Search This Blog

Google+ Badge

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Middle Grades/YA early British History Made Interesting. In two languages!! Check out Laurel Rockefeller's, Boudicca

March 20, 2014 
 4 - 18   2 - 12
From the books description:
Why is The MorrĂ­gan's raven crying? Only Britons with hearts for true liberty know!

In 43 CE Roman conquest of Britannia seems all but certain -- until a chance meeting between King Prasutagus of the Iceni and a runaway slave of royal decent from the Aedui tribe in Gaul changes the fate of the British islands forever.

Rise up for liberty with the true story of Boudicca: Britain's Queen of the Iceni and discover one of the most inspiring stories in history!

Based on the accounts of Roman historian Tacitus and supplemented with archaeology presented by the BBC. Told through the eyes of a 5th century mother and daughter facing the Saxon invasions.

Now in Chinese also. What a positive event for author Laurel Rockefeller.  Check out the two covers. Both available through Amazon.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Happy Belated Birthday, Mr. President.

December 28, 1856- A President is born. Happy Birthday, Mr. President. Read about his childhood in Tommy: The Civil War Childhood of a President.

Tommy: The Civil War Childhood of a President is being used in schools and libraries for biography projects for upper elementary, MG readers. It is also finding favor with older readers who know more of the history of this president. Get to know Tommy, Thomas Woodrow Wilson.

The little boy who became President Thomas Woodrow Wilson was born December 28, 1856. In honor of his birthday, I am repeating my earlier blog about my childhood biography of him. Known to his family as Tommy, I think you will like the little boy that lives through one horrific war only to be called upon to lead us into another.

In Tommy: The Civil War Childhood of a President, readers will get to know Tommy through his family and friends, through his leisure moments, and even through his stubbornness and his caring for others. Each chapter provides insight into the youngster who became 28th president of the United States. The reader will see Tommy learn from his faith and family, and from the history lived. These lessons learned were later evident as President Thomas Woodrow Wilson guided his country through another war, World War I. 

In "Tommy" we get a glimpse of everyday life in a southern town not directly in the line of fire in a bloody civil war. An important strand in the book is found in the many parades, all verified, that took place in Augusta during that time. At the beginning of the war the parades were glorious. By the middle and end of the war the tempo of the parades was changing. The following except describes one memorable parade.

  An excerpt from Tommy: The Civil War Childhood of a President.

     The future President of the United States stood on the edge of the field fascinated by the parade passing in front of him.  He had seen many parades since the war started two years ago, but this one was different.  There were no brass bands playing, no freshly uniformed infantry units stepping high and no prancing cavalry horses.  No one was marching, and no one was cheering.

     This was not a parade of clean, smartly dressed military men.  This was a parade of ragged men in tattered uniforms.  Their sabers and sashes were replaced by blood and bandages. And dirt. 

     There was no one to watch this parade by the railroad track in Augusta, Georgia, but seven-year-old Tommy and his young friends.  Playing in the fields near the tracks, they had heard the solemn ringing of the troop-train's bell and watched as it shuddered to stop beside the field.  Curious, the boys ran to the train and watched as slowly it emptied its cargo of Civil War wounded.

          A few of the injured limped unaided, but many more shuffled, supported on one or both sides by others who were themselves wounded.  Others hobbled on crutches.  One man, with a foot missing kept his head down and his eyes on the bandage at the end of his leg.  He seemed to be looking at the foot that wasn't there.                               
     After the walking wounded came men on litters.  Their bodies, their heads, their limbs wrapped in bloody, dirty bandages.  Some of the blood was old and caked; some new and oozing. 
    One man alone seemed to see the boys.  His large body was covered with a blood-soaked blanket on which several medals and many flies competed for space.  His head and face were covered with bloody, dirty bandages.
     A foul, wretched smell filled the air through which the litters moved.  It was not a smell like the barnyard or the cow pen.  It was not even a smell like hogs being slaughtered.  This smell was worse, much worse.  As it grew stronger, Tommy and his friends covered their mouths and noses as to protect themselves from this smell which instinctively they knew to be the smell of death.

     Finally, from the car nearest the engine came a different sight.  Men under guard.  Men whose arms and legs were bound together, making it hard for them to walk.  So they too shuffled.  And they too were covered with dirt and blood and bandages.

     One of Tommy's friends  finally broke their silence.  "Come on," he said.  "Let's get back to our game."

     Everyone turned to go but Tommy.  Tommy stood still, only his head moving to follow the hundreds of wounded and dying soldiers who were passing by.

     Finally, he turned and headed, not toward his friends, but back to his home and the security of his family. He could play no more that day.  He wasn't sure he could ever play that game again.

      The boys had been playing war. 

Tommy: The Civil War Childhood of a President
A Childhood Biography of President Thomas Woodrow Wilson
By Julia Faye Dockery Smith

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

An Old Woman swallowing dreidels, oil, latkes and other things, and great artwork. What a special way to start Chanukah.

Today is the beginning of Chanukah, so I decided to review a wonderful book that came my way a few weeks ago. I Know An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Dreidel by Caryn Yacowitz and illustrated by David Slonim.

What a great book for all, but especially for our Jewish friends. The time-honored "There was an Old Lady who Swallowed a Fly," is adapted to items found in Jewish life. The family has gathered for Chanukah when the story begins. We start with "I know an old lady who swallowed a dreidel, A Chanukah dreidel she thought was a bagel, Perhaps it's fatal." Then of course, she had to swallow other items trying to offset the expected effects of swallowing a dreidel. She swallows some gelt, a brisket, some sauce, the latkes, etc. Did she even try to swallow the menorah? Was swallowing the dreidel fatal? You must read the book to find out. You will love the journey.

