A few weeks ago, Baila told us about Watson and Crick’s discovery of the double helix structure of DNA. When I posted about that, someone commented on that post, “I think you mean Rosalind Franklin. Forget Watson and Crick!”
This was news to me. I had never heard the name Rosalind Franklin. So a quick DuckDuckGo search lead me to learn that she was a biophysicist who, among other achievements, helped science come to understand how DNA was formed. Her work was crucial to what Watson and Crick were able to do. They based their findings on her research and, unfortunately history hasn’t given her he share of the credit. So, if you want to know about the origins of DNA, you may be interested in reading Rosalind Franklin and DNA by Anne Sayre.
Want to know about other women working in science, in laboratories, making discoveries, and paving the way for women in a typically masculine field? You might want to read Women in Science: then and now by Vivian Gornick.
So yesterday Jake told us all about the history of Florida. Florida. I bet it’s nice and warm there now. I bet there’s no snow on the ground in Florida. I bet I could run outside if I were in Florida.
Oooopps. Did I type that out loud?
Anyway…back to the books. So how about some books set in Florida?
Carl Hiaasen is one of my favorite writers. He writes for adults and kids and both sets of books are equally as engaging and funny. Hoot, Flush, Scat, and Chomp are set in Florida. Each book looks at a different environmental issue facing animals (and people) there. Usually, quirky kids are going up against big corporations and figuring out how to make their points heard.
On a completely different topic, Michaela yesterday talked about school integration. One of my favorite books on that topic is Elizabeth and Hazel: two women of Little Rock. This is probably one of the most iconic pictures from the civil rights movement
(photo by Will Counts via npr.org)
The African-American student is Elizabeth Eckford. She was one of the Little Rock Nine. The student yelling at her is Hazel Massery. Author David Margolick sought out the two women a few years back to see where life had taken them both. The result of that is this book.
Yesterday was like Christmas in the library…a new box of books came in. That’s one of the fun things about being a librarian. I have to order books on a regular basis and it’s still so exciting to me every time a new box arrives.
One of those books was an finalist for YALSA’s Non-Fiction Award this year. Courage Has No Color is the story of America’s first black paratroopers. I haven’t read it yet, but the story sounds fascinating and I can’t wait to dive into it (although both the audio book and the print book have already been checked out…if you want to be on the waiting list, let me know…I’ll even put you ahead of me!).
So, yesterday, Kyle and Baila told us all about how the US ended up with a Naval base on Cuba and how Watson and Crick changed the way we see everything with DNA.
For today’s books, I found two in the Point-Counterpoint series. (This series is not to be confused with the awesomely funny Dan Ackroyd and Jane Curtain skits from Saturday Night Live…if you’re not familiar, ask your folks.) Point-Counterpoint takes controversial issues and looks for experts on both sides of a particular argument. So for today…
DNA Evidence looks at the reliability of DNA and how it can compromise or enhance our privacy. The War on Terror tackles issues such as human rights and the efficacy of laws when fighting a war against terror. And these aren’t the only Point-Counterpoint subjects. So come and check them out and have a good debate with yourself.
Today’s book suggestions actually come from Callie’s mom. She sent me an email yesterday suggesting some good “storm” reading.
Susan Beth Pfeffer’s Life as We Knew It trilogy is a different kind of dystopia. Instead of some evil government or organization dividing society up (a la The Hunger Games or Divergent), or some environmental catastrophe, this is a dystopia with some astronomical roots. At the beginning of the first book, everyone is excited to watch a meteor that is about to come really, really close to earth. In fact, it comes as close as the moon…and pushes the moon closer to earth. At first, everyone thinks it’s really cool. But think about it. The moon has control over our water, and we’ve got a lot of water. If the moon’s out of whack, it’s going to pull a lot of things out of whack with it. The weather changes severely. Volcanoes erupt. Blizzards happen. People are stranded in their homes for months with no electricity or means of communication (no video games…no computers). It’s really kind of a scary scenario.
I first read this a few years ago, right after the earthquake hit in DC and right before Hurricane Irene hit us. It left me a little freaked out. Might not be the best reading if you fear you might lose you power again. But then again, maybe it’ll make you appreciate that it’s only out for a day or two.
I’ve only read the first book, but I know lots of people who have read the trilogy and say it just gets better and better.
For Black History Month, I thought I’d focus on some African-American authors. One of my all-time favorites is Christopher Paul Curtis.
Luther T. Farrell is under the rule of his mother, a.k.a. The Sarge. He does a lot of work at the slum housing and group homes that she owns. At 15, he’s got a fake driver’s license because he’s expected to drive the group home residents around. Meanwhile, he’s got to defend his science fair title against someone with whom he might be in love and his mom is making him share a room with a strange old guy known as Chester X. Luckily, his best friend, Sparky, has a plan to get them out of Flint once and for all. But how much do you think you trust a guy named Sparky to come up with a really good plan?
I love this book. Curtis is funny and witty and draws truly believable and relatable characters. I discovered this book after finding it in Unshelved’s Book Club. (Unshelved is where I get a lot of my library themed t-shirts.)
And if you try it and like it, he’s got a few other really good books as well.
Another new book that arrived on Monday is also the first book in a new series: Mister Max: The Book of Lost Things by Cynthia Voigt.
Max’s parents are well-known actors, and at the start of the book, they are invited to India to perform for the Maharajah of Kashmir. On the day they are leaving, Max is to meet them on the boat after his art lesson. When he arrives at the dock, Max discovers no boat, no record of the boat his parents were on, and no parents. He goes to his grandmother (a librarian!) and together they work on figuring out what has happened to Max’s parents.
Meanwhile, Max wants to live at his house, not with his grandmother. So, to support himself, he uses the skills he’s learned in his parents’ theatre to try to find a job. What he ends up doing is solving people’s problems–lost dogs, a lost spoon, a lost nephew, and a lost love. While some want to call him a detective, Max points out that he simply finds the answers to peoples’ problems; he’s more of a “solutioneer.”
This book is so much fun. There are great characters. And I can’t wait for the rest of the series!