President George Washington

When George Washington was young, his mother would not let him go to sea. But later, George became a hero when he led the Continental Army in battle and helped America win its freedom from England. He was elected the first president of the new nation and tried his best to keep the country at peace. George Washington was one of the greatest men of his time. 

President George Washington covers George’s life, starting when he was nine years old and living in Virginia. The story explains how he became chief of the Continental Army in the Revolutionary War and the first president of the United States. The story ends with his death. While the book does not go into great detail, readers will learn interesting facts about George Washington and see how he became one of America’s heroes.

The book uses large text, short chapters, and simple vocabulary to make it accessible to readers in first and second grade. Each page has two to seven simple sentences and a large illustration. The earth-toned pictures bring George’s world to life. While the war scenes are not graphic, the scenes of soldiers fighting Native Americans may upset some readers. The back of the book includes important dates and suggested reading.

Adler gives readers a brief look into George Washington’s life and will help readers understand why George Washington was considered “first in war, first in peace, and the first in the hearts of his fellow citizens.” Beginning readers who want to learn more about colonial days will find President George Washington educational and engaging.

Sexual Content 

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Violence 

  • During the French and Indian War, George Washington said, “I have heard the bullets whistle, there is something charming in the sound.”
  • The story has several pages that show George Washington and his army fighting Native Americans in the French and Indian War. In addition, the illustration for the Boston Tea Party shows people dressed up as Native Americans with feathers in their hair.

Drugs and Alcohol 

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Supernatural

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The Dog that Dug for Dinosaurs

There once was a little dog named Tray. He lived in England with his owner, Mary Ann Anning. Besides Mary Ann, Tray loved one other thing: he loved to dig for dinosaur bones. Together he and Mary Ann found small bones, big bones, and even entire skeletons! People came from all around the world to see the bones they found. This is the true story of Tray, the dog that dug for dinosaurs. 

The Dog that Dug for Dinosaurs will please young readers who love dogs and dinosaurs. This true story shows how Mary Ann and Tray worked together to find dinosaur fossils. Throughout her life, Mary Ann studied and searched for dinosaurs. At first, they found small fossils, but eventually, they also found an ichthyosaur that is still displayed in the British Museum in London.  

Mary Ann and Tray’s activities come to life in large illustrations that often include pictures of the fossils they found. The illustrations are drawn using the muted browns and greens of nature. Occasionally, the many people that came to meet Mary Ann and Tray are pictured, which introduces readers to the fashions of the early 1800s.  

As part of the Ready-To-Read Level Three Series, The Dog that Dug for Dinosaurs is best suited for confident readers who are ready to tackle more challenging vocabulary and sentence structures. The story has a more complicated plot and deeper character development than books in lower levels. Most pages have approximately six sentences with illustrations that break up the text.   

The Dog that Dug for Dinosaurs will entertain readers as it shows how Mary Ann and Tray turned their passion for finding fossils into a lifelong adventure that impacted the field of paleontology. The story is perfect for young readers that love dinosaurs. Readers who want to learn more about dinosaurs and finding fossils should check out the picture book Barnum’s Bones: How Barnum Brown Discovered the Most Famous Dinosaur in the World by Tracey Fern. If you’re looking for a fun, fictional book about dinosaurs, The Dino Files Series by Stacy McAnulty is sure to please.  

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Drugs and Alcohol 

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Spy Files: Spy School

Do you have what it takes to go undercover and discover the secret world of espionage?    

Spy Files: Spy School stealthily slips into the shadows, exposing different types of spies, the training techniques of the secret service, and the fake identities and disguises they use. Discover the grisliest methods of interrogation and the greatest tales of escape. Unmask the celebrity with vital information in World War II. Reveal how a CIA disguise expert helped six diplomats escape from a hostage crisis.    

Packed with case studies, photographic evidence, and mug shots, readers will learn about shaking a tail, spy training, double agents, identity exchange surveillance, black-bag operations, and more.   

Spy School uses a fun format that breaks up information into small, manageable parts. Each two-page spread changes topics and each page has only one to three short paragraphs, plus photo captions. Each page has illustrations such as historical photos, drawings, and mug shots. Plus, some pages have an infographic titled “Top Secret” that gives additional information on spying. While the format will appeal to many readers, the large font and short paragraphs don’t allow each topic to be explored in detail. 

Spy School will whet the reader’s appetites with a wide range of spy-related topics. However, some readers may be disappointed by the book’s brevity, since each topic is covered in seven or fewer sentences. However, if you want to get a quick look into the spy world to see if it is truly like a James Bond movie, then Spy School is the book for you. Because of the wide range of topics, Spy School would also be good if you’re browsing for a more specific topic for a research paper. Readers who want a fictional book on cracking codes, stealing secrets, and dodging bullets should also sneak into the library and grab a copy of Spy School #1 by Stuart Gibbs.  

