Secrets of a Civil War Submarine

After reading Why boys don’t like to read: Gender differences in reading achievement at Lessons in Learning, I decided to look at books likely to interest older boys for the next few weeks.

Secrets of a Civil War Submarine: Solving the Mystery of the H.L. Hunley by Sally M. Walker is fine example of a book with wide-ranging appeal. Those interested in history, marine archeology, the Civil War, naval engineering and/or science will all find something to discover in the comprehensive coverage. It should be noted, however, that this book is really for older children due to both subject matter and density of the text. Several times the crews of the submarine are killed, and in the last case the bones are shown, as well as reconstructions from skeletal remains.

Walker has thoroughly researched this book and her quest for detail has uncovered some truly remarkable stories in a submarine that remained hidden in the ocean sediments for 131 years. For those looking for all the answers, however, be aware that many questions about how the Hunley sank lingered at the time the book was published.

What I found most amazing was the amount of care and effort that went into preserving and recording every aspect of this project. Marine archeologists have to have a large range of skills to be able to accomplish this extraordinary task, from being able to scuba dive to finding out what might stop a old watch. Astounding!

Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 112 pages
Publisher: Carolrhoda Books (January 2005)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1575058308
ISBN-13: 978-1575058306

nonfictionmonday

Nonfiction Monday is a blogging celebration of nonfiction books for kids. For more information, stop by Picture Book of the Day. This week’s post is at Book Aunt.

Fireworks for Fourth of July

Reading Fireworks by Vicki Cobb and Michael Gold (Photographer) is a wonderful way to get ready for the Fourth of July.

fireworks1

The author says, “You’ll get a bang out of this” and she is right. You can almost see the lights, hear the explosions and smell the smoke from reading the first few pages. She calls it “painting the sky with light and sound.” Cobb quickly points out, however, that although spectacular and interesting, fireworks are not toys. They can be extremely dangerous and even deadly.

In addition to discussing the nuts and bolts of fireworks themselves, Cobb also packs in a lot about the science behind the show. She educates the reader about scientific terminology, such as combustion, what an element is and how a match works. She even describes how a “party popper” works, which is the type of explosive a child might have experienced first hand.

The photographs definitely add to the quality of this book. Did you know that different types of fireworks have beautifully descriptive names like chrysanthemum, peony, soaring palm and silver willow? Michael Gold’s images make you want to “ooh” and “aah” just like for the real thing.

Interspersed throughout the book are great hands-on activities. Some are familiar, like growing crystal gardens using laundry bluing. Others are innovative, like doing a flame test to show how the fireworks get their colors. This experiment will require more than just adult supervision; the author suggests an adult should carry out the final step of adding the materials to an open flame of a gas stove.

Vicki Cobb has a friendly, conversational style that makes even difficult material easy to read. In the case of this book, younger readers may need some help with the unfamiliar terminology. Adults wanting to learn more about pyrotechnics will also find this book fascinating and useful.

If you are interested in adding new dimensions to your Fourth of July fireworks experience, this book can provide it.

Reading level: Ages 9-12
Library Binding: 48 pages
Publisher: Millbrook Press (September 2005)
ISBN-10: 0761327711
ISBN-13: 978-0761327714

nonfictionmonday

Nonfiction Monday is a blogging celebration of nonfiction books for kids. For more information, stop by Picture Book of the Day. This week’s post is at Tales from the Rushmore Kid.

Photo provided by Public Domain Pictures

Consumer Safety and Children’s Books

After spending the week buying used books at bookstores, on e-bay and in the library, I had to wonder how the availability of children’s books might change over the upcoming year when the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act goes into effect next year.

In 2007, the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act was passed to prohibit the sale of items intended for use by children 12 and under that hadn’t been tested for the element lead (and certain phthalates) and deemed safe. If you haven’t heard about it, check the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act website at http://www.cpsc.gov/ABOUT/Cpsia/cpsia.HTML#whatsnew.

Right now it looks like it is okay to sell older books:

“Children’s books printed after 1985 that are conventionally printed and intended to be read (as opposed to used for play) OK to sell; however, books with metal spiral bindings have been recalled for lead paint.

Vintage children’s books and other collectibles not considered primarily intended for children OK to sell.”

Newer children’s books, however, are still subject to testing at this time. This will be extremely expensive (right when library budgets are already stretched to the limit), time-consuming, and probably largely futile as books would not have the potential to contain large amounts of lead unless they have metal bindings.

As you might imagine, the libraries are actively involved in clarifying the details of this act and also pushing for an exemption for books already in library collections. Booksellers are also lobbying Congress.

Check the American Library Association District Dispatch for details.
http://www.wo.ala.org/districtdispatch/?p=3014

Until the dust settles, I plan to buy and stockpile a lot of used children’s books this year.

What do you think?

Eidt; More: http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml09/09120.html

Here’s the latest about libraries 9/24. http://www.publishersweekly.com/article/CA6698584.html?nid=2788&source=title&rid=1936824386

Father’s Day Books for Kids and Dads

Just in time for Father’s Day, some books for children and one for dads.

Board Book

Daddy Hugs by Karen Katz

A good first book

Picture Books for Children

What Dads Can’t Do by Douglas Wood and Doug Cushman (Illustrator)

Humorous approach to fatherhood for the younger set.

Just Me and My Dad by Mercer Mayer

Little Critter goes camping with his dad in this sweet book.

Ages 9-12

My Funny Dad, Harry by Karen Arlettaz Zemek

A true story of a funny and quirky father

For Dads:

Halfway to Heaven: My White-knuckled–and Knuckleheaded–Quest for the Rocky Mountain High by Mark Obmascik

The humorous story of a stay-at-home-dad who decides to climb all of Colorado’s 14,000 feet mountains and what he discovers along the way.

Hope you enjoy them with your dad!