The beautiful, in every sense of the word, surprise is the artwork that accompanies this tale. The illustrations are parodies of famous artworks from the world over. They are usually hilarious and always true to the original. Everything from the Mona Lisa to The Scream and Christina's World can be found. At least 14 different artists' works are wonderfully parodied by the illustrator, David Slonim. Not just one illustration per artist, but many. One of my favorites, and this was a hard decision, is Van Gogh's full page Starry Night complete with a menorah. For some reason, too, Christina's World also speaks to me. The artist states that he wanted the book to transcend Chanukah and speak to the universal human experience of family gatherings and celebrations. He has succeeded beautifully through great artworks.

I'm so glad I received this book through Goodreads. I've enjoyed it immensely, but tomorrow, the second day of Chanukah I will gift it to my dear Jewish friends to share with their grandchildren. I rather hate to let it go, but in the spirit of my season and their season, I will


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

When I was growing up, there were always books for Christmas. It's still that way at our house.

When I was growing up, there were always books for Christmas. My parents taught me the value of reading very early in my life. From my first memories, I can recall being read to by one or the other of them. Books were always around the house, and Dad was a prolific reader.

When I entered first grade, no pre-k or kindergarten then, I quickly became an avid reader for myself. By fourth grade I had read every book in our elementary school library, mostly biographies of American heroes.  Thank goodness that after fourth grade the local library was on the bus route and even within walking distance when necessary.

But it was at Christmas that I received the seeds of a family tradition and added to my list of books read. I discovered early on that my Mom listened closely to my ramblings about books I wanted to read. She would then rush out and buy them for Christmas. They would quickly be hidden away, or so my folks thought.

I discovered the hiding places and would sneak the books out and read them. After putting them back I would casually say something to the fact that "Oh, Joanne's mother bought her such and such, and such and such, etc, and she let me read them." A little later I would mention other books I wanted to read, the list was as endless as it is now, and Mom would dispose of the read books and put more in their place. Some Christmases this pattern could be repeated 2,3 or even 4 times.

I was well into high school when it stopped and I never learned if she had a 'deal' with the local bookstore, or if those books went under someone else's tree through the church or work gift collections. I always felt that I had outsmarted my parents.

Years later, my Mother casually let it slip that she and Dad knew exactly what I was doing, and they helped perpetuate the myth. Perhaps that would explain why they started buying and hiding the books immediately after Thanksgiving.

They also helped start a family tradition, for everyone in my family knows they will have a book or books under the Christmas tree. When our daughter married, we were told that it wasn't necessary to buy our son-in-law a book because, well, you know. He received a book and has for the past 22 Christmases, and some birthdays! No complaints. The same story with our daughter-in-law. "Not that much of a reader," she said. Now, 13 years later, she feels free to give me lists of titles she wants to read. This year there is possibility that there will be a boyfriend of a granddaughter in attendance. If so, he will get a book. It's our family tradition.The secret is simply getting to know their interests.

In that vein, here are some books that would make great Christmas and Hanukkah gifts. Most of these are not from the best seller list, but great reads just the same. Let's also help other writers develop a fan base.
Happy Holidays to all.








More suggestions in a few days. Would love to hear YOUR suggestions.

Monday, December 8, 2014

The Kennedy Wives: Triumph and Tragedy in America's Most Public Family is engaging.

"The Kennedy Wives: Triumph and Tragedy in America's Most Public Family"  by Amber Hunt and David Batcher is really quite engaging. My first thought was "another Kennedy/Kennedy women book". This one, however, is an easy read, full of behind the public stage scene and manages to make all of the women someone to whom we can relate. The book made me laugh and made me cry. It reminded me of stories I had heard before, and related many new stories.

The women, and the men with whom they are directly involved, each have their own chapter or chapters with the matriarch Rose getting a real in-depth presentation. She is fascinating in her own right, even before becoming the bride of Joe Kennedy, Sr. Born in the middle of the relentless and deadly hot summer of 1890, Rose was in peril of dying. Instead she lived until 1995. Her life alone is worthy of a scholarly work.

The other women are, in my opinion, fairly treated, but this is not a fawning tribute to any of them. The least personable seemed to be Jackie, but then, perhaps her role in life kept her at a distance. Edward's wife at the time of his death is an interesting woman. One wonders how things might have been different had she come along earlier.

This is a well written, enjoyable book. If you have an enthusiastic Kennedy reader in your circle, they will probably want to read this. Othes can read and learn from it.

This is a new book, published December 2, 2014. Available at multiple outlets. I won my copy on goodreads.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

With December 7, 2014 approaching, re-posting this blog. Let us not forget.

December 7, 1941--" War Comes To Paradise" Pearl Harbor, Oahu, Hawaii

A brief story or the morning attack on December 7, 1941 told in large print and historic photos. A short tour of today's memorials to the memory of that morning and those lost and those that survived. Originally written as a video pictorial history for middle schoolers, the author was amazed at the number of parents and grandparents who wanted to borrow or purchase a copy. The text and photos are now available in an 8X10 history book. Appropriate for middle grade students to veterans. The pictorial tour tells of the many ships in port that day, of the buildings, planes, airstrips and bases away from the harbor front. The author spent several weeks at Pearl Harbor studying with scholars. For two weeks she had the privilege of having lunch each day with survivors of the early morning attack. This book is a concise history of that morning and a look at today's memorials published with gratitude to those who gave their lives and those who survived.

USS Utah Memorial

USS Arizona Memoial