Module 12: Odd Boy Out: Young Albert Einstein by Don Brown

odd-boy-out-300x285Title: Odd Boy Out: Young Albert Einstein

Author: Don Brown

Illustrator: Don Brown

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Published Date: 2004


Albert Einstein was gifted from the very start. He was more than anyone knew how to handle. He was bored with normal school classes and his teachers thought he was dumb. Little did they know, he was more than they could ever imagine. A genius.

APA Reference:

Brown, D. (2004). Odd boy out: Young Albert Einstein. New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin.


I can’t believe I didn’t know Einstein was German. Being German, I feel I should have know this. I now have an excuse for being lazy when not wanting to do homework, etc. I bored with these mundane tasks…give me more! Ha! I wish, but I did learn a lot about Einstein!!

Professional Review:

Brown maintains a delicate tension between his accessible presentation (a straightforward text and uncluttered illustrations) and his extraordinary subject (the legendary twentieth-century physicist whose complex ideas revolutionized science and daily life). For someone whose name is synonymous with genius, Albert Einstein’s early years were far from auspicious. Brown carefully and effectively summarizes events, choosing telling details to paint a portrait of an introspective child who struggles in school and whose frustrated teachers wonder if Albert is “dull-witted.” In the somber watercolor and ink illustrations, young Albert’s physical separation from other figures emphasizes his psychological disconnection from the goings on around him (as do his almost-always-closed eyes). Brown introduces Einstein’s famous theories with a light touch, keeping the focus on the boy/young man. The book’s message about different ways of and approaches to learning is clear and will surely be appreciated by the intended audience. An author’s note debunks a few myths surrounding the man and his work, and a short bibliography rounds out this inspired picture-book biography.

Flynn, K. (2004). Odd boy out: Young Albert Einstein. Horn Book Magazine, 80(5), 604-605.

Library Use:

There are stereotypes and preconceived notions about certain types of people. Einstein takes a couple of those and shows that it matters more about the person and that stereotype. Just because you don’t do well in school doesn’t mean you aren’t smart. You may not be challenged enough. Learning about past geniuses will make us more accepting of modern day smarty-pants’!


Module 11: How They Croaked by Georgia Bragg

How-They-Croaked-Bragg-Georgia-9780802798176Title: How They Croaked: The Awful Ends to the Awfully Famous

Author: Georgia Bragg

Illustrator: Kevin O’Malley

Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing, Inc.

Published Date: 2011



Ever wonder how your favorite celeb from the past died? Well, here is your answer. And it’s not pretty, but it is pretty entertaining!

APA Reference:

Bragg, G. (2011). How they croaked: The awful ends to the awfully famous. New York, NY: Bloomsbury Publishing, Inc.


I thought this was going to be gross, but I loved this book. I couldn’t put it down. The author is sassy and fun and makes festering sores and blisters fun to read about. Nice.

Professional Review:

Gr 5-9–King Tut died of malaria; Edgar Allan Poe is suspected to have had rabies. Beethoven and Galileo both met their ends due to lead poisoning. Fifteen other historical figures, including world leaders, writers, and scientists, were felled by things as mundane as pneumonia and as unpredictable as angry mobs. Each entry provides the circumstances of the person’s death and gives context to those circumstances, from discussions of the political climate to medical practices of the time. Chapters are separated by a spread of brief facts related to the individual, the demise, or the era. Lively, full-page caricatures set in decorative frames appear throughout, along with spot illustrations. Back matter includes a lengthy list of sources. The sometimes-snarky writing gives the material a casual, conversational tone that will appeal to many readers. The title alone provides an easy booktalk; expect this one to be passed around and pored over.

Danner, B. (2011). How they croaked: The awful ends to the awfully famous. School Library Journal, 57(4), 189-190.

Library Use:

Medicine has come a far way. This book tells us just how far. A good discussion about medicine, death and disease can come from reading this book.

Module 10: What I Saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell

4052117Title: What I Saw and How I Lied

Author: Judy Blundell

Publisher: Scholastic

Published Date: 2008


Evie is a normal girl that doesn’t really have an excitement in her life. This all changes when her step father decides to take them on vacation to Palm Beach, Florida. Evie and her mom are excited to leave New York City and have a real vacation. The end of the war, a big deal, mistrust, secret romances and murder occur. Will she ever go back to her normal life? Will she want to?

APA Reference:

Blundell, J. (2008). What I saw and how I lied. New York, NY: Scholastic.


I loved this for its 1940s setting. I don’t know if it would have been as good had it been in another era. I wanted to smack Evie the whole time though. But I guess that’s how our friends and family feel with us when we have a crush.

Professional Review:

Gr9 Up–It’s 1947 and Evie’s stepfather Joe has returned home to Brooklyn after World War II. Life is slowly returning to normal, until the devastatingly handsome Peter Coleridge appears, looking for his old war buddy. Joe, obviously upset by Peter’s appearance, decides to take Evie and her mother on a vacation to West Palm Beach, Florida. Evie’s family quickly makes friends with another New York City couple, the Graysons, and Joe and Mr. Grayson begin to make business plans. Then Peter appears and Evie, who is almost 16, begins falling in love with him. She doesn’t find it easy to spend time with him because her mother accompanies them everywhere. Tensions mount as Joe’s hatred for Peter and her mother’s infatuation with the younger man grow and put Evie in the middle of something she does not understand. When tragedy strikes and Peter disappears during a sailing expedition with her parents, Evie must determine who is lying and what is the truth in order to save her family. Judy Blundell’s National Book Award winner (Scholastic, 2008) translates well to the audio format, with Caitlin Greer perfectly capturing Evie’s voice in this intricate coming-of-age novel that is compelling blend of romance, adventure, mystery, and historical fiction.

Hilbun, J. (2010). What I saw and how I lied. School Library Journal, 56(4), 60-61.

Library Use:

This murder mystery drama asks readers to decide if what Evie did was okay or not. Were her actions moral? Learning about morals and ethics is hard because there is no black and white. An ethical discussion could be followed by the reading of this novel.

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