Children’s Education

Wil has written more than eighty educational books for the school library market. Known for their easy readability and wealth of information, they have been praised in every major review publication (including Booklist, the Horn Book Guide, Kirkus, and the School Library Journal) and have sold more than a million copies worldwide.


RECENT TITLES

Civil Unrest in the 1960s: Riots and Their Aftermath (‘Perspectives On’ series)

The 1960s were a period of change in social and political climates in the United States. From the civil rights movement to women’s rights, law and order were put to the test. In Civil Unrest in the 1960s: Riots and Their Aftermath, explore the history of rebellion in the United States during the tumultuous 1960s and discover the differing perspectives and the changes that ensued because of it.

“[Mara delves] deeply into the given topics, providing an overall representation as well as a substantial degree of insight…. The potency lies in the excellent arrangement of numerous well-chosen sidebars and photos, and fluent, concise prose. [The] book is an effective research tool.”

—School Library Journal

John Adams (‘Presidents and Their Times’ series)

The ‘Presidents and Their Times’ series examines the life and times of each chief executive, placing him within his historical and cultural context while focusing on the major events that occurred during his administration.

“ A complete picture of John Adams from boyhood through life after the presidency is offered in this brief and outstanding biography…. The time period John Adams lived in is also brought to life, with historical and cultural details provided as a context for Adams’ actions. Other historical tidbits…deepen understanding and add interest. Well-chosen illustrations and pictures of historical events, artifacts, and portraits round out this superb [book].”

—Children’s Literature

Kristallnacht: Nazi Persecution of the Jews in Europe (‘Perspectives On’ series)

The Nazi’s ethnic purge of November 1938 caused destruction and persecution throughout many of Germany’s cities. Jewish homes, businesses, and places of worship were reduced to rubble by the Nazis in a first step to remove Jews from German society. In Kristallnacht: Nazi Persecution of the Jews in Europe, explore the history leading up to the event, discover the atrocities that took place, and investigate the perspectives of those who participated and were most deeply affected by the horror known as ‘Kristallnacht’—’The Night of Broken Glass.’

“Mara has offered a comprehensive look at the events leading up to and following Kristallnacht and the impact the events had not just on Germany and the Jewish people in Europe, but all over the world. Mara does not mince words and offers numerous examples of the brutality Jews faced under Hitler’s reign.”

—Children’s Literature

* This title was also a 2009 National Jewish Book Award Nominee

Thurgood Marshall (‘Great Life Stories’ series)

As an attorney, Thurgood Marshall worked tirelessly to improve the civil rights of African Americans, pouring his energies into important cases such as the landmark ‘Brown vs. the Board of Education.’ He later became the first African American appointed to the United States Supreme Court.

“ Mara has created an excellent resource for middle school and high school research…. A very readable and sure-to-be used text.”

—SSBRC

John F. Kennedy (‘Presidents and Their Times’ series)

The administration of John F. Kennedy was viewed by many as a modern variation of the fabled age of ‘Camelot’—one defined by idealism, hope, energy, and courage. Inaugurated as America’s 35th president in 1961, Kennedy was the youngest man ever elected to this exalted office. His assassination two years later marked a turning point in American history—and a tragedy that continues to be felt a half-century later.

“This biography is a terrific account of the life of John F. Kennedy written for young adult readers…. [It] is rich in detail and explanations, making this an outstanding resource for middle and high school libraries. From early life through his presidency and assassination, the historical significance of the thirty-fifth president is well developed and supported in this book…. ‘Timeline,’ ‘Notes,’ ‘Glossary,’ and ‘Bibliography’ model the essentials of a well-written, researched biography.”

—Children’s Literature

(Reviews in their entirety are posted below.)

REVIEWS

For Civil Unrest in the 1960s: Riots and Their Aftermath, in the ‘Perspectives On’ series —

”Many periods of American history are hotly debated. These books represent two of these critical eras by covering the destruction of Hiroshima, including war developments, the construction of the atom bomb, and the ensuing Cold War; and another spanning the turbulent decade that bore witness to the Civil Right Movement, the divisive Vietnam War, and various other movements concerning women, gays, and the environment. Utilizing an unbiased and chronological narrative, both authors delve deeply into the given topics, providing an overall representation as well as a substantial degree of insight. In both volumes, readers are given a quick overview of the period, descriptions of the major participants, and the standing of the debate today. The potency of these titles lies in the excellent arrangement of numerous well-chosen sidebars and photos, and fluent, concise prose. Both books culminate with ample source notes and lists of abundant Web sites and print resources for further exploration of the topics. By covering seminal research topics in an engaging and crisp manner, these slim, inviting books are effective research tools.” (Note: This review refers to both Civil Unrest… and another excellent title in the ‘Perspectives On’ series, Michael Burgan’s Hiroshima: Birth of the Nuclear Age.)

