Teens @ Duluth

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Posts Tagged ‘Non-Fiction’

The Smart Aleck’s Guide to American History – Adam Selzer

Posted by Laura on June 28, 2010

The Smart Aleck’s Guide to American History by Adam Selzer is a very brief, snarky look at the history of the United States.  Included are the regular bits you would expect to find out about, but you probably will run across some new stuff, too.

This is not to be mistaken for an in depth exam, in fact, the reader is frequently encouraged to seek more information elsewhere.  The reader is also asked to visit the website for the book which is just as snarky you would expect to find it.

I suggest reading it when there is someone sitting near you.  That way you can annoy (educate) them with seemingly random facts (in chronological order).  Oh! This would make a fantastic road trip book!  And then you could play Billy Joel’s We didn’t start the fire before, during and after reading chapter 10.  But, you will have to find your own copy of the song.


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Written in Bone: Buried lives of Jamestown and Colonial Maryland – Sally M. Walker

Posted by Laura on June 14, 2010

Interested in archeology?  How about picking up Written in Bone: Buried Lives of Jamestown and Colonial Maryland by Sally M. Walker?  This book, published in 2009, has already won a number of awards (follow the link and scroll down a bit to see the list).

Reading books about how people used to live makes me very happy to be alive in this time.  Such as,  I am happy that the toothpaste on sale today is not as gritty as the toothpaste used during the Colonial period.  I brush too hard as it is, and if I had to use the toothpaste they used I would definitely have worn all the way through to the painful pulp by now.  Ouch.

It really is incredible what can be learned about a person’s life from their skeleton.  Not only can they tell what bones were broken, how old (approximately) the person was,  or how much physical labor they did during their life, they could also examine what the bones were made of and determine where the person lived, or in this case, how long they lived in the area.  Very cool.

There are many interesting pictures and one case of a person being buried in the basement in the garbage heap.  That is not where I want to end up, and I bet that person didn’t think they would, either.

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Ghosts of War: the true story of a 19-year-old GI – Ryan Smithson

Posted by Laura on January 16, 2010

Ryan Smithson joined the Army Reserve straight from high school and became a Heavy Construction Equipment Operator.  Why did he join the military?  In 2001 he turned 16.  In 2001 planes hit the World Trade Center.  In 2001 the world changed for the United States like it hadn’t since the bombing at Pearl Harbor.   Ghosts of war: the true story of a 19-year-old GI is Ryan’s story of why he joined and what he did.

He tells of boot camp and deployment.  He tells of leaving his family behind and his formation of a new family, a brother and sisterhood of war.   He tells of his months in the Middle East doing good work with good people for the good of a nation.  He tells of the boredom, the horror, the humor, the fright, and the friendship of war.  He tells of the poverty, the hunger, the thirst and the hope of the people of Iraq.

This man is a hero.  As are the men and women he served with.  Their deeds are not shown on the news or written up in papers and magazines.  This memoir tells their work and while there is reactionary language – and really, what could you expect after a near miss by a mortar – and described violence – well, yeah, it is a war memoir – this is a very readable book for teens.

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Almost Astronauts – Tanya Lee Stone

Posted by Laura on July 17, 2009

Almost astronauts: 13 women who dared to dream tells the story of how in the early days of NASA, women were kept out of the astronaut program.  No matter that the women tested were shown to have a greater tolerance to isolation then the men.  No matter that it is more cost effective to send women into space because they typically weigh less.  None of that mattered at the time.  Read this book to find out the reasons, which really were no more than bad excuses.  What you discover may be surprising.

This book is well written and has a lot of great photographs.  While reading I was entirely interested and felt excited, angry, sad, exhilarated, vindicated and so very proud.  I am going to stay Earth bound, but I am happy that there are women, and men, who are willing to go and explore beyond our planet for all of us.  Oh, and I am also thankful.

~ The author includes a lot of great references to read more about the Mercury 13 and the women who came after.

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King George: what was his problem? – Steve Sheinkin Illustated by Tim Robinson

Posted by Laura on July 6, 2009

I read a book about the American Revolution over the holiday weekend. King George: what was his problem?: everything your schoolbooks didn’t tell you about the American Revolution.

This book has fun quotes, interesting tidbits and great illustrations.  Read this book and you will learn that John Adams and Benjamin Franklin did not share living quarters very well!

Did you know (or remember) that General Cornwallis had a spy in the position of his personal waiter? His name was James Armistead and he was a slave who got permission from his owner to join the revolution.  General Cornwallis eventually asked Armistead to spy on the Americans for him.  Ha!  A double agent!

This book was great fun to read.

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Fantastic books about animals that you shouldn’t miss

Posted by Laura on January 5, 2008

A beautiful nonfiction book from a few years ago, Priceless : the vanishing beauty of a fragile planet by Bradley Trevor Greive with photographs by Mitsuaki Iwago, has images of endangered animals in their natural environment along with a plea for humanity to take care of the environment. It suggests that we need to think about how what we do impacts the lives of animals. The jacket image in this post does not always match the cover of the DPL’s book.  For some reason the jacket in the blog keeps switching between the chimpanzee and the loris.  Our book has the chimpanzee on the cover. 

Owen and Mzee : the true story of a remarkable friendship by Isabella and Craig Hatkoff, and Paula Kahumbu, with photographs by Peter Greste. “When a baby hippo named Owen was stranded after the Dec 2004 tsunami, villagers in Kenya worked tirelessly to rescue him. Then, to everyone’s amazement, the orphan hippo and a 130-yr-old giant tortoise named Mzee adopted each other.”

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