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June 9, 2006 Edition

The Great Brain Book, by HP Newquist

Did you know that the ancient Egyptians thought the brain was useless and threw it out when making mummies? It wasn’t until a Greek doctor started studying the brain over 2000 years ago that anyone thought it might have a purpose. Today we know that brains are very important: they process the information we get about the world. Interspersed with the hard science are anecdotes about tightrope walkers, echidnas and their big brains, and what happens to your brain when you stay awake for 200 hours in a row.

My Parents are Getting Divorced, by Florence Cadier and Melissa Daly

If your family is going through a divorce, this book can help you learn the vocabulary of divorce, ways to handle uncomfortable divorce-related situations, and understand the process. Written for 6th graders and older this slim book covers a lot of area clearly and without condescension. There’s lots of support to be found here, not least a reminder that, while everyone’s family is different, you are not alone.

Escape from Earth, by Peter Ackroyd

This lavishly illustrated book is a visual and factual feast for space aficionados, with its color photos and period black and whites. It’s all here, from the first animal to orbit the earth (Laika, a Russian dog) to manned space flight, moon landings, and interplanetary travel (so far, only by unmanned craft). Several pages towards the end help pull the facts into a chronological order, and the index and glossary are short but useful.

We Beat the Street, by Drs. Sampson Davis, George Jenkins, and Rameck Hunt

While in high school, these three friends made a pact to help each other succeed in school and stay away from the drugs and crime that infested their neighborhood. It wasn’t easy: Rameck was nearly charged with attempted murder and Sam was arrested for robbery. George was the glue that held them together, but even he had his problems. Their first book, “The Pact,” was written for adults; this one is for young teens who might need some inspiration to make their own dreams reality (plus, it’s a fascinating story!).

Um, Like… OM, by Evan Cooper

This chatty book presents yoga as a way for teens to get a handle on the physical and emotional changes they are going through, and through that, on their lives. Chapters cover: eating well, creating a healthy self-image, PMS, and relationships (with friends, family, and boys), with helpful yoga poses shown for each. A glossary and lists of music, books, and mantras and chants round things out.

Gargoyles, Girders, and Glass Houses, by Bo Zaunders, illustrated by Roxie Munro

Seven of the world’s greatest architects are highlighted here, along with the creations that made them famous. There are familiar names, such as Alexandre-Gustave Eiffel, who created the Eiffel Tower in Paris, and others, such as Mimar Koca Sinan of the Ottoman Empire, who created a way to insert windows into domes, who will be new to most readers. Highlights and tidbits about each architect’s life and work will whet readers’ appetites for more.

Egypt in Spectacular Cross-Section, by Stephen Biesty

Follow eleven-year-old Dedia as he travels down the Nile on his father’s boat to visit family for a wedding and see ancient Egypt in a whole new way with Biesty’s detailed drawings. The slight story gives the framework for intricate landscapes of people going about their daily lives, and the helpful asides help put the drawings in context. Look for farmers, crocodiles, and pyramid building accidents, and look into (via cross-sections) pyramids, temples, palaces, boats, and towns. Fans of Where’s Waldo and I Spy books will especially enjoy poring over this intricate book.

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