Can Neil deGrasse Tyson do any wrong?

If you know anything about the Universe, you probably learned some of it from Neil deGrasse Tyson. It’s hard to search for any information online and not find one of his books or videos there to help explain. His style is always so smooth and easy to understand, and if more of school had been taught this way, we might have had billions of kids dying to get into the sciences.

In his latest book, ASTROPHYSICS FOR PEOPLE IN A HURRY, Tyson promises to provide a basic understanding of an incredibly huge topic. And he’ll probably make it interesting, too!

If you know someone who is interested in the Universe, you might want to pick this one up as a gift. It released this week on May 2, 2017.

It’s a Mystery!

It was supposed to be a typical awards ceremony for the Mystery Writers of America. Incoming president and author Jeffery Deaver gave an entertaining speech, and began the presentation of Edgar awards for this years best mysteries, when he suddenly passed out in the middle of an announcement. EMS arrived, and Deaver was able to walk out of the ceremony on his own (he was later cleared of all health issues), it certainly made for a dramatic pause.

But the show must go on, and several books were awarded the prestigious Edgar, including BEFORE THE FALL by Noah Hawley, for best novel overall.

For best first novel, Flynn Berry won for UNDER THE HARROW.

And the winner in the Best Fact Crime this year was THE WICKED BOY by Kate Summerscale.

If you’re a mystery fan, did you read any of these great titles? If you did, would you have picked them as winners?

Apollo 8

A book making some buzz for May is APOLLO 8 : THE THRILLING STORY OF THE FIRST MISSION TO THE MOON by Jeffrey Kluger. While we are probably all familiar with the terrifying story of Apollo 13, the very first mission to the moon has not been well documented. In fact, Kluger claims this is the first telling of the mission in its entirety. No wonder so many people are talking about it!

The space race was something that heated up toward the end of the 1960’s, with both the United States, and Russia trying to be the first to get a manned mission to the moon. While many thought President Kennedy’s promise to have a US mission to the moon by the end of the decade was too lofty, NASA was pushing ahead, despite enormous technical and logistical issues (only one year before the Apollo 8 mission, three astronauts died in a tragic fire on the launch pad). But they managed to beat all the odds, and the first mission went off with minimal problems, although they did not land directly on the moon.

Author Jeffrey Kluger was Jim Lovell’s co-author on the Apollo 13 book that told the story of their harrowing mission, and this book promises to be just as riveting. It will take readers from Mission Control, into the homes of the astronauts,  from the test labs, and to the launch pad. While you might know some of the details of this exciting mission, Kluger promises to keep you on the edge of your seat.

APOLLO 8 releases on May 16, 2017.

Money

James Patterson has done it again. No, I don’t mean that he’s written another book, although the man just has to sneeze and out comes another best-seller. But this time, it’s all about what he’s giving back, and it’s amazing.

This year, Patterson has promised $1.75 million to school libraries in the United States. Specifically, he wants to give $500 to 3500 teachers. While many school libraries have seen cutbacks (and this isn’t just an issue in the US), teachers often bear the brunt of the problem, having to supplement their meager classroom libraries with current books that will provide reading material for their students. Patterson knows it’s just a drop in the bucket, but that $500 will go a long way, especially in schools where they don’t even have libraries anymore.

This isn’t the first time James Patterson has donated money to schools. He launched the program in 2015 along with the Scholastic Reading Club as a way to bolster reading in schools. So far, he’s donated $3.5 million, and has no plans to stop now.

It’s nice to hear about people giving back to their communities, especially when they have plenty. Good on you, James Patterson! Let’s hope he starts a trend!

Our Forest of Reading® Picks!

Last week, our young readers gathered to vote on their favourite books in Forest of Reading®. They’ve been reading books in their categories since December, and the time finally arrived to choose the winners.

We had students reading in Blue Spruce™, Silver Birch Express™, Silver Birch Fiction™ & Non-Fiction™, and Red Maple. It was an exciting night!

And the winners were:

In the Blue Spruce category for Kindergarten to Grade 2:

THE GOOD LITTLE BOOK by Kyo Maclear, and HARRY AND WALTER by Kathy Stinson.

In the Silver Birch Express category for Grades 3 & 4, it was a tie:

MYLES AND THE MONSTER OUTSIDE by Philippa Dowding, and THE ENCHANTED EGG by Callie George.

In the Silver Birch Fiction category, for Grades 5 & 6: THE NEST by Kenneth Oppel (see photo above).

And in the Silver Birch Non-Fiction category for Grades 5 & 6:

HALF-TRUTHS AND BRAZEN LIES: AN HONEST LOOK AT LYING by Kira Vermond.

And last but not least, our Red Maple Fiction winner for Grades 7 & 8 was another tie:

MINRS by Kevin Sylvester, and TROUBLE IS A FRIEND OF MINE by Stephanie Tromly.

Congratulations to all of the wonderful Canadian authors and illustrators who were nominated. Now, our votes will be added to those from across Ontario, and the “official” winners will be announced in Toronto in mid-May.

We can’t wait until next year!

THE HANDMAID’S TALE

Tonight, HULU debuts “The Handmaid’s Tale” in a ten-episode run. Based on the book by Canadian author Margaret Atwood, this series has had a lot of promotion, and promises to be equally creepy and time-appropriate.

The Handmaid’s Tale follows Offred, a young, fertile woman who is forced in her world to conceive against her will. But worse than that, she is terrified to resist. Offred is both afraid and strong, and her bravery trying to escape this role is eye-opening. The trailer looks scary enough…I’m not sure I’ll even make it through the first episode.

If you grew up in Canada, you probably had to read Atwood’s THE HANDMAID’S TALE for English class in high school. While for most of us, it was the first introduction to Atwood’s strange and often confusing worlds, this book probably stuck with many of us. It will be interesting to see how HULU plays out the idea over the course of 10 weeks.

Will you watch?

Women Who Work

It looks like they rewrote the rules for Ivanka’s release. WOMEN WHO WORK : REWRITING THE RULES FOR SUCCESS by Ivanka Trump was set to release in March. But her publishers pushed the date back to May, citing the upheaval in her personal life, moving into a new city, and getting her children settled into new schools. They wanted to make it easier for her to promote the book once she was firmly into her new position in her father’s government.

But now Ivanka has decided that she isn’t going to promote her book after all. She is worried that her position might influence the promotional tour, so she will simply rely on sales of the book through traditional methods.

Will her publishers be happy with this? No doubt they aren’t the least bit worried about how well this book will sell, considering many people will pick it up hoping for some inside tidbits into the election and her famous family. Ivanka had quite a large advance for the book, and will donate the profits to charities of her choice, so any sales over the advance will be gravy for her charities. Let’s hope for their sake it sells leaps and bounds above that.

Will you be interested in this book? Let us know!