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Celebrate the Right to Read

image1We celebrate the right to read. In the Children’s Room this week, you will find a large display highlighting Banned Books Week and bringing attention to the many children’s books that are challenged or banned in the U.S.

We take this week each year to bring attention to the distressing truth that librarians and teachers across this country are asked to remove books from shelves because someone didn’t like what they read. When someone tries to remove a book from access, that is a challenge. When they succeed, that is what the American Library Association defines as banning a book.

Maybe the book that is being challenged had offensive language. Maybe it was seen as unsuitable for the age group that it was available to. Maybe it was violent, or contained sexuality, or depicted homosexuality. There are a lot of reasons why books are banned or challenged in the U.S. Often, these efforts are defeated. But all too often, they succeed — and books disappear from classrooms, school libraries, public libraries, college classes, even academic libraries.

As librarians, we believe it is the right of the individual to choose what to read and what not to read. That is called intellectual freedom, and it comprises one of the essential components of a thriving democracy and an informed citizenry. Even if what is being read is offensive or disagreeable.

The American Library Association (ALA) defines Intellectual Freedom as: “the right of every individual to both seek and receive information from all points of view without restriction. It provides for free access to all expressions of ideas through which any and all sides of a question, cause or movement may be explored.”

We champion strong opinions and we wholeheartedly say: If you don’t like a book, don’t read it. You are free to dislike a book as much as you want, and express that dislike wholeheartedly. But that doesn’t mean you can stop other people from reading it. That’s a violation of intellectual freedom.

Children deserve intellectual freedom, too.

According to the American Library Association, 40 percent of the challenges to books in the U.S. come from parents. Parents care about what their children are reading. Of course! As parents ourselves, we care about what our own kids read. Parents should be involved in their children’s developing literacy, and we strongly encourage you to read what your kids are reading. But deciding what your own child reads — and what another person’s child reads — are two different things.

We also want to urge parents: Trust your children in their exploration of books and reading. Allow your kids to read broadly and diversely. Allow them to pursue their interests. Read the books your children are reading and talk to them about it. Start a family book group!

Our City Librarian Anji Brenner once wrote about Banned Books Week for this blog. What she said then still holds true today: “Fortunately, in Mill Valley, we’ve had very few instances — few and far between — of censorship on the order of banned books, something that continues to happen all too often elsewhere in the country. What isn’t so rare here is the more insidious version, perhaps just as destructive, in which well-intended parents interfere with the critical choice-making process of their children. Like anything else, choice is a skill, and it needs to be learned — by making choices.”

Books open the world to your children. Allow them to step through that door and become global citizens. Reading diversely makes our children more empathetic, informed, and self-aware. Reading for pleasure — even reading formulaic chapter books or comic books over and over and over and over — builds a foundation for a love of reading that will blossom for a lifetime. Allow your kids to practice intellectual freedom, and to learn to read with abundance. We can all celebrate our right to read.

-Molly

 

Drama and Adventure: New Books for Older Readers

Save Me a Seat by Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan
save-me-a-seat
For Ravi and Joe the first week of fifth grade is off to a rough start. Ravi has just moved to New Jersey from India. At his old school he was a popular kid and star student, but now no one can understand his heavily accented English and he is left to eat lunch by himself. Joe never has great days at school, but this year his only friends have moved away and he has been left to be tormented by the class bully. When Ravi is forced to attend remedial class with Joe, the two boys start down a path that seems to be headed for disaster until the two discover a common enemy. Told through Ravi and Joe’s alternating perspectives this touching tale of finding your place in the world will resonate with fans of Wonder and Absolutely Almost. The boy’s strong voices, humorous situations, and all around charming story make this a highly recommended title!

