Category Archives: Elementary/Middle

Books for readers in Elementary and Middle School

Trapped: How the World Rescued 33 Miners from 2,000 Feet Below the Chilean Desert

trapped_marc_aronson-thumbPublishers Weekly, June 13, 2011, Starred Review

Aronson marks the one-year anniversary of the collapse of a Chilean copper mine that entombed miners for more than two months with a riveting, in-depth recounting of the events that held the world rapt… Twelve short chapters with photos and diagrams keep the story well-paced as it alternates between above- and below-ground scenes, detailing the heroic efforts of the trapped men, their waiting families, and their rescuers, sometimes on an hour-by-hour basis. Extensive author and source notes, a bibliography, and suggested reading leave plenty for readers to explore.

School Library Journal, August 2011, Starred Review

Masterful storytelling brings to life a story that most think they already know; the 33 miners trapped in a Chilean copper mine for 69 days in 2010…. It was a gripping story then, and Aronson manages to make it even more exciting, more inspirational, and more personal, all by gathering pieces of the puzzle and showing how they fit together. Explanations of how the Earth’s formation and plate tectonics created the copper lines that are so valuable to the world today are a critical beginning. Filling them in with a brief history of metalworking and mining leads readers to the small, out-of-the-way mine in the Atacama Desert region. From there the story becomes as intriguing and suspenseful as any work of fiction; the miners’ struggle to survive below ground is juxtaposed with the frenzy of the work above ground by the mine officials, the government, and many others working to save the men. Detailed descriptions of the conditions that the miners endured and how they coped paint a vivid picture of just what an ordeal it was. The global response to the disaster was enormous, with organizations, governments, and individuals from Australia, New Zealand, the United States, and Japan offering resources and expertise to find a solution. Ample source notes, black-and-white photographs, websites, and a brief explanation of research methodology round out this must-have for any library.

The Horn Book Magazine, August 1, 2011, Starred Review

Much more than just a chronicle of the Chilean mining disaster of 2010, Aronson’s well-researched and riveting book gives readers the sense that they’re in the San Jose copper mine… Peppered with engaging quotes, the text is fluid and attention-grabbing.

Posted in Elementary/Middle.

Sugar Changed the World: A Story of Spice, Magic, Slavery, Freedom, and Science

Layout 1Marc Aronson and Marina Budhos (Clarion) See the website: Sugarchangedtheworld.com.

Sugar is a common supermarket item today, but Marc and his wife the novelist Marina Budhos argue in this book that it was a prime mover of world history – and that following the trail of sugar entirely changes how you understand everything from the medieval hunger for spices to the story of the African slave trade, the beginning of the Industrial Revolution., and even the odyssey of overseas Indians that led directly to Gandhi and the idea of Satyagraha.

Dr. Franklin Odo, Former Dir. of the Smithsonian Institution Asian Pacific American Program

Sugar did indeed change the world. It is such an important, necessary, and controversial part of our contemporary lives that we take it for granted. But in this extremely valuable book, Marc and Marina give us an extraordinary gift – a long, historical, look at the development of sugar and the monumental changes it brought to the globe. The writing is fluid and engaging; the stories of enslavement, brutality, freedom and self-determination are fascinating. Younger audiences will be encouraged to view history and culture as adventure. Those of us a bit older, in all parts of the world, will find that our past and our destinies are much more closely intertwined. This is a marvelous accomplishment.

Sidney W. Mintz, author of Sweetness and Power: The The Place of Sugar in Modern History and Three Ancient Colonies: Caribbean Themes and Variations

That a single food — sucrose, or sugar — could have played so great a part in such important changes in world history makes for a nearly incredible story. But the authors of this book make it believable and immediate. They provide a touching element to sugar’s story by bringing their own life stories into convincing alignment with their global account. This is good writing that will make good reading — for young, and even for old– readers.”

Deborah Warner, a Curator in the National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution.