—Brian Odom, School Library Journal

”The peace and prosperity of the 1950s, ironically enough, gave rise to massive social and political upheaval in the 1960s. There was general discontent with the established social regime but there also arose dissatisfaction with the political agenda of the decade. Success and failures of protests and demonstrations spawned additional protests on a variety of subjects. The most well-known civil protests surround the Civil Rights Movement and protests against the Vietnam War, but there were also protests about Women’s Rights, Gay Rights, and the beginning of the Environmental Movement can be traced to political upheaval in the 1960s. What made the 1960s more turbulent than most other eras in American History is the civil violence that accompanied protests. 1968 was a particularly violent year and an entire chapter is dedicated to the race riots that occurred during that year, and another chapter to the riots that occurred during the Democratic National Convention. Mara presents not only the protests and riots that occurred throughout the decade, but also explores the causes of the riots and protests and delves briefly into the far reaching affects of the violence and protests.”

—Danielle Williams, Children’s Literature

For Kristallnacht: Nazi Persecution of the Jews in Europe, in the ‘Perspectives On’ series —

”It is human nature to blame others for the hardships that arise in life. Often it is an entire group of people that are blamed for any misfortune that befalls another group of people, be it an entire nation or a small community. The persecution of the Jews in Germany, and later throughout Europe, was the result of one man’s intense dislike for Jews and his attempt to completely annihilate the Jewish people from the face of the Earth. While Hitler may have begun the campaign to blame the Jews for Germany’s misfortune with his rhetoric against them, very few in Germany were willing, or able, to stand up to protect them, and even more Germans were eager to join in the persecution of the Jews. The events on the night of November 9 and November 10, 1938, were the culmination of a score of laws and events that had been passed since Hitler gained power in Germany, but Kristallnacht (the Night of Broken Glass) also marked the beginning of one of the darkest times in human history. Mara has offered a comprehensive look at the events leading up to and following Kristallnacht and the impact the events had not just on Germany and the Jewish people in Europe, but all over the world. Mara does not mince words and offers numerous examples of the brutality Jews faced under Hitler’s reign.”

—Danielle Williams, Children’s Literature

For John Adams, in the ‘Presidents and Their Times’ series —

”John Adams dedicated his life to winning independence for America and working on behalf of his countrymen. Along with Washington and Jefferson, he was regarded as one of the true heroes who led the country through a difficult period to eventual freedom. Among the highlights of his accomplished life are helping to draft and then signing the Declaration of Independence, serving as an American diplomat in Europe, and becoming the second president of the United States. A complete picture of John Adams from boyhood through life after the presidency is offered in this brief and outstanding biography. The time period John Adams lived in is also brought to life, with historical and cultural details provided as a context for Adams’ actions. For example, the last days of the French and British attempts to control North America are explained, as is the Stamp Act, an onerous British tax on colonists that Adams vehemently protested. Other historical tidbits, such as how presidents and vice presidents were selected in the early days of the nation (the person with the most votes from the Electoral College became president and the person with the second most votes became vice president), deepen understanding and add interest. Also noted here are such personal and social characteristics as Adams’ notorious boyhood stubbornness and strong morals, his sometimes painful exchanges with friends who disagreed with him politically, his long and devoted marriage to Abigail Adams, and his thrill at seeing his son become the sixth president of the United States. Well-chosen illustrations and pictures of historical events, artifacts, and portraits round out this superb biography. Includes a timeline, a glossary,a bibliography, and an index, as well as a list of further reading suggestions. Part of the ‘Presidents and Their Times’ series.”

—Margaret Orto, Children’s Literature

“Beautifully written and generously detailed, this is the best biography on John Adams for young readers that I have ever found. I am a librarian in a busy school district that services over 2000 students. I am always on the lookout for good biographies on presidents. The author, who was written many other excellent books for schoolchildren, includes information on Adams’s early life, early career, time as vice president, biggest challenges as president, and then his later years until he dies. There is also information about major events that occur during his life. The writing is very clear and enjoyable. This is a complete and nicely detailed guide to the life of John Adams, and I strongly recommend it.”

—Allison Forman, Reviewscout.com

For John F. Kennedy, in the ‘Presidents and Their Times’ series —

“This biography is a terrific account of the life of John F. Kennedy written for young adult readers. Beginning with his early life in Boston, Mara presents Kennedy as a struggling student who does not find his calling until after a trip to England, where his father is ambassador. There in the early days leading up to World War II, Kennedy sees the current events first hand. His study in international affairs leads to his interest in government and political philosophy and a run for political office. Kennedy’s campaign for a Congressional seat requires advertising and personal appearances to help constituents put a face to the newcomer’s name, and it ultimately proves successful, giving him his first elected office. Kennedy quickly develops a reputation as someone who does not vote along party lines and his interests make him restless for a higher office. Kennedy’s ambitions for the Massachusetts senate seat held by Henry Cabot Lodge is supported by brother, Robert, and by less than 71,000 out of 2.35 million votes cast, Kennedy becomes US Senator. Nine years later, his youth plays well on televised debates and the then forty-three year old Kennedy becomes President. The biography is rich in detail and explanations, making this an outstanding resource for middle and high school libraries. From early life through his presidency and assassination, the historical significance of the thirty-fifth president is well developed and supported in this book. ‘Timeline,’ ‘Notes,’ ‘Glossary,’ and ‘Bibliography’ model the essentials of a well-written, researched biography.”

