What a wonderful book! This book has Martin Luther King Jr.’s I have a dream speech and tells you what he meant. I love how the speech is broken down and translated for today’s young readers. The translation let’s you know what King was saying and what was going on at the time of the speech. Wonderful introduction to the civil rights movement.

23. February 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Joyce

Midwife's Apprentice by Karen Cushman, read by Joyce, on 02/09/2013

This story of a homeless, nameless girl’s plight to be well fed, warm, and content with her place in life is set in the 14th century in England.  She becomes the apprentice of the local midwife, Jane.  As she toils to earn her keep, she learns the part-doctor, part-magic profession of midwifery.  The author’s descriptive telling of sometimes shocking adventures opens the reader’s mind to a culture far removed from present day.  I can definitely understand why this bravely written book that makes you rejoice with each success the child has and also feel sorry for her suffering is a Newberry Award winner.

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

Days of Jubilee: The End of Slavery in the United States by Patricia C. McKissack, read by Angie, on 02/13/2013

Days of Jubilee tells the story of the end of slavery in the United States. McKissack uses slave narratives throughout to illustrate the events of the times. She takes us through the beginnings of slavery to the emancipation of the slaves after the Civil War. There is a lot of historical detail in this book; McKissack really did her research. This is a thoughtful, well researched book that anyone can enjoy.

The story of the 33 Chilean miners trapped underground for several months captured the world’s attention. It was an amazing rescue effort and their story is a fascinating one. Unfortunately, I don’t think this book does their story justice. This is more the story of the rescuers than the miners. We hardly learn anything about the miners and what they went through while they were trapped. We don’t get personal anecdotes or first hand accounts of what life was like for them. It had to be harrowing…they were surviving on a cap full of tuna every three days! Don’t get me wrong; the rescue effort was interesting and impressive. But I think I speak for a lot of people when I say that it is the miners who are the real interest. Aronson did a good job describing the rescue efforts, but he had a tendency to go off on tangents. There were whole sections on the Greek gods and bronze and how the earth was made. I could have cared less. It had nothing to do with the story at hand and seemed really misplaced. I am sure there are other books out there that describe this event and hopefully they are more entertaining and informative.

03. February 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, History, NonFiction

Witches: The Absolutely True Tale of Disaster in Salem by Rosalyn Schanzer, read by Angie, on 02/03/2013

This little gem of a book tells the story of what happened in Salem during the craziness of the witch trials. Schanzer does a great job portraying the events as they happened. Her narrative shows the ignorance of the people involved and the greed and determination to proceed no matter what. She relies on historical information, including actual trial transcripts, to reveal the events. It is sad that so many innocent people died and those that perpetrated their accusations felt no consequences.

20. December 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, History, Leslie, NonFiction

How They Croaked by Georgia Bragg, read by Leslie, on 10/30/2012

How They Croaked: The Awful Ends of the Awfully Famous

Over the course of history men and women have lived and died. In fact, getting sick and dying can be a big, ugly mess-especially before the modern medical care that we all enjoy today. How They Croaked relays all the gory details of how nineteen world figures gave up the ghost.

This was a most interesting and enjoyable book to read, and I am not one to read nonfiction, for the most part.  It held my interest and will hold the interest of probably most kids.  It was factual and informational and just gory enough for those wanting gore.  The entries were short, usually one or two pages, with larger print, which appeals to a lot of kids.  The accompanying facts were also very interesting to read.  I will be recommending this one.

26. November 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, History, NonFiction

Bootleg: Murder, Moonshine, and the Lawless Years of Prohibition by Karen Blumenthal, read by Angie, on 11/23/2012

Bootleg is a brilliant look at the prohibition era. It details life before prohibition and how it came about, life during prohibition and how it was repealed. There is a lot of good information here about the people of the time and what they wanted. I was fascinated to learn that many people thought of Prohibition as a social experiment, an experiment that ultimately failed. The “Drys” wanted to sober up the population and get rid of crime, they wanted to get kids back in school and make homes safer. The prohibition amendment was partially successful. The consumption of alcohol did decrease and more kids did go to school. But crime rates rose and Prohibition saw the influence of the gangster grow to unbelievable heights. Al Capone, Bugs Moran and others came to power during this era as they supplied the alcohol to a thirsty population. Blumenthal did a great job imparting the feelings of the people at that time. I love how she focused on the women who brought about Prohibition. She also provided a lot of additional sources at the end of the book. This is definitely a good first look at the Prohibition era and it makes you want to read more about these people and the time the lived.

21. November 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, History, NonFiction

Ice!: The Amazing History of the Ice Business by Laurence Pringle, read by Angie, on 11/20/2012

Ice tells the story of how the ice business began and how it ended. It was a fairly short-lived business only lasting a little over 100 years. Ice began as a luxury item for those wanting cold drinks and treats during hot months. It also helped with the preservation of food. Two men were essential in making the ice business a mainstay of American life: Frederic Tudor and Nathaniel Wyeth. Tudor had the ideas and Wyeth had the mechanical inventions that made chopping ice easier and a big business. This book focuses on the ice business in New York mainly; it does mention other areas but only in passing. The most sought after ice came from Rockland Lack and the Knickerbocker Ice Company was formed to bring it to the people. Weather and the invention of the electric refrigerator put the ice business out of business.

