August2017 Booklist 47 www.booklistonline.com
Alexander Hamilton, Revolutionary.
By Martha Brockenbrough.
Sept. 2017. 368p. Feiwel and Friends, $17.99
(9781250123190). 973.4092. Gr. 7–10.
Let’s face it: as a subject, Alexander Ham-
ilton is hot, thanks to the wildly popular
Broadway musical bearing his name.
This brings a built-in audience to Brock-
enbrough’s ambitious biography, which
follows Hamilton’s eventful life from his
illegitimate birth in the West Indies to his
appointment by George Washington as
America’s first Secretary of the Treasury.
Brockenbrough gives particular attention
to Hamilton’s service in the Revolutionary
War and to his role as Washington’s protégé,
which gave him influence far beyond his
rank. Those expecting a warts-and-all look,
however, will be disappointed. The few flaws
the author offers—Hamilton’s vanity, his
recklessness, his ill-advised extramarital af-
fair, his obsession with honor, which would
be his undoing—are largely papered over or
dismissed. By the same token, his adversar-
ies, especially Thomas Jefferson and James
Madison, are often strongly demonized. All
this said, Hamilton’s life is an inspiration, a
fact that Brockenbrough captures nicely in
a well-written biography that fills a gap in
the literature. Expect wide reader interest.
Artificial Intelligence: Building Smarter
By Stephanie Sammartino McPherson.
Sept. 2017. 104p. illus. Lerner/Twenty-First Century,
$35.99 (9781512418262). 006.3. Gr. 8–11.
The concept of artificial intelligence, or
AI, shouldn’t be new to most young readers,
since it’s a frequent feature of sci-fi movies,
TV shows, and even the game show Jeop-
ardy!, which famously featured a computer
contestant, Watson, that beat its human
competitors. There’s more to AI than a dys-
topian future of robot overlords, however,
and McPherson cogently lays out the con-
cept from its inception, with Lovelace and
Babbage’s analytical engine, to contempo-
rary research on the topic, including neural
mapping, the ways AI is already integrated
into current technology, and depictions in
popular culture. In addition to laying out the
basic research at hand, McPherson also raises
critical questions, such whether we should
allow computers to make ethical choices,
given that those circumstances are so compli-
cated that a simple algorithm likely wouldn’t
suffice. On magazinelike pages packed with
inset boxes and sidebars, as well as photos of
scientists and their machines, McPherson’s
straightforward, accessible text offers fasci-
nating, thought-provoking, and up-to-date
information on a high-interest, very relevant
topic to contemporary teens. Extensive back
matter includes further reading and source
notes. —Anita Lock
Behind the Song.
Ed. by K. M. Walton.
Sept. 2017. 400p. Sourcebooks/Fire, paper, $10.99
(9781492638810). 820. Gr. 9–12.
This anthology of 14 stories and essays
reveals the music and musicians that inspired YA authors and musicians. There
are, of course, tales of loss, heartbreak, and
romance, as well as sex, drugs, and rock ’n’
roll (Ellen Hopkins), bullying (David Arnold), and the aftermath of an apocalypse
(Anthony Breznican). Jonathan Maberry’s
particularly moving essay discusses how a
Bob Dylan song helped him cope with an
abusive childhood, while Beth Kephart
writes about her childhood as a competitive
skater and how “Somewhere (There’s a Place
for Us),” from the musical West Side Story,
“makes displacement visible and gives hope
hope.” Other contributors include Donn
T, Ellen Oh, and Suzanne Young, with an
introduction by singer-songwriter Ameriie.
The musicians that inspire them run the
gamut from Oasis to Amy Winehouse, Eagles to South Korean girl group 2NE1, and
original compositions by James Howe and
G. Love are included. Teens will relate to
these stories and be inspired by the playlist,
even if they are unfamiliar with some of the
music. —Sharon Rawlins
Beauty and the Beak: How Science,
Technology, and a 3D-Printed Beak
Rescued a Bald Eagle.
By Deborah Lee Rose and Jane
Aug. 2017. 48p. illus. Persnickety, $16.95
(9781943978281). 598.9. Gr. 3–6.
From one of the more fascinating applications of 3-D printing comes the story of
Beauty, a bald eagle whose beak was seriously damaged by a hunter’s bullet. The book
opens with an imagined account of Beauty’s
life before her accident, which uses narrative
text and color photos to introduce readers
to the early stages of a bald eagle’s life, from
hatching to reaching adulthood. The authors
carefully point out the many important uses
for the beak, particularly to eat, drink, and
preen. When Beauty arrived at the wildlife
center, she was missing half of her top beak
and unable to feed herself or keep her feathers clean, but raptor biologist Veltkamp and
an engineer hatched a plan to use a 3-D
printer to make the bird a prosthetic beak.
The project was a success, and Beauty was
finally able feed herself again, though she’ll
never be able to return to the wild. The book
concludes with extensive information on
Along-awaited new novel from a YA darling, a picture book from a master of the macabre, a sci-fi sequel, and more have Booklisters fixing to fast-forward to fall.
Ally. By Anna Banks. Feiwel and Friends, $17.99 (9781250070180). Oct.
In this sequel to the fantasy-fueled romance Nemesis (2016), best-seller Banks—author
of the popular Syrena Legacy trilogy—returns to Princess Sepora and King Tarik; their
rocky truce; and threats from plague, traitors, and, as the title suggests, unexpected alliances.
The Bad Mood and the Stick. By Lemony Snicket. Illus. by Matthew Forsythe. Little,
Brown, $17.99 (9780316392785). Oct.
Hot on the heels of the quirky picture-book Goldfish Ghost (2017), Snicket and illustrator
Forsythe team up to investigate another morbid matter: bad moods.
Jacky Ha-Ha: My Life Is a Joke. By James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein. Illus. by Ker-ascoët. Little, Brown/JIMMY Patterson, $13.99 (9780316433761). Nov.
Patterson and Grabenstein’s hit middle-grade series-starter Jacky Ha-Ha (2016) followed
Jacky Hart’s transformation from class clown to star of the stage. Now Jacky navigates
between newfound stardom and something less exciting: responsibility.
Turtles All the Way Down. By John Green. Dutton, $19.99 (9780525555360). Oct.
For his first book since The Fault in Our Stars (2012)—which followed a string of other
YA blockbusters—Green introduces Aza Holmes, a girl grappling with mental illness and
mystery. Let the preordering begin!
HOT LIST FOR YOUTH