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October 29, 2009 Edition

The Karate Handbook, by Ray Pawlett

Written for kids in middle school and up who want to know more about the martial art, this gives a thorough grounding in the philosophy and practice of karate as both sport and art. Look here for advice on choosing a school (dojo) to train at (there are several in Juneau), what dojo etiquette is like, and how classes are structured. There are strength-training and stretching exercises, basic punching and kicking instruction, and instructions on practicing forms (kata), but Pawlett emphasizes throughout that the best way to learn safely and properly is to join a class. The only possible flaw in the book’s design is that even though this is aimed at a teen audience, all photos are of adults, though they do feature both men and women.

Pocket Babies, by Sneed B. Collard

Did you know that there are more than 300 species of marsupials? These are the mammals that give birth to babies that aren’t fully formed and which stay attached to their mother for weeks or months after birth. Most are found in Australia, but there are some on nearly every continent in the world. Most people know about kangaroos, koalas, and opossums, but how about bilbies, Tasmanian devils, quolls, and sugar gliders? There’s even a type of marsupial mole. My favorite is the wombat, a strong and stubborn animal that looks like a furry cube with legs, in part because it looks so much like an ottoman, but also because manages to produce cube-shaped excrement. Some marsupials have pouches that let the babies heads stick out under their mom’s heads, while others face… the other way. What difference does it make? Read and find out!

Paleo Bugs, by Timothy Bradley

Though written for older elementary and middle-school readers, younger readers interested in prehistoric animals will find plenty for them here with help from an adult. Bradley brings a large variety of ancient creatures to life in these pages, as he combines the knowledge scientists gained from the study of fossils with the way the fossilized animals’ modern counterparts live. One of the best things about this book is the sidebar on each page that gives an immediate visual comparison of the size of the creature to the size of a child explorer – check out the arthropleura to give you the jitters!

Meet the Dancers, by Amy Nathan

What does it take to become a professional dancer? And what’s it like once you achieve your goals? Each of the 16 young adult dancers introduced here tells readers, often in their own words, how they got where they are today. “Where” can be anything from dancing as soloist with the New York City Ballet, being a modern dancer with Mark Morris Dance Group, and touring with pop stars as a professional dancer. Every profile includes tips for aspiring dancers about auditions and performances, and side bars revealing what each dancer’s day is like. Not for ballet enthusiasts alone, and fascinating for dancers and non-dancers alike. There are fewer photos than I’d hoped, but they are well-chosen and show the dancers as both kids and adults.

Hunting, by Adam G. Klein

It’s tough to find positive books about sport hunting for elementary school kids, but here’s one that gives kids safety basics while maintaining excitement. Besides staying safe, Klein talks briefly about the kinds of weapons used, the ethics of poaching, and hunting history (including the idea that hunting has caused the extinction of several species). This gives readers an overview of hunting, but isn’t a how-to, so pick this up to familiarize yourself with hunting terms and other things they should know before setting out (with an adult, of course).

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