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

I Walked to Zion by Susan Arrington Madsen


I Walked to Zion by Susan Arrington Madsen (Deseret Book, 1994) is a delightful collection of first person accounts of Mormon pioneers who traveled across the American Great Plains to Utah from the late 1840s to 1860s. Although the volume is probably intended for adults to read, the engaging and interesting stories of the pioneers have such detail and provide interest so that even very young children would appreciate hearing the stories.Continue Reading

First Mothers by Beverly Gherman


We often encounter books about the wives of the U.S. presidents. We’ve seen a number of books about the presidents themselves. But what about the mothers of the presidents?

First Mothers by Beverly Gherman and Julie Downing (Clarion Books, 2012) finally puts the mothers’ stories at the forefront. With just one or two pages per mother, Gherman captures the personalities of the women who raised the people who would become president of the USA. The facts are interesting, relevant, and amusing. Julie Downing’s cartoon-like illustrations keep humor through the book as well, highlighting the humor of the mother’s stories.Continue Reading