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Trapped: How the World Rescued 33 Miners from 2,000 Feet Below the Chilean Desert

Marc Aronson (S&S/Atheneum)

A year after the Chilean mining disaster that commanded the world’s attention, Aronson delivers a captivating account of the mine collapse, drawing on everything from Greek myth to eyewitness accounts. Aronson crafts vivid portraits of the miners’ experiences underground, as well as those of the families and countrymen breathlessly awaiting their safe return.

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Levi Strauss Gets a Bright Idea: A Fairly Fabricated Story of a Pair of Pants

Tony Johnston, illus. by Stacy Innerst (Harcourt)

Few things are as quintessentially American as blue jeans, and that also goes for the story of their creation, which Johnston tells with humor, exaggeration, and liberal use of the word “Dang!” Levi Strauss emerges from this rip-roaring picture book biography as a savvy, quick-thinking entrepreneur; Innerst’s raucous artwork, painted on denim, provides the perfect counterpart.

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Flesh and Blood So Cheap: The Triangle Fire and Its Legacy

Albert Marrin (Knopf)

One hundred years after the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, Marrin offers an unflinching chronicle of the disaster that claimed the lives of nearly 150 workers, mostly immigrant women. The story is harrowing from start to finish, especially with the inclusion of contemporary parallels that make it clear that much progress remains to be made in ensuring the safety of workers around the globe.

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Balloons over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade

Melissa Sweet (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

Ingenuity and the excitement of creation are at the forefront of Sweet’s fascinating picture book biography of Tony Sarg, the man behind the floating balloons of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. It’s a story that speaks directly to the American dream, as Sarg, a self-taught immigrant, worked and reworked his ideas to create something that endures to this day, beloved by millions.

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The House Baba Built: An Artist’s Childhood in China

Ed Young (Little, Brown)

Caldecott Medalist Young shares a remarkable chapter of his family’s history in this picture book memoir about his upbringing during WWII in a sprawling house in Shanghai built by his father. The household feels like a small miracle, a haven filled with games, parties, and black-and-white Western films, all part of Young’s father’s commitment to keep his children safe until the end of the conflict.

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