Red: The True Story of Red Riding Hood by Liesl Shurtliff
red
In this third fairy tale mashup by Shurtliff, readers journey deep into the Kingdom with Red, previously introduced in Rump: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin. In Red’s tale she sets off on a quest to find a magical cure for her ailing Granny as every spell she has tried before goes horribly wrong. She is joined on her quest by an irritating girl called Goldie, a dwarf forced into her service, and one very unlikely ally. With every magical cure a little more terrifying than the last, Red begins to realize that immortality might not be the answer she seeks. Fans of Rump and Jack will be thrilled to see another adventure set in this fairy tale land and Red does not disappoint. This is a story full of bravery, humor, and plenty of magic.

Dara Palmer’s Major Drama by Emma Shevah
daramajordramawebsite-667x1024
Dara Palmer knows she will land a leading role in her school’s production of The Sound of Music because she is destined to be a star, sowhen her name is not called for any part she is baffled. It couldn’t be because she is not a good actress, after all she spends her recesses practicing her dramatic faces. It must be because she doesn’t look like Maria, and her Cambodian heritage is standing in the way of her dreams. Or is it? Dara begins to examine her life and acting skills more closely and realizes she has work to do. This journey of self-exploration is made irresistible by Dara’s humor and eccentric personality. Adoption, race, and various tween issues elevate this seemingly simple tale of a drama queen onto a level with Drama and Better Nate than Ever.

The Secret of Dreadwillow Carse by Brian Farrey
secret
Princess Jeniah is not ready to be Queen but the impending death of her mother has forced Jeniah to learn everything she can about ruling. Her kingdom is renowned for the peace, prosperity, and contentment of its people. That is, everyone except Aon who alone feels sadness and believes there must be something wrong with her. Day after day, Aon is drawn to the only place in the kingdom where sadness reigns, Dreadwillow Carse. Jeniah is also curious about the Carse as her mother has warned her that if she ever sets foot inside, the kingdom will fall. A chance meeting between the girls begins a partnership to determine the secrets behind the kingdom’s perpetual peace. The increasingly suspenseful mystery and the girls’ emotional tales make this book a real page turner. A great choice for readers who enjoy high fantasy or fairy tales with dark undertones.

-Sarah Beth

Take It and Make It

iconsukuleleDo you want to learn to play the ukulele or bongo drums? Try sewing or weaving? Or investigate with a telescope or a microscope? Maybe you’ve been itching to try out a GoPro camera, or Arduino or Makey Makey? Check out our new Take It Make It Experience Kits and get started on a whole new experience of creating, designing, making, or producing. Each kit contains everything you need to embark on something new.

goproThe maker movement is about experimentation and tinkering, and the Library will provide a small collection to help you get involved.

Musical instruments: Ukulele, Bongo Drums
Science equipment: Orion Telescope, Microscope
Technology: Raspberry Pi, Arduino, Makey Makey, GoPro Camera
Fiber arts: Weaving Loom, Sewing Machine

makeyClick here for details on how to check out these new kits.

Hares and Colors and Bears, Oh My: New Books for Younger Readers

Hare and Tortoise by Alison Murray
Hare-and-Tortoise-by-Alison-MurrayAllison Murray, whose previous works included updated nursery rhymes with One Two That’s My Shoe and Hickory Dickory Dog, updates the classic fable, The Tortoise and the Hare. This friendly competition between bouncy Hare and slow Tortoise uses bright and simple illustrations with spare text that’s welcoming for event the youngest audiences. Humor and friendship dominate the competition, and the moral of the tale is there without being didactic. Friends to the end, Tortoise suggests a race to the lettuce patch next! (ages 3-6)

Swatch: The Girl Who Loved Color by Julia Denos
swatchSwatch is a young girl who loves colors. She paints them on her face and collects them from everywhere, finding Bravest Green to Rumble-Tumble Pink. When she locates the final color for her jarred collection, Yellowest Yellow, she thinks to ask whether it wants to be caught. Filled with gorgeous swirling colors and a message of leaving wild things wild, this book is unexpectedly exuberant about what could have been a tame subject. (ages 4-7)

