Dr. Fauci: How a Boy from Brooklyn Became America’s Doctor by Kate Messner

3.5 stars Children’s Nonfiction

The illustrations inside this book are what makes this book for me. I like everything about them from the color selection, to the details included in them, to how simple the designs really are.  I also liked how the book addressed Covid-19. When I think of Anthony Fauci, I think of Covid-19, for he was the one who talked to me on the news about this pandemic and he seemed to know what was really happening. Many pages of this book addressed Anthony’s part in the Covid-19 crisis.

I thought this book was okay.  I was hoping it would have a lot more personal or entertaining information about Anthony than it did.  I thought the book contained a majority of general information about him.  Information that seemed boring or trivial.  I did find a few pieces of information that I thought, gave me an inside look at who Anthony really was. 

The book mentions some of Anthony’s attributes that began when he was child which have helped him as an adult.  Anthony loved playing basketball but he was short individual.  Determined to play, Anthony found that his speed and his ability to communicate would be his way to contribute to this game.  Anthony’s determination was also a huge asset.  Having these qualities also helped Anthony survive in the tough neighborhood that he lived in.

The book in general, gives general information and walks the reader through how Anthony found his way working on some of the toughest diseases in our nation.  It’s a book that shows children where it all began for Anthony and that anyone, can reach for the stars, if you keep reaching.

There is a lot of other pages full of added material, in the back of the book.  There are some pages dedicated to “How Do Vaccines Work?” Are Vaccines Safe?’  “Dr. Faucis’ Five Tips for Future Scientists.”  There’s also a timeline of some of Fauci’s milestones, a page of recommended reading, and a sources page.  A few pages of black-n-white photos of Anthony with a short author’s notes and acknowledgements, rounds out this book. 3.5 stars    

The Bat Book by Charlotte Milner

5 stars Nonfiction

I’m not bat savvy so I needed this book.  I thought I knew a few things about them and I knew I had some “deceptions” about them but now, I feel knowledgeable.  In our neighborhood at night, you can see a few bats soaring in the sky come dusk.  I’m grateful that they’re eating the insects yet, I’m also thinking how dirty those little guys are and how I don’t want them to get tangled up in my hair.  At least now, after reading this book, I feel educated and grateful that they picked our air space to do their hunting.

I have to share this eye-opening moment for me first.  I never realized that bats pollinate. Bees, yes but bats?  It makes sense but I never really thought about it until I read about it in the book.  A few pages were focused on this topic and I guess looking back over the years, pollination was always about bees and birds. 

I enjoyed this book immensely as I do with most DK books.  The paper is the thick matte finish which compliments the illustrations/text.  I think the paper provides a richness to the book and will hold up better over time.  The illustrations are fantastic, with their convincing drawings that pull your eyes in to pagefuls of helpful information.  I liked the contrasting text colors and the use of graphs, text boxes, and the how everything is labeled and arranged. 

I found plenty of information inside this book which was presented in an easy-to-read format.   From different types of bats and their body types, to why they are so important, to myths about them, the author gives us plenty to think about.  A great book! 5 stars    

Every Minute is a Day: A Doctor, An Emergency Room and a City Under Seige by Robert Meyer MD

5 stars Nonfiction

I know, I know, I know.  People are tired of hearing about Covid but I really wanted to hear from someone different.  Someone who actually worked on the front lines, in an area different than my own and I wanted to hear his own words about what he experienced and witnessed with his own eyes.  I really enjoyed this book, in fact, the book exceeded my expectations.  At first, I hesitated on reading it, afraid it might contain difficult medical jargon but the book was very down-to-earth.

This book centers on Montefiore Health System in Harlem which serves about 1.5 million people annually.  With their staff including their medical students, their facilities including their modern equipment, they feel that there’s no better equipped hospital to serve Covid patients than their building.  Within one month of receiving their first Covid patient, the hospital gets control of the situation but there’s no end in sight.  They were able to manage the shortages that came with the demand of this illness while still providing what they could to their patients and staff.  The hospital experienced highs along with the lows while they provided care for their patients, those highs amongst all the chaos and despair provided hope and strength for another day. 

There were many references that I enjoyed in this book, remarks that stood out as I read them.  The first one referred to how the hospital dealt with the crisis.  This state of mind continues today as officials examine the booster vaccine.  The doctors learned as they go. They learned about the illness from others, they learned from doing something different, and they learned from going outside-the-box. This illness is new, it’s something our society has not dealt with before.  This is a new crisis- there are no set rules, there is no handout to follow, no set procedures in place.  We are creating the handout and the rules as the days on the calendar move forward and unfortunately, as people get sick, die, and refused to believe that this illness really exists.  The second comment that stuck with me was how the medical staff put everything on hold while they dealt with Covid. How will that effect our future?  What will happen if we encounter another untreatable illness?  I stop and think about the implications of this time?  What has this done to us as a nation and to us around the world? Has this united us or tore us apart?  According to a few surveys, our children’s education has suffered.  That’s our future.  How long will we continue to argue and battle what is “right?”

