Wednesday, January 4, 2012

An excellent nonfiction/biographical series for school libraries!

Here are the facts: I'm a librarian. My students are 3-13 years old (K-3 through 8th grade). I didn't like graphic books (similar to comic books but loftier in content). "Levi Strauss and Blue Jeans," one of the books in the Graphic Library: Inventions and Discoveries series, has totally changed my mind.

Graphic books have gained almost virally in popularity over the last few years. As a stubborn librarian, I put my foot down concerning the addition of graphic books to our collection. I thought children should read words, not look at pictures. What nonsense and silliness! Nearly always on the cutting edge, I fell down on this one. Oh sure, I've added some titles the last couple of years, you know, those half-way books like Fashion Kitty and A Very Merry Christmas (Geronimo Stilton, No. 35). Of course, The Adventures of Captain Underpants led the way.

By the time of the Graphic Library history/biographies, entrenched librarians like me were ready. We could peek into books like this. Well, lo and behold, when what to my eyes did appear--an informative, both verbally and visually, book about the making of blue jeans. I was fascinated! To Nathan Olson's research and words are added to-the-point illustrations by Dave Hoover, Keith Williams, and Charles Barnett III. How they divided their labor, I don't know, but the finals results are truly revealing.

So, what can a student learn? The title page itself foreshadows THE details that made Levi's stand out above the others: orange thread, seagull V symbol on the pockets, and the little red symbolic Levi's label to the left of the pockets. Originally, Strauss started out with canvas for a strong pair of pants for miners, cowboys, railroad workers, and other tough jobs. When he no longer could obtain canvas,, you must read and see for yourself how denim became the domain for jeans.

All of this story is told succinctly in just a few pages (25), but other details are added in two more pages. The book concludes with a glossary, internet sites to visit, a list of books to read (aha!), and Olson's sources.

Librarians, teachers, parents, if you are in doubt about the quality of this graphic information book, cease. I am amazed at how much I learned--and retained through words and illustrations. This book is well worth your money! The intended age is about second through fifth grades, although interest in blue jeans could carry it further. As a suggestion: For students (including older ones) who finish assignments early, have a display of graphic books at hand for quick reads (and addition of basic knowledge)!

This truly is a worthy book!

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A favorite souvenir

A favorite souvenir
These are my two girls from Ireland!

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Books on my very ambitious TBR list (*denotes read)

  • *Reading Magic: Why Reading Aloud to our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever by Mem Fox
  • The Odd Women by George Gissing
  • The Zen of Fish by Trevor Corson
  • How to Get Your Child to Love Reading by Esme Raji Codell
  • The Cod Tale by Mark Kurlansky
  • In This House of Brede by Rumer Godden
  • *Joan of Arc by Mark Twain
  • Dag Hammarskjold by Elizabeth Rider Montgomery
  • The Wisdom in the Hebrew Alphabet by Rabbi Michael L. Munk
  • Children of Strangers by Lyle Saxon
  • Spiritual Writings by Flannery O'Connor
  • Nightmares and Visions: Flannery O'Connor and the Catholic Grotesque by Gilbert H. Muller
  • The Violent Bear It Away by Flannery O'Connor
  • Flannery O'Connor's South by Robert Coles
  • Wise Blood by Flannery O'Connor
  • Sylvanus Now by Donna Morrissey
  • *Vincent de Paul by Margaret Ann Hubbard
  • Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi
  • A Briefer History of Time by Stephen Hawking
  • The Library at Night by Alberto Manguel
  • Readicide by Kelly Gallagher
  • *Ruined by Paula Morris
  • Say You're Not One of Them by Uwem Akpan
  • Wandering Star by J.M.G. Le Clezio
  • Silence by Shusaku Endo
  • *The Assault by Harry Mulisch
  • Kari's Saga by Robert Jansson
  • *The German Mujahid by Boualem Sansal
  • Western Skies by Joseph Conrad
  • *The Giver by Lois Lowery
  • *Imperium by Ryszard Kapuscinski

School Library Journal - NeverEndingSearch


A semester course in one book about the Soviet Union. Click on image for my review.