August 31, 2015

Late summer break

New posts starting September 14, 2015.

August 28, 2015

First Nations athletes

Great Athletes from Our First Nations
by Vincent Schilling

Schilling's book is derived from interviews he compiled with thirteen First Nations athletes from the United States and Canada. The variety of sports they compete in are diverse, ranging from baseball, hockey, and basketball to wheelchair racing, ringette, speed skiing, and wrestling. In an attempt to be inspirational, achievements and quotes are printed in bold text and tribal affiliations are appended to each chapter.

A quick read, this book may be of interest to reluctant readers or to students looking for contemporary biographical subject matter. It would be a good addition to a school or classroom library.

August 26, 2015

Kids like you

Kid Athletes: True Tales of Childhood from Sports Legends
by David Stabler
illustrated by Doogie Horner

Some biographies gloss over their subjects' childhoods and go right into the details of hard work and achievements. The boring ones read like itemized resum├ęs, complete with facts that kids don't care about, like how many marriages a person has gone through. Most kids would rather know what a famous person was like when he or she was a kid themselves. It's much more fun and inspiring when kids can find similarities with their heroes. 

David Stabler understood this idea perfectly when he wrote Kid Athletes. In it, he shares true stories from the childhoods of twenty professional athletes. From accident-prone Peyton Manning who had to dance in the school play to Danica Patrick who raced go-karts, Gabby Douglas who loved to climb and jump to Julie Krone whose horse often threw her off, and Lionel Messi who was told he was too short for soccer, these are kids who never let adversity get in the way in their love of their chosen sport.

A funny and entertaining book that many kids will enjoy, whether they are athletes or not.

August 24, 2015

Bobbie Rosenfeld: athlete extraordinaire

Bobbie Rosenfeld: The Olympian Who Could Do Everything
by Anne Dublin

To many sportswriters, Fanny "Bobbie" Rosenfeld is one of the greatest athletes of all time. While today's athletes are known for their prowess at a single sport, Bobbie excelled at everything: hockey, softball, basketball, and track. She even won trophies in discus, shot put, javelin, and broad jump; the first three were in events for which she was competing for the first time! Her natural ability was much admired, as were the teamwork, generosity and fair play that she often embodied, making her a worthy role model. Tragically, her career was cut short by arthritis when she was only twenty-five years old.

Rosenfeld's life story is engagingly told by Anne Dublin, generously supplemented with black-and-white photos and intriguing sidebars. She also does an excellent job of describing Rosenfeld's achievements as it pertained to Canadian history and the status of women in politics and sports. A detailed timeline and well-researched back matter round out this top-notch book.

August 21, 2015

Tooth fairy doesn't exist (in most countries)

Throw Your Tooth on the Roof: Tooth Traditions from Around the World
by Selby B. Beeler
illustrated by G. Brian Karas

If you think that the tooth fairy flies all over the world, you'd be wrong (unless you live in Canada, the United States, Australia, Denmark, or England). Kids may still get money, but it may come from a mouse, a rat, or a rabbit. In other countries, the tooth is buried or thrown into the sea. But the most popular tradition is to throw the tooth on the roof, off the roof, or over the roof.

A little repetitive a times, this is a cheerful compendium of tooth traditions from around the world. It even includes information about tooth anatomy, using clearly labelled diagrams.

Tooth Tales From Around The World
by Marlene Targ Brill
illustrated by Katya Krenina

This book shows what people did before the tooth fairy came into existence. Whether protecting lost teeth from evil witches or offering them to sharp-toothed animals, these tooth traditions are sure to puzzle and delight readers young and old.

So what does the tooth fairy or the tooth mouse do with baby teeth anyway? It's said that the tooth mouse uses the teeth to build his or her castle. To find out what the tooth fairy does, read What Do the Fairies Do With All Those Teeth? by Michel Luppens.

August 19, 2015

Teeth, fangs, and tusks

Up Close: Teeth that Stab and Grind
by Diane Swanson

As the table of contents states, teeth are used to chomp, grind, talk, grab, and stab. In nice, clear text, Swanson describes how various animals use their teeth, which may prompt kids to examine their own teeth more closely. Impressive photos keep things interesting. Rough sketches are also included, but these are too small to be of much use reference-wise. Still, kids are bound to find this book exciting.

