29. May 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, History, NonFiction

Buried Beneath Us: Discovering the Ancient Cities of the Americas by Anthony Aveni, Katherine Roy, read by Angie, on 05/28/2014

This book takes a look at the cities of four American cultures: Cahokia, Inca, Aztec, and Maya. The author goes over what cities are, how they developed, what life was like and the religions of these cultures. I really wanted to like this book more than I did. The author gives us a lot of good information, but unfortunately the organization of the book makes it very difficult to distinguish when the city changes. I think it might have better served the reader to perhaps do a chapter on each culture and its cities instead of breaking the chapters up like they were. I also thought the illustrations were horrible. There are no actual pictures of the ruins of these cities or their artifacts instead all the illustrations are a horrible gray block type that is a bit too abstract for the audience to appreciate. This is a fascinating subject that wasn’t served well by this book.

27. May 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, History, NonFiction

The Notorious Benedict Arnold: A True Story of Adventure, Heroism & Treachery by Steve Sheinkin, read by Angie, on 05/24/2014

What did I know about Benedict Arnold before reading this book? Very little. I knew he was a traitor, but I had no idea what he had actually done or who he was other than that. Turns out Benedict Arnold was a hero before he was a traitor and if he had been treated a little better history may have remembered him as the former instead of the latter. Benedict Arnold was a successful business man before the Revolutionary War. When the colonies decided to rebel against Britain he was one of the first to sign up and fight. He became a general in the army and led many successful campaigns. However, he was not well liked by some of the military authorities or by the colonial government. He was passed over for promotions, accused of crimes and even forced to stand trial. This was all partially his own fault as he was reckless and went against authority. He became embroiled in the plot to give Westpoint to the British because of the poor treatment he received. While his accomplices may have been caught, Arnold made it to British territory and eventually to England. His treatment was not all that much better however and his treachery may have been for naught. This book reads like an action/adventure novel. It is a bit long, so younger readers might find its size daunting. However, I think they would enjoy it once they get into it. Fans of history and adventure will enjoy this nonfiction work.

For most of human history people believed the earth was the center of the universe and the sun, planets and stars all revolved around the earth. There were many different ideas of how the universe was set up but all of them followed the Biblical teachings that the earth was the center of everything. Then came some radical thinkers who tried to reconcile what they had learned with what they observed about the universe. They couldn’t get the two to match up. Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo and Newton all used science and observation to try and understand the universe. They and others like them were also persecuted by the Church and other scientists who believed the earth-centric configuration of the universe. I thought this was a very well-organized and interesting book. It was easy to follow and understand and I think it is perfect for kids starting to learn about the universe. I did think the last chapter on groups who still believe the earth is the center of the universe was a little less scientific explanation and a little more preachy, but other than that it was a great read.

15. May 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Informational Book, NonFiction

Plastic, Ahoy!: Investigating the Great Pacific Garbage Patch by Patricia Newman (Author), Annie Crawley (Photographer), read by Angie, on 05/15/2014

This is the type of nonfiction I really enjoy reading (maybe I just have the mind of a middle schooler!). It is on a fascinating subject I know little about. It contains all kinds of useful information with lots of pictures. And it isn’t so long that I lose interest. 

Plastic Ahoy is all about a scientific expedition called SEAPLEX that traveled out into the Pacific Ocean to investigate the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. The scientists onboard wanted to learn how the plastic was affecting the marine life. They investigated whether marine life was using the plastic and garbage as habitats, whether the marine life was consuming the plastic and what happened when it did, and if it was affecting the phytoplankton in the ocean. The book follows three scientists through their experiments and conclusions. It was very educational, but entertaining and interesting at the same time.

