Posts tagged ‘history’

MAGNIFICENT MALI

If Lou were Me and Lived in… the Ancient Mali Empire

Written by Carole P. Roman

Illustrated by Mateya Arkova

Take a step back in time to the 1300’s into The Kingdom of Mali, the most powerful empire in the Western Sudan. Imagine yourself as a child in a wealthy family living in the capital city of Niani at the crossroads of the caravan road that led to Mecca. Your grandfather and father are important advisers to the king. There is no written language. As the griot, your grandfather’s job is to hold in memory and recite the history of the people.

This book details the story of the Mandinka people. Learn about the culture and religions of the people, the farmers, artisans, and slaves who kept the economy functioning. The roles of family members differed greatly according to gender and order of birth. Foods, customs, and manner of dress are examined. At the end of the story, the author provides portraits of many of the individuals discussed as well as vocabulary words unfamiliar to readers from other parts of the world.

Arkova does a marvelous job of capturing the essence of the text in simple, colorful illustrations that portray its meaning in visual terms. There is an extraordinary amount of information packed into this picture book. Younger children will enjoy the illustrations, but I highly recommend it for children in grades five through eight as well. Wonderful classroom reference resource for teachers to place in their bookcase.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher and voluntarily chose to review with my honest opinions for no monetary compensation.

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WAITING TO BE TAMED

Meeting of the Mustangs

Written by Cathy Kennedy

mustangspic

Charming tale of less than one hundred pages focusing on the meanderings of a black mustang colt. As a young colt he loved to chase butterflies, playing with the other newborns. Traveling with the herd, he faced many dangers including attacks by a mountain lion and bear. One day he is separated from the herd. His travels will bring him across the lands of Kansas, New Mexico, Colorado and Oklahoma. The colt must face wildfires and hunter’s traps. One fateful day he is lassoed and brought to the barn of a ranch. A young girl named Paula tries to win his devotion, but he is afraid and that leads to being taken away once more. A kind rancher tries to tame him, but the mustang feels he must escape once more. An unexpected accident on the road leads to a chance meeting with Tyler that will change both of their lives forever.

This tale is written from the viewpoint of the black mustang. It is almost a stream of consciousness, while the plot moves along there is not a central thread. The author does an excellent job of securing empathy with the colt. Children who love or own horses will identify with the protagonist. The ending came as a surprise. I would love to see a sequel as I would love to see that story fleshed out. I would especially recommend the book to middle grade readers and teen audiences.

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A SECOND CHANCE

Guardian:Where a Dream is Challenged “An World War II Plane Who Decides To Never Give Up”

Written by Greer Alexis Bacon

Guardian,pic

Guardian is a WWII plane who is relating her story in first person. She goes back in time to tell how she met her pilot and together they valiantly fought. One day her fuel tank leaks; Guardian succeeds in getting her pilot down alive. Now that the war is over, she finds herself in a scrap metal junkyard and wonders what became of her pilot. While the rest of the planes are resigned to their fate, Guardian hopes that she will one day fly again, but day after day planes disappear from the yard to be sold for scrap metal.

One day the gate opens to a new owner. The planes will be repaired and sent to various museums. Guardian rejoices that her optimism has proven true, but what has happened to that soldier who once flew and loved her?

Targeted for audiences five and older, this approximately twenty-five page book is really a beginning reader chapter book. There are a few simple, but attractive, illustrations. This book is a well-written sweet story embedding elements of history. While I enjoyed the plot, I noted typos and editing errors on the cover and inside the kindle text edition. If not for these, I would have given the book five stars. I would still recommend it, especially for children who are early readers interested in planes or history.

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POIGNANT AND POWERFUL

Ever the Patriot: Recollections of Vincent J. Riccio World War II Veteran and POW

Edited by Candace Riccio Salem

EverthePatriot,pic

This book is told in first person based on the experiences of Vincent J. Riccio and edited by his daughter. It begins with the attack on Pearl Harbor and Riccio’s subsequent draft a few months later. Riccio began his service as an aviation mechanic in Mississippi. The first part of the book focuses on his hi jinks and pranks with his buddies as a young soldier. But Riccio wanted to fly; he eventually manages to get training as an aviator. After being sent to Horhem in England, Riccio flew combat missions over Germany. On the Luduigshafen mission, his plane was shot down. Riccio parachuted to safety, but eventually was taken prisoner by the Germans.

The second part of the story focuses on his imprisonment in POW camps and resourcefulness in surviving the Black Hunger March. As the war came closer to its end, Riccio uses his ingenuity to obtain weapons, food and German prisoners. Down to 84 pounds when he was freed from captivity, Riccio warms the reader’s heart when he relates his elation at seeing the Statue of Liberty in New York harbor upon his return to America. I think the gist of the book is best summarized in his own words, “You learn about people, you learn about human nature. You learn what the human body can take. The ones that couldn’t take it, didn’t make it.”

This story contains the gamut of human emotions; Riccio is at once the boy next door and a war hero. He does not judge, but simply tells it like it is. Recommended for teens and adults interested in history and human behavior.

