Featured books will be available for the public today. To place them on hold, call the Walla Walla Public Library at 527-4550 or go to wallawallapubliclibrary.org.

Youth nonfiction books

“A Green Place to Be: The Creation of Central Park,” by Ashley Benham Yazdani

Yazdani’s debut picture book depicts the birth, bustle, and beauty of New York City’s iconic Central Park. Vibrant watercolor illustrations full of period detail tell the park’s story, beginning with a design contest in 1958. Essential to the tale are architect Calvert Vaux and park superintendent (and famed landscape architect) Frederick Law Olmsted, who win the design competition with their idea for “a green gift to everyone.” The story’s initial pages show African-American families having to leave their homes to make way for the park; the loss of their community, known as Seneca Village, is one of several additional facts briefly mentioned in the back matter. The Lake, the Ramble, and the Children’s District are shown humming with the activity of wealthy-looking 19th-century parkgoers enjoying the amenities, as smaller vignettes focus on a few of the park’s aesthetic touches; in one double spread, the park’s many and varied bridges surround their designer. Ages 7–10

— Publishers Weekly

“The Eternal Soldier: The True Story of How a Dog Became a Civil War Hero,” by Allison Crotzer Kimmel; illustrations by Rotem Teplow

Kimmel presents the story of Sallie, a bull terrier puppy found in a basket by a Union soldier during the Civil War. Sallie eventually became a member of the 11th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, earning the respect and love of the soldiers as well as President Lincoln. She played an even more pivotal role during the Battle of Gettysburg when despite the danger, she stayed and watched over wounded members of the infantry. After this act of bravery, she became a fixture during the war even after she passed away. More than 25 years later, the remaining members of the 11th erected a commemorative statue that people still visit today. The illustrations evoke the texture of a soft and sweet dog, ready to jump off the page as if readers’ could pat Sallie through the pages. The sharp attention to detail on the uniforms and daily goings-on breathes life into Sallie and the 11th’s story. The book features a detailed author’s note that provides more insight as to how Sallie got her name and more details about her life as a Union soldier dog. Ages 6-9

— School Library Journal

“The Crayon Man: The True Story of the Invention of Crayola Crayons,” by Natascha Biebow; illustrated by Steven Salerno

Through persistent experimentation Edward Binney gave children a cheap and safe coloring medium. In this chatty, engaging picture book, Biebow provides the historical context around the invention of Crayola crayons. The story covers the media predecessors (breakable, often poisonous artists’ crayons; clay) that were the basis for the Crayola and the trial-and-error process Binney undertook to create a safe, colorful product that children from diverse economic backgrounds could afford. Such visual cues as boldface type for the names of colors throughout the story aid readers in recognizing the colors that Binney developed and that they might encounter in their own crayon boxes. Biebow moves past the invention to recognize the impact this product has had on childhood worldwide. Salerno brings readers close to the story through his illustrations, right onto the lab table where Binney and his team (both impressively mustachioed men and women, all white) developed the crayon. What Jon Klassen achieves emotionally in his characters’ eyes, Salerno manages with eyebrows here. He uses crayon pencils for the bulk of the work; children’s pictures in a couple of later spreads are done, appropriately enough, with Crayolas. A well-organized bibliography with both primary and secondary sources, including interviews with Binney’s great-granddaughter, is supplemented by text boxes throughout the book that offer additional informational snippets such as the composition of Crayola’s pigments. Ages 6-9

— Kirkus Review

“Samuel Morse, That’s Who!: The Story of the Telegraph and Morse Code,” by Tracy Nelson Maurer; illustrated by El Primo Ramón

Who makes a great topic of a picture book biography? Samuel Morse, that’s who! Maurer tells the story of Morse’s invention of the telegraph and Morse code in an engaging, light text. Pencil-line drawings with digital coloring by Ramón convey a strong sense of time and place, and the heavy use of white space makes the layout appealing for young readers. Maurer begins by emphasizing some of Morse’s failed endeavors, including unsuccessful inventions and his passion to become an artist. In Morse’s travels to become a better artist, he discovered the French optical telegraph system, which inspired the telegraph and Morse code. He eventually turned his focus to his invention and the development of a U. S. telegraph line. The simple text provides relevant connections for students in its portrayal of great success spawned from failure and revision of plans and ideas. Endpapers include a timeline of Morse’s life, facts about the telegraph, an extensive bibliography, and an author’s note that connects Morse’s code to the modern binary language of computers. Ages 4-8

— School Library Journal

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