A Brave Bear by Sean Taylor
a-brave-bearBear cub and Dad are on their way to the river on a very hot day. When the cub tries to show Dad a really big jump, uh-oh, the result is a hurt knee and a sad bear. Dad offers to carry the little bear, but the cub decides to go on anyhow, Dad replies encouragingly, “I think a brave bear is probably the bravest thing in the world!” Gentle encouragement and relatable characters make this a lovely choice showing a small adventure for Dad and his cub. The swirly lined art – in the bears’ fur and the background river and tree bark – adds to the fun atmosphere, and action words like “jumpiest” make this a delightful read-aloud. (ages 2-5)

How to Find Gold by Viviane Schwartz
How to Find GoldAnna wants to have an adventure to find gold, but her friend Crocodile thinks it would be dangerous and difficult. Anna replies “Good!” and off they go. The colorful and imprecisely drawn characters begin the story in front of gray, realistic backgrounds. As their imagination takes hold, the drawing fill in with increasing amounts of color, until the two swim down to sunken ships that fill the pages. Schwartz showcases the power of imaginative play in this lovely book. (ages 2-5)

-Lauren

Amazing Adventure: New Books for Older Readers

The Wooden Prince by John Claude Bemis
out of abatonIn this steampunk retelling of the classic Italian story, Pinocchio, a wooden automaton is haphazardly delivered to the outlawed alchemist, Geppetto. But unlike most subservient automata, Pinocchio asks a lot of questions and thinks! Why is Pinocchio here? As Geppetto and Pinocchio ponder the question, they are swept up in the midst of a war zone between the magical kingdom of Abaton and the imperialistic Venitia. The pretentious cricket Maestro provides comic relief as Geppetto and Pinocchio identify their role in these perilous times. This interesting twisted fairy tale should suit fans of Marissa Meyer’s Cinder and Liesl Shurtliff’s Rump.

Compass South by Hope Larson
CompassSouthCharles Dickens meets Robert Louis Stevenson meets Doug Tennapel in this seafaring comic book about orphaned twins Alexander and Cleopatra learning to survive in 1860’s New York as young gang members. When a burglary goes sour, the twins exchange information with the police for a ticket to New Orleans to begin a con of their own devices. Just when they think they’ve landed their lottery ticket to a better life, they meet a set of twins with the same deceptive itinerary! Garnish that with a disgruntled gang member from the past, and you’re in for a rip-roaring tale that will keep you on your toes. Hope Larson is the Eisner award-winning author of the graphic novel: A Wrinkle in Time. Readers who enjoyed Craig Thompson’s Space Dumplins will satiate their appetite for fast paced adventures with her new graphic novel.

Dream On, Amber by Emma Shevah
DreamonAmber1Not only does Amber have a brutally long name: Amber Alexandra Leola Kimiko Miyamoto, she is also half Italian and half Japanese, which makes things molto confusing. Amber is starting 6th grade, which isn’t a walk in the park when there’s a super scary bully in your talk therapy class, you lack a smart phone like everyone else, and you don’t have a….Dad. How is Amber going to survive these in between years and be a thoughtful big sister? Written with a similar spunk as Jeff Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, this accessible book tackles real problems while remaining hilariously sarcastic and poignant. It is refreshing to see a protagonist navigate her identity as a bi-cultural tween in contemporary American culture. Dream On Amber also addresses bullying, single parent household, and self esteem.

The Nameless City by Faith Erin Hicks
nameless cityThe present conquerors call the great city DanDao, but the dwellers in the outskirts know better. The city is nameless, because it is defeated every 30 years. The 30 years is upon DanDao as the rulers feverishly train the next generation of soldiers. Naïve and absentminded, Kaidu begrudgingly shoulders his new responsibility as a future Dao soldier. His pensiveness reroutes him to a feral and magnetic girl of the city streets, a skral girl named Rat, who opens his eyes to the reality of the tumultuous political landscape he inhabits. With a strong female character, action oriented plot, and vibrant art panels, The Nameless City is a quality graphic novel that should suit fans of Kibuishi’s Amulet series.