There was a wake-up moment in Harlem when other colleagues in other areas of the hospital started to offer their help.  Months earlier they’ve been too scared to help but now, they see how things are not letting up and they feel the need to pitch in but how? They don’t have the training to work in the ER.  The emergency doctors took them, they trained them on something/anything that they thought they could do, they needed another pair of hands, someone to provide some relief.  These newly trained ER staff members thought they were scared before, well working on the front lines now, they’re realizing just how bad Covid really is.

I didn’t expect a happy story and I found myself crying a few times while I read this book, the emotional toil and the personal stories hit me.  You never knew how things would turn out.  An image that stayed with me as I read this book was the person lying in the hospital, just waiting, all alone.  Imagine yourself lying there, alone, isolated, no TV or entertainment, all you hear is the constant beeping of the monitors all around you and the noises of the staff as they scramble to assist the others that are lying nearby.  How do you feel?  Sick, helpless, defeated, worried, deflated…..

It’s a crisis that’s hitting every continent and not everyone is able or willing to stop/control it.  You need to be able to live your life, not just survive but live.  We need to remember all of those who have died, what we have learned through these individuals, and we need to honor those who have helped us along the way. 

It’s a great read and one that I highly recommend.  I appreciate the two cousins getting together and sharing this story with us and although, I haven’t witnessed it firsthand, I have heard enough stories from friends and loved ones that I don’t want to nor do I need to, to understand how serious this crisis is. Emergency medicine is constantly changing and you have to remember that no one has all the answers yet. Stay well everyone.  5 stars

The Bee Book by Charlotte Miler

5 stars Children’s Nonfiction

Let’s talk about bees.  What do you really know about bees and what do you think you know about bees?  I think that most people know that bees make honey and that there’s a queen bee, a drone bee and worker bees in a hive.  Did you know that there’s hundreds of drone bees in a hive and that they only live a few weeks?  Did you know that the queen bee typically lives 5 years and that she’s the mother to most of the bees in the hive? I thought the worker bees were busy, but the queen bee, she lays about 2,000 eggs a day!  Welcome to just one page inside this fantastic book by Charlotte Milner.  With the bee population dwindling, reading about these fascinating creatures made me realize just how important they really are. 

With bright colorful illustrations this book is full and I mean, full of information!!  Upon opening the book, there is a Table of Content which consists of a list of comments or questions pertaining to bees with a corresponding page number.  Thumbing through the book, I love just looking at all the different illustrations on the pages and reading the text that accompanies them.  Some of these are just fast-facts about bees and some provided more detailed reading but they’re not long reports on bees that slow me down or overwhelm me.  At the back of the book, there’s a great index too.  Did I mention how wonderful the illustrations are and how bright and colorful the pages are?

I can learn about pollination, why pollination is important, what a honeybee is, where honey comes from, and tons of information on the honeybee’s hives.  I can learn about the different types of bees that are needed inside a hive, why the bee population is dying and what I can do to help the bees survive.  I can also read about bee swarms which sound like a horrible thing but according to the brief summary, they usually aren’t.

This is a wonderful book.  It’s a book worth keeping and definitely, one worth sharing.  I’m sure that everyone will learn something from this book unless of course, you’ve been studying bees for years.  So, where does a honeybee store the nectar that it collects before he goes back to the nest?  How many eyes does the honeybee have?  Why does he have so many?   Can the female honeybee sting you?  Better get reading to find these answers.

Growing Up: Caterpillar to Butterfly by Stephanie Fitzgerald

5 stars Children’s Nonfiction

I have no idea why my library chose to put this book under the Easy section of the children’s library.  This is definitely a non-fiction book with a capital N and I will definitely bring this to their attention.  There was a lot to love about this children’s nonfiction book and being a newly butterfly nature lover, I’m all over this book.

Within the past couple years, we have planted butterfly bushes and have witnessed the lifecycle of the monarch butterfly firsthand.  I can tell you; this has been a truly remarkable and rewarding experience.  I never thought in my 50+ years of life, I would be having sleepless nights over aphids and buying ladybugs in the mail but now, I can say I have.   I like to find children’s books that talk about incredible process as I think children need to understand this process and if possible, witness this journey firsthand, as it’s part of nature unfolding.

