Tag Archives: non-fiction

Red Madness: How a Medical Mystery Changed What We Eat

Red

Title: Red Madness: How a Medical Mystery Changed What We Eat

Author: Gail Jarrow

Summary:  In the early 1900s, an epidemic spread across the southern states. Victims showed physical symptoms – like rashes and digestive problems, as well as mental illnesses.  Many went crazy and committed suicide.  It was a medical mystery with many suspects, and only one brilliant doctor would figure it out.

Six Word Review:  Mystery illness in the South solved!

I give this book 9/10 stars.  It’s a great non-fiction book about solving a real puzzle, but it had too many pictures of the sick patients. Yuck!

Gut Reaction:  Ewww… but what is causing it??

​I loved how deduction was used to finally solve the mystery.  The disease was very tricky–it mostly affected women (but not always); it was mostly in the South (but not always); sometimes it would make people go crazy (but not always); it affected the children in orphanages, but not their caretakers.  Looking at the clues to figure it out was really fun.  Lots of different theories were tested, but only one was right!

This book reminds me of An American Plague: The True and Terrifying Story of the Yellow Fever Epidemic in 1793 by Jim Murphy, which won many awards and received high reviews by top journals.

Confession:  I couldn’t wait to find out what caused the disease!  I skipped ahead to the end and then went back to read the rest of the book!

–Guest Blogger Amy L., Magnolia Librarian

MAG

February Book Horoscopes!

starbookFebruary is weird because it is the second month of the year, the first month of a new semester, and the second-to-last month of winter; the month that despite it’s only having 28 days somehow seems to drag on and on in cold ambiguity.

Luckily, we’ve selected a bunch of fantastic books to engage your consciousness so that before you know it, spring will be just over the horizon!  Remember to help yourselves to any of the books on this list, which as always come from a variety of genres and reading levels.

AriesYoung Warriors

Young Warriors by Tamora Pierce and Josepha Sherman

This book is an anthology compiled by two great authors. It is a collection of fantastical tales of young people showing strength. If you feel yourself in need of some inspiration to get you through the last part of winter, this book will give you the relief your adventurous heart is yearning for.

Rosie ProjectTaurus

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simison

This is hilarious and heartfelt romantic comedy is sure to please you as we approach Valentine’s Day. Don, the main character, likes his life to be orderly and doesn’t like taking risks. He suffers from an unfortunate lack of social skills, but he finds love in Rosie, a wildly different woman who pushes him out of his comfort zone, as he helps her search for her missing father.

GeminiCurious Incident

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

This book is an inspiring story about Christopher John Francis Boone, a fifteen-year-old boy on the autistic spectrum who has a very particular view of the world around him. Then one day his neighbor’s dog Wellington is killed, and Christopher takes on the role of a detective to figure out what happened.

Fahrenheit 451Cancer

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

The start of the new semester is a great time for you to go back and read a classic – or if this is your first time reading it, enjoy this treat! Fahrenheit 451 is the dystopian tale of everyone’s worst nightmare – a world without books. Guy Montag is a fireman, and his job is to burn them. Poetic, striking and important, his story will both entertain you and make you reflect about the value of art.

LeoFlowers for Algernon

Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

Charlie is a mentally disabled man who is being subjected to experimentation in a series of studies to increase his intelligence. The same treatments are being given to Algernon, a lab mouse. When Charlie’s intelligence begins to accelerate beyond what anyone had imagined was possible, everyone is thrilled – until Algernon begins to deteriorate unexpectedly. What will happen to Charlie?

WatchmenVirgo

Watchmen by Alan Moore

This brilliant graphic novel tells the story of what happens to superheroes when they begin to suffer from failures that seem to be uncomfortably akin to those of humble mortals. This book talks about humanity and questions what it truly means to be a superhero, all the while never ceasing to entertain. Continue reading

Biography of Legendary Race Horse Seabiscuit

seabiscuitTitle:  Seabiscuit: An American Legend

Author:  Laura Hillenbrand

Summary: This book takes a look at the life of Seabiscuit, one of the legendary race horses of all time.  This book is non-fiction but feels and reads like an extremely well written novel. Hillenbrand goes through the life of Seabiscuit and his career as a racehorse.  Not only does the biography of Seabiscuit tell the story of Seabiscuit, but it also tells the story of the jockeys and owners.  From the training of Seabiscuit to the low-tier races, and from the low-tier races to the high stakes championship races, the biography is action-packed and incredibly heartwarming.

Why I Started Reading: Biographies narrated as stories appeal to me, so when I saw this book, I picked it up and decided to start reading.  Even though this book is fact-heavy, the story never stops moving forward, and the reader is always looking forward to the next story about Seabiscuit or the trainers/owners.  Consider this as a biography of one of history’s most famous sports “players”.

