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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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 lie tree

The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge

I was immediately hooked by The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge.  As an anthropologist, I had read a number of works by “armchair anthropologists” that tracked the history of science through the Victorian era, the publication of Darwin’s The Origin of Species, the gradual unearthing of fossils that called into question a worldview based on counting …

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truth witch

Truthwitch by Susan Dennard – Another Review

Cindy spoke highly of Truthwitch, by Susan Dennard, so I decided to read it also.  Her review of Truthwitch really does a good job of summing up the book, so I won’t cover the same ground.  Rather, I’ll report that the book was fun to read and that its fast pace held my interest throughout.  The …

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the forgetting

The Forgetting by Sharon Cameron

Writing teachers tell their students to keep a journal, that by writing you learn about yourself.  This book gives a twist to that age-old wisdom.  First the title, every twelve years everyone in the community forgets everything.  To combat the periodic forgetting, everyone carries around a book where they write about their lives so that after the forgetting …

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children of the new world

Children of the New World by Alexander Weinstein

Children of the New World is a collection of 13 short stories, each taking place in a different, though future, place and time.  I’ll start off by admitting that I’m not usually a fan of short stories.  If I’m really enjoying a book, I like to stay with it for a while and really get …

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dark matter

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

Dark Matter is a fast-paced science fiction/mystery/thriller of a book.  It is the story of Jason Dessen, a physics professor who had the possibility to make it big but decided to marry his girlfriend when she became pregnant with his child and settle down.  His life is good, if a bit routine and average.  When …

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the reader

The Reader by Traci Chee

Sefia, the main character of The Reader, had a happy childhood and was loved by her parents and close to her Aunt.  However, they had prepared her a hiding place in case something bad happened.  One day assassins come and kill her parents and she goes into her secret room where she finds an unusual …

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central station

Central Station by Lavie Tidhar

Central Station takes place in a Tel Aviv of the future…far enough into the future that humans now have colonies spread throughout the solar system.  Central Station is the dominant feature of Tel Aviv; a space elevator where flights arrive and depart from all over outer space, and, as such, have inhabitants from every imaginable …

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Is Smoking Bad for You? Smoke by Dan Vyleta

Smoke by Dan Vyleta is one of Cindy’s favorites in our Hugo reading quest.  She spoke so highly of it that I thought I should read it also.  I started off with the first disk of the audiobook, but when that had to be returned to the library I continued with the hardcover.  The audiobook …

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truth witch

Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

This young adult book was a great read and should satisfy teens and young-at-heart adults who yearn for adventure, humor, close calls and an engaging fast-actioned book set in an original and well-constructed world. Safiya is a Truthwitch.  She can tell when someone is telling the truth or lying, which makes her valuable to those …

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the jewel and her lapidary

The Jewel and Her Lapidary by Fran Wilde

Fran Wilde not only creates a unique and imaginative world in this novella, but also gives us philosophical and moral dilemmas to ponder. In a kingdom reminiscent of ancient Rome, gems have the power to control and influence people. Most cannot hear the gems, but Lapidaries, those who can hear them, must be trained to control the gems …

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