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Looking for that Last-Minute Gift?
‘Tis the season, and gift-giving is on our minds. Here are three nonfiction titles that would make welcome presents for the right teens.
I am Malala found its way onto more than one Best list this year, and I suspect that many of us have already added it to our collection. I found myself somewhat frustrated with it, but the readers in my library are fascinated. I imagine some teens might skip the history lesson that makes up the first 140 pages or so and get straight to the personal. But the background certainly contributes to the pathos of Malala’s story. Patricia McCormick is working on a young readers’ edition as we speak, scheduled for summer 2014. Petty frustrations aside, Malala’s story is as inspiring and miraculous as they come.
For a crafty, fashion-loving teen, Skirt-a-Day Sewing is just the thing. A great choice for beginners, Smith covers everything from taking measurements to pattern drafting and her book offers a month’s worth of skirts. Want to check out the level? Several pages are available on Scribd. You can watch an interview with the author on I Heart Craft Books.
Adventurous readers will pore over our Explore Everything. Author/photographer Bradley Garrett is an urban explorer who uncovers deserted spaces. His blog, Place Hacking, is worth checking out to get an idea of his photography. There are some amazing images, and several expedition videos, too.
YOUSAFZAI, Malala with Christina Lamb. I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban. 327p. chron. glossary. photos. Little, Brown. Oct. 2013. Tr $26. ISBN 9780316322409. LC 2013941811.
Adult/High School–Who is Malala, the girl who was shot by the Taliban on her way home from school, who gave a speech at the United Nations on her 16th birthday, the youngest person nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize? One must start in her beloved Swat Valley in Pakistan. Its history is complicated, but Mingora was basically peaceful until the Taliban began to infiltrate. One must understand Malala’s relationship with her father, whose work as an educator shaped and encouraged his daughter’s passion. Malala always loved going to school, and she was frequently at the top of her class. In lyrical writing that touches on the natural world and love for God, her achievements and honors alternate with stories of time spent with friends and family, illuminating Pakistani culture along the way. Malala believes that change is possible, that education is a basic human right, even in a region caught between a corrupt army and the Taliban. She frequently spoke in person and on television, and wrote a blog for the BBC under a pseudonym. She believed that God would protect her, that it was her duty to speak up for the rights of girls. Following the shooting, the account of Malala’s miraculous recovery is especially compelling. Her parents were stuck in Swat, so she spent those terrible days alone at a Pakistani army hospital ill-equipped to give her the care she required. Now she is obviously lonely, living under guard in Birmingham, England. She misses her friends and teachers. She is determined to return to Pakistan. Meanwhile, her school keeps an empty desk and chair waiting for her.–Angela Carstensen, Convent of the Sacred Heart, New York City
SMITH, Nicole. Skirt-a-Day Sewing. 240p. diag. illus. index. photos. Storey. 2013. pap. $19.95. ISBN 9781603429740. LC 2012043003.
Adult/High School-Despite its title, this book is really a comprehensive guide to creating a garment rather than a how-to sewing book. It begins with helpful basics about necessary supplies (though it doesn’t talk specifically about sewing machines), tools for pattern making, and tools for pressing. It clearly explains basic techniques, including information on hand stitches, seams, zippers, and hems and then gives detailed instructions on how to draft your own custom pattern. This is the heart of the book; as readers understand how to create a customized skirt “sloper” (the pattern one begins with), the sewing and variations can begin. There are multiple steps to this process and will require perseverance but the reward is the ability to make the projects in the book: wrap, straight, flared, and high-waisted skirts. Each one will be tailor made for the reader’s body as a result of accurate measurements outlined early in the book. Chapters are devoted to the four styles along with seven variations of each one. The drawings, step-by-step directions, and photographs help make this book enticing and if one can stick with it, there will be 28 skirts to enjoy. Teens interested in fashion and creating their own style will consider this book a real find.-Jane Ritter, Mill Valley School District, CA
GARRETT, Bradley L. Explore Everything: Place-Hacking the City. 320p. index. notes. photos. Verso. Oct. 2013. Tr $29.95. ISBN 9781781681299.
Adult/High School–Garrett lives the adulthood many teenagers dream of when insisting they will opt for the road less taken: he is an ethnographer, working on his PhD, and “place-hacking” cities from Chicago to Chernobyl. He and his tribe of friends and fellow urban explorers ignore Do Not Enter signs and duck through holes in fences, intent on seeing deserted and forgotten landscapes. Their goal is not to vandalize or destroy property, but rather to claim the experience of seeing something no one else has seen, like a towering skyscraper under construction at night, or an abandoned Soviet military installation. While the author and his friends break the law and violate some unspoken rules about place and property, his argument is that place-hacking is more than trespassing or breaking and entering; it is embracing what places mean to us now and what they meant to us before they were abandoned or closed to the public. He examines geopolitics, economics, class, race, and power with as much attention as he brings to figuring out how to gain access to the restricted areas of the London Tube. The book’s biggest fault is the lack of captions for the fascinating photographs of places that, in some cases, literally no longer exist. Teens will forgive this misstep as they page through pictures of young adults perched at the tops of vast bridges and crawling through tunnels. While some of the language can be scholarly, Garrett’s adventures in sewers and abandoned sanitariums will enthrall readers with a sense of adventure.–Meghan Cirrito, formerly at Queens Public Library, NY
About Angela Carstensen
Angela Carstensen is Head Librarian and an Upper School Librarian at Convent of the Sacred Heart in New York City. Angela served on the Alex Awards committee for four years, chairing the 2008 committee, and chaired the first YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adult committee in 2009. Recently, she edited Outstanding Books for the College Bound: Titles and Programs for a New Generation (ALA Editions, 2011). Contact her via Twitter @AngeReads.
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