Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson

By Cindy McCan | March 28, 2019

Hattie Big Sky was inspired by the author’s great-grandmother who single-handedly “proved up” on a Montana homestead. Many thanks to the librarians at the ImagineIF Libraries of Flathead County, Montana for helping me find an audiobook for this project. Hattie Inez Brooks is a 16 year old orphan living in Iowa with her distance relatives, …

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Suspect Red by L. M. Elliott

By Cindy McCan | February 2, 2019

The early 1950s come alive in Suspect Red with each chapter starting with “current” events, news articles, and information about 1950’s pop culture.  The book contains pictures of people, places and events from 1953-1954 as well as comics and maps. A good argument for audio-listeners to have both the book and the audio versions! Author …

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The Luck of the Buttons by Anne Ylvisaker

By Cindy McCan | January 12, 2019

The Luck of the Buttons by Anne Ylvisaker is the first book in the Buttons trilogy. Each book focuses on a different Button family member; the first two take place in 1929 and the third book takes place during the Civil War when granddaddy Ike was just a boy. All three of the books are suitable for …

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Dave at Night by Gail Carson Levine

By Cindy McCan | November 25, 2018

According to the author Gail Levine, inspiration to write this book came from her father who was an orphan at the Hebrew Orphan Asylum, the real life counterpart for the story’s fictional Hebrew Home for Boys.  When Dave Caros’ father dies in an accident, his stepmother places him in the Hebrew Home for Boys; an orphanage …

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Riot by Walter Dean Myers

By Cindy McCan | November 25, 2018

Walter Dean Myers is known for his creative and unique writing styles when it comes to children’s literature. This book is no exception. It is written as a screenplay complete with directions for the camera shots. While listening to the full cast audiobook with sound effects and music, I felt like I was “watching” the …

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Witness by Karen Hesse

By Cindy McCan | September 13, 2018

Witness is a Reader’s Theater written in free verse with 11 distinct voices. The audiobook cast features a different reader for each character which really brings the book to life for listeners. The audio also includes an interview with both the author Karen Hesse and the historian Leonard Marcus.   This is a short but powerful …

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The Black Duck by Janet Taylor Lisle

By Cindy McCan | July 8, 2018

The 18th amendment was the constitutional ban of the sale, manufacture and distribution (but not the consumption) of alcohol, also known as Prohibition, in the United States between 1920 and 1933.  It was hoped that Prohibition would reduce crime, but it actually increased crime and gang activity in many places. This book is a fictionalized …

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The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare

By Cindy McCan | June 22, 2018

The Witch of Blackbird Pond takes place in 1687, well before the idea of the colonies uniting to form one independent country took root.  Even so, there is plenty of tension and trouble brewing between England and the Puritans as to who will rule the Connecticut Colony. Kit Tyler lives on her wealthy grandfather’s slave …

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Code Talker by Joseph Bruchac

By Cindy McCan | May 24, 2018

Because of the top secret nature of the code talkers’ work, their role in World War II was unknown until it was declassified in 1969. Even now, with several books, movies and history programs on the topic, many people still don’t know the story of the Navajo code talkers. Joseph Bruchac’s book is the perfect introduction suitable …

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Walking the Choctaw Road by Tim Tingle

By Cindy McCan | April 8, 2018

Tim Tingle is a Choctaw author, speaker and storyteller extraordinaire.  The stories in this book take place in several states and throughout history. My goal is to highlight a different book and author for every state. I’ve placed this book in Oklahoma, though it would be equally at home in any of the other states …

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Ship of Dolls by Shirley Parenteau

By Cindy McCan | March 25, 2018

What a novel way to promote friendship between two countries: with dolls! Dr. Sidney Gulick, an American missionary who lived in Japan for 25 years, was dismayed over the deteriorating relations between the U.S. and Japan in the early 1900s. His idea was to promote friendship between the two countries by sending U.S. dolls to …

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Dash by Kirby Larson

By Cindy McCan | February 23, 2018

Following the bombing of Pearl Harbor, over 110,000 men, women and children of Japanese descent were forced from their homes and into internment camps. The majority of the interned were American born citizens. This story is based on the true story of Mitsue Shiraishi and her dog Chubby. Life in Seattle is good to 11-year …

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Navigating Early by Clare Vanderpool

By Cindy McCan | February 1, 2018

Jack Baker’s mother has died and his father is away in the military.  Jack is sent to an all-boys boarding school in Maine where he meets Early Auden, an orphan. Early is an “odd” boy, according to Jack, who is fascinated and obsessed with the number Pi. Early can “read” stories in numbers and is …

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Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan

By Cindy McCan | January 14, 2018

Pam Ryan was inspired to write Esperanza Rising by her grandmother’s childhood experiences. Although it was written in 2000, Esperanza Rising is still extremely popular and part of many school curriculums.  Esperanza Ortega (13) is the doted on daughter of a wealthy rancher. She lives in luxury with servants to help in the house and …

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My Name Is Not Easy by Debby Dahl Edwardson

By Cindy McCan | January 1, 2018

Debby Edwardson wrote that this story was inspired by the experiences of her husband and his two brothers while at a Catholic boarding school in the early 1960s. She also incorporated additional events of the time that had significant impacts on Native Alaskan communities. The audiobook starts out with an author’s note which contains several …

