When husband-and-wife team Marc Aronson and Marina Budhos realized that both their family histories involved the sugar industry, they took it as a challenge. For the next five years, they researched, wrote and shared their book with teachers to make sure they were hitting their dual target audience—instructors and their students. The authors then reworked the book to thoughtfully cover some 10,000 years of sugar’s political and social history and also to find a person or story their readers could relate to, “shaping narrative that brought you into the sort of intimate scale of the sugar experience, yet at the same time swept you through the epic tale,” says Budhos. The story builds on what many young scholars already know and adds many details. For example, slavery in the United States is a typical school lesson, but the authors disclose that the other 96 percent of enslaved Africans worked in the sugar industry in other parts of the world. Aronson and Budhos have also built online elements to continue the journey at sugarchangedtheworld.com. “We are taking on new topics and talking about them in new ways, but still keeping the children’s-book commitment to beautiful book making,” says Aronson.
For a complete list of all the nonfiction among Kirkus’ Best of 2010 for Teens, click here.
Sugar Changed the World: A Story of Magic, Spice, Slavery, Freedom and Science
Marc Aronson and Marina Budhos
Clarion / November / 9780618574926 / $20.00 / ages 12 & up