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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Full of Beans by Jennifer L. Holm

By Cindy McCan | October 6, 2017

There are so many good audiobooks that take place in historical Florida! Many of the books I’ve listened to so far are serious in tone and deal with important but tough issues. This laugh-out-loud book was a nice change of pace. Note: Full of Beans is a prequel to Jennifer Holm’s Newbery Honor book Turtle …

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The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich

By Cindy McCan | September 30, 2017

The Birchbark House is the first in a 5 book series written by master storyteller Louise Erdrich and inspired by her own family’s history. The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich follows 7-year-old Omakayas and her family throughout a calendar year, season by season.  We meet Nokomis, her beloved grandmother; Deyday, her father who is a …

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Unbound: A Novel in Verse by Ann E. Burg

By Cindy McCan | September 24, 2017

Many books about slavery mention the Underground Railroad as an aid to helping slaves reach the northern states which had abolished slavery.  Unbound is interesting since it focuses on people who escaped slavery but who did not make it to the north.  In doing research for her novel, Ann Burg referenced Born in Slavery: Slave …

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Countdown by Deborah Wiles

By Cindy McCan | September 17, 2017

The audiobook Countdown by Deborah Wiles is amazing! It includes actual radio and television news clips, snippets of popular songs, and excerpts from famous speeches. Realistic sound effects have been added to really bring the story to life. This was the second book I listened to for the Audiobook Tour. Countdown, the first book in the …

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Talking Leaves by Joseph Bruchac

By Cindy McCan | September 14, 2017

This is the first audiobook I listened to for the Audiobook Tour of US History project and I highly recommend it!  I learned a lot and Joseph Bruchac did an excellent job of narrating his book.  I’m definitely interested in reading more by this prolific author.  Talking Leaves is the fictionalized story of Uwohali and …

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the enhanced

The Enhanced by T.C. Edge

I enjoyed reading The Enhanced by T.C. Edge. It is the first book of a series. The story takes place in the city of Haven which is a relatively safe place in a world that has been decimated by nuclear war. It is a class-based society. At the top are the Enhanced, people who have …

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zeroes

Zeroes by Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan, and Deborah Biancotti

I’m a big Scott Westerfeld fan and was pretty psyched to start reading Zeroes. It is the story about 6 teenagers who each have a unique, special power. I wouldn’t call them “super powers,” though they were pretty cool: Flicker is blind but can see through other people’s eyes. Crash is able to “feel” electric …

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survivors club

The Survivors Club: The True Story of a Very Young Prisoner of Auschwitz by Michael Bornstein

Michael Bornstein was 4 years old when he was rescued from Auschwitz by Russian soldiers on January 27, 1945, which made him one of the youngest Auschwitz survivors.  A few days later the Russians photographed the children that had been rescued to document the event.  Michael Bornstein didn’t see the picture until he stumbled across …

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the passion of dolssa

The Passion of Dolssa by Julie Berry

I thoroughly enjoyed this journey to 13th century France and I’m glad to have experienced it through a book and not in person!  And for those who are “listeners,” the readers on the audiobook, Jayne Entwistle, Allan Corduner and Fiona Hardingham were absolutely amazing. The tale is told by three narrators: Botille, one of three …

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the good braider

The Good Braider by Terry Farish

The Good Braider by Terry Farish chronicles the experiences of a South Sudanese girl and her family fleeing their war-ravaged country and making their way to the U.S. to start a new life.  Although this is a fictional story, the author, Terry Farish, did a lot of research so that the experiences of her characters …

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balcony on the moon

Balcony on the Moon: Coming of Age in Palestine by Ibtisam Barakat

Balcony on the Moon: Coming of Age in Palestine by Ibtisam Barakat is a memoir about Barakat’s struggle to finish school and become a writer while growing up in the West Bank.  It is about her search for an identity as a Palestinian, a people without a country, and her determination to be valued and …

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dark matter

Dark Matter – Another Review

Have you ever had a dream where you felt like you were running down an endless corridor? Well, that is what the middle of Dark Matter by Blake Crouch was like. A little boring and frustrating. Fortunately, the endless corridor feeling was surrounded by some engaging suspense in the beginning of the story and a …

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the sun is also a star

The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

The Sun is Also a Star is a wonderful romance book for teens.  Do you believe in love-at-first-sight?  In soulmates? In fate? Or is life just a random set of events? Natasha is a practical, no-nonsense sort of person.  Definitely not the starry-eyed and sentimental, ready-to-fall in love at the drop-of-a-hat type.  She loves her …

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filmish

Filmish: A Graphic Journey through Film by Edward Ross

This is a great Graphic Novel for movie and photography buffs as well as more serious film students. Filmish looks at the history of the film and movie industry, referencing over 300 movies.  Instead of looking at individual movies, one at a time, Ross looks at various cinematic concepts and then references films that illustrate …

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giant days

Giant Days Volumes 1 & 2 by John Allison

Giant Days is a British graphic novel that follows three “dorm-mates” through their first year in university.  The three, Daisy Wooton, homeschooled and unworldly; Esther De Groot, a bit rash and overly dramatic; and Susan Ptolemy, who thinks she is the only one with common sense; become fast friends despite their unalike personalities and backgrounds. …

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