06. November 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Biographies, Courtney, Graphic Book, History, NonFiction · Tags:

The Hypo: The Melancholic Young Lincoln by Noah Van Sciver, 192 pages, read by Courtney, on 10/26/2013

This graphic novel tells of a lesser-known chapter of Abraham Lincoln’s life. It begins well before his presidency, before his marriage to Mary Todd. It follows a young Lincoln through his early days as a struggling lawyer. Set-back after set-back drive Lincoln into a deep, dark depression that nearly kills him.
I must confess I did not know a whole lot about Lincoln’s early life as most historical documents focus on his presidency and the years leading up to it. This graphic novel presents a less-than-glamorous tale of a man trying to find his way in the world. The stylized artwork may not be to everyone’s liking, but this is still a very accessible book that adds an extra dimension to the life of one of America’s greatest historical figures.

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

Sugar Changed the World: A Story of Magic, Spice, Slavery, Freedom, and Science by Marc Aronson, Marina Budhos, 166 pages, read by Angie, on 11/02/2013

Sugar is something we take for granted. It is always available at the store. It isn’t very expensive. We can add it to anything we want and it is in a lot of what we eat. And there are alternatives to regular brown or white sugar. This was not always the case. Sugar was an unknown until around a thousand years ago. However, once people got a taste of it they wanted more. It started out as a spice added to foods like any other spice, but then it separated itself from others and became a sweetener. As the demand for sugar grew, production also had to grow. Huge sugar plantations sprouted up throughout the Caribbean and South America. Millions of slaves were brought from Africa to work in the brutal plantations. More slaves actually than were brought to America. Sugar was a time sensitive crop the required back-breaking labor, hot fires, and lots of slaves.

This book starts with the stories of how Marc Aronson and Marina Budhos were connected to sugar and how they decided to write this book. Then we go into the history of sugar and the sugar/slavery connections. Next we see how sugar helped shape the world and abolish slavery. France, England, America, the Caribbean, India, Africa, Asia: slavery and sugar helped mold these places into what they are today. Slavery was abolished in many countries because of the sugar slaves. Gandhi started his peaceful resistance movement because of sugar slaves. It is amazing how many connections you can draw throughout history and the world all because of sugar. Aronson and Budhos did an excellent job highlighting these connection and writing a very readable nonfiction book.

30. October 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, History, NonFiction, Science

Mammoths and Mastodons: Titans of the Ice Age by Cheryl Bardoe, 40 pages, read by Angie, on 10/29/2013

Mammoths, mastodons and elephants are all cousins. They all appeared around the same time, but for some reason 10,000 years ago mammoths and mastadons went extinct. Scientists don’t know why they disappeared. The two leading theories are global warming or over hunting by humans. It is hoped that by studying mammoths and mastodons and why they went extinct a way can be found to help elephants who are endangered. This is a very informative, interesting and well-researched read.

28. October 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, History, NonFiction, Science

Written in Bone: Buried Lives of Jamestown and Colonial Maryland by Sally M. Walker, 144 pages, read by Angie, on 10/26/2013

Dead people are fascinating. Long dead people are a puzzle. Figuring out who skeletons were is a fascinating puzzle. This book by Sally Walker investigates the graves in and around the Chesapeake Bay. All the graves date from the 17th century and were some of the first people in the Jamestown colony. It is amazing what scientists can find out about people just from looking at their bones. Teeth have ridges: must have used some corrosive materials to clean them. Buried in a trash pit under a house: must have been an indentured servant who died. Small holes in bones: must have had rickets. Archaeologists are even able to figure out who exactly a person was just by where and how they were buried. This book highlights how graves are found and excavated, the steps taken to preserve the remains and what is learned from them. If you are a fan of CSI or Bones, you will definitely appreciate the science of this book.

23. October 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, History, NonFiction

Anubis Speaks! A Guide to the Afterlife by the Egyptian God of the Dead by Vicky Alvear Shecter , 116 pages, read by Angie, on 10/22/2013

Anubis finally gets to tell his story, or rather Ra’s story, in this entertaining and highly readable nonfiction book. The book details Ra’s journey through the underworld each night, what each hour of the journey entails and how Apophis tries to stop Ra. Along the way, Anubis also gives the reader a lot of detail on ancient Egyptian life, who the gods are and how they came to be and Egyptian myths and stories. Anubis must have been a pretty entertaining god because he is funny! I loved how he speaks directly to his audience and even includes them in the journey through the underworld. I thought his asides were hilarious. Books on Egyptian mythology are always popular and I think kids will respond really well to this one. I hope there is an entire series like this!