Why I Kept Reading: The narration is exquisite and the description of each race is so thrilling that you could hear the crowd thundering and cheering at each race. The details and facts are accurate and well researched, all adding to the flow of the story.  Although I have never raced horses or attended a horse race, this book explained the details of each race clearly such that I was able to envision every single detail.  In addition, one thing that makes this book great is that it doesn’t only focus on Seabiscuit, but also tells the stories of Seabiscuit’s jockeys as well, and delves into the precarious life of a jockey.

Six Word Recap: Biography of Legendary Race Horse Seabiscuit.

–Matthew, Lake City, Teen Blogger

LCY

Storm Breaks Ships — Risky Rescue Attempted


The-Finest-Hours-book-coverTitle:
 Finest Hours: True Story of a Heroic Sea Rescue

Authors:  Michael J. Tougias and Casey Sherman

Summary:  In 1952, a ship was torn in half during a massive storm off of New England.  Survivors were stranded on both halves of the ship.  During the rescue, the Coast Guard realizes that not one, but two ships were broken in half that day. During the storm, recovery efforts put both victims and rescuers at risk.

Six Word Review:  Storm breaks ships — risky rescue attempted.

I give this 8/10 stars because the story itself is great, but it went into a lot of unnecessary detail.

Gut Reaction:  A ship can break in half?!?

Discuss:  The explanation of how the ships were poorly built and could split half-way was really interesting.

I think that this book would be best for someone who is already interested in maritime books, survival stories or military heroes/rescues.

If the main character was stuck on a deserted island they would…get caught in a storm.

More true Coast Guard rescue stories.

–Amy, Librarian, Magnolia

MAG

 

5 on a theme – Prom

prom dresses

The final months of school are upon us… and that means it’s prom season!  Hallways are already abuzz with prom gossip.  Everyone seems to have something to say about this monumental occasion – whether they love prom, hate prom, or really couldn’t care less about all the hype.

But no matter what your opinion is, you are bound to love at least one of these five prom-related books.

 

Prom: A Novel Based on the Major Motion Picture by Ellie O’Ryan.  Maybe one of your more typical prom storylines.  One girl, who happens to also be president of the Prom Committee, has to choose between two boys to be her date.  Whatever will she do?

The Prom Book: The Only Guide You’ll Ever Need by Lauren Metz.  This book is a guidebook for any teen getting ready for prom.  It is full of tips and tricks for everything you need to plan for the dance – budgeting, wardrobe, etc. – and even has some interactive features.

 

Will Work for Prom Dress by Aimee Ferris.  The story of a girl who is just trying to make it through senior year, but keeps being dragged into her friend’s crazy schemes to try and get prom dates.

Tessa Masterson Will Go To Prom by Emily Franklin.  A boy confesses his feelings for his female best friend, only to find out that she has asked another girl to prom.  Now he has to decide if he will help defend her against the riled up small town community.

The Anti-Prom by Abby McDonald.  Prom drama breaks out when a young lady’s boyfriend is seen with another girl in a limousine on the night of the dance.  Betrayed, she and some other girls band together to take revenge.

Happy reading!

–Hannah, 16, Greenwood

GWD

Cracking the Hub: Stargazing Dog, Bomb & Daredevil

I finished The Hub Challenge just before the deadline!
 
 The 22nd book I read was, Stargazing Dog by Takashi Murakami.
Stargazing Dog made it onto the Great Graphic Novels for Teens this year.  It is the story of a dog who is adopted by a young girl, and the changes he sees his family go through over the years.  His “daddy” – the one who takes him for walks and talks to him – goes through a crisis which leads to a long road trip to Northern Japan on dwindling resources.
 
Even weeks after finishing the book I’m still thinking over how the themes of friendship, death, poverty, homelessness, family, and loyalty were seamlessly woven into this short graphic novel: this thought-provoking story portrays a side of homelessness from the point of view of a loyal pet, and those who read it will likely find themselves more empathetic to the situations of all members of the community.  Also, if you’re following local events, it’s interesting to first read this story set in a different country and then read local news reports about homelessness in the Seattle Community. Continue reading

Cracking the Hub: Annie Sullivan, The Round House & Juvenile in Justice

I finished The Hub Challenge just before the deadline.  The nineteenth book I read for the Challenge was Annie Sullivan and the Trials of Helen Keller by Joseph Lambert.

 
No doubt we all have heard about Annie Sullivan and Helen Keller.  They made education history when Annie Sullivan was able to break through into Helen Keller’s world, introduce her to language, and help her communicate with others.  As one of the Great Graphic Novels of the year we see this transformation, in pictures with few words, from the perspective of Annie Sullivan.
 
It’s been awhile since I learned about Helen Keller and her teacher.  Most of what I have learned until this point was about Helen Keller herself.  This graphic novel puts more emphasis on who Annie Sullivan was, her challenges growing up, her forthright personality that made living in the South difficult, and her attachment to her student and companion Helen Keller.  This was a fascinating read and thoroughly explores what it must have felt like for them both along their journey. Continue reading