I liked that this book is 32 pages of some incredible illustrations and the variety of text fonts makes this book fun to read.  The book begins with a Table of Contents listing exactly what you’re going to be reading about, from what a butterfly is, to the life cycle of the butterfly, to butterfly facts, and a glossary and an index in the back.  The text is big and bold and the illustrations give great captions of interesting information. 

This is one book that can be used as a great reference over and over again as you learn about butterflies and one that will never get old.    This is definitely one that you need to get a hold of and read – I highly recommend it!

” A caterpillar has 4,000 muscles in its body. People have about 650.”

“Threats to the butterfly change depending on the stage of its life cycle.”

Kate the Chemist: Dragons vs. Unicorns by Dr. Kate Biberdorf

4 stars Middle School

I was impressed how this middle school fiction story mixed in as much science as it did, without the story sounding ridiculous or too nerdy.  You mix in too much information and you lose too many readers, you provide minor information and you lose readers, you do this and you lose readers, I feel that there’s this fine line of what information you can include in these types of books to be successful.  I’ve read a couple of the author’s science experiment books so I thought it was only fitting that I try one of her fiction stories.  My advice: if you’re thinking about this book, do it!  Dr. Biberdorf mixes in science terminology, knowledge, and excitement into a fictional story of a small group of fifth grade friends who find that their fall break camp has more drama than they signed up for.

I liked Kate’s excitement about science.  Her willingness to try and her great attitude even if things get out of control, she’s giving it everything that she has.  She really wants others to love science and experience it like she does. I loved how the author mixed in the science terminology within the story.  I found this book to be a fast read, containing short chapters with just a handful of important characters.  I hope that the author includes more male characters in this series as I feel both boys and girls would enjoy reading them.  This looks to be a great start to a fun, educational series!    

The Radium Girls: The Scary But True Story of the Poison That Made People Glow in the Dark by Kate Moore

5 stars Nonfiction Middle School/YA

I have already read the adult version of this book, so when our book club decided that The Radium Girls was going to be this month’s selection, I opted to read the young readers version of the story.  I was anxious to read this book as I read lots of books geared towards young readers and I hoped this one was as great as the adult version.  I had hoped that they hadn’t taken this incredible story, watered it down and condensed it.  Had they changed the storyline and make it more reserved for these young minds?  This book really surprised me as I began reading.

This was fantastic!  This book was condensed but the author had not watered it down.  This was as great as the adult version only; it didn’t go into as much detail as the adult’s version.  It had been a few years since I have read the adult version but it all came back to me as I began reading and I fell in love with it all over again. 

Filled with hope and opportunity the girls began working at the watch dial factory.  They were teenage girls, working with the “wonder element,” the miracle wonder that was treating cancer and helping with other illnesses.  This “liquid sunshine” was incorporated into toothpaste, butter, and skin products as everyone wanted to benefit from its greatness yet only wealthy could afford to indulge in these.  Radium, the glow-in-the-dark paint, was expensive in the late 1910’s.  

Working in the factory, the girls sat and they painted.  Holding watch faces, the girls manually painted the watch dials onto each one.  It was delicate work that relied on a steady hand and the perfect tool.  With the factory suppling the brushes, the girls took their brushes and created the perfect tool.

Lip-dip-paint. The girls did lip pointing as they painted their watch dials.  Since the girls were paid based on the number of dials they painted, they needed to work quickly and efficient.  By wetting the end of the brush in their mouths to make a tapered end, this technique made their jobs easier.  Lip-dip-paint.  There would be no rinsing of the brush between each dial, there was only a minimal amount of radium on the brush at all times while she painted, and she had been told that the radium was safe.  She was set to make millions, right?  It sounds right but these girls were doing this every day, all day, and the number of times that her brush touched their lips each day was high, for she painted hundreds of dials each day.    

It wasn’t until years later, that things started to change for the girls and they started to realize that perhaps this “liquid sunshine” wasn’t as safe as they were led to believe.  I marveled at how this book didn’t shy away from the facts. The trips to the dentist had me squirming in my chair. I’m not fond of dentists but they had to go. Their pain was so bad but their diagnose was worse than cavities. The girls had enjoyed working in the factory, they’d made lots of cash and enjoyed their new lifestyle but now, was it worth it?  

As more girls were getting sick, more individuals were getting involved and it irritated me that no one was working together to solve the issues.  Hired individuals, doctors, lawyers, family members, everyone was a witness but what was the cause?  How can they move forward?

