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In World War II–era Britain, young women on the homefront replaced fighting men by volunteering for service in the Women’s Timber Corps.  Learn a bit of their story with this new picture book.

Lumber Jills: The Unsung Heroines of World War II by Alexandra Davis, illustrated by Katie Hickey
Each “with two hands willing to work and one stout heart,” the Lumber Jills pull woolen socks up to their knees, bid their families farewell, settle into primitive bunkhouses, and learn how “to chop and saw and split” England and Scotland’s trees and haul them from forest to mill. Overcoming blisters and bunkhouse boredom, the Lumber Jills cheerfully perform their work in sun and snow to provide timber crucial for the war effort. The cadenced, repetitive text appropriately echoes the rhythmic tempos and motions of chopping, cutting, and sawing. Sprightly, busy watercolor illustrations showcase sturdy, smiling, white Lumber Jills clad in gum boots, green berets, green sweaters, and green trousers while toting axes and logs and capture the forest venue as well as wartime atmosphere. Inclusion of background posters promoting women’s participation in war work adds relevant period detail while a concluding historical note offers commentary on the vital role women played in the lumber industry during the war.  A rousing, upbeat introduction to the camaraderie and contributions of the “unsung heroines of World War II” who cut 10 million trees for Britain. [from Kirkus Reviews]

In the United States, we celebrate the New Year on January 1.  But did you know that many other countries and cultures celebrate New Year on a different day?  Today, March 21, 2019 is Nowruz, the Persian New Year.  In Iran, new year begins with the advent of spring, and most everyone in the country observes it by doing a deep clean of their homes, celebrating a season of new life, and wishing for good luck in the year ahead.  Would you like to find out more about other New Years around the world?  Of course you would!  You're a curious kid!

Every Month Is a New Year by Marilyn Singer, illustrated by Susan L. Roth 
Fittingly taking the shape of a calendar, this graceful grouping of more than a dozen poems showcases new year celebrations, both secular and religious, from across the globe and throughout the year. Lines from “Smashing the Pots,” about the Kemetic holiday of Wep Ronpet, crystallize the book’s intent: “Everyone believes in a different beginning./ But what is true and what is clear/ is that all of us hope for a luminous year.” The poems are framed by calendar-style grids filled with thematic collage elements, and dramatic scenes of shared meals (for Nowruz in Iran), flying kites (for Matariki in New Zealand), and other festivities appear in the main images above. Closing notes thoroughly explore the holidays Singer introduces, closing out a lovely collection that both looks back at tradition and forward to new beginnings, wherever one might live. [from Publishers Weekly]

Today, March 20, 2019 is the first day of spring!  For many, springtime is the time for new beginnings.  And spring cleaning.  I prefer to focus on the former.  And my favorite type of beginning?  Starting a new book!  I recommend a title that the National Science Teachers Association named both a 2019 Outstanding Science Trade Books selection and a 2019 Best STEM Books selection.

Spring After Spring: How Rachel Carson Inspired the Environmental Movement by Stephanie Roth Sisson
As a child, Rachel Carson awoke to a symphony of birds, and she listened, watched, and wrote as other animals joined in. Innovative, appealing illustrations show Rachel in comic-book panels, vignettes, and full- and double-page spreads as she explores, observes, and deeply appreciates nature. A profusion of dialogue balloons reproduces the vocalizations of the animals around her. As a student, Rachel intends to write but instead focuses on the microscopic world in a drop of water, which in turn leads to underwater scientific study and, later, well-received books about the sea. However, it’s when she realizes that the symphony she loves has grown quiet—effectively represented by both the absence of sound bubbles and negative-space outlines of creatures now disappeared—that she makes her greatest contribution by revealing the destruction caused by pesticides in her book Silent Spring, which contributed to the formation of the EPA and the environmental movement. Resilience and dedication are strong underlying themes here; relevant details, such as her mother’s background in music, are seamlessly incorporated; and while the focus understandably stays on her work—her overwhelming success as an activist and scientist in a field dominated by men goes unmentioned—there is certainly room for outside discussion. [from Kirkus Reviews]