Archive for April 8, 2013

Skateboarding Street

Writtten by Patrick G. Cain

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This book splendidly fulfills its responsibility to its young readers. Skateboarding street can be a dangerous sport, as the author states in the very first chapter, and in an extensive sidebar, he emphasizes the safety precautions that are necessary. “Even though you might not always see the skaters on TV wearing helmets and pads, this safety gear is very important to avoid injury.”

The target readership is pre-teens and teens – grades 4-8 – an age when requests to ‘wear a helmet’ may not always go down smoothly. Wisely, the author backs up his precautions with irrefutable reasons, “For a pro, a bad fall can mean the end of a career. For an amateur skater, a rough fall can mean giving up a favorite hobby.” Skateboarding Street can be a good read aloud with interesting discussions on the incredible tricks that the skaters can perform and the need for safety.

The story traces the development of the sport from its early days to its acceptance as a mainstream sport. It profiles the heroes, both past and present, boys and girls. The history of skateboading is outlined, along with a two page spread showing the elements of today’s skateboard. We also learn that the right safety gear should include a helmet, knee pads, elbow pads and wrist guards.

The last chapter talks about going pro. “Most skaters will never have the opportunity to go pro.” However, most skaters skate for enjoyment, and there are plenty of local competitions to participate in. Many skaters videotape their moves and post the video online.

Skateboarding Street contains many action shots that give a feel for fluid movement and tricks of the sport. A definite recommendation for all libraries and reading lists.

  • Skateboarding StreetTitle: Skateboarding Street
  • Author: Patrick G. Cain
  • Publisher: Lerner Publications Company
  • Reviewer: Anjali Amit
  • Hardback: 32 pages
  • ISBN: 978-1-4677-0749-7
  • Genre: Non-Fiction/Sports
  • Lexile Score: 950

Irena Sendler and the Children of the Warsaw Ghetto

Written by Susan Goldman Rubin

Illustrated by Bill Farnsworth

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A moving account of a woman compelled to help. This heroic story of a young woman who smuggled Jewish children out of World War II Warsaw was not known until after 1989 when Poland became a democratic republic. Irena worked as a Catholic social worker when the Nazis invaded Poland. When Jews were targeted, she worried about her Jewish friends especially when they were forced to go to a ghetto with horrible living conditions and build a wall. Irena disguised herself as a nurse to gain access to the neighborhood. She organized help on the outside and, with a secret network, began to help children escape. It was dangerous and Irena had to constantly change her escape routes to avoid being caught. She couldn’t guarantee a child’s safety or even that the child would survive, but Irena promised to do her best. Even if a child escaped, people would turn in the child to authorities for money. Irena dreamed of someday reuniting parents and children, but keeping records was risky. She managed to devise a system that survived her capture without being discovered. She was taken to prison, tortured and scheduled to be executed, but her friends helped her as she had helped so many others. When the war was finally over, Irena turned her records over to the Jewish Committee, an organization that located orphans and reunited families.

A thrilling class read aloud for older grades, this book could be used with either a heroes or a biography unit. One suggested literacy activity is for students to write a timeline of the dramatic events of Irena’s life and compare it to the events in Poland during World War II. An impressive bibliography and notes section is included along with an index. An educator’s guide is available on the publisher’s website:

  • Irena SendlerTITLE: Irena Sendler and the Children of the Warsaw Ghetto
  • AUTHOR: Susan Goldman Rubin
  • ILLUSTRATOR: Bill Farnsworth
  • PUBLISHER: Holiday House, 2011
  • REVIEWER: Risa Brown
  • EDITION: Hardcover, 40 p.
  • ISBN: 978-0-8234-2251-7
  • Lexile: 1150

Ancient Athens (Explore Ancient Worlds)

Written by Amie Jane Leavitt

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Pack your robe and sandals! We’re going to ancient Greece. We begin with detailed impressions of a festival during The Golden Age, which kids can locate on the timeline. The reader gets a wonderful overview of what a festival would look like through a kid’s eyes and great sensory descriptions of all the activities, right down to what the food was like. From parades to sporting events to theater, the Athenians knew how to celebrate.

The next chapter reveals the geography of the region and the formation of 1,500 different city-states. Athens was one of the largest and most productive of the city-states. Chapter three gives more details of what everyday life in ancient Athens, including the structures of homes and clothing. The Golden Age is again highlighted in chapter four, with emphasis on trade, architecture, and art. The final chapter points out the structures that survive to modern day. Each chapter in turn provides more information as sidebars on topics such as Athena, the great philosophers, sculpture, and the Greek alphabet. Finally, the author provides information on making masks and several recipes so that children can experience ancient Athens first hand, with a little help.

This is a very good reference for fifth grade. The glossary is complete and specific enough to help comprehension. The references provide multiple opportunities for further study. Also, included are a table of contents, timeline, chapter notes, and index. The many photos, drawings, and maps allow the reader to form a thorough impression of Greek life. Reading activities could include organizing a Greek festival or further study of the various topics presented.

  • Ancient AthensTitle: Ancient Athens
  • Author: Amie Jane Leavitt
  • Publisher: Mitchell Lane, 2012
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Hardcover, 48 pages
  • ISBN: 9781612282756
  • Genre: Nonfiction, Culture of ancient Greece
  • Lexile Score: 990L
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