Board Book Review: Barack Obama 101

This introduction to Barack Obama is informative enough to hold even an older child’s attention.

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Barack Obama 101 by Brad M. Epstein.
Michaelson Entertainment, Los Angeles, CA, 2008.
Informative non-fiction board book, 26 pages.

Barack Obama 101 packs a surprising amount of practical information into a board book, covering both basic facts about the presidency and Obama’s life up to his presidential election.

Barack Obama 101 cover resized
Barack Obama 101 by Brad M. Epstein.

Every time I shop at my favorite used bookstore, I take a minute to peruse their used board books.  They never have more than a few shelves, mostly of the same titles, so it doesn’t take long.  And I’ve never purchased any there.  Why look?  I’m determined to create a diverse board book library, which means I can’t turn down a chance to find books that might be out of print and difficult to obtain.

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Review: Celebrate Chinese New Year

“When Asians immigrated to countries like the United States and Canada, they brought these traditions with them.” page 7

Celebrate Chinese New Year by Carolyn Otto and Haiwang Yuan.
National Geographic Kids, Washington, D.C., 2009, my edition 2015 reprint.
Picture book informative nonfiction, 32 pages.
Lexile:  740L  .
AR Level:  3.6 (worth 0.5)  .

How Lunar New Year is celebrated around the world, especially in China.

Chinese New Year cover resized

This is a very comprehensive book.  You could easily do a short unit study using just this text.  The format works for a variety of ages or abilities.  The book is divided into two parts – first the picture book, then the last six pages are mostly text with “More About the Chinese New Year”, a variety of supplemental activities and further information for parents, teachers, or older children.

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Africa TBR #1: Nonfiction Past & Present

Five books set in Africa that I’ve read, and six on my shelves that I plan to read.

I posted in my entry for the NonFiction Reading Challenge that my first goal is to read 10 books about Africa, set in Africa, or written by members of the African diaspora.

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Review: Outliers

“Their success is not exceptional or mysterious. It is grounded in a web of advantages and inheritances, some deserved, some not, some earned, some just plain lucky – but all critical to making them who they are.” page 285

Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell.
Little, Brown, and Company, New York, 2008.
Adult nonfiction, 309 pages including notes and index.
Lexile:  1080L  .
AR Level:  7.8 (worth 13.0 points)  .

What do geniuses, rice paddies, hockey players, a Korean airline, a small town in Kentucky, and young Jamaican twins have to do with each other?  These topics and more are woven together in Gladwell’s explanation of success.

Outliers

This book goes beyond the ten thousand hours to achieve mastery theory to examine what else can effect our success or failure in life.  Gladwell looks at how community can change health, how Germany jumpstarted the Beatles, what made one Jewish lawyer wildly successful while his father struggled, and what linguistic difference makes Chinese children understand math more easily.

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Review: Dreamland

“Children of the most privileged group in the wealthiest country in the history of the world were getting hooked and dying in almost epidemic numbers from substances meant to, of all things, numb pain.” p. 8

Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic by Sam Quinones.
Bloomsbury Press, New York, my edition 2016, first published 2015.
Adult nonfiction, 374 pages including index and notes.
Not leveled.

Dreamland is the far-reaching narrative of America’s unprecedented struggle with opiate addition.  It looks inside doctor’s offices and pharmacutical marketing, studies villagers from Xalisco, Nayarit in Mexico, and interviews street addicts, rehabilitation workers, and more to form a comprehensive picture of how this situation developed.

Dreamland cover
Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic by Sam Quinones.

This book doesn’t entirely fit my usual review criteria.  After all, the author and the majority of people in it are white, although there is a substantial Mexican and Mexican-American element present.  However, I decided it was close enough to my usual topics (since addicts are generally not a privileged group, even if they are white or privileged in other areas) to discuss here.

America’s opiate epidemic has been getting a lot of attention because it’s affected a lot of people that those in power don’t usually think of as potential addicts – middle class Midwestern white suburbians.  Another, lesser known, oddity of the problem is that nearly all of the black tar heroin dealers in American’s smaller cities are from small towns in the tiny Mexican state of Nayarit.

Quinones interviews addicts, dealers, medical professionals, reformers, and law enforcement to provide as accurate a picture as possible of how this came to be.  Most of the people he talks to are white, Mexican, or Mexican-American, although he does talk to some people of color, and he brings up the disparity between political response to this ‘epidemic’ and previous reactions such as the ‘war on drugs’.

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Review: The Magic of Tidying

“It was this that inspired me, from the age of fifteen, to undertake a serious study of tidying that led to my development of the KonMari Method.” page 2

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: the Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo.
Ten Speed Press, Penguin Random House, New York, 2014.
Adult self-help, 213 pages including index.
Not leveled.

A method for decluttering and organizing your home or office from a famous expert.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up resized

Is the minimalism movement big in other parts of the world too?  In America it’s trendy to declutter and simplify right now.  Book blogging has ironically led to me buying many more books (because I feel such a time pressure when trying to review library books ), and it’s time to downsize the books.

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Nonfiction Reading Challenge

My six non-fiction reading goals for 2018.

I saw a sign-up post for this challenge on Misfortune of Knowing while procrastinating on my 2018 reading/blogging goals list.  After checking out the challenge overview, I realized this fit nicely with the reading goals I already had, which were mostly for nonfiction.

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