus is given to her life in America, and the struggles she faced as a refugee assimilating to American culture during the tumultuous middle grades years.  Channeling her grief through photography and activism, Uwiringiyimana has become a spokesperson for children in conflict, addressing the United Nations Security Council and serving as cofounder and director of partnerships and communications at Jimbere Fund.  This book will appeal to students in grades 8 and up looking for “real” stories. --Anne Lotito-Schuh

Uwiringiyimana, Sandra, and Abigail Pesta. How Dare the Sun Rise: Memoirs of a War Child. Katherine Tegen Books, an Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, 2017. Print.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

A Stone of Hope: A Memoir by Jim St. Germain, with Jon Sternfeld

A must read for all Passages Academy staff, A Stone of Hope is the story of former student Jim St. Germain, from his impoverished childhood in rural Haiti, his tumultuous youth in Crown Heights, his transformative adolescence with Boys Town, to his passionate pursuit of higher education and current activism seeking to improve the experiences of incarcerated and at-risk youth. St. Germain’s story is a powerful testament to the importance of second chances and the need for strong adult advocates.  Warming this librarian’s heart were passages on the pivotal moment of finding the right book at the right time.  For  St. Germain, that book was The Pact: Three Young Men Make a Promise, and Fulfill a Dream. Without peers to make a pact with, St. Germain made a pact with himself, one that he was able to keep because of the guidance, understanding, and assistance he was given from a team of mentors while a resident with Boys Town.  Prominently featured is Passages Academy’s own Mrs. Donna Oglio, now retired. While St. Germain gives much credit to his mentors for never giving up on him, it was obvious to this reader that much credit is due to St. Germain’s own strong-willed self-determination. Highly recommended for confident readers looking for a “real” story, and perhaps in need of the right book at the right time. --Anne Lotito-Schuh

Jim St. Germain is the cofounder of Preparing Leaders of Tomorrow (PLOT).

St Germain, Jim, with Jon Sternfeld. A Stone of Hope: A Memoir. HarperCollins, 2017. Print.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Dear Martin by Nic Stone

Seventeen-year old Justyce McAllister’s ex-girlfriend, Melo, is too drunk to drive her Benz home at 3am and Justyce knows it.  Justyce is arrested by a local police officer while attempting to save Melo from her inebriated self.  The incident shades Justyce’s evolving perceptions of his economically-advantaged peers at the boarding school he attends on scholarship.  Justyce decides to to process his thoughts in letters he writes to Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., wondering what the late, great activist would have done in his shoes and in this cultural and historical moment, which has given rise to the Black Lives Matter movement.

Plot twists abound and recommend this to fans of Sitomer’s Caged Warrior.  Narrative shifts through genre and perspective, as well as the topical content, invite comparisons to How It Went Down , The Hate U Give, and Tears of a Tiger.   Highly recommended for independent reading for older middle school readers and up.  Book clubs may enjoy discussing this title as well.  --Jessica Fenster-Sparber

Expected release date: October 17th, 2017.  The text reviewed was an Advanced Readers' Copy.

Stone, Nic.  Dear Martin.  New York: Random House, 2017. Print.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Girl Meets Boy Massacre by Ainslie Hogarth

The Girl Meets Boy Inn is infamous for all of the murders that took place in the mansion-turned-hotel. Stories float around town about the place’s haunted nature and neighbors prefer to walk several blocks out of the way rather than walk anywhere near it. Noelle, however, needs a summer job to get away from her crazy father who she has to care for since her mother abandoned them. That and she really wants an adventure, something dramatic to spice things up in her life. Noelle and her best friend, Alf, take the nightshift at the hotel, but little do they know this will be their last summer alive.

