February 15, 2016 Booklist 67 www.booklistonline.com
Reproductive Rights: Who
By Vicki Oransky Wittenstein.
Mar. 2016. 160p. illus. Lerner/Twenty-First Century, lib.
ed., $38.65 (9781467741873). 363.9. Gr. 9–12.
Though slim, this volume packs a wallop, taking an exhaustive look at the history
of human reproduction and the prevention
thereof. Before delving into the legal and
moral battles surrounding these issues, Wittenstein comprehensively examines archaic
forms of birth control—
from magic and rituals to
condoms and spermicides
of the ancient world—
before turning to attitudes
toward sex and childbearing in the Victorian age.
Wittenstein leaves no stone
unturned when setting the
stage, frankly discussing obscenity laws in the
late 1800s, the feminist movement and the
dawn of “the Pill,” and the added stigma that
black women faced when it came to reproduction. She elaborates, too, on key figures in
birth control and abortion arguments, from
antiobscenity enforcer Anthony Comstock to
birth control revolutionary Margaret Sanger.
When the subject does finally turn to Roe v.
Wade and the legalization of abortion, Wittenstein is no less thorough, elaborating on
reasons for abortion, the arguments of both
pro-life and pro-choice activists, and the po-liticization of women’s bodies. She is careful,
as well, to consider reproductive rights as a
global issue: sidebars on child brides and maternal mortality rates around the world add
perspective, and she ends, powerfully, on a
call for improved sex education. Diagrams,
photographs of key players and events, and
extensive back matter round out this impressive resource. —Maggie Reagan
The Story of Seeds: From Mendel’s
Garden to Your Plate, and How
There’s More of Less to Eat around the
By Nancy Castaldo.
Feb. 2016. 144p. illus. HMH, $17.99 (9780544320239).
575. Gr. 8–11.
Just like a seed, this deceptively small book
is packed with potent life. While the req-
uisite overview of seed biology is included,
Castaldo’s discussion of how seeds—and
subsequently worldwide food sources, bio-
diversity, and sustainability—are involved in
international politics, economic history, ge-
netic research, and many other areas makes
this especially unique and fascinating from
many perspectives. Her brief chapters read
like well-researched, conversational maga-
zine articles, which will likely appeal not
only to students but also environmentally
conscious adults. Meanwhile, substantive
sidebars and plentiful, well-reproduced color
photos feature seeds and plants, of course,
but also a wide variety of notable people and
places. Her scope is significant, spanning his-
tory and geography, and multidisciplinary,
focusing not only on botany but also the
complex technology used
in safeguarding heritage
species and plant viability.
Pinpointing an important
human element, she also
features “seed warriors,”
who work in science, public policy, and activism, as
well as public library seed
programs, all of which add to the mix of
rich and intellectually delicious nutritional
information here. This stellar interdisciplinary resource may need hand-selling to get
readers beyond its plain packaging, but be
prepared to satisfy readers’ thirst for more
information about, for instance, protecting Russia’s international seed vaults during
WWII, finding Glass Gem corn, and fighting biopiracy. A terrific, engrossing resource.
Anything but Ordinary Addie: The
True Story of Adelaide Herrmann,
Queen of Magic.
By Mara Rockliff. Illus. by Iacopo
Apr. 2016. 48p. Candlewick, $17.99 (9780763668419).
920. Gr. 1–4.
The creators of Mesmerized (2015) join
forces again to tell the incredible story of
the nineteenth-century magician Adelaide
Herrmann. From the very first spread, readers learn that “Addie never wanted to be
ordinary.” She dreamed of the circus, joined
a dance troupe, and delighted crowds by riding
the bicycle-like “
boneshaker.” She performed
around Europe, but it
was on a ship to America
that her life became truly
extraordinary. There, Addie met her soon-to-be
husband, Alexander—aka Herrmann the
Great—and joined his magic act, wherein “he
set fire to Addie. He chopped off her head. . . .
The two of them got along splendidly.” After
The Extraordinary Suzy Wright: A
tragedy strikes, Adelaide goes from assistant
to starring magician, naturally with a daring
trick up her sleeve. Lavish illustrations frame
the story, often literally, creating a three-di-
mensional effect that puts the reader in every
scene. Velvet stage curtains, ship’s rigging,
fellow audience members—all overlap the
featured artwork, lending excitement and
immediacy to this little-known tale. The rich
colors and embellished fonts, meanwhile,
create a grandiose effect fitting for Adelaide’s
life in the spotlight. Adelaide’s independent
spirit is inspiring, whether she is creating
scandal by proposing to a man or donning
risqué costumes. An author’s note provides
more information on this remarkable wom-
an as well as her most (in)famous trick. Pure
magic. —Julia Smith
Colonial Woman on the Frontier.
By Teri Kanefield.
Mar. 2016. 64p. illus. Abrams, $19.95 (9781419718663).
974. Gr. 5–8.
Lawyer, scientist, Quaker diplomat, poet,
and frontier settler are among the identities
easy to attach to Suzy Wright, an eighteenth-century colonial American. In Kanefield’s
beautifully produced biography, with ample
reproductions, full-color photos, and page
layouts rich in biographical detail and historical context, Suzy and her time and place
come to life. Wright’s Quaker childhood
provided her with plenty of educational opportunities, and her analytical mind, guided
by her Quaker sensibilities, brought her to
the attention of such luminaries as Benjamin Franklin. Wright played a direct role
in many historic events, such as the settling of Pennsylvania’s Susquehanna Valley,
abolition, the growing American silk industry, and advocating for indigenous people’s
rights. As presented here, her story also
serves as model to contemporary readers: it
promotes valuing women and non-Europeans as equals, seeking diplomatic methods
to resolve negotiations, and engaging in a
variety of endeavors—poetry as well as law
and science—rather than pursuing a single
interest or concern. Excellent for browsing as well as research and discussion.
Owls! Strange and Wonderful.
By Laurence Pringle. Illus. by Meryl
Mar. 2016. 32p. Boyds Mills, $16.95 (9781620916513).
598. Gr. 3–5.
A stealthy predator, downy companion, or
astute mascot? Owls, Pringle contends, are as
multifaceted as they are abundant. Through a
series of photographic watercolors and pithy
paragraphs, Pringle and Henderson illuminate
the history of the owl, its many forms, and its
varied habitats—from church steeples to the
frozen tundra. The text helpfully breaks down
a discussion of species into a handful of fun
facts (you won’t find a screech owl screeching)
and popular favorites (Harry Potter’s Hedwig is a snowy owl, of course!). Physiological
details about skeletal structure and digestion
are paired with precise illustrations of bones,
owl pellets, and telling cutaway views. Side-by-side sketches of the owl with other birds,
such as the pigeon and robin, underscore in-
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