books

In the 1940s, an elite team of mathematicians and scientists started working on a project that would carry the U.S. into space, then on to the moon and Mars. They would eventually become NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (or JPL), but here's what made them so unusual: Many of the people who charted the course to space exploration were women.

Nathalia Holt tells their story in her new book, Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us, from Missiles to the Moon to Mars. Holt tells NPR's Ari Shapiro that the women worked as "computers."

Mitch Teich / WUWM

Writer Sara Baume visited Milwaukee recently to promote her first novel, Spill Simmer Falter Wither. It was published to critical acclaim in her home country of Ireland.

Miranda Paul / Millbrook Press

As the issues of race, gender, identity and culture percolate in a society that increasingly aims to be inclusive, so does the realm of children’s literature.  It’s a discussion that the Wisconsin chapter of the Society of Childrens’ Book Writers and Illustrators has taken on in the form of a diversity initiative.

Middle aged people often find themselves asked to provide care and support to aging and increasingly infirm parents – many of whom do not want to leave their homes to enter full time nursing home care. The stress many of those children feel is usually compounded by also needing to hold down a full time job at the same time.

In the late nineteenth century, civil rights pioneers Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass lived near each other in Rochester, NY. They were friends and often supported each other as they fought for the rights of women and African Americans in America.

Penguin Random House Publishers

What happens when everything you know to be true, isn’t? How do you cope? Where do you turn? Who do you become? In her first novel, Noah’s Wife, author and Milwaukee native Lindsay Starck tackles questions of identity and faith.

Harper Lee, the author of the classic novel To Kill a Mockingbird, has died in her hometown of Monroeville, Ala. The Pulitzer Prize-winning writer was 89.

Monroeville city officials confirmed reports of Lee's death to Alabama Public Radio. Her publisher, HarperCollins, also confirmed the news to NPR.

Her famous novel about a young girl's experience of racial tensions in a small Southern town has sold tens of millions of copies and been translated into dozens of languages.

Chris Popio

The writer Harper Lee, who died this week, has been herself written about as much as any American writer in the last 75 years. 

SHARP Literacy

For nearly 20 years, Milwaukee-based Sharp Literacy has created books that help students learn through visual art. The 13th book in the We Love to Learn series is out now, and this one is a little different.

We all know about California’s Silicon Valley. A bunch of rockstar tech entrepreneurs who are changing the world through their innovations.

Throughout human history, there have been pockets in time and specific places that make a real impact on the way we live. Ancient Athens was home to geniuses like Plato and Socrates, whose contributions to philosophy changed the way the world thought. The Renaissance in Italy and Northern Europe created some of the greatest artists and innovators of all time.

Dark Dwarf / Flickr

Even people who didn’t major in the classics or theater history have some passing knowledge of the Trojan War.  Like any good epic story, it’s full of larger-than-life characters, revenge, lust and sacrifice.

Ever since Homer included it as part of his Odyssey, many of the stories have become fodder for other works of art.  Aeschylus is considered the first of the three great tragic dramatists of ancient Greece and his Orestia trilogy includes the story of the Trojan War. 

Courtesy of Dick Blau

Elephants are often among the biggest draws that to zoos around the world, including here in Milwaukee. The relationship between these wild animals living in captivity and their human caretakers is a complex one, and one that visitors generally don’t get to see.

lidiasitaly.com

Lidia Bastianich has offered a lot of advice to chefs and would-be chefs over the years. She’s hosted a half-dozen series of cooking shows on public television, authored almost a dozen cookbooks and owns Italian restaurants in three cities.

But she says her latest book offers something different. Comprised of a collection of recipes and lessons learned, Bastianich says her tenth book reflects what made her who she is.

Stoneboat Literary Journal

There are many different ways to write a poem, if you’re so inclined. There’s the sonnet. Or, if you lean towards the bawdy, there’s the limerick. Or if you’re wordy and think of yourself in ancient Greek terms, there’s the two-volume epic.

But for Milwaukee poet Mark Zimmermann, the form that has captured his fancy for the last decade is the lipogram. It’s a form in which the poet chooses to omit certain letters – like writing a poem without the letter B, for example. Zimmermann took it one step further and wrote poems about people that used only the letters in their names.

Viking Adult

Many glamorous heist movies have been made over the years, such as How to Steal a Million, The Thomas Crown Affair and Oceans Eleven.  They present an interesting quandary – the idea that you find yourself kind of rooting for people who are otherwise, well, breaking the law.

"I started to realize that real crime is not quite as glamorous as the stylized crime I so enjoyed as a kid. That was one of the main things that made me want to write what I'm going to paradoxically call a real heist story," says author Rebecca Scherm.

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