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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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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cold fear

Cold Fear by Rick Mofina

I listened to the audio version of Cold Fear by Rick Mofina. It was narrated by Christian Rummel, who did a great job. Emily Baker takes her 10-year-old daughter Paige, Paige’s dog, and her husband Doug to a remote part of the Rockies. She has been in therapy and has been unable to tell her …

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the queens poisoner

The Queen’s Poisoner by Jeff Wheeler

I listened to the audiobook version of The Queen’s Poisoner by Jeff Wheeler, read by Kate Rudd. The story opens with the Duke of Kiskaddon returning home from battle. His side was victorious, but there was a small problem, or rather a major problem. At a crucial point in the battle, when it looked like they …

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the line

The Line by Bob Mayer

The Line by Bob Mayer was a fun read, or rather I should say listen.  I listened to the audio version of the book on my phone. From the beginning, I was hooked. It is a military thriller and the writing and use of military jargon made it seem authentic.  The story is about two …

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camino island

Camino Island by John Grisham

Camino Island by John Grisham is an easy to read book. The characters are interesting and the story has a lot of promise. After the rather long beginning, the story draws the reader in and it is a light, fun read. That earns the story 3 stars, but I expect more from Grisham. Spoiler alert. …

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the gifting

The Gifting by K.E. Ganshert

“According to science, humans have no souls. There is no afterlife or guardian angels or ghosts or spirits or anything at all supernatural. Our world is purely physical. The government has systematically removed God from society.” So begins The Gifting by K.E. Ganshert, a dystopian science fiction story where “science won.” The protagonist of the story, …

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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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