Posts tagged ‘nonfiction’

PRESIDENTIAL PHANTOMS

Haunted Presidents:Ghosts in the Lives of the Chief Executive

Written by Charles A. Stansfield, Jr.

HauntedPresidentspic

This book presents portraits of the lives of the first forty presidents in US history and the possibility of hauntings or paranormal events associated with them and their families. While the author has written other books on the paranormal, he has also taught and written books on cultural and regional geography. Here he has ventured into the world of history as well, and while I have not double checked all the historical background which is sketchy in spots, it appears to be fairly well researched.

In his introduction, Stansfield informs the reader that ghosts are bipartisan and universal. Because the presidents are in a unique position to influence history, it makes sense that they might become restless spirits unable to leave our world. According to public opinion polls ten to forty percent of Americans believe they personally have had contact with a deceased person. Obviously some presidents have had more influence than others and it is the same with ghosts or the likelihood of ghost stories being associated with them.

Stansfield believes the relative degree of interest in a presidential ghost story is related to what he calls the “Three C’s.” These are character, charisma and circumstances. Presidents like Lincoln, Washington and Theodore Roosevelt have strong character that embody virtues like courage, perseverance and integrity. First ladies such as Dolley Madison and Jackie Kennedy possessed extraordinary charisma. Circumstances in one’s life often influence the legends like the strong influence in spiritualism displayed by Abraham Lincoln and his wife, Mary. President Woodrow Wilson was driven to despair because he was unable to succeed in achieving his dream of world peace.

The place where ghosts appear is usually based on a location that was especially significant to that person’s life. One example is the funeral route of Lincoln’s final train ride. Another is the Key West Cottage where Harry Truman and his wife often stayed. The White House is probably our country’s most famous haunted house. One of the most unusual stories is that of the demon cat which appears in the basement and crypt of the Capitol building. At first it seems to be a kitten, but soon evolves into a huge, snarling cat. Believers claim that this cat materialized shortly before the attack on Pearl Harbor, the assassination of JFK, and the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. Ghosts of past White House Staff open and close doors and lights. Even Winston Churchill and a British Queen have reported seeing the ghost of Abraham Lincoln in his former bedroom.

Whether you are a skeptic or not, you will enjoy reading about tidbits of historical information like the fact that Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan were sure they saw UFO’s and the fact that George Washington appeared on a horse with a flaming sword at the Battle of Gettysburg to encourage the Union forces on to victory. The ghost of John Adams is said to haunt the former Supreme Court chamber in the Capitol building where he defended fifty three Africans who revolted against their slave captors on the Amistad and sailed to an American port seeking freedom and return to Africa.

The book can be read in chronological order or used as a reference to a certain period of history. Its story line is appropriate for young adult and adult audiences. Classroom teachers might want to use the paranormal aspect to encourage more interest in presidential facts and historical events. Certainly an interesting way to view American history.

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IDENTITY CRISIS

I am Lubo

Written by Lou Pechi

I Am Lubo, picamazon

This story is not simply another holocaust survival tale, but rather a journey of one child’s struggle to discover his true identity. The story begins in June, 1938 in Zagreb with a young boy named Lubo who sketches a happy, carefree life including imitating a traffic policeman and going to the barber shop with his father, Kolega. His mother Mutika adores him; the only thorn in his side is his mean governess, “Fraulein.” Lubo’s carefree life of playing with tin soldiers, trains and cars is shattered on April 6, 1941, when he is trapped in the air raid on Belgrade while visiting his grandmother. His mother takes him on a desperate journey by rail, boat and foot in an attempt to return home, only to find Nazi soldiers in their living room upon their arrival. With a child’s simplicity, Lubo is delighted to see real soldiers carrying real guns visiting his home. Soon Lubo’s parents are required to wear badges indicating that they are Jews, and Kolega joins the army. Conditions rapidly deteriorate; Lubo’s parents decide to convert to Catholicism and flee to Italy.

Lubo embarks on a lifelong quest to find his identity. His journey will include living with aunts, uncles and cousins,staying with his mother in Italy, narrowly avoiding being sent to a concentration camp in Germany, and getting back to Yugoslavia with his father for a short time. Lubo just wants to be back living a normal child’s life with his parents, but their lives keep taking separate turns. Lubo will even find himself on a kibbutz in Israel living with other children of foreigners who also see themselves as outcasts. When Lubo is finally nearing his eighteenth birthday, he decides to join the Israeli Air Force so he can use the technical knowledge he enjoys. Again he is frustrated because he does not have a high school diploma; so he pleads with his mother, who is now living in America to send for him. Lubo finds another roadblock when he arrives in America. He will encounter new forms of discrimination and frustration in America as well. Despite all obstacles, Lubo eventually succeeds in discovering his path to success and happiness.

I am truly impressed with the honestly and sincerity of this memoir which took the author much of his life to write. He writes from the perspective of a frightened child who through no fault of his own has been placed in the path of overwhelming roadblocks to his success. The events of the holocaust are cast in historical perspective seen through the eyes of a young child who had to constantly rearrange his life to suit them. Adding to the uniqueness of the story are the personal photographs of people, places, and events that the author has managed to acquire. It is a powerful read that I think tweens and teens as well as adults will find compelling. Pechi includes an epilogue revealing what happened to each of the major characters. Another bonus feature is a list of questions that the reader should be able to answer after reading the book that will guide classroom or seminar discussion groups on the holocaust. A highly recommended read!

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NEW BOOK IN LITTLE MISS HISTORY SERIES COMING SOON!

