In the stacks: New nonfiction titles for kids

Check the New Book shelves in the children’s areas at each public library for brand new non-fiction titles, including the books listed below.


“What It’s Like,” by Jeff Belanger.

There are things you might aspire to do, like become a firefighter, and things you hope never happen to you, like get hit by lightning. And you’ll find both of these in this book – along with many other fun, fascinating, grueling, and horrifying things. Read in awe as Astronaut Sandra Magnus describes blasting into space (“I have a mirror on my wrist that I can use to look behind me…”), and feel fear in the pit of your stomach when Operating Specialist Michael Anthony experiences combat in Iraq for the first time (“Then I see everyone in the gym flee…”). Cheer when Mark Inglis summits Mt. Everest (“…I rebuild my leg using extra parts I brought with me.”) years after losing both legs to frostbite (“By day five…my feet are pretty much completely frozen.”). The abundant photos make it easy to see yourself in these fascinating tales of courage, skills, luck, and perseverance. (older elementary through adult readers)

“Ancient Medical Technology,” by Michael Woods and Mary B. Woods.

For as long as we humans have existed, we’ve been getting sick or hurt: breaking legs, being slashed in battle, catching colds, etc. In some ages and places, there wasn’t a doctor or healer around and our bodies had to heal themselves. At other times or places, doctors could help. And they had lots of tools, some of which actually helped and some of which did damage. Some ancient doctors did eye surgery, others operated on the brain. Ancient Indian doctors knew how to use the heads of ants to hold intestines together after surgery and ancient Egyptian dentists used fine wire to keep loose teeth in place. Plenty of photos (nothing too gory), well-organized information, and a way of finding just the right details make this a book that will draw readers in. (middle school readers)

“Helicopter Man,” by Edwin Brit Wyckoff.

It took a lot of trial and error and hard study before helicopters were able to fly reliably. Igor Sikorsky built his first helicopter in his parent’s garden in 1909, when he was nearly twenty: it never got off the ground, but it rattled and hopped across the grass impressively. It wasn’t until 1939 that he finally built a helicopter that rose off the ground – it amazed everyone by flying backwards, sideways, and turning in circles, but it was a good thing no one asked him to go forwards. A few weeks after Pearl Harbor was bombed, Sikorsky showed generals in the U.S. Army a helicopter that flew perfectly, and it was this design that went into production. With lots of action photos of Sikorsky flying prototypes (how did he keep his lucky hat on when he flew?), this is a perfect introduction to the world of helicopters and the main mind behind their success. (middle elementary school readers)

“Energy Island,” by Allan Drummond.

Today, Samso, an island in Denmark, is completely independent of Denmark’s power grid – but it wasn’t always this way. It used to rely on electricity that ran in undersea cables from the mainland and deliveries of fuel oil in big tankers until a teacher named Soren Hermansen began talking about solar and wind power on the sunny, windy island. Finally, two islanders built their own wind turbines and were the only people to have heat and light when a storm hit and the electricity went down. After that, everyone was talking about energy: how to create it, conserve it, and enjoy it wisely. Told in picture book form, this is a great introduction to the topic for elementary school readers – sidebars give lots more details about the issues that older readers and adults will find interesting and the colorful, evocative pictures help carry the storyline.


Kids, bring your teddy bear to the Valley Library tonight (Thursday, Dec. 20) at 5:30 p.m. for a Teddy Bear Picnic. You and your bear will get to listen to stories, do a few crafts, have a little picnic dinner, and meet other stuffed animal friends. (Do you prefer rabbits, dinosaurs, monkeys, or frogs? All well-behaved stuffed animals are welcome at the Teddy Bear Picnic!)

Christmas is coming and all public libraries will close at 4 p.m. on Christmas Eve, stay closed for Christmas Day, and reopen on Dec. 26 at regular times. Remember: Story and Toddler Times are taking a break till Jan. 7.

For information about upcoming programs, or to place a hold, visit or call 586-5249.


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Margaret Brady Fund scholarship applications now accepted

Area students pursuing artistic excellence may apply for scholarships as part of the Margaret Frans Brady Fund.

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