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EGYPTIAN EXPLORERS

Hieroghyph (TC’S ADVENTURES BOOK 1)

Written by WJ Scott

Illustrated by John Helle-Nielsen

Hieroglyph,pic

I will be honest in saying that this book was different from what I expected. The cover is a bit of a mystery and the table of contents lists numbers only with no word clues. Once into the book, the reader is quickly drawn into the narrative. Thirteen year old TC is sitting in the Vice-Principal’s office trying to explain how she knew where a stolen ring could be found. TC lives with her Aunt Letty in New Zealand since her archaeologist parents were killed in a cave in. Aunt Letty is off on an environmental expedition, and TC will be going off to spend a weekend with her uncle in Australia.

Here is where the book takes a dramatic departure. The reader learns that TC has a special gift. She is able to time travel and connect with past history when she touches hieroglyphs. Her uncle Max is trying to get funding for an archaeological expedition to prove that ancient Egyptians traveled to Australia in search of gold.

I will not reveal details of the plot, but Scott seamlessly takes the reader back and forth as TC alternately explores the shipwreck and explorations of Prince Setka and Prince Kanefer in ancient times and back into the present with TC, her Uncle Max, her friends and enemies who seek to undo their discoveries. Characters are well developed and the narrative carefully written to make the plot believable. TC is a strong-willed female who faces modern problems and crises, while longing to solve the mysteries of the past.

Targeted for readers nine and older, the book will appeal to younger and older audiences. Promises to be a good series for lovers of ancient Egypt, adventure, mystery and intriguing characters.

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MARDI GRAS MAYHEM

The Mardi Gras Chase (True Girls Book 1)

Written by Maggie M. Larche

mardigras,pic

Fast moving middle grade mystery adventure involving three friends, Melanie, Kate, and Faye. While attending one of the mardi gras parades in Mobile, Alabama, the girls notice that some of the letters on the floats are upside down. They copy the letters R.C.E.N.R.A.P. In addition, the strange letters appear only on the high and “poufy” floats. These friends do some internet research, discovering that Mr. Simmingham is their designer. The girls visit the museum to investigate the floats stored from the parade they had missed and vow to attend the rest of the parades during the week to continue the investigation. But the friends must attend a history presentation on Saturday, so they enlist Matt to collect the information. The plot thickens when Matt is arrested; the girls are relieved to find he had already succeeded in his mission. They are unsuccessful in cracking the code until they receive help from an unlikely source. A visit to the cemetery leads to another hair raising adventure and unexpected rewards.

Targeted for a middle grade audience of eight to twelve year olds, the plot moves along quickly. There is probably a bit too much dialogue, but that is appropriate for this age group. Strong female role models, strong family relationships, a tinge of scariness and mystery, plus the unusual Mobile mardi gras setting, set it apart from the typical middle grade adventure tale. First book in a series that will succeed if the characters continue to grow and evolve.

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HAUNTED BY HISTORY

MikeCashRafterCopter
 The History Major: A Novella
Written by Michael Phillip Cash

HistoryMajor,picI received a copy of this book in return for an honest non-biased review.

Hung over college student Amanda Greene wakes up in her dorm to an unsettling situation. She vaguely remembers a fight the night before with her boyfriend, Patrick, and partying with her two best girlfriends who don’t like him. But her room is at once familiar and strangely different; her roommate is someone she has never met. Finding her classroom schedule on the bed, Amanda is distressed to see a history class on it; Amanda hates history. She rushes to the Registrar building to drop the class, but the administrators tell her she must take the course. Amanda walks through the campus, which seems oddly different. Buildings appear and disappear, and she has the feeling of being stalked.

Resigned to her fate, Amanda is drawn to the history lecture, where she meets Nick and her professor who is dressed like Aristotle. His lecture is even stranger. He drolls on about Joan of Arc, Pope Alexander VI, Lucretia Borgia and other historical characters, but as he does so Amanda is drawn back into history interacting with and sometimes being attacked by them. Nick tells her, “They all hear what they have to hear.” Amanda’s thoughts drift back and forth between the past and her own reality. She has flashbacks of her grandmother, mother, and abusive stepbrother, Wayne. How can there be a connection? Amanda hears the words, “People are trapped in history, and history is trapped in them.”

What is real, what is fantasy, and how will Amanda deal with integrating both within her present life?

Elements of a thriller, paranormal, history and a psychological study combine to make this novella a compelling read. The first couple of chapters confused me, and I definitely disliked Amanda. As I got into the plot, I could not stop reading. Lots of interesting dialogue and colorful language engage the reader. Plenty of twists and turns keep the reader on edge; the ending caught me off guard. Recommended for teen and adult audiences as a thought provoking afternoon read.

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PhillipCash About the Book
After a vicious fight with her boyfriend followed by a night of heavy partying, college freshman Amanda Greene wakes up in her dorm room to find things are not the same as they were yesterday. She can’t quite put her finger on it. She’s sharing her room with a peculiar stranger. Amanda discovers she’s registered for classes she would never choose with people that are oddly familiar. An ominous shadow is stalking her. Uncomfortable memories are bubbling dangerously close to her fracturing world, propelling her to an inevitable collision between fantasy and reality. Is this the mother of all hangovers or is something bigger happening?

Praise
“Cash intermingles beauty and violence …It’s smartly ambiguous and open
to interpretation, and some may delight in a second (or third) read.” – Kirkus Reviews

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