Children’s Book News: March-April 2023

In the last Children’s Book News, various sections of the children’s collection were highlighted. One area which was not discussed was the books along the salmon-colored wall where juvenile non-fiction, juvenile biographies, and graphic novels are shelved. Juvenile non-fiction contains a variety of treasures depending on a young person’s interests.

Next time you are in the library with your young companion, point out the section that might mirror her/his passions. Perhaps it’s astronauts and space exploration, or sharks, or arts and crafts, to name only a few. Look for the non-fiction picture labels which children can more easily use as guides. We are in the process of weeding and updating juvenile non-fiction. Please let us know if there is an area in which you would like to see more current selections.

Since the graphic novel collection is also along this wall, I thought I would focus on non-fiction by pointing out the quality graphic novels that examine a variety of non-fiction topics.

Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina & New Orleans, written and illustrated by Don Brown

Suggested ages: 10 years and up

Drowned City is an artistically powerful retelling of the tragedy that was Hurricane Katrina. With pen and ink illustrations rendered in solemn colors, along with limited text, the tale of this natural disaster unfolds. It not only highlights the human error, ignorance, and incompetence which contributed to this catastrophe but also the unselfish, heroic deeds of ordinary people. Drowned City is a book to share and think on. A detailed list of Source Notes and Bibliography can be found at the book’s end.

In the Shadow of the Fallen Towers, also by Don Brown, is a moving retelling of the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. It is also in our collection.

Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales: Big Bad Ironclad!, written and illustrated by Nathan Hale (no relation to Nathan Hale, the spy!)

Suggested ages: 8-12 years

The series, Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales, relates true stories which are part of American history. They are said to be thoroughly researched and center on fascinating and unusual events of our past. Hale interjects humor and liveliness along with analysis through his three fictional narrators: the spy, Nathan Hale, the hangman who provides comic relief, and the British provost who lends veracity by demanding explanations and proof. Nathan Hale, the spy, relates these historical stories to put off his execution as set up in the first book of this series, One Dead Spy, also part of our collection.

Big Bad Ironclad! is the story of the Monitor and the Merrimack during the Civil War. Hale relates the novel idea, at the time, of building ships covered with iron in order to withstand cannon fire. In the telling of this unique experiment, the reader gains a broader knowledge of the Civil War and is introduced to such historical figures as Abraham Lincoln, General Winfield Scott, and Gideon Welles, Lincoln’s Secretary of the Navy. The book concludes with a time line, brief biographical notes, along with photos of the tale’s major players as well as a bibliography. This is only one of eleven Hazardous Tales. If you are interested in having additional volumes beyond those in our collection, please fill out a request form at the front desk.

When Stars Are Scattered, by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed

Suggested ages: 9-11 years

In this award-winning graphic novel, Omar Mohamed has shared his memories of life in Dadaab, a refugee camp in Kenya. His memoir is catalogued as a juvenile biography in the children’s collection.

At age 4, Omar, and his younger, non-verbal brother, Hassan, fled their native country of war-torn Somalia, and in so doing became separated from their mother. Fortunately, upon arrival in Dadaab, they connect with Fatuma, also a refugee, who acts as a foster mother to them. When Stars Are Scattered relates the story of life in a refugee camp – the boredom, the hopelessness, and the struggles, such as the days with little food. When Omar at last is persuaded to attend school, his hopes and dreams for the future gradually change with the slim chance that he and his brother might eventually be selected for resettlement in America or elsewhere. Omar’s story is inspiring along with being a realistic picture of the millions who are refugees around the world. Today, Omar, who now lives in the United States, operates Refugee Strong, a project he founded which supports refugees through education.