Tag Archives: nonfiction

What If – What sort of logistic anomalies would you encounter in trying to raise an army of apes?

What IfTitle: What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions

Author: Randall Munroe

What If? is a book of bizarre hypothetical questions and scientific answers.   But you could learn that just by looking at the cover, so here is my story about it.  I would not have known about this book if I had not gotten if for my birthday from my mom (my mom says I ask a lot of hypothetical questions).  And when I got it found it to be surprisingly intriguing. I have always loved hypothetical questions and have sometimes used them as a way of staying up longer to talk with my dad.

What If? can finally answer some of my more whimsical questions, like what would happen if every person on earth aimed a laser pointer at the moon at the same time – would it change color?  On the flip side, if my dad ever got his hands on it — it would put an end to our late-night discussions.  But enough with the backstory; let me tell you about the book.

Personally, I adore this book.  I love almost every bit of it.  I enjoy seeing questions other people would ask.  My favorite section is the Weird (and Worrying) Questions from the What If? Inbox.  In these sections, hypothetical questions are not answered, questions posed are hilariously weird (and worrying).  For example, page 14 has the question, “How many housese are burned down in the United States every year?  What would be the easiest way to increase that number by a significant amount (say, at least 15%)?”   Another gem  (I really like the weird and worrying questions – I cannot emphasize that enough) is:  “What sort of logistic anomalies would you encounter in trying to raise an army of apes?”

This book may be good for fans of Mythbusters because it applies science to the absurd.  It is also for anyone who enjoys illustrations of stick people acting out responses to questions.  Finally, I recommend this book for any fan of science.  The scientific explanations are written in an accessible and humorous way if you are a math genius.  In other words, it is hilarious.

Books of interest:

-Caleb, Greenwood, Teen Advisory Board member


Teen Review: A Little History of the World

Little History of the WorldA Little History of the World by E. H. Gombrich

In this book, Gombrich retells the story of the world in forty concise chapters. He tells the story of man from the Stone Age to the creation of the atomic bomb. Along the way, Gombrich paints an elaborate picture for the readers to envision as they read along. Written in only six weeks (and revised later) the book is not smothered with dates and names of wars, but with “…the sweep of mankind’s experience across the centuries, a guide to humanity’s achievements…”

–Liz, Grade 8, Lake City Teen Blogger


Cracking the Hub: The Running Dream

Hub Reading ChallengeI’m about a month into The Hub Challenge and have just finished my fifth book.

The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen was fantastic. We experience the year after a high school track star, Jessica, gets into an accident and has a leg amputated. If reading that sentence gives you the willies, you can imagine what Jessica’s character goes through. We see Jessica’s progress from anger, hopelessness, and despair as she at first comes to grips with her new reality. Then we see her slowly adjust, find hope, and effect change in her town.

Jessica does have a few assets to help her through this journey – a mega-supportive best friend, loving parents, a track coach who doesn’t give up on her, new friends, and an incredible work ethic. A year ago I heard good things from other librarians about this book, but I passed it over. I’m glad I gave it another chance. This year it’s on the Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults list, and last year it won the 2012 Schneider Family Book Award.

Cracking the Hub: Titanic: Voices from the Disaster

Hub Reading ChallengeI’m about a month into The Hub Challenge and have just finished my fourth book.

Titanic: Voices From the Disaster by Deborah Hopkinson is narrative non-fiction investigating the facts and history surrounding the sinking of the Titanic. I’ve read other Titanic books with better pictures, and of course I’ve seen the movie . What this book does better is pull together primary sources: letters, newspapers, photographs, and journal entries from people who built, sailed, or worked on the Titanic.

Titanic was a finalist for the YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction, and I have to agree with the committee’s assessment. The stories were compelling. The writing style maintained a sense of suspense throughout. We might know how it ends for the Titanic before we start reading, but what happens to the families who were on the Titanic? That is where the suspense really lies.

Cracking the Hub: One Shot at Forever

Hub Reading ChallengeI’m a few weeks into The Hub Challenge and have just finished my second book: One Shot at Forever by Chris Ballard.

One Shot at Forever: A Small Town, An Unlikely Coach, and A Magical Baseball Season is about a baseball team from a tiny town in Illinois that had a fantastic season.  They beat teams from schools larger than the population of their entire town.  The book is as much about the players as it is about their coach Lynn Sweet.  Sweet had an unconventional teaching and coaching style.  He seemed to take great pleasure in tweaking the system, whether by throwing out the English curriculum (that was normally all about grammar) and letting kids read whatever they wanted without concern for fundamentals, to letting the baseball players decide when and how they wanted to practice.  In a league of coaches straight out of the military who expected their players to act like army recruits, Sweet – with his hippie style and team that warmed up for games by listening to Jesus Christ Superstar – was an oddity and was ridiculed by coaches and townspeople.
The writing is excellent, and I love a good underdog story, but what I most liked about this book is how it showed the various personalities of each person involved with the team.  In many ways this baseball season guided the rest of the players’ lives.  They were heroes to the town, and that legacy haunted one player for forty years afterwards.  Then there was Sweet – unconventional to the end – who always marched to his own drummer and refused to be pigeon-holed by someone else’s version of success.  Although I usually read fiction, this is one non-fiction book that I would highly recommend, although be warned, it’s an adult title so there are some adult themes to this book.

Book Group: Always Running

Always RunningWhen the Library brought Luis Rodriguez to Seattle in November, students at Consejo read his book and wrote about their reactions to it. Over the next few weeks, we will be publishing some of their thoughts.

It’s really sad how Luis saw all this. People getting shot, beaten, and lots of arrests. He saw people selling drugs and heard that people that he knew had commited suicide.

Luis said that when he had turned eighteen years old,  about twenty-five of his friends had been killed by rival gangs police, drugs, car crashes and also suicides. What I felt when I read that part was that he has really been through a lot. But I know he had been through more than that. His mother was the only one in their family that actually completed high school. His unclies, Kiko and Rodolfo, crossed the border to find work, and they came back with NICE stories from the other side of the border.

Lilith, 13, Teen Blogger

Book Group: Always Running

Always RunningWhen the Library brought Luis Rodriguez to Seattle in November, students at Consejo read his book and wrote about their reactions to it. Over the next few weeks, we will be publishing some of their thoughts.

I just started reading the book Always Running by Luis Rodriguez. I really like this book because it talks about real things that go on in Mexican families and gangs. It’s fun to read the story because you can relate a lot to your own life. I thought of everything I have gone through with friends and family members in a gang.

It’s also really cool to see what others have gone through, knowing they were in a gang. It’s sad to read that Luis Rodrigez thinks that once he got out that the gang or the hood, it would not haunt him anymore. Finding out that his own child was gang-afiliatedwas something he never imagined would happen to him.

I know that it’s tough to come from Mexico to a new place and deal with gangs. That one time when Luis and his brother went to the store and they got bullied on their way back home by some white kids–that was a hard part. I really like this book because it explains things really well and it can really change the way a teenager thinks about gangs.

Yesenia, 15, Teen Blogger