Thursday, September 12, 2013

YA Non-Fiction: love it, don't leave it!

Bomb: The Race to Build—and Steal—the World's Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin.  2012 MacMillan

No ,this isn't just another bomb book.  It's more than that....
Sheinkin starts this book off with intrigue.  A map falls out of a book, and a spy a caught.  This is just the first of many Russian spies caught during a time when the  US was secretly making the nuclear bomb.  While not the highly publicized Rosenberg cases, the spies written about in this book have built an intricate web of deceit and information that slowly reveals itself to the reader to show the scope of the damage and information these spies created.
Another viewpoint of this book is the race itself.  Germans may have discovered how to split atoms, but who would build the ultimate bomb?  The race was on and what was at stake was the world.  Would Hitler or Russia win?  How close were they compared to the United States?  At what cost would the United States pay to be first?  And just how close were the enemy to their final product?  All of these questions and more are answered in this riveting narrative of a piece of history that made a huge impact.  The impact affected not only technology advances, but human lives and the future of the world.  I can't even imagine where we'd be now if Germany had won this deadly race...
Packed with stunning photographs and individual narratives from key people in the story (from scientists to spies to officers in the Armed Forces), Sheinkin will take you back to the beginning of it all and immerse the reader with rich stories.  Highly recommended JH/HS

Kennedy's Last Days: The Assassination that Defined a Generation by Bill O'Reilly.  2013 Henry Holt and Co.

Just what any teen wants to read for pleasure...another biography of a dead president.  But oh, contraire, let's just stop right there and really take a look at this awesome book for YA.
This is a story about two men who were destined to meet.  It's also a story of timing and coincidences.  O'Reilly takes the reader on two different paths, parallel to each other but distinctly different. 
President Kennedy's life from his early days until his death are chronologically written in a style that will attract YA readers .  But it's chapter two that creates the whole foundation for the book.  Right beside Kennedy's life is that of the life of Lee Harvey Oswald in the same time frame as Kennedy's.  From their family life as a child to their service to the military; from marriage and children to personal thoughts and outlooks; from the troubles each faced personally and professionally to the final outcome of their lives, the author weaves a story from both sides, allowing the reader to understand the whole story, not just one point of view.  And that is what will capture the reader's attention.  Not so much the assassination, but the small things that led up to this fateful meeting and how it changed America.  No textbook writing's so much better and the images are stunning.  Highly recommended JH/HS


Paige Y. said...

I love Bomb and find it pretty easy to booktalk to students. It's on the North Carolina Battle of the Books list for middle school this year and I think it will be a big hit. I have the Kennedy book on order and am looking forward to reading it.

Unknown said...

The Kennedy Book is wonderful. I havec shown a YouTube video to my freshmen and spotlighted this book to educate them before November. I also have the original book, but more freshmen will pick this one up. Awesome!