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The Detective’s Assistant by Kate Hannigan

By Cindy McCan | December 10, 2017

The Detective’s Assistant was inspired by the life of Kate Warne (1833-1868), who is credited as being the first professional female detective in the United States. She worked for the Pinkerton Detective Agency in Chicago and was instrumental in uncovering the Baltimore Plot; a plot by secessionist to assassinate president-elect Abraham Lincoln. Author Kate Hannigan …

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Worth by A. LaFaye

By Cindy McCan | November 18, 2017

Farming in the late 1800s was backbreaking work full of uncertainties. Worth describes the difficulties of farming, the fragility of life, and the conflict between farmers and ranchers for land during the pioneer years. Nathaniel Peale, 11, lives on a Nebraska homestead with his parents.  He takes pride in the way he is able to …

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Zane and the Hurricane by Rodman Philbrick

By Cindy McCan | November 11, 2017

This is an especially timely book; Texas and Florida are still reeling from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Zane and the Hurricane captures many of the difficult situations that people face before, during and after a hurricane. Zane Dupree travels from New Hampshire to New Orleans to get to know his great-grandmother and to see where …

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Crow by Barbara Wright

By Cindy McCan | October 26, 2017

I did say I was presenting only one book per state, but once I listened to Crow I knew I had to include it as well. Crow tells the story of the only successful coup d’état in US history; the only time a non-elected group overthrew a legally elected government. Eleven-year-old Moses lives in a …

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Stella by Starlight by Sharon Draper

By Cindy McCan | October 14, 2017

*Stella Mills’ character is loosely based on the author’s grandmother who grew up in a small, segregated African-American town similar to the fictional town of Bumblebee. Like the protagonist in the story, Sharon Draper’s grandmother enjoyed writing by moonlight.  Narrator Heather Alicia Simms’s rich and expressive voice is a perfect match for Stella by Starlight. …

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vanishing acts

Vanishing Acts by Jodi Picoult

Jodi Picoult’s Vanishing Acts is the story about Delia, her daughter, her father and mother, and her friends.  Delia was raised by her father and since her mother died he did everything he could to give her a good childhood.  She is engaged to Eric, one of her childhood friends, and the two of them …

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the fell sword

The Fell Sword by Miles Cameron

The Fell Sword is the second book in Miles Cameron’s five book “The Traitor Son Cycle” series.  It picks up where the first book left off.  The book is about a company of mercenaries and their captain, the Red Knight.  In this installment, the company comes to the rescue of the Emperor’s daughter, who is …

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wildlife by fiona wood

Wildlife by Fiona Wood

I really liked Wildlife by Fiona Wood. It is about two 16 year old girls, Sib and Lou, whose school has a “term in the woods” program.  Lou is new.  She just transferred in.  Her boyfriend died in an accident and she is trying to cope with her grief.  Lou is no-nonsense, understandably withdrawn, and …

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new iberia blues

New Iberia Blues by James Lee Burke

The book New Iberia Blues is the 22nd Dave Robicheaux book by Jame Lee Burke.  Dave is a sheriff’s deputy, he has a new partner who is pretty and he likes her, but there is a large age difference, which makes things awkward.  They find the body of a young woman.  It seems the killer …

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the red knight

The Red Knight by Miles Cameron

The Red Knight by Miles Cameron is a sword and magic type of fantasy story. The Red Knight is a bit of a mysterious character. He is the leader of a mercenary company and is unusually young to hold that position. In the early part of the book we know that he comes from a …

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hattie big sky by kirby larson

Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson

Hattie Big Sky was inspired by the author’s great-grandmother who single-handedly “proved up” on a Montana homestead. Many thanks to the librarians at the ImagineIF Libraries of Flathead County, Montana for helping me find an audiobook for this project. Hattie Inez Brooks is a 16 year old orphan living in Iowa with her distance relatives, …

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kindred by octavia butler

Kindred by Octavia Butler

Kindred by Octavia Butler is a very creative way of looking at the horrible and troubling history of slavery in the United States.  In Kindred, the protagonist, Dana, time travels from the 1970s to the American South in the years before the Civil War and the end of slavery.  In the story, Dana is descended …

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the reckoning by john grisham

The Reckoning by John Grisham

This review contains spoilers.  The Reckoning, by John Grisham, returns the reader to Ford County Mississippi during the 1940s to 1050s where an unusual murder takes place. Pete Banning, cotton planter, husband, father, and decorated war hero, one day walks into the Methodist church and shoots the pastor.  There is no doubt that Pete murdered the …

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suspect red

Suspect Red by L. M. Elliott

The early 1950s come alive in Suspect Red with each chapter starting with “current” events, news articles, and information about 1950’s pop culture.  The book contains pictures of people, places and events from 1953-1954 as well as comics and maps. A good argument for audio-listeners to have both the book and the audio versions! Author …

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blood water paint

Masterfully Told Story – Blood Water Paint by Joy McCullough

Blood Water Paint by Joy McCullough is one of the best written and best told stories that I’ve read in a long time.  It is the story of Artemisia Gentileschi, a young painter in Rome in the early 1600s.  It is a man’s world and women have little say in their own lives.  Artemisia’s mother died when …

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