This book, at once serious and engaging, traces the complex history of sugar over vast expanses of time and space, exploring ways in which this one commodity influenced the formation of empires, the enslavement and migrations of peoples, the development of ideas about liberty, and so much more.

Posted in Elementary/Middle, Middle/High School.

For Boys Only: The Biggest Baddest Book Ever

for_boys_onlyAmazon’s #1 ranked book of nonfiction fun for boys! 160 pages of pure fun — puzzles to solve, how to fly an airplane, beat a shark, who would win if Romans battled Mongols, and every other brain-bending challenge HP and I could think of.

Want to have some fun? Maybe learn how to land an airplane in an emergency? Or fight off an alligator? Escape from being tied up? How about taking a ride on one of America’s scariest roller coasters? Learn how to make fake blood or turn a real bone into a pretzel. What if you could find out how to identify some of the world’s most horrifying creatures? Or learn the secret of making a blockbuster movie? What about guessing the top 11 greatest moments in sports history? Find buried treasure? And once you’ve found the treasure, find out just how much it would cost you to buy one of the world’s most expensive cars.

You’ll find all this – and much more – over 250 pages of the biggest, baddest, and best information on just about everything. Plus we’ve placed a special, mind-bending, solve-the-code puzzle on random pages throughout the book that will lead you to a really cool solution! Now, that’s fun!

Publishers Weekly

Filled with facts, puzzles, stats, stories and more, For Boys Only: The Biggest, Baddest Book Ever by Marc Aronson and HP Newquist offers up information on favorite subjects . . . Printed with black and red text and illustrated throughout, this graphically fresh and topically diverse collection should capture the imagination of its target audience.

Booklist

In a tone both light and humorous, Newquist and Aronson aim to please by assembling a tantalizing assortment of codes, puzzles, best lists, brief history and science facts, instructions for fake blood and the ultimate Frisbee, and even advice about facing up to a shark (try not to bleed too much?) . . . this offers lots of good fun, and with so much chick lit available, it’s nice to see special attention being paid to boys. In fact, there’s nothing here to keep girls away but the title.

Posted in Elementary/Middle.

If Stones Could Speak: Unlocking the Secrets of Stonehenge

if_stones_could_speak

What are the secrets of the ancient stone circle? Were the carefully placed stones a burial site, an ancient calendar, a place of Druid worship…or even a site of sacrifice? World-renowned archaeologist Mike Parker-Pearson has spent the last seven years on a quest to answer these and many other questions. In If Stones Could Speak, award-winning author Marc Aronson joins the research crew and records their efforts to crack Stonehenge’s secrets. National Geographic helped sponsor the Riverside archeological team’s mission, and now young readers can journey behind the scenes to experience this groundbreaking story first-hand, through the eyes of the experts. This book includes photos of Bluestonehenge.

Posted in Elementary/Middle.

Ain’t Nothing But a Man: My Quest to Find the Real John Henry

aint_nothing_but_a_manScott Reynolds Nelson with Marc Aronson (National Geographic)

Booklist “starred” review:

“Not many history books are written in first person, but this is no ordinary history book. It traces a historian’s quest for the man behind the legend of John Henry. Nelson’s research involved listening to hundreds of variants of the song “John Henry,” learning about post–Civil War railway construction projects, visiting possible sites for the legendary contest between man and steam drill, and in one groundbreaking moment, glancing at the 1910 postcard on his desktop, hearing the lyrics of a version of “John Henry” in his mind, and making a connection that no other modern historian had considered.”

Posted in Elementary/Middle.

The World Made New: Why the Age of Exploration Happened and How It Changed the World (Timelines of American History)

twmnby Marc Aronson (Author), John W. Glenn (Author)
National Geographic Children’s Books

This splendid, exciting, beautifully illustrated account of the Age of Exploration relates events so dramatic that they would have been dismissed as implausible fiction if they hadn’t actually happened. Don’t think of this as `just’ a book for kids: children’s parents will find it equally gripping and informative.