Girl Meets Boy Massacre is an engrossing read, it captures the readers in the first few pages by revealing the ending; a group of teens mysteriously and gruesomely massacred, Noelle and Alf included. Then it uses Noelle’s journal entries to give the reader a first person’s perspective of the events leading to the massacre. The most interesting aspect of the book is that the journal entries are annotated by both the lead detective who could not solve the mystery and a film producer that wants to turn Noelle’s journal into a horror flick, both of which help flesh out the journal entries. Students looking for a good horror/mystery/suspense novel need look no further. Readers who enjoyed Cirque Du Freak, I Know What You Did Last Summer, and When should pick this one up as well.--Claudio Leon

Hogarth, Ainslie. Boy Meets Girl Massacre (Annotated). Woodbury: Flux, 2015. Print.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

American Street by Ibi Zoboi

Passing through customs in New York City’s JFK airport, teenage Fabiola and her mother are separated.  Not understanding her mother’s detainment, Fabiola is directed to proceed to Detroit where her three cousins and aunt Jo await her.  Fabiola has no choice but to continue her journey alone, and she is surprised and dismayed by the reception she receives among family in Detroit.  The title of the book will draw some readers looking for urban fiction, and expectations will be initially dashed as the exposition is slow to bring Fabiola into immediate danger.  Readers who persevere, however, will be hooked by page 157.  Some magical realism, literary language, perspective changes, and Haitian Kreyol make this a good selection for students who have already developed some confidence, and the 300+ page length requires a moderate amount of stamina--somewhat less than The Hate U Gives 25% longer duration.  Highly recommended independent reading for teens.--Jessica Fenster-Sparber

Zoboi, Ibi.  American Street.  New York: HarperCollins, 2017.

Click here for discussion questions from Reading Group Choices’s website, and here for discussion questions from Maria Stuart at’s website.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Guest Post: The Sounds of My Village by Ishmael Beah

Ishmael Beah by Sarah Stacke.  Image from

Best known for his experiences as a child soldier in the memoir A Long Way Gone, Ishmael Beah’s pre-war childhood in a rural village of Sierra Leone deserves as much attention. This story is an audio recording of Beah’s performance for The Moth, a group which organizes live storytelling events worldwide. In recounting his upbringing, Beah pays homage to his community and its traditions.

When he was nine, Beah’s grandmother told him that “each person’s mind is their own personal library, and as life breathes its moments before you, those moments become memories, and those memories become narratives [...] that you put on a shelf in your own personal library.”  Inspired by her words to create his own rich narrative, Beah inscribes the rhythms of his village in his mind: the morning cry of the birds, the evening communal meal, and the elders’ nightly stories. With tenderness and humor, Beah narrates how his life, once anchored by the warmth of tradition, is torn apart by the unending impact of war. He draws attention to how each victim’s death is the loss of a storyteller and intimates that war does not just destroy the individual but wipes out the collective memory of a culture. War creates a past without storytellers, a tradition without practitioners, and survivors without access to the narratives they need to understand their place in civilization. This story provides an engaging introduction to Beah’s memoir and implants the idea that a young adult’s life is rich enough to compose a personal library.

While this story, suitable for students ages 9 and up, is easily accessible to English speakers, Beah’s dialect may require additional support and scaffolding to aid students in their understanding.

You can access “The Sounds of My Village” here on The Moth’s website. --Esther Kau

Esther Kau currently teaches middle school English in New Jersey. Her current roster of books include Garth Greenwall’s What Belongs to You, her daughter’s favorite, Ben Clanton’s Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea, and her son’s favorite, Steve Light’s Cars Go.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

This is Just My Face: Try Not to Stare by Gabourey Sidibe

The down-to-earth star of Precious strikes a conversational tone and shares her life story so far.  Growing up in Harlem in a family drawn together by necessity instead of romance, Sidibe articulates her maturing perspective, now suffused with humor, regarding the challenges of her unique experience of her parents’ green card marriage, childhood visits to family in West Africa, unstable housing, school struggles, fame, and elective surgery. Older teen readers looking for a new memoir may well enjoy Gabourey Sidibe’s recently published volume.  --Jessica Fenster-Sparber

