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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the raven boys

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater is a young adult paranormal story about Blue, her family, and some boys from a nearby private school.  Everyone in Blue’s family is psychic … except for her. Blue does have a gift, she acts as an amplifier for other psychics.  Blue has had a number of readings over …

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The Sea Queen by Linnea Hartsuyker

The Sea Queen by Linnea Hartsuyker continues the story that began in the Half-Drowned King.  Ragnvald has sworn to King Harald, who wants to unite all of Norway under his rule. The first book focused on Ragnvald’s rise as a warrior, and  his sister Svanhild played a more minor part.  In The Sea Queen Svanhild has grown …

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witness

Witness by Karen Hesse

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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age of iron

Age of Iron by Angus Watson

Age of Iron is a fun book that takes place during a time just prior to the Roman invasion of Britain. It is historical fiction and an adventure story. At its heart are three characters. Dug is a middle-aged warrior.  He would prefer an easy job as a guard or something similar, but he works …

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a dance of cloaks

A Dance of Cloaks by David Dalglish

A Dance of Cloaks is a story with a very large cast of characters. At it’s heart there is Thren Felhorn, master of the Spider Guild, and his son Aaron. There are several other thieves guilds with their leaders and lieutenants.  There is the king and his main adviser.  There are three great merchant families, each …

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sky in the deep

Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young

Sky in the Deep is an amazing, well written book based on Viking lore. It is an incredibly rich well told story about a young Aska warrior, Eelyn.  The story begins on the battlefield where once again the Aska face off against their traditional enemy, the Riki. Five years previously, Eelyn lost her brother Iri in …

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daughter of the pirate king

Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller

Daughter of the Pirate King is a fun story. Like many pirate tales, there is a good mix of action, adventure, and romance. A difference is that the main character, Alosa, is female. She is the daughter of the pirate king and captain of a ship in his fleet. The story opens with the capture …

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carry on by rainbow rowell

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell – Or Harry Potter in the Fun House Mirror

First off, let me say that Carry On by Rainbow Rowell is not Harry Potter fan fiction.  There are a ton of parallels.  Simon, the main character, is the “Chosen One.”  He was an orphan. He is attending a school for magicians in England. His roommate Baz, and the start girl in his class Penny, …

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a darker shade of magic

A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab

I love creative fantasies with rich, unique world building.  In A Darker Shade of Magic V. E. Schwab brings that to the table. In the story, there are parallel worlds which are each very different, but have one thing in common: they each have a London. There are four Londons: White, Grey, Red, and Black.  There used …

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off the grid by cj box

Off The Grid by C.J. Box – One of His Best

Are you a C.J. Box fan? If so, you are in for a treat. Off The Grid is a great story and probably the best Box ever.  There is a lot going on.  The Governor asks Joe Picket to investigate some unusual activities. One of Joe’s daughters is in danger and no one knows it.  …

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