August 17, 2015

Animal tongues

Animal Tongues
by Dawn Cusick

Fun photographs of animals sticking out their tongues should ensure that this book gets repeated readings. Plus, kids will learn entertaining facts about tongues and what they're used for. Four pages of tongue trivia are also intriguing, although there are fewer drawings/pictures of tongues. Kids will have to imagine a glow-in-the-dark lizard tongue or a horn-like snail tongue. Nonetheless, they'll enjoy this remarkable book.

Whose Tongue Is This?
by Wayne Lynch

Pre-school kids will love this book and its amazing close-ups of animal tongues. They'll also learn a few facts about each animal featured. The penguin tongue is the most alarming, followed closely by the turtle tongue.

August 14, 2015


Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out
by Susan Kuklin

An honest and unflinching look at what it means to be transgender, Beyond Magenta is an eye-opening read that does much to foster sympathy and understanding. In six candid interviews, Kuklin introduces us to Jessy, Christina, Mariah, Cameron, Nat, and Luke. From diverse backgrounds, each teen talks about their lives, both the good and the bad. That they are willing to stand up for themselves despite condemnation is both courageous and admirable. 

A must-read that is highly recommended.

August 12, 2015

Gender fluidity

by Kristin Elizabeth Clark

Brendan Chase is a popular athlete, a beloved brother, and a boyfriend to a beautiful girl. Vanessa Girard has everything that Brendan is looking for - long hair, soft skin, gentle curves. Except that Brendan doesn't just like girls, he'd like to be a girl, at least sometimes. Understandably, he's really freaked out.

Angel Hansted is transexual. She's gone through some really tough times but she's now in a happier place. She works part-time at Willows Teen LGBTQ Center. When she meets Brendan, she tries to help him even though he's not yet ready to reveal his secret.

Told in free verse from the perspectives of Brendan, Vanessa, and Angel, this is a compassionate, insightful novel that explores themes of identity, acceptance, and belonging. Readers will empathize deeply with Brendan as he spirals into anger and depression, sympathize with Vanessa as she struggles to understand, and admire Angel's resiliency and newfound confidence.

A realistic, thought-provoking story.

August 10, 2015

Be true to yourself

One in Every Crowd
by Ivan E. Coyote

Coyote has crafted a wonderful collection of stories that speaks to everyone queer or straight. Her honest, warm, storyteller voice evokes fond memories of sitting around a kitchen table reminiscing about past times. The stories she tells about her Yukon childhood, her family, her friends, and the courageous youth she meets are filled with funny, sad, joyous, or angry moments, tempered with hope and compassion.

For anyone who has ever felt different, these stories celebrate that difference and inspires you to always be yourself, no matter what.

Highly recommended.

August 7, 2015

Dr. Michael to the rescue!

The Adventures of Medical Man: Kids' Illnesses and Injuries Explained
by Dr. Michael Evans and David Wichman
art by Gareth Williams

Action-packed stories with a superhero, sci-fi, adventure-type theme are the backdrops in this clever, entertaining book that teaches kids about six common illnesses and injuries that they or their friends may encounter. A suspense-filled serial about a young boy's nut allergy is interrupted by a detective story about concussion, a werewolf encounter about broken bones, a Batman-inspired comic about strep throat, a submarine adventure about ear infection, and an Indiana Jones-like actioner about asthma.

The scientific explanations are distilled in simple, accessible language, helped by clearly labelled diagrams and glossary. 

Fun and educational, this book's a blockbuster!

August 5, 2015

Scrapes, bumps, and bruises

Gross Body Science: Clot & Scab
by Kristi Lew
illustrated by Michael Slack

Kids can't get enough of really gross things like scabs, pus, gangrene, and maggots. This book and the rest of the Gross Body series should keep them happy while they learn about the body's healing process.

Good disgusting fun.

Other titles in the Gross Body Science series:

August 3, 2015

Basic first aid

The Kids Guide To First Aid
by Karen Buhler Gale, R.N.

Taking a first aid course is probably the best way to learn, but this book is handy to have around just in case. It shows kids how to handle common ouches like minor burns, insect bites, bleeding noses, black eyes, and basic cuts and scrapes. A useful chapter explains how to perform self-Heimlich maneuvers. 

The information is presented fairly clearly using bulleted or numbered lists and Get Help fact boxes, which stress the calling of 911 or a grown-up for more serious situations. I did find the many different fonts, type sizes, and line spacings to be a bit distracting. As well, the cartoon illustrations are more amusing than helpful. The book is probably best for ages 9 and up, and read along with an adult to ensure understanding. Having a stuffed animal to practice on would be good too.