2011 Cybil’s Nonfiction Reviews

Looking for a great book? Check this list of 2011 Middle Grade and Young Adult level nonfiction books that I reviewed for Cybils. (The links take you to the full review.) The full list of MG Nonfiction books what were nominated is here.

What are Cybils? The acronym stands for children’s and young adult bloggers literary awards. Bloggers who specialize in children’s and young adult books have developed the Cybils awards to highlight some of the best books published in the previous year.

The Elephant Scientist (Scientists in the Field Series) 
by Donna M. Jackson follows Dr. Caitlin O’Connell as she studies elephant social life and communication and at the same time works on ways to prevent elephants from ruining crops planted by local people.
Silk and Venom: Searching for a Dangerous Spider by Kathryn Lasky is a new biography of arachnologist, Greta Binford.
Raggin’ Jazzin’ Rockin’: A History of American Musical Instrument Makers by Susan VanHecke covers the invention and development of eight of America’s biggest musical instrument companies.
Autism Spectrum Disorders (USA Today Health Reports: Diseases and Disorders)
 by Ana Maria Rodriguez is a timely young adult book that explores case studies, symptoms, diagnosis, treatments, and research.
Prince William & Kate: A Royal Romance by Matt Doeden captures the excitement of the lives of William Arthur Philip Louis of Wales (Prince William) and  Catherine Elizabeth Middleton (Kate), culminating in their marriage on April 29, 2011.
Wheels of Change: How Women Rode the Bicycle to Freedom (With a Few Flat Tires Along the Way) by Sue Macy is a wonderful book to use for Women’s History Month. Macy rides with the thesis that the invention and widespread use of the bicycle had a profound impact on the lives of everyday women, from the fashions they wore to their participation in sports.
Sugar Changed the World: A Story of Magic, Spice, Slavery, Freedom, and Science by the husband-and-wife team of Marc Aronson and Marina Budhos is a riveting account of how the human craving for sweets led to the development of a product that has quite literally changed the course of history.
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be someone else? Can I See Your I.D.?: True Stories of False Identities by Chris Barton and illustrated by Paul Hoppe is an intriguing look at ten people who actually did pretend to be someone else, carrying out extraordinary deceptions.
Scribbling Women:  True Tales from Astonishing Lives is an amazing find for Women’s History Month. Jocelyn has gathered the stories of eleven women whose writing has captured significant times and events in history in a way that no one else could.
Bootleg: Murder, Moonshine, and the Lawless Years of Prohibition by Karen Blumenthal is a thoroughly-researched young adult book that delves into the history and outcomes of Prohibition, the first constitutional amendment to be repealed by another constitutional amendment in the United States.
Flesh and Blood So Cheap: The Triangle Fire and its Legacy by Albert Marrin is a finalist for the 2011 National Book Awards in Young People’s Literature. It is about New York City’s worst workplace disaster until 9-11, involving mainly immigrant women working under sweatshop conditions in a garment factory.
Magic Tree House Fact Tracker #24 called Dog Heroes,  is a Nonfiction Companion to Magic Tree House #46: Dogs in the Dead of Night by Mary Pope Osborne, Natalie Pope Boyce, and illustrated by Sal Murdocca. The authors regale the reader with enchanting stories of search and rescue dogs, dogs that responded to 9-11, all about service dogs, and famous dog heroes. It’s all enough to give even a cat lover the warm fuzzies.
Garbage: Investigate What Happens When You Throw It Out with 25 Projects (Build It Yourself series) by Donna Latham is packed full of hands-on activities that are sure to open your eyes to the immense issue of trash and the need for recycling.
Amelia Lost: The Life and Disappearance of Amelia Earhart by Candace Fleming is a must read biography sure to keep you glued to the pages until the very end.
Wideness & Wonder: The Life and Art of Georgia O’Keeffe by Susan Goldman Rubin is a lovely new biography of the iconic 20th-century artist.
America Is Under Attack: September 11, 2001: The Day the Towers Fell by Don Brown recounts the events of September 11 in a way that is easy to comprehend for children who were either very young or had not even been born yet when the attacks occurred.
Scorpions: Armored Stingers by Sandra Markle is part of the Arachnid World series. This book gives an overview of scorpion biology as well as compares scorpions to other arachnids.
We All Fall Down: Living with Addiction, a memoir by Nic Sheff is about his continuing struggle with addiction and experiences in rehab. For mature young adults and adults.
If you are an ardent Janeite (Jane Austin fan), you already know that this year is the 200th anniversary of the publication of Sense and Sensibility. To celebrate, Clarion Books has published a new biography, Jane Austen: A Life Revealed by Catherine Reef.
Terezín: Voices from the Holocaust by Ruth Thomson is about the World War II Terezín transit camp, called Theresienstadt by the Germans. Using excerpts from secret diaries and memoirs, as well as artwork from artists who were imprisoned there, the author lets the camp inhabitants tell the story of their experiences firsthand.
Steve Sheinkin’s obvious passion for his topic is evident in The Notorious Benedict Arnold: A True Story of Adventure, Heroism & Treachery. His enthusiasm has paid off because the book won the 2011 Boston Globe–Horn Book Award for Excellence in Children’s Literature in the nonfiction category.