Sidibe, Gabourey.  This is Just My Face: Try Not to Stare.  New York:  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Fort Mose: And the Story of the Man Who Built the First Free Black Settlement in Colonial America by Glennette Tilley Turner

The title says it all: who among us wouldn’t be fascinated by the origins of the first free black settlement in colonial America?  While students may not initially settle upon this title as an independent reading selection, its concise presentation and accompanying images of historical maps, illustrations, and portraits present a part of American history not usually included in survey textbooks and offers insight into Spain’s complex role in liberating enslaved Africans and Native Americans from British slavers.  Multilingualism, Catholicism, piracy, Cuba and rice all have parts to play in this short story presented in a picture-book sized volume in which the text takes center stage.  Backmatter includes an afterword on Fort Mose today, an author’s note, acknowledgements, a glossary, notes, a list of sources and credits capped off by an index, making this volume well-poised for inquiry instruction for readers who are reading for information and newer to research.--Jessica Fenster-Sparber

Turner, Glennette Tilley.  Fort Mose: And the Story of the Man Who Built the First Free Black Settlement in Colonial America.  New York: Abrams, 2010. Print.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Welcome Back!

We are looking forward to another school year of good reads! We will resume posting our reviews and recommendations of the best texts for educators serving incarcerated and detained youth here in New York City.  --Editors

Friday, July 21, 2017


We're taking a little hiatus for the summer and looking forward to returning with reviews and programming news after Labor Day.  Happy Summer Reading!

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Split By Swati Avasthi

Jace has finally escaped. He is on his way to join his brother Christian because only Christian can understand what Jace has been through. Once reunited Jace and his brother can come up with a plan to rescue their mother from all of the abuse their father has subjected them to. Jace will soon find out that his brother might not be ready to face their past.

Split shows the complexities of relationships in families dealing with an abusive father and how those involved are more than one dimensional people. Even though Jace, Christian, and their mother have been subject to constant abuse, the reader is shown how difficult it can be for those individuals to pull away from such a toxic environment. Split delivers strong messages about relationship and family abuse and how to deal with the fallout of being part of such a relationship. The book is geared towards older middle school students and above.--Claudio Leon

Avasthi, Swati. Split. New York: Ember, 2010. Print

Thursday, June 22, 2017

The Elements: A Visual Exploration of Every Known Atom in the Universe by Theodore Gray, Photographs by Theodore Gray and Nick Mann

Plutonium is illegal to buy anywhere in the United States, but some Americans carry it inside their pacemaker batteries.  Bananas are radioactive, but only slightly more so that many other things we consume.  Gray mixes fascinating tidbits like these with narrative descriptions of each element’s properties and finds a way to inject the end of each page with a bit of suspense sprinkled with humor.   The two-page spreads dedicated to each element are preceded by Gray’s introduction to the periodic table.  Gray’s writing is remarkable science writing on its own, but the accompanying photographs illustrating both the element being described and some of its uses with captions is a winning formula for readers who may not think they like to read about chemistry.   Backmatter includes a narrative walk through the names of elements 101 to 118 on the table and is followed by an author’s note on the joys of element collecting, an image of the author,  a bibliography, acknowledgements, and an index.  All patrons may enjoy browsing and reading the images within; students reading at upper elementary/middle school levels and beyond may enjoy the text, and science teachers may reach for this in designing lessons to familiarize students with the variety of elements on Earth.  Highly recommended for every school library collection serving middle school and high school readers.—Jessica Fenster-Sparber

Gray, Theodore and Nick Mann.  The Elements: A Visual Exploration of Every Known Atom in the Universe.  New York: Black Dog & Leventhal, 2009.  Print.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Programming Spotlight: American Museum of Natural History

Students exploring dinosaurs at the American Museum of Natural History yesterday.  Photo: Jessica Fenster-Sparber

How did the universe come into being and how has it changed over the last 13 billion years?  What is dark energy and how do we know it exists?  How are species endemic to Cuba affected by what we do here in the United States?  How much krill can a blue whale consume in one day?

