Book review: A Few Red Drops: The Chicago Race Riot of 1919, by Claire Hartfield

Hartfield, Claire. A Few Red Drops: The Chicago Race Riot of 1919. Clarion, 2018. $18.99. 198p. ISBN 978-0-544-78513-7. Ages 11-15. P6Q8

Eighteen people died and 229 were injured in the week following the death of a black teenager hit by a rock thrown by a white man at a raft on July 27, 1919. Most of the book covers the buildup to the disaster as blacks migrated from the South and whites came to the city from Europe, both groups looking for better jobs. The whites were given the jobs first, particularly in the meat packing plants; blacks were left to be strike-breakers, worsening the animosity between the races. The title comes from Carl Sandburg’s “I Am the People, the Mob,”: “Sometimes I growl, shake myself and spatter a few red drops for history to remember. Then—I forget”

Verdict: The writing is highly accessible, but the title is somewhat misleading: only 20 pages cover the actual riot. The 80-year history leading up to the disaster is of interest, and the visuals, mostly photographs with a few period cartoons, add greatly to the large-format book. Recommended for libraries to accompany social studies.

December 2017 review by Nel Ward.

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Book review: I Am Not Angry!, by Marie Eden, illustrated by Amy Mebberson

Eden, Marie. I Am Not Angry! Illustrated by Amy Mebberson. (Disney First Tales Inside out series) Disney Press, 2017. $10.99. ISBN 9781484799772. Unpaged. Ages 6-10. P7 Q7

We often see what is happening on the outside, but we don’t usually think about what is happening in our minds. This Disney Tale follows Inside Out characters as they discuss ways to calm angry down. If you are familiar with the Inside Out movie, the book will make sense. If you are not familiar with the movie, the book may seem a bit disjointed. Angry’s friends help him calm down by offering several ideas. While some children may not be able to follow all the dialogue, they will like the colorful pictures and different ideas on how to calm down.

Verdict: If you have a child who gets angry quickly and would like some techniques to calm down, this book offers techniques in a fun way. Recommended for elementary aged children libraries and public libraries.

December 2017 review by Tami Harris

Book review: Georgie’s Best Bad Day, by Ruth Chan

Chan, Ruth. Georgie’s Best Bad Day. (Georgie and Friends series) Roaring Brook Press, 2017. $17.99. ISBN 9781626722705. Unpaged. Ages 3-6. P7 Q7

Georgie the cat is having a bad day and so are his friends. They decide to turn their days around. However, the things they did turned out disastrously. They find the humor in it and laugh. It shows that when our day isn’t going as planned, we can do things to turn it around. This book is in the series of Georgie and Friends books. Children will enjoy the comic illustrations and facial expressions on the animals.

Verdict: I recommend this book for young children’s libraries. It will help children realize that we all have bad days and it is possible to turn things around. The book uses humor and adventure to lighten up a bad day.

June 2017 review by Tami Harris.

Book review: Margaret and the Moon: How Margaret Hamilton Saved the First Lunar Landing, by Dean Robbins, illustrated by Lucy Knisley

Robbins, Dean. Margaret and the Moon: How Margaret Hamilton Saved the First Lunar Landing. Illus. by Lucy Knisley. Knopf, 2017. $17.99. unp. ISBN 978-0-399-55185-7. Ages 6-9. P7Q8

Millions of people know the name of Neil Armstrong, the first man who walked on the moon in 1969, but far fewer know the name of the women who made his walk possible. Without her software, the Apollo mission could not have landed. Robbins begins the picture book biography with her love of solving problems and follows her career in science after her father’s encouragement. In the 1950s and 1960s, she experimented with writing code to predict weather and track airplanes before she worked for NASA, developing the steps on flying to the moon. Cartoonish ink illustrations colored in Adobe Photoshop accompany the minimal text that explains a complicated process in a simple fashion. Particularly delightful are the signature huge glasses that Hamilton wears. End papers include black and white photographs of the subject, including the almost six-foot tall stack of her documents of code for the project.

Verdict: The illustrations are inviting, but the text is set in all caps in a font simulating hand printing, making it harder to read. Yet the humor and information in the book make it a must read for young people that fills in missing information about the space program a half century ago, especially in its encouragement for girls to pursue careers in science.

May/June 2017 review by Nel Ward.

Book review: Quacks & Con Artists: The Dubious History of Doctors, by John Farndon, illustrated by Venitia Dean

Farndon, John. Quacks & Con Artists: The Dubious History of Doctors. Illustrated by Venitia Dean. (The Sickening History of Medicine series)  Hungry Tomato, 2016. $19.20. ISBN 9781512415605. 32 pages. Includes glossary and index. Ages 8-14. P4 Q7

The book explores the informative and fascinating history of the medical profession that led the way for the modern medical practices. It gives the reader an appreciation for the current medical practices.  With the current developments in research, who knows what will be possible in the future.  Illustrations provide a good visual to the text without being too graphic for a young reader. It was interesting, and for a child interested in the medical field would be enjoyable.

Verdict: The book is written well, but its audience may be limited to those already interested in the medical field and/or history.

May 2017 review by Deborah Gwynn.

Book review: The secret of the kelpie, by Lari Don, illustrated by Philip Longson

Don, Lari. The secret of the kelpie. Illustrated by Philip Longson.  Picture Kelpies/Floris Books, 2016. Unpaged. $17.95. ISBN 9781782502531. Ages 5-8. P8Q8

In this retelling of a traditional Scottish folk tale, Lari Don gives us the story of brothers and sisters who find a beautiful stray horse and are captured by the kelpie, a fairy shapeshifter, bent on drowning them in the loch.  Only the quick thinking of Flora, the youngest sister, saves them from the fairy’s intended evildoing.  Longson’s beautiful, haunted illustrations bring the story to life and his transformation of the kelpie from beautiful and majestic to monstrous is perfect.

Verdict: The story and illustrations pair beautifully to convey a traditional haunted and haunting tale.  Highly recommended for elementary and public library collections.

November 2016 review by Jane Cothron.

Book review: Cecil’s Pride: the True Story of a Lion King, told by Craig Hatkoff, Juliana Hatkoff, and Isabella Hatkoff; photographs by Brent Stapelkamp

Hatkoff, Craig, Hatkoff, Juliana, Hatkoff, Isabella. Cecil’s Pride : The True Story of a Lion King. Photographs by Brent Stapelkamp. Scholastic Press, 2016. unp. $17.99. ISBN: 978-1-338-03445-5. Gr. 2+. P8 Q8

hatkoff-cecils-prideThe world was horrified when they discovered that Cecil the lion had been killed. Guides lured him out of a national park in Africa, he was then shot by a dentist from the United States. The world was shocked as pictures were flashed across the screen of the dentist and his trophy. It was the dark mane of Cecil which made it so easy to identify this magnificent lion. This book uses color photographs to tell the story of Cecil and his family. Cecil’s pride included another male lion, his brother, Jericho, who was part of the family unit. After Cecil was killed, Jericho took over as the leader, or King of the pride.

Verdict: Any school which is studying preservation of endangered animals should have this book included as part of their unit. The book’s theme is on conservation of animals, their protection and how no matter what we do it doesn’t always work.

November 2016 review by Carol Bernardi.

[Editor’s note: The story of Cecil’s Pride centers on the photographs taken by Brent Stapelkamp, photographer and lion researcher with the Oxford University Wildlife Conservation Research Unit that has tracked Cecil and his pride for nine years. This photographic essay focuses on the life of a lion and the family relationships within the pride.]