Monday, February 08, 2010

Nonfiction Monday

It's a Nonfiction Snowday Monday!

First things first-- I have a change in review policy. My old policy was that I would review everything I read that was over 100 pages. Sometimes, I'd make exceptions for books under 100. Mainly these were fiction books that were at least 75 and absolutely loved (such as Friday's review of Love That Dog) or nonfiction books that I was thinking critically about for other reasons (such as Cybils nominees.)

One thing I've found in my work as a children's librarian is that most nonfiction for middle graders is capped at 96 pages. So, unless it was Cybils reading or something similar, my nonfiction blogging is about books written for adults, or teen biographies, because they're the titles most like to break that 100 page barrier.

I am extremely passionate about good nonfiction for students. As such, I am changing my policy. Nonfiction no longer has to break that 100 page barrier to get reviewed. Due to the craziness of general life and my review backlog, I will not be reviewing *all* the nonfiction I read, but expect to see a lot more. It will probably only be books that I think kids will love, are seriously amazing, or seriously flawed. I'm still trying to see where I can set boundaries, but, that's the direction I'm moving in for now.

Now! For some Cybil nominee reviews!:

The Other Side: A Teen's Guide to Ghost Hunting and the Paranormal Marley Gibson, Patrick Burns, and Dave Schrader

From the back: "Maybe you're a budding psychic. Maybe you're a skeptic. Maybe you just want to know if it's Grandma playing with the lights of faulty wiring."

The authors take ghost hunting seriously. As such, this book is full of things not to do and to be careful off. For instance, flash photography in the rain will make a picture of glowing orbs. These are NOT paranormal activity. They're flashed raindrops. Know your equipment.

They want you to be safe (and they're writing for a teen audience, so it's full of practical advice such as "get permission to investigate the location that you are going to.") They know that ghost hunters and teens both tend to get a bad rap, so they tell us how to avoid it, which means being responsible. They don't want you to give other ghost hunters, or other teens, a bad name.

At the same time, this book is full of advice on what equipment to use, how to find a haunted spot to ghost-hunt, (and, once you get there, a ghost) and different types of hauntings. It's everything you could want (even as an adult) if you actually want to ghost-hunt (either as a believer or skeptic) or are just interested in it. It's surprisingly practical.

I'll fully admit that I raised an eyebrow when this was nominated for the Cybils, but I was really pleasantly surprised by how the authors present the information, and how much they welcome new ghost hunters, but respect the field while still having a lot of room for skepticism. (In fact, they recommend having a skeptic on every team to play devil's advocate when reviewing your results.)

Book Provided by... the publisher, for Cybils consideration.

Wizards and Witches Ann Kerns

I'm not sure why this particular volume was nominated for the Cybils and not any others in the Fantasy Chronicles series. I haven't read the others, but they look to be about the same caliber as this one.

This is a very interesting and introductory look at well, wizards and witches. It examines how we view them in current pop culture and how they were viewed historically. It then looks at different children's novels about magical people, with a special emphasis on the Harry Potter phenomenon.

In addition to the bibliography, there's a further reading list at the right reading range (largely made up of fiction titles) and even a suggested movie list!

My one complaint is that while it briefly touches on magical people in other areas (especially in terms of shamanism), the focus is largely western. I would have been much more interested to learn in other views.

Book Provided By... my local library

Round up is over at Great Kid Books!

Links to Amazon are an affiliate link. You can help support Biblio File by purchasing any item (not just the one linked to!) through these links. Read my full disclosure statement.

1 comment:

Katie said...

I *need* to order "The Other Side" for my library -- my teens are obsessed with ghosts and ghost hunting. They're convinced our basement is haunted -- maybe this book will help set them straight, haha!