20. October 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, History, NonFiction

Blizzard of Glass: The Halifax Explosion of 1917 by Sally M. Walker, 160 pages, read by Angie, on 10/20/2013

On December 6, 1917, the city of Halifax, Nova Scotia was devastated by the largest man-made explosion. Two ships collided in the harbor, one carrying explosives. The shockwave and tsunami destroyed most of the town and left thousands dead, injured and homeless. Sally Walker takes us through the events leading up to the explosion, the aftermath and the recovery. She introduces us to several families whose lives were devastated and irrevocably changed that day. This is the kind of nonfiction I like to read. Walker gives us all the facts, but she includes personal accounts and writes in a narrative style that is extremely easy to read. I loved all the photos of the destruction that she included in this book. They really help illustrate just how destructive the explosion was. What really got me though was the stories of help from near and far, the doctors and nurses who worked around the clock, the soldiers and sailors who tirelessly searched for survivors, the workers who collected the dead and carefully cataloged them. All of these stories break your heart, but they also help you realize just how wonderful human beings can be when they see someone in need.

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

Terracotta Army and Other Lost Treasures by John Malam, 32 pages, read by Angie, on 10/13/2013

Another great offering in the Lost and Found series. This one deals with lost treasurers such as the terracotta army and the dead sea scrolls. We also learn about the Mildenhall Treasure found in a Suffolk field. A chest of Roman silver hidden under the ground was unearthed by a farmer. It was a rare hoard of highly decorated silver that was 2000 years old.

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

Pompeii and Other Lost Cities by John Malam, 32 pages, read by Angie, on 10/13/2013

I really like the format of this series. There is a two page spread on the history of the lost city and then a two page spread on how it was found. There are great little nuggets of history that will whet your appetite for more information. Everyone has heard of Pompeii and Machu Picchu, but little is known of Skara Brae or Akrotiri. It really made me want to find out more.

08. October 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Biographies, Children's Books, History, NonFiction

The Fairy Ring: Or Elsie and Frances Fool the World by Mary Losure, 192 pages, read by Angie, on 10/08/2013

Frances and her parents move in with Elsie’s family in Yorkshire during the Great War. Behind the house, in the beck (creek), Frances starts seeing fairies. One day she tells her family what she sees and Elsie says she sees them too. The adults want proof so the girls create fairy cutouts and take pictures with the fairies. Somehow word gets out and none other than Sir Arthur Conan Doyle starts corresponding with the girls to learn more about the fairies. Edward Garner starts lecturing around the country on the Cottingly fairies. The girls are forced to keep up their charade in order to avoid getting into trouble. They take another set of photos, but even that doesn’t stop the attention. They kept their secrets about doctoring the photos until almost the end of their lives; finally coming clean as elderly women. Mary Losure does a great job of telling Frances and Elsie’s stories. This was a very interesting and entertaining little book.

07. October 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Biographies, Children's Books, History, Joyce, NonFiction

The Fairy Ring: Or Elsie and Frances Fool the World by Mary Losure, 184 pages, read by Joyce, on 09/12/2013

The enchanting true story of a girl who saw fairies, and another with a gift for art, who concocted a story to stay out of trouble and ended up fooling the world.

Frances was nine when she first saw the fairies. They were tiny men, dressed all in green. Nobody but Frances saw them, so her cousin Elsie painted paper fairies and took photographs of them “dancing” around Frances to make the grown-ups stop teasing. The girls promised each other they would never, ever tell that the photos weren’t real. But how were Frances and Elsie supposed to know that their photographs would fall into the hands of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle? And who would have dreamed that the man who created the famous detective Sherlock Holmes believed ardently in fairies — and wanted very much to see one? Mary Losure presents this enthralling true story as a fanciful narrative featuring the original Cottingley fairy photos and previously unpublished drawings and images from the family’s archives. A delight for everyone with a fondness for fairies, and for anyone who has ever started something that spun out of control.

