New Books This Week

The Cruisers: Oh Snap by Walter Dean Myers

the cruisers

The Cruisers are in trouble — again. The freedom of expression they’ve enjoyed by publishing their own school newspaper, THE CRUISER, has spread all the way to England, where kids from a school “across the pond” are now contributors to their own school’s most talked-about publication. When photos start to go alongside the articles written by kids, things get suspicious. Zander, Kambui, LaShonda, Bobbi — and a bunch of students from Harlem’s DaVinci Academy and London’s Phoenix School — come to learn that words and pictures in a newspaper don’t always tell the whole story.

 

*Fleet pacing, spot-on voice, good characters, great dialogue, smart ideas, and an unusual story that can maneuver whip-quick from light to heavy and back again.

–      Booklist

 

The Dark Game by Paul B. Janeczko

dark game

Ever since George Washington used them to help topple the British, spies and their networks have helped and hurt America at key moments in history. In this fascinating collection, Paul B. Janeczko probes such stories as that of Elizabeth Van Lew, an aristocrat whose hatred of slavery drove her to be one of the most successful spies in the Civil War; the “Choctaw code talkers,” Native Americans who were instrumental in sending secret messages during World War I; the staggering engineering behind a Cold War tunnel into East Berlin to tap Soviet phones (only to be compromised by a Soviet mole); and many more famous and less-known examples. Colorful personalities, daring missions, the feats of the loyal, and the damage of traitors are interspersed with a look at the technological advances that continue to change the rules of gathering intelligence.

 

With well-chosen subjects (including many women and African Americans who used their marginalized positions to gather information) and contagious enthusiasm for the spy world’s “tantalizing mysteries,” this makes a strong choice for both avid and reluctant readers alike, and appended source notes and a bibliography bolster the curricular appeal.

– Booklist

Skin by Donna Jo Napoli

skin

Sixteen-year-old Sep stares into the bathroom mirror on the first day of school. Does she have a disease? Is she turning into some kind of freak? Unlike her best friend, Devon, she’s never been in a rush to get a boyfriend. But as the white blotches spread, her dating days–like the endangered species she studies–seem numbered.

Readers will empathize with Sep’s growing panic and inner turmoil as Napoli (Lights on the Nile) deftly maneuvers them through this rare disease’s effect on a teenage psyche.

– Publishers Weekly

Wheels of Change: How Women Rode the Bicycle to Freedom by Sue Macy

wheels of change

Through vintage photographs, advertisements, cartoons, and songs, Wheels of Change transports readers to bygone eras to see how women used the bicycle to improve their lives. Witty in tone and scrapbook-like in presentation, the book deftly covers early (and comical) objections, influence on fashion, and impact on social change inspired by the bicycle, which, according to Susan B. Anthony, “has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world.

 

The narrow focus on cycling will open up broader thought and discussion about women’s history, making this a strong, high-interest choice for both classroom and personal reading – for adults, too.

–      Booklist

 

Sugar Changed the World by Marc Aronson and Marina Budhos

sugar

When this award-winning husband-and-wife team discovered that they each had sugar in their family history, they were inspired to trace the globe-spanning story of the sweet substance and to seek out the voices of those who led bitter sugar lives. The trail ran like a bright band from religious ceremonies in India to Europe’s Middle Ages, then on to Columbus, who brought the first cane cuttings to the Americas. Sugar was the substance that drove the bloody slave trade and caused the loss of countless lives but it also planted the seeds of revolution that led to freedom in the American colonies, Haiti, and France. With songs, oral histories, maps, and over 80 archival illustrations, here is the story of how one product allows us to see the grand currents of world history in new ways.

What makes this such a captivating read is that the book has a jigsaw-puzzle feel as the authors connect seemingly disparate threads and bring readers to the larger picture by highlighting the smaller details hidden within. Primary-source materials such as photographs, interview excerpts, and maps are included throughout, making this an indispensable part of any history collection.

– School Library Journal

 

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