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Science & Nature
When Glory came out in 1989, movie audiences were excited to see a relatively unknown side of the Civil War that highlighted the sacrifices of the Massachusetts 54th, a “colored” volunteer regiment. Gripping as the story that unfolded on the screen was, there was much more to it, of course. In real life, other people’s stories became part of the regiment’s history as the Civil War gripped the nation.
John Mercer Langston, along with Frederick Douglass, acted as a recruiter for the 54th. As an abolitionist and orator, he was an excellent choice, and this task was just one of Langston’s civic accomplishments. Although he had spent most of his life in a free state, John was familiar with plantation life. His father had been a white plantation owner in Louisa County, Virginia—not far from Spotsylvania. His mother had been his father’s slave. But his parents’ story was not a common one for the era. His father freed his mother, and, although they were not allowed to marry for legal reasons, they lived together as man and wife for the rest of their days, their children considered to be freeborn.
When she was a teenager, Boston native Vickie Preston and the little boy she babysat were almost killed by an escaped serial killer, who chose them at random. Her escape was aided by none other than a real life ghost—the ghost of the little boy's 17-year-old brother who lost his life in a car crash.
Vickie, now a historian, has returned to her hometown many years after the incident. But she doesn't return alone. The teenage ghost has followed her around most of her life, acting as her spectral protector. Overall, Vickie doesn't mind the company.
Is Arts & Crafts class your favorite camp activity? Does working with yarn, felt, and fabric put you in a happy, creative place? Then, Knit, Hook, and Spin: A Kid’s Activity Guide to Fiber Arts and Crafts, by Laurie Carlson, might be the best book ever. It has directions for all kinds of fun. With its very clear instructions, you can learn to weave, knit, crochet, and even spin your own yarn if you like.
Loki's Wolves (Book 1 of The Blackwell Pages series) by Kelley Armstrong
Matt Thorsen is a direct descendent of the order-keeping god Thor, and his classmates Fen and Laurie Brekke are descendents of the trickster god Loki. When Ragnarok—the apocalypse—threatens, the human descendents of the gods must fight monsters to stop the end of the world. (catalog summary)
If you like Loki's Wolves, you may enjoy these other magical kids/teen titles as well.
Antigoddess by Kendare Blake
Old Gods never die . . . Or so Athena thought. But then the feathers started sprouting beneath her skin, invading her lungs like a strange cancer, and Hermes showed up with a fever eating away his flesh. So much for living a quiet eternity in perpetual health. Desperately seeking the cause of their slow, miserable deaths, Athena and Hermes travel the world, gathering allies and discovering enemies both new and old. Their search leads them to Cassandra—an ordinary girl who was once an extraordinary prophetess, protected and loved by a god. These days, Cassandra doesn't involve herself in the business of gods—in fact, she doesn't even know they exist. But she could be the key in a war that is only just beginning. (catalog summary)
A boy and his mother are canoeing on a pond in the Adirondack Mountains. It is peaceful place, maybe even dull. Or, is it? The boy asks his mother, “What’s down there?”
So many things! His mother tells him about them, from the minnows, crayfish, and bullfrogs to beavers hunting “delectable roots” found in the mud and otters clawing for freshwater mussels.
And, over the pond? A great blue heron catches one of those minnows for his dinner. A moose munches a mouthful of waterlilies. As the sun sets, mother and son paddle back to shore and head for home. In the dark, life goes on at the pond. Raccoons come out to prowl, and catfish glide as they seek their suppers in the cool of the night.
Kate Messner’s Over and Under the Pond does several things very nicely. First, it tells a soothing story, perfect for bedtime. But it also introduces an ecosystem, making the science of living things and the secrets found below a pond’s surface very accessible, and it manages to do so without sounding like a textbook.
Deer Valley, Oregon. You could call it quiet. You could call it quaint. The residents of Deer Valley lead normal, everyday lives.
That is until Jude Brighton, the town's young troublemaker, goes missing. Everyone in town knows that the first 48 hours of a missing person case are the most important, but now he's been missing for three days without any clue of his whereabouts. Stevie Clark, Jude's cousin and best friend, presume Jude ran deep into the woods surrounding Deer Valley, deeper than either of them have ever gone. But there are stories about the woods—about the evil that lurks there. This very same evil could be related to another mysterious disappearance that occurred years earlier. While the residents of Deer Valley look for young Jude, they hope he doesn't end up like that unfortunate victim—half eaten and beaten by an unknown assailant.