What do most people know about the Norman Conquest, if they know anything at all? They know that William the Conqueror came over to England from Normandy in 1066 and conquered England. That’s it for the most part. This book is a highly readable account of the years leading up to the Conquest in both England and Normandy, what led to William crossing the Channel and what happened after the invasion. The cast of characters in this book is enormous and many of them have the same name, but Marc Morris manages to make history come alive. It amazes me how much information does still exist from the Conquest since it was almost a thousand years ago. Sure there isn’t a lot, but the fact that accounts of events do still exist is amazing. Morris uses contemporary (meaning 11th century) sources to explain the events of the time. He isn’t afraid to point out inconsistency or lack of information. He does a great job extrapolating the truth or the most likely truth from the accounts. This book highlights how violent and turbulent the times where in the eleventh century. It is truly amazing that anyone survived! Morris does not shy away from exposing the brutality of the Conquest or how William used violence to subdue the people. However, it does show that the Normans were maybe not quite as violent as their English counterparts in everyday life. William had a huge impact on how things were done in England. He changed everything from the structure of society to religion to land management to slavery. William also started a building boom in England that is still evident today. Many of the churches and castles built during this time are still standing and in use. America is such a young country that it is often hard to comprehend the fact that there are thousand year old structures in England. If you are looking for a good read on the history of the Norman Conquest, I would recommend this book.

I did receive a copy of this book from Netgalley.com.

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

Bad Guys and Gals of the Wild West by Dona Herweck Rice, 64 pages, read by Angie, on 10/01/2013

This book gives us the biographies of some of the Wild West’s most notorious bad guys and gals. People like Billy the Kid, Belle Star, Doc Holliday are featured. We learn their history and how they became outlaws (in most cases). The book also asks what it truly means to be bad. It was an interesting look at the topic and the people in the book are all ones that kids would like to know more about. I do think the word “bad” is overused, but other than that it was a nice offering.

I did receive a copy of this book free from the publisher after attending a Booklist webinar.

03. October 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, History, NonFiction, Teen Books

"The President Has Been Shot!": The Assassination of John F. Kennedy by James L. Swanson, 336 pages, read by Angie, on 10/02/2013

The assassination of JFK was a pivotal moment in American history. James Swanson leads us through the lives of JFK and Oswald leading up to the assassination. He takes us step by step through the day of the assassination and the immediate days following. Swanson definitely has a bit of a bias in the way he treats Oswald. Not that Oswald was a good guy, but at one point Swanson even calls him evil and describes him in very derogatory terms. His attention to detail is very good however, with lots of source material and photos. This book is geared towards the older kid and some of the graphic explanations of what exactly happened to Kennedy may be too much for more sensitive readers.

I received this book from netgalley.com.

31. August 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, History, NonFiction

We've Got a Job: The 1963 Birmingham Children's March by Cynthia Levinson , 180 pages, read by Angie, on 08/28/2013

The Civil Rights Movement was at a standstill and organizers were not sure how to get it started again. Then the kids started marching and things started moving. The jails were soon filled with children and students, but more and more kept joining the movement. They were determined to make changes in their world and their determination and fearlessness paid off. This is the story of several of the young people who marched in Birmingham that year; they were jailed and hosed with fire hoses and chased by dogs and jeered at by whites, but they stayed strong. They have told their stories to Cynthia Levinson in a moving account of how things happened. I loved the first person aspect of this book; it makes you feel like an insider to a part of history. The back matter of the audiobook included the actual interviews with those featured in the book. This was a wonderful peak into history.

29. August 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: History, Informational Book, Janet, NonFiction

Haunted Ozarks by Janice Tremeear, 156 pages, read by Janet, on 08/28/2013

Haunted Ozarks     We live in an area of the Ozarks that has a very interesting history.  Some people who lived here before are not content to be forgotten.  The lay of the land is so varied that many types of living arrangements have developed through the years. From the earliest man living here, about 10,000 BC, to the present, many groups of people have had experiences that have left a busy history in this region – the Mound Builders, the Baldknobbers, and the Jessie James gang, to name a few.  There have also been happenings that involved many people, such as the Civil War and the Trail of Tears.  It seems that when some people die untimely, their spirit remains in that area.  Many stories are Indian legends.    Every county has at least one place where the restless bodies are known to be seen or heard, things are moved, or one feels the presence of another body.  Many homes are named in this story: Ha Ha Tonka, Leeper Mansion near Chillicothe, Houston House at Newburg, the Iberia Academy, the Kendrick House at Carthage, and Ozark Avalon were a few.  There are also many castle-like homes which have haunted legends.  Along with the stories are old sayings and superstitions listed.  This is a very interesting book with lots of historic information.

