Ghetto Cowboy by G Neri

By Cindy McCan | October 20, 2019

Although Ghetto Cowboy is set in the present, there’s a lot of history here. This fast-paced story is set among today’s urban horsemen of North Philadelphia’s Fletcher Street Riding Club, whose history and traditions date back to the black cowboys of the 1800s. Ghetto Cowboy is being made into a film which will star Idris …

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Out of Left Field by Ellen Klages

By Cindy McCan | September 30, 2019

Out of Left Field is a work of love dedicated to the unsung heroes and history of women’s baseball. If you’re a baseball fan, this book is definitely for you. But here’s the thing: if you, like me, have no interest in baseball or women’s baseball, or for that matter, no interest in sports at …

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A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd

By Cindy McCan | September 9, 2019

Tennessee is a state awash in folk tales, legends and tall tales including the well-known stories of Davy Crockett, Sally Ann Thunder Ann Whirlwind and Casey Jones. A Snicker of Magic is a charming tale filled with magical realism that fits right in with the spirit of Tennessee storytelling. Although this story takes place in …

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The Journey of Little Charlie by Christopher Paul Curtis

By Cindy McCan | July 21, 2019

I’ve come across many southern pre-Civil War stories about wealthy plantation owners and slaves. I’ve also read a few stories set in the post-Civil War era and that feature sharecroppers, both black and white. This is the first book I’ve read about white sharecroppers living in the pre-Civil War era south. Once again, Christopher Paul …

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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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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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the luck of the buttons

The Luck of the Buttons by Anne Ylvisaker

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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fire and blood

Fire & Blood: 300 Years Before A Game of Thrones by George R R Martin

Fire & Blood, by George R R Martin, provides the background history for the Game of Thrones series.  Purportedly, the narrative is the piecing together of the various histories of the Targaryen royal family’s uniting of the seven kingdoms and rule of Westeros, so as to present the most accurate account possible.  The switching between …

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dave at night

Dave at Night by Gail Carson Levine

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

Riot by Walter Dean Myers

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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shatter me

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi is a pretty amazing book.  It is a story that takes place in a dystonian future and is about Juliette, who has survived alone in prison without seeing another person.  This isn’t a story of someone wrongly accused.  Juliette is in for murder and she believes she deserves to be there and …

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