Students residing in Lutheran and St. Johns houses were invited to wonder about these questions and more in conjunction with a field trip yesterday to NYC's most popular field trip destination, the American Museum of Natural History.  Four of us teachers at Belmont crafted a mini-interdisciplinary unit for the end of the instructional school year melding science, information literacy, advisory, and special education to scaffold a positive learning experience and provide access to the museum for detained youth.  We thank Literacy for Incarcerated Teens for funding the gift of the visit to our students.--Elaine Latham, Shelley Leibusor, Milena Mihalache, and Jessica Fenster-Sparber

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Fred Korematsu Speaks Up by Laura Atkins and Stan Yogi; illustrated by Yutaka Houlette

Imagine that one day your country decides to incarcerate you and your entire family. The crime? Your ethnicity. If your answer is fight back, you would be in the good company of Fred Korematsu, a Japanese-American who took his fight all the way to the Supreme Court after the United States sent thousands of Japanese-Americans to internment camps during WWII. After Korematsu was arrested and convicted for not reporting to prison camp, many of those imprisoned did not support his fighting back for fear that their situation would worsen.  Korematsu lost that first case, and rebuilt his life after the war, marrying and becoming a father, never telling his children about the case or his time in an internment camp until his teenage daughter read about it at school.  When it was revealed that the lawyers for the US government lied to the Supreme Court, the case was reopened and Korematsu won.  Each chapter of Korematsu’s story opens with a full-page illustration, a free-verse narrative poem, and a two-page spread providing historical context, scrapbook-styled primary documents, a helpful timeline, and important vocabulary words. While this is not a book most students will select for independent reading, its compact packaging of information and visual appeal are ideal for those teaching American history. --Anne Lotito-Schuh

Atkins, Laura, and Stan Yogi. Fred Korematsu Speaks Up. Berkeley, CA: Heyday, 2017. Print. Fighting for Justice.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid by Metaphrog

This handsome, full-color comic tells Andersen’s original tale with gorgeous illustration.  The lettering is small and the text is minimal while the pictures are stunning.  Students familiar with Disney’s The Little Mermaid will enjoy comparing this telling of the fairy tale with the Disney movie of their childhood.  Of particular interest in comparative discussions will be the theme, the ending, and the sea witch’s perspective on the value of the little mermaid’s voice.  Perfect for book clubs who wish to read a story and discuss it in one sitting.--Jessica Fenster-Sparber

Metaphrog.  Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid.  Papercutz: New York, 2017. Print.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Little Peach by Peggy Kern

After running away from her drug-addicted mother and abusive stepfather, Michelle finds herself all alone at NYC’s Port Authority bus terminal, making her easy prey for Devon. With his charms and open arms, Devon tricks Michelle into coming to live with him and his three other girls. Michelle suddenly she finds herself trapped and unable to escape the confines of Devon’s world. With little choice, she accepts her role as Devon’s Little Peach and is forced into an early life of prostitution. Little Peach is a powerful short novel which deals with the inner workings of how individuals prey on young girls and trick them into prostitution. It is written at a middle school reading level, and you won’t find any graphic descriptions, but the topic makes the book more suited for 9th graders and above. Students who enjoyed reading Sold will also enjoy reading Little Peach.--Claudio Leon

Kern, Peggy. Little Peach. New York: Balzer Bray, 2015. Print.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

The Odyssey by Homer Adapted by Tim Mucci

This cartoon-y adaptation of Homer’s epic poem jettisons the poetry to make room for silliness and gorgeously color-saturated illustrations.  The font, rendering dialogue in all caps which will be difficult for some to read, may appeal to lovers of graffiti as it looks like it could have been done with a sharpie.  The narrative Mucci spins is choppy if one sets out to read this through for the story, but in terms of the sections he chooses to dwell on, the art is thoroughly enjoyable. Teachers may want to supplement a reading of the poem with scenes like the addicted lotus eaters, his visit to the underworld, his passage through Scylla and Charybdis, and the final bloodbath when he arrives home only to find dozens of men who say they wish to marry his wife.--Jessica Fenster-Sparber