—Janis Flint-Ferguson, Children’s Literature

For Dian Fossey: Among the Gorillas, in the ‘Great Life Stories’ series —

“An excellent installment in the ‘Great Life Stories’ series, this biography clearly presents the life of Dian Fossey, who devoted herself to researching and protecting gorillas in the Virunga Mountains of Africa. Mara reveals her as a human being, not an icon, explaining how she felt about her parents, the men she met, the people she worked with, and the gorillas. Readers cannot help but put her life in context, given the boxes throughout the text that explain what was happening in the United States or Africa as certain events occurred in Fossey’s life. Mara explains the confusing world of academic research. How does one get money? By being associated with a famous researcher like Louis Leakey. How does one get respect? By obtaining a Ph.D., at least. How does one get famous, thereby bringing world attention to a cause? By giving lectures, publishing articles in widely circulated magazines like National Geographic, and writing books (such as Fossey’s Gorillas in the Mist) that then get made into movies. He explores the issue of balancing research with raising money from interested visitors who can disturb and even destroy the research and of the difficulty of starting a foundation that is run by others elsewhere who don’t know what is really going on at the research site. Fossey was sometimes out of touch with other people, lacking social skills in dealing with the Digit Fund, for example, but she was never out of touch with those dearest to her heart, the gorillas.”

—Kathryn Erskine, Children’s Literature

For Thurgood Marshall: Champion for Civil Rights, in the ‘Great Life Stories’ series—

“Mara has created an excellent resource for middle school and high school research. The text is large with colorful titles, headings, and sidebars throughout. Well-captioned illustrations. In addition to biographical information, the text includes a great timeline that not only chronicles Thurgood Marshall’s life but the major world events that occurred during his lifetime. Along with bibliographical references, there is a list of Web sites for organizations and research sites. A very readable and sure-to-be used text.”

—Pat Wachter, SSBRC

”Thurgood Marshall devoted his life to breaking down ideas that prevented African Americans from living the American dream. During his time as a Supreme Court Justice, he was considered a liberal judge. He played a key role in desegregation in education. This nonfiction book, part of the ‘Great Life Stories’ series, will enlighten young readers about Thurgood Marshall’s continuing life struggle for equal rights. Readers will learn about Thurgood Marshall’s early years, law school days, early court cases, and his time spent on the Supreme Court. The book includes fascinating pictures with detailed captions that include significant historical information about Martin Luther King, The Harlem Renaissance, and Jackie Robinson. There is also a reference section that includes other titles about Thurgood Marshall and websites to visit. The book is a perfect supplemental text for a fifth through eighth grade social studies curriculum.”

—Mindy Hardwick, Children’s Literature

For Haiti, in the ‘Discovering Cultures’ series—

”The series ‘Discovering Cultures’ is dedicated to bringing a wealth of information into the hands of its readers. The book on Haiti offers insight into a unique country with a turbulent past and present. The book deals frankly and carefully with its presentation of Haiti and the Haitian people. The tone of the book, it must be noted, is far different than that of the other books that I have read in this collection. It is a somber piece, yet it offers the joys of Haitian traditions and celebrations. Children and adults alike will enjoy reading about Haitian celebrations and details about such thing as: Haitian money which is called gourde, and the Haitian flag whose colors represent the triumph and the sacrifice of the Haitian people. The book also offers the readers the opportunity to have a taste of Haiti with the recipe for Bananes Pesees or fried plantains. This title is highly recommended and would be a valuable asset to any home or classroom.”

—Haley Cox, Children’s Literature

For The Fragile Frog—

“Very lively writing and good color photos and drawings eloquently express the plight of this beautiful frog and many other frog and toad species across the U.S.”

—Denia Hester, Booklist

“This concisely written introduction focuses on the Pine Barrens treefrog, now found in only five states, in Eastern and Southeastern U.S. The text briefly describes the physical characteristics of frogs in general while also discussing the special characteristics, life-cycle, and environmental needs of this rare species. The Fragile Frog will be a useful addition to the endangered-animals sections of most collections and will be particularly valuable to libraries located in areas where this rare amphibian resides.”

—Karey Wehner, School Library Journal

For Abraham Lincoln, in the ‘Rookie Biographies’ series—

“This is a good introduction to one of America’s greatest presidents. Abraham Lincoln had an interesting life and this little book manages to capture it very well.”

—Marya Jansen-Gruber, Children’s Literature