This week’s Brainstorm features 5 pairs of fiction and nonfiction books that would be great to read together. Next week we’ll be starting up the Top 10s of 2020.
2 Subway Books
Jonathan Clean Up…Then He Heard a Sound by Robert Munsch, ill. by Michael Martchenko
Jonathan's mother leaves and asks him to try not to make a mess. Jonathan is doing a good job of not making a mess, but the people who come out of the subway stop that suddenly opens in his house aren't. How can Jonathan clean up the mess if people keep pouring through his house and leaving destruction in their wake?
A fantastical and imaginative story about a boy who is a part of a solution instead of becoming part of the problem. He's a great example for kids. Is the mess his fault? Nope. Is anyone else doing something to fix it? Nope. So Jonathan does. It wasn't his responsibility or his fault, but he finds a way to make things better.
Underground:Subway Systems around the World by Uijung Kim
A survey of ten cities' subway systems with a page of infographics followed by a seek-and-find page that includes items unique to that location's people and culture. Cities included are Beijing, London, Madrid, Mexico City, Moscow, New York, Paris, Seoul, Sydney, and Tokyo.
Humor Fans, Curious Readers, Fans of Good Citizen Stories, Subway Fans, Picture Book Readers
Some Skunk Love
A Boy Called Bat (A Boy Called Bat, #1) by Elana K. Arnold, ill. by Charles Santoso
Meet Bixby Alexander Tam (called BAT). Bat has autism, but he has learned how to function in public...mostly. He still has problems understanding emotions, and he still gets upset sometimes when things aren't a certain way. Readers will get to understand Bat better as they watch him care for, get attached to, and plot how to keep a baby skunk his veterinarian mother brings home. The skunks' mother was pregnant and killed in an accident, but Bat's mom was able to save the kit. It is super tiny when they first start to care for it, and a bit of work. But Bat loves animals. He loves to learn about them and knows all sorts of things about them. His mother says that after four weeks they'll need to give the kit to a rescue shelter, but Bat is bound and determined to find a way to keep the kit.
The Secret Life of the Skunk (Secret Life) by Laurence Pringle, ill. by Kate Garchinsky
A look at the life of a skunk from very tiny kit to adult.
Animal Lovers, Skunk Lovers, Readers Looking for Authentic Autistic Characters, Art Lovers, Lower Grade Readers
Lion Down (FunJungle, #5) by Stuart Gibbs
Teddy is not actively seeking out any new cases after the dangerous situations his past sleuthing got him into. But that doesn't stop others from approaching him with new puzzles. J.J. has another FunJungle case, and this time he got permission from Teddy's parents first before hiring Teddy to solve the case. Someone has been poisoning the giraffes every Sunday for the past few weeks giving them the runs on Monday. The FunJungle security team hasn't figured out what the giraffes are eating or who is giving it to them, so Teddy (and Summer) are on the case. Doc's daughter Lily, an environmental activist with a bit of a reputation is in town too. A friend of hers in Fish and Wildlife wants Teddy to help them on a case. The dog of a local radio/TV/internet celebrity known for running his mouth and saying outlandish things has been found dead. The man wants to blame a mountain lion that lives in the area, but the Fish & Wildlife people aren't sure the evidence points to that. Unfortunately, the celeb has enough followers and clout that higher ups in the dept are getting pressure to put out a license to hunt and kill the lion, even if the evidence isn't clear. Can Teddy solve the mystery of the giraffes and save the life of a local wildcat before the whole town goes crazy (and preferably without getting almost killed this time)?
Backyard Bears: Conservation, Habitat Changes, and the Rise of Urban Wildlife (Scientists in the Field) by Amy Cherrix
Tag along with scientists studying the black bears living in Asheville, NC and its suburbs. They are looking at how living in the city is affecting the health, longevity, and population of the bears. The book also looks at several other wild animals that have adapted to living in urban areas.
The message of this book isn't so much get the animals out or even get the people out, it is much more balanced and looks at how wild animals and humans can live together successfully. The program the book primarily focuses on has done a great job of educating the public on how to avoid negative run-ins with bears and how to live with them in the area. They aren't encouraging the bears to move in, but they recognize that the bears are there to stay and the people need to know how to live with these big omnivores next door. It is a fascinating look at urban wildlife. And the way people and animals are impacting each other.
Animal Lovers, Readers Studying Urban Wildlife, Curious Readers, Mystery Fans, Middle Grade Readers
Manhattan Then & Now
The Shadow Cipher (York, #1) by Laura Ruby
The Morningstarr twins revolutionized NYC with their inventions in the late 1700s/early 1800s, and then they disappeared but left a cipher behind in the newspaper promising a treasure to whoever found it. In the past 200 years many have tried to solve the cipher, but no one has succeeded. Tess and Theo Biedermann have lived all their lives in one of the Morningstarr buildings. When a rich developer purchases their building suddenly and gives the residents one month to clear out, everyone is floored. They though they would live in this quirky building forever. Tess and Theo, together with their neighbor Jaime decide that the best solution to their sudden homing crisis is to solve the cipher. But if no one has had success in 200 years, can three tweens really have a chance?
This was a delightful steampunk treasure hunt. There's just the right mix of familiar aspects of New York City and things that are new and different because of the Morningstarr inventions.
Manhattan: Mapping the Story of an Island by Jennifer Thermes
A look at how the island of Manhattan has changed over the past ~1000 years. From the days when it was wild, to when the Lenape lived on the island, to the arrival of Europeans and then how buildings and roads developed and changed the island till present day.
Fans of Books Set in Manhattan, Steampunk Fans, Mystery Fans, History Fans, Curious Readers, Treasure Hunt Fans, Middle Grade Readers
True & Fictional Versions of the Same WWII Story
My Real Name Is Hanna by Tara Lynn Masih
Hanna and her family have experienced a lot of change in their little town. They were Polish and then Russian, and now the Nazis are moving closer and closer. At first her Jewish family thinks they will be safe hiding in their house at night when raids are frequent, but it soon becomes clear they must get a better hiding place. The quest for safety drives them first into the forest and then into some nearby caves. But even in the depths of the earth they aren't safe. Can Hanna and her family and friends survive all the Germans' attempts to wipe them off the face of the earth?
This story is based on a real WWII account of a group of families who retreated into a series of caves called The Priest's Grotto to survive.
The Secret of Priest's Grotto: a Holocaust Survival Story by Peter Lane Taylor with Christos Nicola
The true story of the heroic survival of a group of Jews in Western Ukraine who evaded the Nazis by living in caves for over a year. The narrative goes back and forth between the survival story and the story of the cave explorer who stumbled across the unique Holocaust story and has ventured into the historic caves. Accompanied by numerous pictures of the caves and the survivors.
WWII Story Fans, Light World War II Story Fans, Survival Story Fans, History Fans, Young Adult Readers