This book was really informative and interesting. I can’t imagine not having ice, but it wasn’t that long ago that it was a complete luxury and one you might not be able to get year round. This book is filled with old photographs, advertisements and pictures of tools; it is very visually appealing.

12. November 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Informational Book, NonFiction

North: The Amazing Story of Arctic Migration by Nick Dowson, Patrick Benson , read by Angie, on 11/12/2012

When you think of migration you think of birds flying south for the winter. I never really thought about the northern migrations for the summer months until I read this book. This is a beautifully illustrated sparse look at migration to and from the Arctic. It starts with those animals like polar bears who spend all year long in the Arctic. They travel over the frozen tundra during the winter months. But once spring begins and plants start to break through the ice they are joined by more and more animals from birds to whales to caribou to wolves. In all 180 species migrate to the Arctic each year. There isn’t a whole lot of text on these beautiful pages, but there is enough to tell the story. I really appreciated the end matter at the back that gives a little more information on the animals and northern migration.

09. October 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, History, NonFiction, Science

Their Skeletons Speak: Kennewick Man and the Paleoamerican World by Sally M. Walker, Douglas W. Owsley , read by Angie, on 10/09/2012

Sally Walker does a wonderful job explaining the discovery of Kennewick Man and what was discovered from his remains. She writes on a level that anyone can understand and she provides enough scientific and historical information to make the subject really interesting. I especially liked how she wove the discoveries of other Paleoamerican remains into the narrative. She also provides lots of information and documentation for the discovery with the back matter of the book.

18. September 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Andrea, Children's Books, Fiction

Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead, read by Andrea, on 09/17/2012

Georges (the “s” is silent) and his parents move from their house to an apartment in Brooklyn when his dad loses his job. His mom, a nurse, decides to work a double shift at the hospital. His former best friend is now part of the “in-crowd” a group Georges or “Gorgeous” as most of the people in that group call him. Not only is Georges’s home life falling apart, his school life has also become barely tolerable. After noticing a random poster advertising a Spy Club in the basement of his apartment building, Georges, after encouragement from his dad, decides to take a chance and check it out. There he meets Safer, a boy around his age, and Candy, his younger sister. Just like the works of Georges Seurat, the painter he was named after, Georges learns from Safer how to look at the world bit by bit instead of always looking at the world as a whole. With that knowledge he is able to face his biggest fears and accept what is happening in his life.

Liar & Spy is a story that teaches readers of all ages. It teaches the value of mustering up the courage to stand up to bullies and the fears that threaten to drag you down. It teaches the value of understanding your friends and realizing they are more important to you than you think.

17. September 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Biographies, Children's Books, Graphic Book, NonFiction

Around the World by Matt Phelan, read by Angie, on 09/16/2012

Jules Verne’s Around the World in Eighty Days inspired many adventurous souls to take up the challenge and circumnavigate the globe. Matt Phelan tells the stories of three of these adventurers.

First we have Thomas Stevens, former minor, who decides to travel around the world on a high wheeler, the predecessor of the bicycle. It takes him two years, but he travels the world and introduces the bicycle to many who had never seen it.

Next is intrepid reporter Nelly Bly, who with the support of her newspaper decides to travel the world in less than 80 days. She meets Jules Verne, has several delays, but manages to make it home in 72 days.

Finally is Joshua Slocum, a retired sea captain, who fixes up an old boat and sails around the world alone. He has storms and pirates to contend with but in three years he makes it back home.

These were all real people and their stories were interesting to read and see. I thought Phelan did a particularly good job on the Stevens chapters. The illustrations really brought the story to life. I wasn’t as impressed by the Slocum section. I guess it was much darker and more introspective than the previous chapters; it had a lot of flashbacks to his previous journeys. I guess I didn’t feel it had the same feeling of joyous adventure as the others. But this is a great graphic read on people who have traveled the world.

20. August 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Biographies, Children's Books, History, NonFiction

Jefferson's Children: The Story of One American Family by Shannon Lanier, read by Angie, on 08/19/2012

This is a very interesting book about Thomas Jefferson’s legitimate and illegitimate families. It explores the controversy of the Sally Hemmings relationship through interviews with family members. Shannon Lanier is a descendant from the Sally Hemmings side of the family and wants to get to know all of his new cousins after the revelations about the relationship were announced and the family attended the reunion at Monticello. I found it fascinating to hear all the stories of this blended family, how many of them passed for white instead of black, how some have always know they were descendants of Jefferson and how some just found out. I found it sad that some of the descendants from Jefferson’s daughters deny there was any relationship between Jefferson and Hemmings. I have to admit that I believe there was a relationship between the two. It isn’t that hard to believe that Jefferson could love his slave. Her devotion to him seems indisputable. She tended his grave until she died and wouldn’t leave the area. I know some people find it hard to reconcile the Jefferson who wrote the Declaration of Independence and the Jefferson who had slaves, but he was a product of his time. Slavery was a part of life and he could not have done many of the great things he did without his slaves (build U.Va. and Monticello). He also educated his slaves and made sure they knew a trade, at least the ones that were his children. There are many twists and turns to this family’s history and it is all very interesting and fascinating to read about.