Homer, Mucci, Tim.  The Odyssey.  New York: Sterling, 2009.  Print.  Illustrated by Ben Caldwell & Rick Lacey, colored by Emanuel Tenderini

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Starr Carter is one person in her neighborhood, a place she reluctantly refers to as “the ghetto,” and another person at school, an expensive private school where she is one of a handful of minorities.  But when Starr is the only witness to the murder of Khalil, one of her best friends, at the hands of a police officer, Starr finds it harder and harder to keep her neighborhood persona separate from her school persona. The police, the media, the local gang, and the community each assert their versions of who Khalil was and how he died. But will Starr find the courage to stand up for Khalil now that he can no longer speak for himself? This novel is absolutely perfect for a book club with each chapter offering up new issues to unpack on issues like police violence, gangs, interracial dating, class divides, family dynamics, friendship, activism, race relations, and white privilege. Sure to be a popular independent read. --Anne Lotito-Schuh

Thomas, Angie. The Hate U Give. New York, NY: Balzer & Bray/Harperteen. 2017. Print.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

School Library Journal's Day of Dialog

@School Library Journal's Annual Day of Dialog: from left to right: Anne Lotito Schuh, Paul Griffin, Lisa Von Drasek, and Jessica Fenster-Sparber.  Photo credit: Joan Slattery
On March 31st two of us (Anne and Jessica) attended School Library Journal’s Day of Dialog. Highlights of the day included the keynote speech by National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature Gene Luen Yang; author panels on non-fiction, middle grade readers, and YA fiction; lunch with one of Passages’ favorite visiting authors, Paul Griffin; and the opportunity to scout out forthcoming titles for Passages students and teachers.  

Lunchtime bonus: we met the famous Lisa Von Drasek, formerly of Bank Street College, who, among many other things, turns out to be the keeper of the Monster manuscript.  Stay tuned for more on this apocryphal document.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood

Apartheid in South Africa is not a topic students or teachers usually approach with humor, which makes Noah’s book unique in a school library collection.  Using both his lived experience as well as his famous trademark humor, Noah recounts his childhood in South Africa as a multiracial young person through anecdotes.  The book is structured to provide enough context between anecdotes to offer readers the necessary schema to both laugh at Noah’s jokes and begin to comprehend the horrors of the South African system of apartheid.  In doing so, this book is sure to broaden readers’ comparative perspectives on state-sponsored racism and is likely to lead a curious mind to wonder about the history of a nation they may previously only have connected to the name Nelson Mandela.  Teens may enjoy discussing Noah’s perspective on serious matters like, crime, poverty, and domestic violence, all of which are woven throughout the book.  Recommended for older teen readers as well as book clubs. --Jessica Fenster-Sparber

Noah, Trevor.  Born A Crime: Stories of a South African Childhood.  New York: Spiegel & Grau, 2016.  Print.

Click here for a short discussion guide published on the blog Book Chatter.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Weird Butterflies & Moths Text by Ronald Orenstein Photography by Thomas Marent

Both images are from the photographer's website,

Thomas Marent’s stunning high-definition photographs of moths and butterflies are each accompanied by six to eight sentences from Dr. Ronald Ornstein who holds a PhD in zoology and has authored numerous books on science and nature.  His tack in this title is to whet the reader’s appetite for more with intriguing facts about butterflies and moths.  The last third of the book showcases some of the more surprising images of caterpillars and a couple of pupas. This book will work well for developing a student’s interest in an inquiry undertaking and can be read from start to finish or browsed.  Backmatter is limited to an index and Orenstein’s one-page introduction provides a welcoming invitation to this 63-page volume.  Perfect for reluctant readers and less-sophisticated adolescents reading at an upper-elementary or lower-middle school level. —Jessica Fenster-Sparber

Orenstein, Ronald and Thomas Marent.  Weird Butterflies & Moths.  New York: Firefly Books, 2016.  Print.