This book is not for the weak, as the author tells it like it was.  As I thought about what these girls had to endure, it made me cringe.  The pain, the frustration, and the emptiness they must have felt, had to be exhausting.  It’s sad and horrific that the girls had to battle this.  To have to fight for their lives and also for support.  That’s so frustrating.  These girls are heroes for what they went through and how they shaped our future.  I’m glad that this book was written for young readers so they can read how these young women fought for others and themselves.  They weren’t quitters, whinners, or looking for a handout- they did it by believing in themselves and moving forward.  A great book that should be read by mature young readers (middle school).  

“After her jaw was gone, an important discovery was made. Knef had always hoped that by removing a tooth or a piece of infected bone, the progress of the mysterious disease would be stopped. “

“Her mouth, emoty of teeth, empty of jawbone, empty of words, filled with red, hot blood instead. It spilled over her lips and down her stricken, shaken face.”

If You Come to Earth by Sophie Blackall

5 stars Children’s Book

This book is beautiful!  This book says it all.  If you were to buy one book to have in your library, this should be the one!  It’s almost brought tears to my eyes as the author explains how we are all unite on this one big planet. 

I really enjoyed the illustrations inside this book, from how much detail was included, to the color choice, to how much there was to look at, these illustrations were wonderfully done.  I was impressed with how the author used an assortment of each topic to get her point across.  When she addressed how individuals traveled:  she included a rowboat, tugboat, skateboard, taxi, tractor, airplane, hot air balloon, camper, police car, ambulance, race car, wheelchair, pickup, bus, etc.  The two pages were full.  The author covers a variety of subjects in this book including families, weather, food, what people do, feelings, etc.   There was this feeling of love and community that came over me as I read this book, that we all are together on this planet, breathing and hopefully working together. 

This is an oversized book (11.25 x9 approx.) with 74 pages.  This is not one book that will be read once and put away as the illustrations again, are interesting and many of them have lots of look at.  I think this one is a keeper.  I highly recommend this one and make sure you read the last page of the book as the author talks about how she arrived at writing this book. 

” There are lots of things we don’t know.  We don’t know where we were before we were born or where we go when we die.  But right this minute, we are here together on this beautiful planet.”

“We humans define ourselves be where we are born, where we live, what we believe, by the clothes we wear, and the languages we speak.  But there is no “typical” person.  We are all different.”

Outside Art by Madeline Kloepper

5 stars Children’s Picture

Art is in the eye of the beholder.  I remember hearing this when I was young and finally, someone explained this simple, complex statement to me. It has stuck with me ever since because it says so much with such few words.  These are the words that came to mind when I read this book. Everyone makes art in their own way. A baby can make art and so can a senior citizen.  It’s in its interpretation, that we label things art. 

As Pine Martin watches the Human inside and outside its log nest in the woods, doing odd things, Pine Marten tries to find the meaning behind them. I enjoyed Pine Marten’s view of the human world: “plucking the string-log to make noise” and “using mud to make a water holder” to refer to the playing of a guitar and to using a clay pottery wheel. It was a refreshing way to look upon the world that we live in.  When he watches the Human “putting colors on a board using a furry stick,” he’s confused. 

Chickadee explains what he has heard the Human is doing and how it refers to Art and he explains what he thinks Art is.  Soon, a variety of animals arrive one-by-one to give their own opinion of what Art is and how it relates to the Human’s activity.  I thought this was clever and I liked how the house cat got in on the action and tried to outsmart them all.  I said tried……. Is the Human the only one who can create Art?

The illustrations are beautiful and creative a peaceful feeling to the book.  There are many interesting ideas that come out of this book and ways that you can engage children using this book.  I think this book is good for children beginning around 6 years of age based on the concept, content, and language.  I really enjoyed it.    

We Are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom

5 stars Children’s Picture

We all should know how important our water supply is.  It’s not something that we should take for granted, ask anyone who doesn’t have water or has had to go without their water for an extended amount of time and they will tell you, water is precious.  I really enjoyed how the author makes us look at water and how valuable it really is.   

       “It nourished us inside our mother’s body.

        As it nourished us her on Mother Earth.

         Water is sacred, she said.  (Nokomis)”

 I have to tell you that I went into this book blindly.  I knew that it was a popular book and that it was up for some awards but I didn’t know its subject matter.  For me, going into this book blindly was ideal as I had to guess what the author was referring to as she spoke of the black snake tainting the waters.   Something has to be done to stop the black snake but what?     She stepped forward, hoping to rally her people together to stop the black snake, but can they?  They march as many, to also carry the torch for those without a voice, to fight those who wear blinders. 

You definitely have to read the 2- page section at the back of the book, as I thought these notes and information gave the book more depth and force.   The illustrations were fabulous with striking colors and images.  Definitely a book that you have to read more than once.  5 stars.