"Outside a dog a book is man's best friend, inside a dog it is too dark to read!" -Groucho Marx========="The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." -Jane Austen========="I don’t believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book."-JK Rowling========"I spend a lot of time reading." -Bill Gates=========“Ahhh. Bed, book, kitten, sandwich. All one needed in life, really.” -Jacqueline Kelly=========

Friday, July 22, 2016

Two nonfiction short reviews

We Will Not by Silent: the White Rose Student Resistance Movement That Defied Adolf Hitler by Russell Freedman. When many people are tiring of the never-ending parade of books about WWII, some stories of heroism in the face of terrible consequences bear repeating. The story of Hans and Sophie Scholl and the White Rose Resistance Movement they started in response to the Nazis is such a tale.

Hans and Sophie Scholl were a brother and sister growing up in Germany in the 1930s. Both joined the Hitler Youth organizations but grew disillusioned with it as they saw how it did not allow for independent thought or individualism. But because of their ages they were both tapped for community service in lieu of military service before they could attend university. Hans, three years older than his sister, had already started medical school and made friends with like-minded friends before Sophie was able to join him Munich and fall in with his group. All the students were disillusioned with the Nazis and what was happening to their country. As an act of deviance and courage they put together several tracks which they distributed secretly. The tracks accused the government of needlessly killing people, of crimes against Jews, of the problems with blindly following Hitler. Needless to say the Nazi officials were very upset about the tracks and were on high alert to find their creators. When they caught Sophie and Hans in the act of distributing them, they swiftly meted out punishing by beheading them.

But the White Rose movement did not die with the brother and sister team. Students and others in Germany picked up the cause and continued to pass around the tracks. At one point the tracks made their way to London where they were reproduced and returned to Germany in the form of flyers dropped by the thousands from planes.

Today a memorial at Munich University is found outside the main entrance of the Geschwister-School-Platz-Scholl Siblings Square. A unique memorial in front of the entrance is made of tiles depicting White Rose leaflets that appear to have been dropped on the cobblestones. When asked why he did such a dangerous thing, Hans Scholl wrote, "I'm searching for myself, just myself, because this much I do know: I'll only find the truth inside me."

The book is touching and important. It is considered a junior-level book but I will likley purchase it for my library. It is difficult to find nonfiction books which teenagers will read. This book which is stuffed with old photos and is short on text will likely be attractive to teen researchers.

Bubonic Panic: When Plague Invaded America by Gail Jarrow is the third book in the Deadly Diseases series by the author. With its deadly consequences we all know a bit about the disease often called the Black Death but few know the details of when the disease landed in San Francisco in 1900s and the on-going effects of that "visit".
In March 1900, San Francisco’s health department investigated a strange and horrible death in Chinatown. A man had died of bubonic plague, one of the world’s deadliest diseases. But how could that be possible? Bubonic Panic tells the true story of America’s first plague epidemic—the public health doctors who desperately fought to end it, the political leaders who tried to keep it hidden, and the brave scientists who uncovered the plague’s secrets. Once again, acclaimed author and scientific expert Gail Jarrow brings the history of a medical mystery to life in vivid and exciting detail for young readers. This title includes photographs and drawings, a glossary, a timeline, further resources, an author’s note, and source notes.- Goodreads
The book not only covers the first outbreak in the USA, but covers the whole history of the disease going back to the Justinian Pandemic which began in 542 AD and killed tens of millions before it disappeared for a few hundred years before reemerging again in Europe in the 1300s where 1/4th to 1/2 of the population died from it. Jarrow also explains the efforts that scientists took to discover the cause of the plague, often at their own peril.

Bubonic Panic is also aimed at the middle school student. This book is longer than the first but it also contains lots of photographs and captioned charts. I will certainly purchase this book for my library collection.

Both books came to my attention because of the starred reviews they have received. Since they were both published in 2016 they qualify for Printz consideration. However, I do not think either of the books will be seriously looked at by the real committee. Since the formation of the YALSA Awards for Excellence in Nonfiction for YA it appears the Printz committee's main focus is fiction. I recommend both books but not as Printz-worthy considerations.

Ratings: 4 stars for both books

Source: I checked both books out of the public library

2017 Printz Award Contenders

21 / 35 books. 60% done!

1 comment:

  1. These are both EXCELLENT picks! The story of Hans and Sophie reminded me of this quote
    "First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a Socialist.
    Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
    Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a Jew.
    Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me."
    I'm glad they spoke up and am saddened that they died for it.


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