-Courtney

Pokémon Go for Family Fun

pokemon2For the past few weeks I have been playing Pokémon Go to understand this new phenomenon, and as a children’s librarian I am embracing this game. Before you shrug this game off as the downfall of our society into a plugged-in-zombie-pedestrian dystopia, I would encourage you to try it out if you can, especially if you have children or grandchildren. From my research, I found many positive associations with this game.

Note: If you don’t know what a Pokémon is and want to learn how to play, visit this beginner’s guide.

Why play?

  1. Familiarize with the latest shift in our culture and prepare for future innovations in the virtual reality gaming domain
  2. Connect with your family! Playing this game is a great way to bridge generational divides and connect with kids and millennials, who may be nostalgic players.
  3. Explore the Bay Area, particularly landmarks, and get to know local history. The creators of this game created an algorithm that selects landmarks as “pokestops” where players collect goodies. Places with many historical landmarks are great for Pokémon, providing opportunities to learn local history. For instance, you might take your kids to the Rosie the Riveter historical park to catch Pokémon and learn about WWII.
  4. Harness a love of Pokémon and encourage them to read about their beloved pocket monsters: there are books pertaining to Pokémon, such as encyclopedias and graphic novels like as the Pokémon Essential Handbook and Pokémon XY. 
  5. Be involved in the dialogue about the latest Pokémon frenzy. The frenzy has sparked some controversy, such as:

rosieExplore the Bay Area!

Getting out with family is my favorite part of the Pokémon Go experience. Pack water, snacks, and sandwiches to explore/revisit the Bay Area. You won’t find many Pokémon in residential areas, so go to places with landmarks where you will have phone service. I have had great experiences at the University of California Berkeley, Rosie the Riveter World War II Home Front National Historical Park, San Francisco hotspots like the Palace of Fine Arts and Fort Mason, and downtown Redwood City. I plan to visit the John Muir National Historic site, the Yoda Fountain at LucasFilm, the Oakland Aviation Museum, and the Mystery Spot in Santa Cruz (although lack of cellular service may be a barrier). Check out the Library’s Discover & Go museum passes to get free admissions to Bay Area museums!

Practice safety skills and positive social skills

  1. There are already horror stories of people climbing up fences on highways to catch rare Pokémon, and people playing while driving and crashing into police cars. Let’s remind our kids to play smartly! Even if it’s common sense,  we can always remind kids to step out of the way so bikers can ride past, look up when crossing streets and be wary of strangers. Play during the well-lit daytime, and play with friends!
  2. Practice planning skills: bring water, snacks, money, food, chargers and extra clothes.
  3. When you go out to play Pokémon in popular places, you will likely notice other people playing. Kids can practice positive social skills such as greeting others, making eye contact, smiling, and being aware of other people’s space. There have been heart-warming articles about Pokémon Go making a positive difference for kids who are on the autism spectrum.
  4. Be patient with grumpy bystanders. There are many bystanders who are confused by this frenzy or express their resentment about it. If kids notice hostile comments, we can practice empathy skills, and talk people’s reasons for being upset such as change, and how we can react.

Who can play?

  1. The free app is accessible to all ages, though you’ll need a digital device to download and play.
  2. People with an android or iOs (version 4.3 or higher) digital device that has a GPS signal and Internet connectivity. You must download the Pokemon Go app on your android or iOS device, and have at least 200 MB of storage available on their phone for this initial download and updates to follow

Tips

The most frustrating aspect of playing Pokémon Go is that it rapidly depletes your phone’s battery. Here are some tips for dealing with this nuisance:

  1. Make sure your phone is fully charged! Bring your charger with you. You can stop by a library branch to charge your phone and read while you wait!
  2. Go into your settings and turn off the notifications for all of your apps. Your phone uses battery power when it’s checking for app updates and email.
  3. Go into your settings and set your battery to low power mode
  4. When you go out to eat or do other things, you can turn off your phone or switch it to airplane mode to conserve the battery
  5.  You can buy a portable phone charger so that you can play longer. There are good deals on Amazon!
  6. Bring your charger with you, so you can come into the Mill Valley Library and charge up!