– Jared Diamond professor of Geography at UCLA, and author of the best-selling Pulitzer-Prize-winner Guns, Germs, and Steel

Posted in Elementary/Middle.

The “How To Get Rich” Series

how_to_get_rich_series

How to Get Rich In the California Gold Rush
Tod Olson (Author), Scott Allred (Illustrator), Marc Aronson (Afterword)

Booklist *Starred Review*

…the How to Get Rich series deftly blends story with history to not only give readers an understanding of a gold rush but also to provide a lighthearted and engaging entry point into frontier life. The story (with a tongue-in-

cheek claim to be true) follows three young men as they decide to try their luck as prospectors out west. Period lithographs are reproduced alongside original illustrations, all lending to the historical feel of the gold rush era, as the young men embark upon their journey, meet with moderate but backbreaking success, fall apart when they run out of money, and eventually all set out on their own to pursue different means of getting rich.

This is where the book really shines—showing how very few people actually got rich panning and mining for gold, but demonstrating that a vast number claimed shares of wealth by creating the various trades and services necessary to support the influx of people bustling into the new towns out west. A ledger on each page tracks the young men’s finances in a genuinely exciting way, adding a sly element of math to this well-conceived and compulsively appealing book. Kids won’t even realize how much they’re learning. Grades 4-8. –Ian Chipman

 

Posted in Elementary/Middle.

John Winthrop, Oliver Cromwell, and the Land of Promise

the_land_of_promiseby Marc Aronson (Author)

This carefully researched and insightful account by Sibert medalist Marc Aronson focuses on the intertwined lives of John Winthrop, the first governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, and Oliver Cromwell, Lord Protector of the Puritan Commonwealth in England. Set against a broad canvas of the turmoil that engulfed Britain in the 17th century, the book examines the clashes of the monarchy and the church with Parliament, which led these two powerful men to take opposite courses. Here is a panoramic view of the period, from elaborate masques to the trial of a heretic, from wars fought against Indians to dramatic battles led by cavalry, from the toppling of a king to the search for the ideal society. Packed with literary allusions, vivid descriptions of significant events, and a cast of memorable figures, this sweeping account picks up where the highly acclaimed Sir Walter Ralegh leaves off, providing another riveting look at British and early American history. Cast of characters, maps, endnotes and bibliography, Internet resources, timeline, index.

Kirkus Reviews

…writing is clear and the documentation meticulous…an important study of the origins of America as a land of promise.

Posted in Elementary/Middle.

Sir Walter Ralegh and the Quest for El Dorado

sirwalterraleghSir Walter Ralegh (the way he spelled it) was so much more than a promoter of tobacco–although he certainly did promote tobacco. He was so much more than a man who lay down his cloak so Queen Elizabeth I would not get her feet wet–a story which may or may not be true. He was a man from a poor background who rose almost as high as one could in Elizabethan England–and then fell about as low. Stunningly researched, brilliantly written, full of fascinating facts (did you know there were no maps of England that showed ROADS until the 1590s), this is young adult writing at its finest.

School Library Journal

This book is exemplary nonfiction and pure gold for libraries.

Publishers Weekly

Aronson’s portrait of “the first modern man” is both provocative and tantalizing, revealing his subject as a person of canny wit and magnetism with all-too-human shortcomings. Age 11-up.

Booklist

The book chronicles Ralegh’s rise from his country-bumpkin origins to Elizabeth’s courtier and goes on to describe how his ambition pointed him toward the New World. It also reveals much about the intrigue at Queen Elizabeth’s court, as well as the motives and machinations of those living in the Americas.

Buy Sir Walter Ralegh and the Quest for El Dorado at
Amazon.com, at
Barnes and Noble
at BookSense.com

 

Posted in Elementary/Middle, Middle/High School.