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Book Reviews

Yankee Blue Or Rebel Gray?
Follow the adventures of young Sam Shaw, whose family is split apart by the Civil War. His brother and cousin fight against each other, his mother and her sister go through a world of emotions, and the deadly war takes place very near the Sawh family farm. This book really shows how young people went through life during this period in history.

How Free Markets Work
This wonderfully inventive book uses younger-reader characters and themes to explain basic and complex economics themes such as supply and demand, limited resources, budgeting, savings and consumption, hidden costs and making choices and such complex concepts as opportunity cost and cost-benefit analysis. The result is a rarity, a book that makes economics fun.

Into the Air
The subtitle of this book has the real information, and the title and subtitle together describe what type of book this really is. On the surface, Into the Air: An Illustrated Timeline of Flight looks to be a standard examination of how we got to the Wright Brothers and what has been happened since. However, this book is MUCH more than that. This book can be read and appreciated by readers of ALL ages, even adults!

Voices of Ancient Egypt
The folks at National Geographic have another winner on ancient Egypt, this one for slightly older readers. It's called Voices of Ancient Egypt, and its wonderful words and outstanding images will resonate with readers for a long time afterward. The device for this book is a good one: Each two-page spread is a picture of a worker and the work that he or she does in the society of ancient Egypt. Examples are Scribe, Farmer, Pyramid Builder, Embalmer, Goldsmith, and Washer of Clothes. Each person vividly explains his or her duties (in the words of Kay Winters), and the accompanying images (by Barry Moser) masterfully illustrate that work.

Adventures in Ancient China
Linda Bailey is at again, teaching kids about life in ancient times through the adventures of the Binkerton kids. This time out, the Binkertons travel to the land of the Great Wall and the Silk Road. The book is Adventures in Ancient China. The plot device in this book is the disappearance of young Libby, which leads to an examination of farming, food, family life, medicine, religion, government, transportation and culture (in separate storylines, of course) that is both entertaining and educational. (Kudos to Bailey for including the invention of paper and kites!)

Our Journey West
Follow the adventures of young Sarah Marshall as she travels with her family across America on the Oregon Trail in the mid-19th Century. Buffalo hunts, cattle drives, river fords, canoe rides, Indian encounters are all on the menu here, seen through the eyes of a 12-year-old. This book really shows how young people went through life during this period in history.

The Eve of Revolution
Follow the adventures of young Benjamin Wilcox as he sees first-hand the people and the events that built the American Revolution. This wonderful book focuses on life in the New England, Middle, and Southern colonies, as seen through the eyes of a 12-year-old boy whose father, a ship's captain, shows him the colonies as a whole and their agitations as a cause.

Eddie Rickenbacker: Boy Pilot and Racer
Another in the excellent Young Patriots Series, this book chronicles the young life and subsequent fame of Eddie Rickenbacker, who made a name for himself during World War I as an ace fighter pilot and also as a race care driver.

The Martial Arts Book
This slim book packs a lot of punch. It strikes the right chord in relating its story of the beginnings of martial arts, and it neither talks down to nor talks over the head of its audience. Find out where and why martial arts started. You might be surprised!

Ultra Hush-Hush
This is a well-rounded examination of an often overlooked part of WWII history, complete with updates on Navajo code talkers and all manner of graphics, timelines, photos, and other that make it well worth reading.

Who Came First?
The good folks at National Geographic have another winner with Who Came First?: New Clues to Prehistoric Americans. Written by noted children's author Patricia Lauber, this book paints some theories into a familiar canvas--how did the first Americans get to America.

Hana's Suitcase
What a wonderful way for young people to learn about a terrible part of history! Karen's Levine book Hana's Suitcase is the story of past and present, centering on a young Jewish girl during the Holocaust (past) and a Japanese woman trying to find out more about that girl's story (present).

Wolf Girls
Were two young girls raised by wolves? You decide. This fun historical mystery gives you the facts, the clues, and the possibilities. Then, you decide what really happened.

Lew Wallace, Boy Writer
Discover the wonderful, athletic, adventuring childhood of Lew Wallace, who as an adult wrote Ben-Hur. See him have frontier adventures and move from one infatuation to another until he finally discovers his true passion: books.

Navajo Long Walk
This excellent new book reminds readers of the sometimes terrible period in American history in which Native Americans were forced to leave their longtime homes for "new homes" that were "prepared" for them by the U.S. Army. Haunting illustrations accompany text that neither judges nor rants, letting the facts speak for themselves.

The Klondike Cat
Go along for a journey to the Klondike Gold Rush with Noah, his Pa, and Noah's cat, Shadow. Is Shadow too much weight for too little in return? Not when she gives birth to kittens that Noah sells for gold! This book, primarily for young readers, does an excellent job of teaching about the Klondike Gold Rush while telling the story of a boy and his cat. It is that rare historical fiction that teaches without even trying to do so.

Juliette Gordon Low, Girl Scout Founder
Discover the childhood of the founder of the Girl Scouts. See how her early spunk and determination to do things that weren't "ladylike" led her to greater challenges and to the founding of the Girl Scouts. A great read!

MAZE Adventures
These two fun new books from National Geographic give you the chance to storm a castle or explore an ancient Egyptian Pyramid, all the while trying to get through a maze and soak in all the historical detail you can handle. It's an ingenious way of presenting information and a reminder that even the smallest detail can make the largest difference in both historical research and ancient (or medieval) intrigue.

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Graphics courtesy of ArtToday

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