Did you know that the Mill Valley Library is a PokéGym? Come on in to battle your Pokémon!

Have fun!

-Courtney

 

Growing Up but Staying Small: New Books for Younger Readers

The Dog That Nino Didn’t Have by Edward Van De Vendel
dog nino didn't haveCheck out this a feast for the eyes with illustrations painted in earth tones. “Nino had a dog that he didn’t have.” This imaginary dog that Nino didn’t have followed him everywhere, a daring and adventurous two.This dog could hear the phone conversations Nino had with his dad who worked far away. No one noticed the dog until the dog started to act up. Eventually, the dog that Nino didn’t have left because Nino didn’t outgrew him. In his place a different dog appeared. That dog was soft, sweet and obedient. Best of all, everyone could see him and he was a great comfort for Nino while his father was far away working. (ages 4-8)

Bye-Bye Binky by Maria van Lieshout
bye-bye-binkyThis may be the perfect book to assist in weaning a child off the dreaded Binky. Illustrated in orange, brown, black and white, this simple and concise picture book offers practical alternatives for young children transferring away from their pacifier. A must for any mom or dad struggling to wean their child of their Binky use. (age 2-5)

 

City Shapes by Diana Murray
PB_MURRAY_-City-Shapes-234x300A little girl winds her way through the city with her kaleidoscope. Written in a poetic jazzy swing, this book points out shapes in the busy city. This is a lovely book to take along on a walk as you look for shapes in the city. The second to last page creatively illustrates the city through the girl’s  kaleidoscope, and the final page illustrates the girl back in her apartment looking out at the night city through it. Wonderful! (ages 3-6)

 

The Big Blue Thing on the Hill by Yuval Zommer
big blue thingThis humorous tale shows woodland animals living peacefully in the middle of the Great Forest on Howling Hill. Everything is quite routine, sleeping during the day and coming out at night to do what woodland animals do. Until one day, when a blue thing appears on the hill. All is disrupted and the animals lives are turned upside down. The animals must find a way to solve this disruption. With a surprising and comical ending, this is a must read picture book! (ages 3-7)

Animals Aplenty: New Books for Younger Readers

Los Pollitos by Susie Jaramillo
Los-PollitosIn this adorable book, the famous Spanish nursery rhyme “Los Pollitos Dicen” comes to life with the help of three very expressive baby chicks. The simple story shows the love and care that a mother hen has for her babies. From the moment the chicks hatch she is kept very busy tending to their every need. The unique accordion style book allows readers to enjoy the story in English on one side and Spanish on the other, while the interactive elements featured on each page add yet another dimension to please the very youngest of readers. Canticos will release its second bilingual book this fall titled Elefantitos (Little Elephants). (ages 1-4)

Splashdance by Liz Starin
splashdancethumb_500Ursula the bear and all of the other bears get kicked out of the swimming pool (for being too hairy) right before the big water ballet championship. To make matters worse, Ursula’s partner in the competition ditches her for a giraffe! She heads down to the pond to continue training by herself and much to her surprise she finds a new team to join who is committed to standing up for its teammates. Serious topics of inequality and social justice are made accessible for a young audience thanks to the goofy interspecies cast in this silly tale that’s perfect for summer. Pay close attention to the illustrations, humorous details abound! (ages 4-7)