Music Was It: Young Leonard Bernstein by Susan Goldman Rubin is a warm and personal biography of the famous conductor and composer.
Trapped: How the World Rescued 33 Miners from 2,000 Feet Below the Chilean Desert by Marc Aronson is an account of the copper miners who were trapped underground for over two months after a mine collapse in August of 2010.
I have to admit I wondered about The Mysteries of Angkor Wat by Richard Sobol. How would a book about an out-of-the-way place by an award-winning professional photographer appeal to children? Turns out that this book has loads of appeal for children because Sobol let real children help him tell the story. And what a fabulous story it is.
Digging for Troy: From Homer to Hisarlik by Jill Rubalcaba, Eric H. Cline, and illustrated by Sarah S. Brannen is an overview of the search for the city of Troy that is the centerpiece of Homer’s The Iliad. Was there really a city named Troy that was kept under siege by the Greeks? Was there really a Trojan Horse with Greek soldiers inside? The answers may surprise you.
Mysterious Bones: The Story of Kennewick Man by Katherine Kirkpatrick and illustrated by Emma Stevenson shows that there aren’t any easy answers to the difficult questions raised by the discovery of an ancient skeleton.
Dan Eldon: Safari as a Way of Life by Jennifer New is a biography of a fascinating young man that reads like an autobiography because it includes so many of his photographs, pieces of art and and excerpts of his journals.
Oil Spill! Disaster in the Gulf of Mexico by Elaine Landau is a succinct account of the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in April of 2010 and the subsequent oil spill.
How They Croaked: The Awful Ends of the Awfully Famous by Georgia Bragg and illustrated by Kevin O’Malley, is filled in the horrific details of the deaths of historical figures, exposing the facts that usually gets left out of most history books.
Africans Thought of It: Amazing Innovations by Bathseba Opini and Richard B. Lee is an overview of the interesting, useful, lively and even fun innovations developed by Africans, ranging from aloe vera to the xylophone.
Off to Class: Incredible and Unusual Schools Around the World by Susan Hughes takes a peek into unusual classrooms in this testament to the amazing resiliency of both education and children around the globe.
Hummingbirds: Facts and Folklore from the Americas by Jeanette Larson and Adrienne Yorinks with illustrations by Adrienne Yorinks, is a blend of past and present that combines factual information with ancient wisdom of pourquoi tales. Splash in fabric art illustrations and you have an interesting cultural mix that is uniquely American.
Tom Thumb: The Remarkable True Story of a Man in Miniature by George Sullivan is a biography of a dwarf who grew up as part of P.T. Barnum’s freak show, yet managed to achieve wealth and fame on his own merits, becoming one of the first modern celebrities of world renown.
Into the Unknown: How Great Explorers Found Their Way by Land, Sea, and Air by Stewart Ross and illustrated by Stephen Biesty is an ode to adventure and discovery that is full of unfolding cutaways and cross-section illustrations, sure to thrill visual and kinesthetic learners.
Explorers Who Made It… Or Died Trying by Frieda Wishinsky and illustrated by Bill Dickson is a fun book about twelve famous explorers who got A’s in daring and persistence (according to Wishinkey’s report cards), but did not always get along well with others.
The Manatee Scientists: Saving Vulnerable Species by Peter Lourie, part of the respected Scientists in the Field series, follows scientists from around the world trying to learn more about manatees in a race protect them from extinction.
The Many Faces of George Washington: Remaking a Presidential Icon by Carla Killough McClafferty is much more than a biography of George Washington, it is about literally rebuilding a person from historical information.
Elephant Talk: The Surprising Science of Elephant Communication by Ann Downer is a comprehensive look at elephant social behavior, including a detailed overview of exciting recent findings about how elephants communicate.
Unraveling Freedom: The Battle for Democracy on the Home Front During World War I by Ann Bausum not only a summarizes domestic events during World War I, but also shows how these events parallel those from 9/11.
You Just Can’t Help It! Your Guide to the Wild and Wacky World of Human Behavior by Jeff Szpirglas and illustrated by Josh Holinaty is a zany science book that delves into human senses, emotion, communication and interactions with others in a lighthearted way that is sure to appeal to young readers.
A Stranger At Home: A True Story by Christy Jordan-Fenton and Margaret Pokiak-Fenton with illustrations by Liz Amini-Holmes is a moving sequel to the memoir Fatty Legs by the same team. In Fatty Legs, Margaret Pokiak is a young Inuit girl who is sent off to a Catholic “residential” school at the age of eight to learn English and the ways of another culture. A Stranger At Home follows the trials of her return home after two years away.
50 Poisonous Questions: A Book With Bite by Tanya Lloyd Kyi and illustrated by Ross Kinnaird explores the world of toxins, poisons, and venoms in a well-balanced and humorous way.
Just in time for the end of Women’s History Month, I have a book regarding a famous photograph that is actually about the history of two women. Migrant Mother: How a Photograph Defined the Great Depression by Don Nardo captures not only the life of Florence Owens Thompson, the subject of the iconic portrait, but also reveals the life of the photographer, Dorothea Lange, a woman with her own impact on history.

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