The Orbis Pictus Awards: Outstanding Nonfiction Literature

by Deborah Dimmett, The University of Arizona

OPSealThe Orbis Pictus Awards, established in 1989, commemorates the work of Johannes Amos Comenius, whose work included the first nonfiction book for children, Orbis Pictus—The World in Pictures (1657). Each year, NCTE gives one award for a book representing the best of children’s nonfiction for that year along with five honor books and eight recommended books can also be recognized. Read More »

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“Outstanding International Books 2015″: Part 2

by Holly Johnson, The University of Cincinatti

USBBYAs I noted last week, on January 30, 2015, USBBY announced the Outstanding International Books for 2015. I also mentioned how terrific this year’s books are, and how indeed, there is something for everyone. I also noted that many of the books can be enjoyed and used across age categories. Last week I looked at four great books that highlighted wonderful artistic forms. This week, I turn to some fantastic picture books that can be enjoyed or used across age groups. Read More »

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Outstanding International Books 2015!

by Holly Johnson, The University of Cincinatti

USBBYOn January 30, 2015, USBBY announced the Outstanding International Books for 2015. The OIBs, as stated on the USBBY website are “deemed most outstanding of those published during the calendar year. For the purposes of this honor list, the term “international book” is used to describe a book published or distributed in the United States that originated or was first published in a country other than the U.S.” The criteria includes artistic style and literary merit, creativity of approach, distinctiveness of topic, uniqueness of origin, and qualities that engage and appeal to young people. Read More »

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Oh, My! Cyborgs!

by T. Gail Pritchard, PhD, The University of Arizona

CinderFootThis week, I want to share books about cyborgs and those that don’t quite fit the previous categories—they are hybrids involving technology. Where the two overlap involve the symbiosis of humans, machines, and technology. In the previously reviewed books, the main characters were either machines—robots and androids—or humans whose DNA had been modified in some way. This week’s reviews looks at novels that consider what happens when humans and technology merge Read More »

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Robots, Clones, and DNA—Oh, My!

by T. Gail Pritchard, The University of Arizona

DNA2Perhaps one of the more scientific/medical controversies of the last few decades involves genetic modification, whether it is through altering an organism’s own DNA, adding new DNA, or cloning. In the following novels, the characters find themselves facing personal and societal consequences, while readers are left questioning their own assumptions about boundaries, scientific research, medical application, and how they define being human. Read More »

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Robots, Cyborgs, and DNA—Oh, My!

by T. Gail Pritchard, PhD, The University of Arizona

file000150798584My earliest memory of robots is from movies–Gort from The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) terrified me and Robby from Forbidden Planet (1956) fascinated me. Later, there was Hal from 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) and three of my favorites Huey, Dewey, and Louie from Silent Running (1972); and of course, from recent times, Optimus Prime of the Transformers. From television, I met Robot from Lost in Space (1965-68) and various other robots and cyborgs in The Twilight Zone (1961-62), The Six Million Dollar Man (1974-78) and The Bionic Woman (1976-1978). In my reading, I encountered robots Robbie (Asimov) and Norby (Asimov and Asimov) and Eager (Fox), cyborg Cinder (Meyer), and characters whose DNA had been tweaked Read More »

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Russia Was Always There!: Reading World History through Russia Connections

by Yoo Kyung Sung, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM

Language binds the past to the present. With the advent of high-tech, wireless devices that is even more evident as people interact in new and unique ways reflecting rapid evolution in language. New words are born every day while other words slip into obscurity. In many ways, everyday language becomes a “fashion” as it mirrors social changes, trends, and contemporary issues. Historically linked language became really evident to me some weeks ago when I was watching a Korean reality show. An actor in his late 40’s used the word “Soviet” in place of Russia. When hearing this, other participants teased him as a veteran of the Ice Age. Read More »

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Beyond the Nutcracker, Baba Yaga, and Ivan the Fool: Russian Children’s Books Mirror Ideology

by Yoo Kyung Sung, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM

YKA1

Russian children’s literature and culture are obscure subjects in the West. When they come up in a conversation, even the most Russia-savvy students shrug their shoulders and produce a genuinely puzzled look on their faces “ (Balina & Rudova, 2008, p.xv,)

Earlier I looked at two books, Breaking Stalin’s Nose and Arcady’s Goal, set in repressive Stalinist Russia. I then introduced The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion & the Fall of Imperial Russia, an informational text describing the establishment of the Soviet Union. In doing so I developed a real curiosity about the development of children’s literature written in Russia. Read More »

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Not-So-Happily-After: Russia’s Last Imperial Family and Broadening the Landscape of Children’s Russian Literary Experiences

 by Yoo Kyung Sung, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM

RomanovsIn the story Queen Victoria’s Bathing Machine (Whelan, 2014), the queen loves to swim. Her swimming is not without a dilemma: how does a queen swim and still maintain “propriety?” The more she thinks that she shouldn’t swim, the more she wants to swim. In the end, her husband solves the problem. Sharing this not so public side of Queen Victoria is what makes this a truly delightful book. In the illustrations, the queen isn’t depicted with glamorous looks or in elegant dress, despite the fact that she was one of the most powerful monarchs in Europe. Instead, she looks like any ordinary middle aged woman Read More »

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Childhood & Politics: Children’s Historical Fiction set in the Soviet Union

 by Yoo Kyung Sung, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM

Stalin

“President Putin.”
“The Cold War.”
“James Bond, 007!”
“Gymnastics.”

These are response from my students when asked what they know about Russia. Their knowledge about Russia is based on recent events with typical historical Hollywood representations: Read More »

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