Treat by Mary Sullivan
treatWhen a hungry pup wakes up to the smell of food, all hilarity ensues! Racing out of his bed to find a treat leads to utter disappointment time and again as none of his family will give him a single bite of anything. Exhausted by his begging efforts, the pup finally returns to bed where his dreams of treats turn into a nightmare of being the treat. Using only one word in the book, Sullivan fills the story with energy and emotion through the character’s expressions, creative font choices, and constant movement. This determined and irresistible little round pup will have readers rooting for him the whole time and delighted by the happy ending. (ages 4-7)

Frankie the Blankie by Jennifer Sattler
frankie blankieDoris loves her blankie, Frankie. In fact she loves him so much she never does anything without him: napping, snacking, dancing. That is, until she is told that “only babies play with blankies, you know.” Doris decides to give Frankie up, but life is too miserable without him. She comes up with the brilliant idea of disguising him, which almost goes terribly wrong until she turns him into a puppet and wins the hearts of the other jungle animals. While most books about transitional objects focus on letting go of the object, such as Owen by Kevin Henkes or Geraldine’s Blanket by Holly Keller, the story of Doris and Frankie shows that children don’t have to give up their comfort object until they are ready.

-Sarah Beth

Great Podcasts for Librarians and Lovers of Children’s Literature!

How do children’s librarians keep up with the rapid publishing of children’s books? We read on the bus, listen to audiobooks while we clean, keep track of starred reviews in journals, and talk to each other. Podcasts are another exciting avenue for learning about buzzing titles, getting to know authors, and understanding the creative writing process. Here are seven of my favorites:

Publisher’s Weekly PW KidsCast
Esteemed book reviewer Publisher’s Weekly interviews contemporary authors of youth and young adult materials to talk about their upcoming and well anticipated book. In 20 minutes or less, each author talks about their latest work, weaving in tales from their own lives, and the events that led to their books. Out of all of the podcasts listed here, PW KidsCast is especially great because they publish new material frequently, almost weekly. Guests have included Maggie Stiefvater, Rick Riordan, and Brian Selznick.

cover170x170The Guardian’s Children’s Books Podcast
The Guardian is a British daily newspaper that also produces fun programs and podcasts, such as this one that focuses on current kids’ and teen books. The creators of buzzing juvenile books often make an appearance, talking about their latest work and inspirations, sometimes diving deeper into their own childhoods, issues with society, causes that they are fighting for, and more. On occasion, the creators will read passages from their book. Celebrated authors and illustrators Jacqueline Wilson, Sally Gardner, Jeff Kinney, and David Leviathan have made appearances.

The Yarn
The-Yarn-logo-500-300x300Ranging from picture books to teen titles, The Yarn goes behind the scenes to interview authors and illustrators, unraveling their creative processes and inspirations in this short podcast. Most titles are contemporary, or to be released! Authors that they have talked with include Jennifer Holm, Raina Telgemeier, Salina Yoon, Chris Grabenstein, and Rebecca Stead.

The Picturebooking Podcast
picturebookingFocusing on picture books, this podcast mostly interviews creators, discussing their latest book, their artistic techniques, their career, culture, and more. This podcast also dives into the publishing process, giving amateur writers guidance. Author-illustrators Molly Idle, Dan Santat, and Peter Brown have spoken here.

 Scholastic Reads
ScholasticReads_Podcast_LogoScholastic, a well-known publishing company of books for children and teens, launched this podcast in 2015 to talk about the world of children’s books, literacy, and libraries. Episodes have ranged from talks with literacy experts about enhancing summer reading programs, to prestigious art and writing awards, to literary campaigns. This is a great podcast to learn about emerging trends in culture and activism concerning books and youth.

