Passenger on the Pearl by Winifred Conkling

Passenger on the Pearl by Winifred Conkling (Algonquin Books, January 13, 2015) is a middle-grade nonfiction story about two young girls who sought to escape slavery in 1840s Washington, D.C.

Emily Edmonson was only 13 when she joined siblings and others on the small ship The Pearl in hopes to escape North. It was the most daring mass slave escape ever attempted, and it was tragically captured before it reached the safety of the North. The book captures the horrors of slavery from a unique perspective: that of a girl on the brink of freedom.Continue Reading

Kid Presidents by David Stabler

Kid Presidents by David Stabler and illustrated by Doogie Horner (Quirk Books, October 2014) is a delightful picture book with stories of the presidents as kids. But it is not a typical presidential childhood book. Rather than following the presidents in chronological order, Mr Stabler has focused on the presidents’s childhood hobbies, trouble-making, and childhood jobs. The actual categories are “After-School Activities,” “Fantastic Journeys,” and “It’s Not Easy Growing Up.”Continue Reading

Tender at the Bone by Ruth Reichl

You know how sometimes a book reaches you at just the right time?

Tender at the Bone by Ruth Reichl was truly just what I needed this Thanksgiving season. It’s a memoir of growing up but it is also about food in all the little events that make up a childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood.

I was able to take a trip away from home and away from my two young kids (and my husband) for the first time, essentially, since I became a mother seven years ago. It was a much needed break.

But in the midst of the turkey and pie, I also read this gem of a book and it hit me in all the right spots. Family relationships: I can’t ruin my kids too badly. Cooking: I’m not as hopeless as I feel. Life in general: It’s a mix of all the moments, and the joys of simple memories will probably win out in the end.

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Excavate! Dinosaurs by Jon Tennant

Excavate! Dinosaurs by Jon Tennant (Storey Publishing, October 2014) is a crafty book in which the facts of the first half supplement the dinosaur bones cut outs of the second half.Kids read about 12 different kinds of dinosaurs and then must put them together. The catch, however, is that the dinosaur bones are not labeled, so like a paleontologist, the young reader must figure out how it all fits together by trial, error, and a bit of understanding about the animals in the first place.

I really liked this book. In the first half, it provides a lot of fun facts, but it is not too long for the text-weary child. I love how it gives background for archaeology in general by talking about layers of the earth and dinosaur eras. With the hands on puzzles, it is sure to be a hit with a dinosaur fan.

In fact, I decided to get this for my son for the holidays. I can’t wait to see what my son thinks of it on Christmas morning!

Note: I received a digital copy of this book for review consideration. I decided to then buy it for my son!