07. May 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, History, NonFiction, Teen Books

The Freedom Summer Murders by Don Mitchell, read by Angie, on 05/06/2014

The Freedom Summer Murders covers the 1964 murders of James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Mickey Schwerner in Mississippi. The book really brings the crime and its impact to life. There is a lot of information packed into this book, but it is all stuff the reader needs to know. However, I do think it might be a little too much for some younger readers. The book first describes the murder, then introduces the three men, then details the aftermath and the trials that resulted from the murders. I did find the narration a little choppy and wished we had been introduced to James, Andrew and Mickey before we learned about their murder. I especially enjoyed the aftermath section which talked about the difficulty in getting information out of the Neshoba County residents and how much resistance there was to prosecuting the men who murdered the civil rights activists. It is strange to me to think this happened just 50 years ago. It was definitely a dark time in our history. 

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley.

05. May 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, History, NonFiction

Bombs Over Bikini: The World's First Nuclear Disaster by Connie Goldsmith, read by Angie, on 05/05/2014

Bombs Over Bikini details the nuclear testing done in the Marshall Islands in the wake of WWII. This very informative book looks at how and why the islands were chosen and what happened during and after the tests. I found some of the sillier aspects of the tests fascinating. Putting animals in clothes or smearing them with sunscreen to test what would happen to people. Other things I found bizarre and tragic. Why islanders were not evacuated when it was clear there would be fallout. In the end I was left feeling extremely sorry for the people of the Bikini and Rongelap Atolls. They were forced to leave their homes, exposed to radiation, shuttled around and never fully compensated. It is a tragic era in the nuclear age. Hopefully one we have learned a lesson from. 

I received a copy of this book from the publishers on Netgalley.com.

23. April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, History, NonFiction

At Home in Her Tomb: Lady Dai and the Ancient Chinese Treasures of Mawangdui by Christine Liu-Perkins, read by Angie, on 04/23/2014

I enjoy books like this. Christine Liu-Perkins did a fantastic job researching Lady Dai and her time period and sharing it in an accessible way for children. There are all kinds of mummies out there: Egyptian  bog, etc. All of these mummies are desiccated remains. What I found truly fascinating was that Lady Dai wasn’t desiccated. Her skin was still soft, her joints still worked, her organs had not decayed. She looked like a recently dead person instead of someone who had died 2200 years ago. Her tomb contained many treasures like still recognizable food and silks and some of the first books. Her tomb and those of her husband and son are truly treasures.

19. April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Informational Book, NonFiction, Teen Books

Fourth Down and Inches: Concussions and Football: Make-or-Break Moment by Carla Killough McClafferty, read by Angie, on 04/17/2014

This was a fascinating look at the connections between football and concussions. The first thing you read about in the book is the history of the sport of football. One of the things I found most interesting was the fact that conversations about the dangers of concussions with football players started at the beginning of this game. Football has always been a dangerous sport and it started out even more dangerous than it is today. I knew players didn’t start out with the padding and helmets of today. What I didn’t realize was that they started out with no padding or helmets and that it was a fairly common occurrence for players to die. From the time football started in the 1890s to when it was reformed in the 1900s it seems between 10-20 players died each year as a result of injuries sustained playing football. The fact that the game persists to this day is astounding!

The other thing I found really interesting was the fact that brain injuries are so very common among all ages of football players. The book gets into the science pretty heavily which I think will go over some kids heads, but they will understand the injuries and deaths that football players have sustained. Concussions and football have been in the news a lot lately, but the connection actually started in the 1980s. Repeated concussions and repeated blows to the head without concussion have resulted in dementia, ALS, Alzheimers, and death among football players. And it isn’t just the professional players that have to worry about it. Brain damage has even been found in high school and college football players. The fact that we let our boys start playing at a very early age and then have them continue into their teens means they are likely to get hit thousands of times. This means there is a greater chance they will sustain brain damage or injuries. I’m glad I never played football, but I worry about those who have and will.

01. April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, History, Informational Book, NonFiction

Poop Happened! by Sarah Albee, Robert Leighton (Illustrator), read by Angie, on 03/31/2014

Poop is not just funny for kids. Some adults (**cough** **cough**) find this topic just as interesting. Everybody does it and no one wants to talk about it, but the history of how people eliminate waste is fascinating. Poop Happened takes the reader on a journey through history; the history of poop and what people have done with it. I found it especially interesting to learn that sanitation-wise things were much better during Egyptian and Roman times than they were for a thousand years after. There was a lot of waste just sitting around during the middle ages and no one seemed to know what to do about it.