Kids on Comics: Father and Son Comic Book Talk
kids on comicsA father and son discuss kids’ comics and graphic novels in this endearing podcast. The duo prefers superheroes and popular graphic novels, and together they give listeners a synopsis of their chosen read, sharing their likes and dislikes. The father asks his son questions to help him develop his critical thinking skills, and it’s always fun to hear a kid’s perspective in an atmosphere where we heavily rely on professional reviewers for our selections. Father and son have talked about titles such as Dogs of War, Cardboard, X-Men, and Zita the Spacegirl.  

the splitThe Split: A Young Adult Book Review Podcast for Readers and Writers
For readers who love young adult books, this podcast passionately reviews the new, popular, and buzzing titles to be released of teen literature. Creators talk about their new work in 30 to 60 minutes, with an interviewer asking thought provoking questions. I only hope that this podcast will come out with new episodes, since it was last updated in December 2015.

-Courtney

Fantastic New Nonfiction

Masterpieces Up Close by Claire d’Harcourt
masterpieces-up-close
This amazing oversized art book looks at 21 paintings, magnifying important aspects in each one. Not only does this book examine detailed theory and technique, it also makes it fun to find the highlighted area within the painting itself. So often in famous masterpieces there is so much going on, it is hard to focus on key elements of the great work.  Looking at color, composition, brush stroke and imagery, the young artist is given a better understanding of art appreciation. When examining Marilyn by Andy Warhol, I myself discovered a more complex meaning in his work.  Each repeated image evokes a powerful facet of the talented and troubled Marilyn. This very interactive book is perfect for any budding young artist. (ages 9-14)

The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown
boys in the boatIn a text adapted for young readers, read about the United States 1939 Olympic crew team who through hard work, perseverance, and amazing odds won gold in Hitler’s Germany. Written like a novel, The Boys in the Boat takes you on a great adventure through the eyes of Joe Rantz. Rowing requires physical endurance, mental toughness and training the mind and body to endure the natural elements and great pain. Growing up in the great depression with an extremely challenging childhood, paved the way for Joe Rantz to endure great challenges and become an Olympic champion. (ages 9-13)

Children Growing up with War by Jenny Matthews
children growing up with warTake a journey through the eyes of a photo journalist into the lives of children in war. With stunning photographs and heart-wrenching text, Matthews examines the everyday life of children living in war-torn environments. One particularly wonderful section in the book shows children playing, illustrating how resourceful and creative the power of play is to a child. (ages 10 and up)

NightWatch: A Practical Guide to Viewing the Universe by Terence Dickinson
nightwatch
This guide has it all, from choosing your telescope, sky measurements using your hand, a start brightness meter, and a pronunciation guide, to photographic charts (including a chart of the names of each crater on the moon) and traditional star charts, this book has it all. NightWatch will delight even the most amateur astronomer. Not only does this guide offer everything you need to know about star gazing, it also houses a wealth of information on galaxies, stars, planets, comets, nebulas, black holes, asteroids and more in the night sky. With a spiral binding that allows the book to lie flat while you’re star gazing on Mount Tam, NightWatch deserves its high recommendation from the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. (ages 11 and up)

The Science of a Bridge Collapse by Nikole Brooks Bethea
science of a bridge collapseAfter reading The Science of a Bridge Collapse you may think twice about crossing any bridge in the Bay Area. Taking a scientific approach to bridge design, this book examines the causes of bridge failure. On a good note, engineers analyze data collected from these collapses improving the rebuilding of these important structures. (ages 11-14)

Fantastic Fugitives Criminals, Cutthroats, and Rebels who Changed History While on the Run! by Brianna DeMont
fantastic fugitives
Learn about an eclectic group of famous runaways who changed the course of history. Did you ever think of the Pilgrims as fugitives? When Europe’s fashion craze killed off its beaver population, investors supported the Pilgrims’ passage to the New World to access the beaver population in there. Learn about Harriet Tubman, whose course to freedom on the Underground Railroad entailed running the equivalent of four marathons while being tracked by slave catchers and bloodhounds; encountering snakes, thick brush, and swamps; and countless other dangerous obstacles. This is a fantastic mix of obscure facts and action-packed adventure. (ages 9-13)

-Toni