The diamond mines of Marange in Zimbabwe serve as the setting for this portrait of a family in turmoil, which focuses on a tenacious 15-year-old boy named Patson Moyo. Patson and his little sister, Grace, adore their father, a man who has dedicated his life to teaching. But it is their new stepmother, known simply as “the Wife,” who compels her husband to leave his home and seek wealth by moving to Marange, where her brother James is involved in mining. In Marange, she claims, there are “diamonds for everyone.”
What we usually remember about George III is that he was mad, but there was far more to this complex royal figure. As we learn in debut author Janice Hadlow’s fascinating account, A Royal Experiment: The Private Life of King George III, he had much to keep him busy during his long reign, including a very large family. This biography was originally published in the U.K. as The Strangest Family. It’s an apt title. Hadlow takes as her canvas not simply the private life of one monarch, but the entire House of Hanover, a dysfunctional dynasty if there ever was one.
While we all know George Washington as our first president and leader of American forces in the Revolutionary War, in The Return of George Washington: 1783-1789, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Edward J. Larson illuminates another key role he played: leading the Constitutional Convention.
Philip C. Stead, author of the 2011 Caldecott winning A Sick Day for Amos McGee, brings his considerable talents to this fanciful story of a boy who goes in search of adventure. Sitting on his roof one night, Sebastian decides that there’s nothing very interesting to see on his street: It is definitely time for a change. What spells adventure more than a journey in a hot air balloon, especially one constructed from Grandma’s afghans and patchwork quilts?
Self-control. Whether it’s getting to the gym, sticking to that diet, quitting smoking or keeping our tempers under wraps at work, most of us wish we had more of it. And certainly as parents we want our children to have the ability to practice self-control, set goals and be resilient in the face of failure.
Michele Raffin was a suburban California mom who’d finally signed up to join a gym when, to her dismay, her personal trainer was extremely late for their session. When he finally arrived, he had a good reason for the delay: He’d come across a wounded bird by the side of the freeway. In what would become a life-changing moment, Raffin met that dove and tried to save it. And though it didn’t survive, she found herself a few days later responding to a newspaper ad seeking someone to rescue another dove. Her course in life was set.
Following the success of her best-selling adult novel The Interestings, Meg Wolitzer brings her considerable talents to her first young adult title, Belzhar. Wolitzer returns to a subject that occupied her as a senior in college, when she was completing her first novel: the poet Sylvia Plath.
While there’s something fascinating about old medical equipment and collections of oddities, it’s harder to truly appreciate the reality of life before modern surgery, let alone the ostracism and pain faced by individuals who suffered from conditions routinely corrected today. In this compelling biography of Dr. Thomas Dent Mütter (1811-1850), Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz brings a poet’s sensibilities to the life of an American surgeon who was at the forefront of advances in medical education and reconstructive surgery.
These days it seems dogs are everywhere. We have dog detectives (Spencer Quinn’s delightful Chet and Bernie mystery series for adults), lost dogs (Chris Raschka’s Caldecott-winning A Ball for Daisy) and even, apparently, dogs with blogs. So, do kids (and adults) need another dog book? The answer, as any dog lover will tell you, is a resounding yes, especially when the book is created by the talented David Ezra Stein, who won a Caldecott Honor for Interrupting Chicken.
The talented and versatile Candace Fleming, who writes novels and delectable picture books as well as groundbreaking nonfiction for young readers, shows why there’s so much excitement about nonfiction in children’s literature these days. The fall of imperial Russia and the fascinating story of the Nicholas II and Alexandra might seem more suited for a college history class. But in Fleming’s capable hands, readers will find themselves caught up in one of the most intriguing—and sometimes heartbreaking—stories of the 20th century.