20. August 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, History, NonFiction

Blizzard by Jim Murphy , read by Angie, on 08/19/2012

This book is an excellent example of how great Jim Murphy is at writing children’s nonfiction. His depiction of the events leading up, during and after the Blizzard of 1888 are fantastically detailed and easy to read and understand. He takes personal accounts, newspaper articles and photographs and makes this storm come alive. Hundreds of people were killed in this storm and many changes came about because of it. The National Weather Service was formed and weather forecasting was removed from the Army’s responsibility. It also became a 24 hour operation instead of taking the Sabbath off. Subways were created in New York and many other cities. Utility lines were placed underground instead of in the air above major cities. And most major cities created an emergency plan to deal with disasters of this sort. I really enjoyed the first-hand accounts and the period photos; I think they made the story come alive.

17. August 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, History, NonFiction

The White House Kids: The Perks, Pleasures, Problems, and Pratfalls of the Presidents' Children by Joe Rhatigan, Jay Shinn (Illustrator) , read by Angie, on 08/17/2012

Really interesting look at the lives of the First Kids. Tells about their schooling, their antics, their social activities and what they thought about living in the White House. There is a lot of really interesting stuff in this book. I think I was most fascinated by the Roosevelt kids both FDR’s and Teddy’s. These kids seem like they actually enjoyed life in the White House.

15. August 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Biographies, Children's Books, History, NonFiction

Diego: Bigger Than Life by Carmen T. Bernier-Grand, read by Angie, on 08/14/2012

Diego: Bigger than Life tells the story of Mexican artist Diego Rivera through a series of poems and illustrations. The entirety of his life is illustrated in the poems from birth to death. I loved that the poems conveyed all the emotion and actual situations of each subject. I feel like I learned all about Diego Rivera through these few poems. Everything from his upbringing, to his art to his many wives and mistresses were covered. I really enjoyed the illustrations as well, but I do wish that more of Rivera’s actual art could have been used.

15. August 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Biographies, Children's Books, History, NonFiction

Black Elk's Vision: A Lakota Story by S.D. Nelson, read by Angie, on 08/14/2012

Black Elk’s Vision is the true story of Lakota Medicine Man Black Elk. When he was young he had a vision of six grandfathers offering him the choice between a life of peace and a life of violence. Throughout his life he tried to tell people of his vision and bring it forth. Unfortunately, the White Men or Wha-shi-choos didn’t allow for a life of peace. Black Elk was part of many battles that wiped out the Indians and left them on reservations. He traveled with Wild Bill’s Wild West Show across the country and to Europe but he still didn’t find the peace for his people he sought. The imagery and story of this book suck you in from the very beginning. There are wonderful period photos and illustrations the highlight the story being told. Nelson does a great job of showing the freedom the Indians had and how it was taken away by the White Men. Wonderful book!

14. August 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, History, NonFiction

Under Siege!: Three Children at the Civil War Battle for Vicksburg by Andrea Warren, read by Angie, on 08/13/2012

Truly fascinating look at the Battle for Vicksburg during the Civil War. Warren takes the lives of three children two in Vicksburg and Grant’s son with the Union Army and shows how the siege affected them. Lots of interesting details about the battle and the siege and lots of photographs and illustrations. The story isn’t just about the three children though; there are details about others who lived in Vicksburg. Lots of great information about this pivotal battle during the Civil War. I also loved all the back end stuff…what happened to the people in the book, details about the War, and lots of references. Well researched and written book.

13. August 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, History, NonFiction

Bury the Dead: Tombs, Corpses, Mummies, Skeletons, & Rituals by Christopher Sloan, read by Angie, on 08/12/2012

There is a certain fascination with the dead and how they are treated and this book does a great job of looking at how cultures have buried their dead throughout history. Some are very elaborate like the Chinese and Egyptian and others are more simple. This book looks at a wide variety of tombs from prehistoric Neanderthals to modern day burials. Definitely worth the read.

13. August 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Biographies, Children's Books, History, NonFiction

The Many Faces of George Washington: Remaking a Presidential Icon by Carla Killough McClafferty, read by Angie, on 08/10/2012

We think of George Washington as the president on the dollar bill or the quarter; little do we realize that those pictures really do not show the true face of George Washington. This book follows the progress of the creation of three statues of Washington during various phases of his life: as a surveyor, as the General during the Revolutionary War and as President. The book tells us what he was doing during those times and explains the process of recreating his face. There are some really interesting things in this book. I liked knowing more about Washington since I don’t feel like I knew a whole lot about him before the Revolution. I do have to admit that while the process of creating the statues was interesting it got a little long-winded and tedious for me. But the results were fabulous and it is nice to know what Washington really looked like.