The first time I read this book we sat in the library reading excerpts from this book for a long time and just couldn’t put it down. It is fascinating, informative and addicting. You have probably always wondered what they did for bathrooms back in the old days…well this book will tell you in all the gross detail. And you probably didn’t really want to know!

For instance, once a knight had his armor on it didn’t come off for anything and it was his squires job to clean it at the end of the day. I definitely wouldn’t have wanted that job! I guess you really can’t stop a battle to take off a hundred pounds of armor to go to the bathroom, but can you imagine sitting in that all day!

In Renaissance France the ladies’ dresses were so big they could barely sit down much less squat over a chamber pot so they had maids who would hold sponges under their dresses while they did their business. Yet another job I wouldn’t want. During that time period corners and hallways were also fair game for bathroom usage. I always thought of it as a very elegant time but I bet the bottom of your dress was pretty gross! And that everything smelled disgusting!

There are other awesome facts like these in this book. I highly recommend it. It is written so that you don’t have to read it cover to cover; you can flip through and pick different eras or pages to pour over. But the information is definitely worth the read. I was educated and entertained and I still think back on the book and what I learned and laugh! This is also a book I like to recommend to reluctant readers or kids who like gross facts. It is one that will suck you in!

I have been reading a lot on this subject lately (because I am doing a program on it) so I feel like I have become something of an expert. This is the oldest book I read on sanitation history and perhaps the dullest. The text itself has some interesting facts and there are great pictures throughout the book. However, the author has a very abrupt way of writing and seems to jump around a lot. It is also all black and white which means there is nothing that stands out on the page. I am sure this is because of the age of the book, but it does pale in comparison to the others I have read.

31. March 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, History, Informational Book, NonFiction

Flush: The Scoop on Poop Throughout the Ages by Charise Mericle Harper, read by Angie, on 03/31/2014

Flush: The Scoop on Poop is full of fun little poems about the history of how people dispose of bodily waste (i.e. poop). The poems cover everything from the uses of urine to toilet paper to chamber pots and garderobes to toilets in space. I especially enjoyed the “Fun Facts” sections that accompanied every poem. These paragraphs gave the historical information about whatever topic was covered in the poem. Very fun to read and informational!

31. March 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, History, Informational Book, NonFiction

The Story Behind Toilets by Elizabeth Raum, read by Angie, on 03/31/2014

The Story Behind Toilets offers a brief history of the toilet and then covers the modern aspects of sewage treatment. Lots of great pictures are included along with a very nice timeline of the toilet’s history.

31. March 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, History, Informational Book, NonFiction

What You Never Knew About Tubs, Toilets, & Showers by Patricia Lauber, read by Angie, on 03/31/2014

There is a lot of information packed into this small book. Most of the history covers baths and what people thought of them through the ages. There is a nice variety of information from around the globe included. Fun little book!

31. March 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fantasy, Tammy · Tags:

Instructions by Neil Gamain, read by Tammy, on 03/29/2014

instructionsAn instruction book for any adventure you might want or need to take into fairyland or fantasy. Aimed at children and very brief with beautiful illustrations. I enjoyed the story though and think that adults will recognize fairy tales where the main characters didn’t follow the rules and bad things happened.

25. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, NonFiction, Pamela · Tags: ,

Raisel's Riddle by Erica Silverman, read by Pamela, on 02/22/2014

riddleThis is lovely Jewish version of the Cinderella story.  Raisel was raised by her grandfather, a poor scholar who studied day and night.  When Raisel’s grandfather dies she travels to the nearby city and comes to live in a rabbi’s home.  She is belittled by the cook (wicked stepmother) and made to work harder than she ever has in her life.  An old beggar woman (fairy godmother) visits her and gives her three wishes.  The one caveat is the wishes do not last past midnight.  Raisel attends the Purim ball where no one recognizes her.  She poses a riddle (lost slipper) to the rabbi’s son, then quickly leaves as it is getting close to midnight.  The rabbi’s son eventually finds the woman who shared the riddle and they live happily ever after.

11. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Biographies, Children's Books, Graphic Book, NonFiction

Smile by Raina Telgemeier, read by Angie, on 11/14/2012

Smile is the true story of Raina Telgemeier’s journey through orthodontia. It was not a pleasant or a short journey. It began with an overbite and a fall resulting in the loss of her two front teeth. The journey consisted of false teeth, braces, surgeries, headgear, and four years worth of visits to various dental professionals…all during junior and high school. Poor Raina! Throughout it all Raina is also dealing with boys, pimples, friends, mean girls, and all the other trials and tribulations of high school. She comes through it stronger and happier, but it is not an easy journey.

As someone who has had braces and retainers (thankfully not four years worth) I completely sympathized with Raina. They are an invented torture to make our teeth look perfect. They work but are definitely not pleasant. I winced with her when her braces were being tightened and when all she could eat was mashed potatoes. I think Raina definitely remembers this time of her life perfectly and she really captured it on the pages of Smile. The story and illustrations embody the torture of braces and the agony of middle and high school. I would recommend this to just about anyone.

11. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Biographies, Children's Books, Lisa, NonFiction

Lost Boy: The Story of the Man Who Created Peter Pan by Jane Yolen, read by Lisa, on 02/28/2013

   People around the world know the story of Peter Pan, the boy who would not grow up, but not many know the story of his creator, J. M. Barrie. Barrie’s young childhood was marked by sorrow, but also held great adventure. His adult life and relationship with the Davies family brought about a second childhood that helped him to create his lasting triumph. Masterfully illustrated by Steve Adams and using Barrie’s own words, Jane Yolen tells the story of the author and the boys who changed his life.

22. January 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Children's Books, Classics, Fantasy, Fiction, Rachel, Teen Books, Teen Books

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis, read by Rachel, on 01/21/2014

Four adventurous siblings—Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy Pevensie—step through a wardrobe door and into the land of Narnia, a land frozen in eternal winter and enslaved by the power of the White Witch. But when almost all hope is lost, the return of the Great Lion, Aslan, signals a great change . . . and a great sacrifice.

Journey into the land beyond the wardrobe! The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is the second book in C. S. Lewis’s classic fantasy series, which has been captivating readers of all ages for over sixty years. This is a stand-alone novel, but if you would like journey back to Narnia, read The Horse and His Boy, the third book in The Chronicles of Narnia.

31. December 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Sarah

Summer of the Gypsy Moths by Sara Pennypacker, read by Sarah, on 11/23/2013

Stella loves living with Great-aunt Louise in her big old house near the water on Cape Cod for many reasons, but mostly because Louise likes routine as much as she does, something Stella appreciates since her mom is, well, kind of unreliable. So while Mom “finds herself,” Stella fantasizes that someday she’ll come back to the Cape and settle down. The only obstacle to her plan? Angel, the foster kid Louise has taken in. Angel couldn’t be less like her name—she’s tough and prickly, and the girls hardly speak to each other.

But when tragedy unexpectedly strikes, Stella and Angel are forced to rely on each other to survive, and they learn that they are stronger together than they could have imagined. And over the course of the summer they discover the one thing they do have in common: dreams of finally belonging to a real family.

17. November 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, History, NonFiction · Tags:

Secrets of a Civil War Submarine: Solving the Mysteries of the H.L. Hunley by Sally M. Walker, read by Angie, on 11/17/2013

The H.L. Hunley was the first submarine to sink a ship in wartime. It was built during the Civil War and actually sank twice before completely a mission successfully. On February 17, 1864 the Hunley sank the USS Housatonic off the Charleston Harbor. Unfortunately, the Hunley never made it back to shore nor was it ever seen again. The Hunley was found buried in the mud in 1995. It took several years and lots of work before the Hunley revealed its secrets. Scientists still don’t know exactly why the Hunley sank with all eight crewmen aboard. However, the crew have now been put to rest while the investigation into the Hunley continues.