Little Miss History Travels to the Statue of Liberty
By: Barbara Ann Mojica
Ilustrated by Victor Ramon Mojica

SOLcoverI am so excited to announce that the second book in the Little Miss History nonfiction travel series will be released in a few weeks! This time around you will find Little Miss History “hanging around” The Statue of Liberty. She will be your guide to learning about the creators, the builders, the contributors, her journey, and the events connected to her history.

 

Here is a sneak preview of the cover. Looking forward to having you on the journey!

WEIRD AND WONDERFUL

Weird Animals: It Came From Planet Earth! Strange, Weird and Unusual Animals

By: Maya Lee Shye

 Weird Animals

This book is a fascinating study of the habitat and behavior of strange animals living on land, in the sea and up in the air on planet earth. Also unusual is its appeal to all ages from younger children through adults. The author describes more than thirty animals and provides a photograph of each. Some of these have been on earth for millions of years. That’s right, the Coelacanth is the oldest jawed fish still alive on our planet. This fish with eight hollow spine fins covered by tough scales acting like a coat of armor can grow up the six feet long and existed on earth 410 million years ago! The Tuatara is the last reptile that lived on earth as a contemporary of the dinosaurs 225 million years ago. They still exist on remote islands in the Pacific Ocean and some wildlife sanctuaries. The Tarsiers are primates with huge eyes that leap from tree to tree. They are carnivores who are probably the ancestors of two legged primates. The slow loris is a primitive monkey with a very large round head and eyes. Their arms and legs are of equal size. This southeastern Asia native also bites with a poisonous venom lethal to many humans.

Many animals have evolved with adaptations needed for their environment. There is an African Penguin native to the warm coast of Africa. These animals burrow in the ground to keep cool. Glands above the eyes high on their heads help them cool their bodies. The North Island Brown Kiwi is a bird that does not fly because its wings are tiny. The animal is the size of a chicken. Like a dog the kiwi bird uses its nose to find food. These animals live in underground burrows. The male sits on eggs in the nest, while the female goes out to hunt for food. Their eggs are the largest known bird eggs. New Zealand has adopted this bird as their national symbol. Giant Tortoises living in the Galapagos Islands can weigh up to 600 pounds so their bodies have been adapted to move slowly and burn few calories. In fact, they can go as long as one year without eating or drinking anything!

There are many animals with adaptations that make them look strange. The Glass Frog  lives in Venezuela and central America. Its body is translucent so that it is totally invisible to predators. The Shoebill is a bird that lives in the swamps of east Africa. It is related to the stork, but its bill looks like a giant shoe. This cartoon like character spends most of its time standing silently along the water, but can fly at low altitude. When it does fly, it usually flies in a group that chatters. Archaeologists have found drawings of this bird in ancient Egyptian art. The Okapi is a forest giraffe that has black and white legs like a zebra. Its tongue is so long that it can wash its ears! One animal may someday help us find a cure for cancer. The Naked Mole Rat lives in tunnels on the desert coast of East Africa. This animal uses little oxygen and has no hair. It does not feel pain and appears to be resistant to cancer. Its life span is longer than any other mammal of comparable size. Another oddity is that these animals are eusocial like bees. One female is designated queen; all the other rats will work to sustain the colony.

More than thirty animals are discussed in this book. The work may serve as a springboard for analysis, discussion, comparison and evaluation of topics in  life science, geography, evolution and environment. I recommend it as a valuable learning reference tool for adults and children of all ages.

EARTH’S AMAZING ANIMALS

Animals for Kids: 20 Exciting Animal Pictures with Animal Facts for Kids

by Nabila Owens

AmazingAnimalsThis is a nonfiction book which taught me some interesting facts about animals. A giraffe has the highest blood pressure of any animal, turtles have been on earth for more than two million years, and you can tell the mood of a zebra by looking at its ears! Owens points out that scientists are continuing to research  and investigate. They will undoubtedly discover new species on land, in air and under the sea. The author discusses their patterns of behavior, what they eat, the climates they live in, and how they survive. Many of them are as afraid of us as we are of them. There are many animals that are endangered because humans have taken over their native habitats. The author urges the young reader to learn about conservation and how to protect them from extinction. All of us must share the planet earth together!

This book features twenty animals. Some of them like dogs, cats and turtles have been largely domesticated and may be our pets. Others like elephants, cheetahs, lions and zebras might be visited in a zoo. An aquarium visit could allow us to visit dolphins, whales and sharks. There are animals who may be seen all over the world like the many species of birds and spiders, and others like the kangaroo which are only found in Australia and New Guinea.  Animals like some spiders and snakes have the ability to harm humans with one bite! Animals may make wonderful pets, or interesting creatures to visit in a man-made controlled habitat, but they can be dangerous. Each of them have unique qualities to their species. Always ask an adult before approaching an animal you do not know.

The author provides actual photographs of the animals. I think a little more illustration would have been beneficial to the kindle edition which I reviewed.  Photographs are limited to one small picture per animal making it is difficult to see details. Teachers might want to choose this book as a read aloud introduction for one animal which will be further researched. Parents would not want to attempt to read this book in one setting to a younger child. The text is aimed toward a middle grade and up reader. All in all it is a good book to introduce children to animal life on planet earth! If you would like to get information on more books for children, please subscribe to this biweekly blog by clicking on the Follow + icon in the lower right or the orange RSS feed icon in the upper right hand corner,

HAPPY EARTH DAY EVERYONE

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