27. August 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Autobiographies, History, Kim, NonFiction · Tags:

Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank, 274 pages, read by Kim, on 08/27/2013

It was wonderful to read this book again after so many years.

Discovered in the attic in which she spent the last years of her life, Anne Frank’s remarkable diary has since become a world classic; a powerful reminder of the horrors of war and an eloquent testament to the human spirit. In 1942, with Nazis occupying Holland, a thirteen-year-old Jewish girl and her family fled their home in Amsterdam and went into hiding. For the next two years, until their whereabouts were betrayed to the Gestapo, they and another family lived cloistered in the “Secret Annex” of an old office building. Cut off from the outside world, they faced hunger, boredom, the constant cruelties of living in confined quarters, and the ever-present threat of discovery and death. In her diary Anne Frank recorded vivid impressions of her experiences during this period. By turns thoughtful, moving, and amusing, her account offers a fascinating commentary on human courage and frailty and a compelling self-portrait of a sensitive and spirited young woman whose promise was tragically cut short.

24. August 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Biographies, Children's Books, History, NonFiction

Bad Girls: Sirens, Jezebels, Murderesses, Thieves, & Other Female Villains by Jane Yolen and Heidi E.Y. Stemple, 164 pages, read by Angie, on 08/23/2013

Who doesn’t love a bad girl? Jane Yolen teams up with her daughter to give us brief glimpses of the lives of several bad girls throughout history. We learn about such bad girls as Salome, Cleopatra, Bloody Mary, Lizzie Borden, and many, many more. The information is presented in two to four page chunks that will whet your appetite for more information about each of these women. Yolen doesn’t gloss over their bad deeds but she does offer explanations for the times and for history’s retelling. Interspersed between the chapters are one page graphic novel format sessions of Jane and Heidi doing “research” and arguing over the latest bad girl. These segments are funny since a lot of their research involves eating, traveling and shoes. I think kids will enjoy these bad girls and their stories. You can read them all or just your favorites and with only a couple of pages for each lady it doesn’t take very long.

22. August 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: History, NonFiction, Tammy · Tags: , ,

Historic Photos of Missouri by Alan Goforth, 206 pages, read by Tammy, on 08/17/2013

historic photos

This book contains many interesting photos of Missouri throughout it’s history including some from Cole and Osage County. In fact the first photo inside the book is from Chamois, Missouri in Osage County!

This book conveys Missouri’s rich cultural heritage and history through this collection of photos. Ranging from city life to rural country life this book features some of the states most important natural resources, including the Missouri and the Mississippi Rivers. Nearly 200 vivid black-and-white photographs show the reader the places, people and events that have shaped the history of the Show-Me State. From the early 1870s to the 1970s are photos of President Ulysses Grant’s cabin, the Gateway Arch,  cotton pickers in the Bootheel, the 1904 World’s Fair, Whiteman Air Force Base, the Lake of the Ozarks,the St. Louis Browns, the first capitol at Jefferson City, Ste. Genevieve and other towns as they looked in days gone by.

21. August 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, History, NonFiction

The War to End All Wars: World War I by Russell Freedman, 192 pages, read by Angie, on 08/19/2013

Russell Freedman is a master of children’s nonfiction. His work is readable and interesting. His look at WWI, the War to End All Wars, was a fascinating read. He gives us the history and politics that started the war and the major campaigns and battles in the war. He also takes a look at the aftermath and how it led to WWII. This was a war that changed how wars were fought. 20 million people were killed during WWI and yet the world went to war again 20 years later. It is like we learned nothing. I would definitely recommend this for fans of military and historical information.

16. August 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: History, NonFiction, Tammy · Tags: ,

Talking Pictures by Ransom Riggs, 366 pages, read by Tammy, on 08/09/2013

The author found antique photos with notes on the photos about the personal moments of the people in the pictures or other friends and family. He realized he had something unique in his unusual collection and decided to share this lost bits of time and place in a book.talking pictures