Sexual Content 

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Violence 

  • Oleg Penkovsky was a double agent who was “interrogated and shot by the KGB.” 
  • KGB agent Ramon Mercader killed Joseph Stalin’s rival “with an ice pick.”  
  • An anti-Soviet Ukrainian was poisoned with “gas spray hidden in a newspaper.” 
  • During World War II, some spies were tricked. “One prisoner would be taken behind a truck and a shot fired. The other prisoner would become scared and talk. The trick was that the gun had only been fired at the ground.” 

Drugs and Alcohol 

  • In order to avoid being interrogated, “some spies carry deadly cyanide pills, to be used to prevent them breaking down under torture.” 

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Supernatural 

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Code Name Badass: The True Story of Virginia Hall

When James Bond was still in diapers, Virginia Hall was behind enemy lines, playing a dangerous game of cat and mouse with Hitler’s henchmen. Did she have second thoughts after a terrible accident left her needing a wooden leg? Please. Virginia Hall was the baddest broad in any room she walked into. When the State Department proved to be a sexist boys’ club that wouldn’t let her in, she gave the finger to society’s expectations of women and became a spy for the British. This boss lady helped arm and train the French Resistance and organized sabotage missions. There was just one problem: the Butcher of Lyon, a notorious Gestapo commander, was after her. But, hey—Virginia’s classmates didn’t call her the Fighting Blade for nothing.

So how does a girl who was a pirate in the school play, spent her childhood summers milking goats, and rocked it on the hockey field end up becoming the Gestapo’s most wanted spy? Audacious, irreverent, and fiercely feminist, Code Name Badass is for anyone who doesn’t take no for an answer. 

Code Name Badass chronicles Virginia Hall’s fight against societal norms and the Nazis. Hall’s experience highlights the amazing power of perseverance, bravery, and never taking no for an answer. As part of the French Resistance movement, Hall faced constant danger. However, she never stopped fighting.  

With historical photos and excerpts from historical documents, Code Name Badass brings the women who helped win World War II to light. A list of other exceptional women spies appears at the back of the book along with a long list of resources that Demetrios utilized. While Hall’s story is motivating, Demetrios’ tone and constant reminders of sexism become a little off-putting. For example, Demetrios writes, “Dindy (Hall’s nickname) had a lot of luck. Buckets of it. She had a lot of bad luck, too, but, with one major exception, that bad luck stemmed only from the fact that she had a vagina.” 

Readers who love history, especially World War II history, will find Code Name Badass full of little-known facts. While Hall’s story is interesting, it is not for the weak of heart. The brutality of the Germans is repeatedly described, and many of Hall’s contacts lost their lives because of the Germans’ cruelty. Because of the book’s difficult vocabulary and detailed descriptions, Code Name Badass is not the book for readers looking for a light, entertaining historical fiction book. However, anyone interested in spycraft, World War II, or the women who have impacted our world will find Code Name Badass informative and interesting.  

Sexual Content 

  • While discussing Dindy’s “badassery,” Demetrios writes: “Never take no for an answer. (Unless someone says they don’t want to have sex with you, kiss you, be touched by you, etc. Then no means no.)” 
  • During wartime, women were sexually assaulted and raped as “a key strategy” to breaking down “civilians and combatants alike.”  
  • During the French occupation, Germans visited brothels. 
  • One double agent was known to keep mistresses. 
  • One female agent “got knocked up in the field” by another agent. 
  • Another female agent “drove one agent so batty with love that he literally threw himself into the Danube, intending suicide.” The agent was known to cheat on her husband with “sexy spy guys.” 

Violence 

  • During a hunting expedition, Dindy accidentally shot herself. “The shell ripped into her left foot, tearing past the skin and driving through cartilage and bone. Virginia collapsed, staring down at what had once been called a foot.” Dindy’s foot is amputated. 
  • During the Battle of France, “Bullets started flying, bombs began to drop, and shit got real. . .” Dindy helped by becoming an ambulance driver, who “saw men dying around her every day in the most horrible of ways, the soil once again being soaked with French blood.”  
  • During the battle, roads were bombed, “caring little that the dusty streets and highways and country lanes were filled with refugees who were desperate to get away from the fighting.” 
  • During World War II, “the French government would cut off your head if you had an abortion.” 
  • During the war, William Simpson was “shot down” and sustained “terrible burns and los[t] both hands.”  
  • Resistance fighters “killed a Gestapo agent, then dumped the body on the steps of [the Germans’] headquarters with a note: ‘With the compliments of British Intelligence.’”  
  • Dindy has dinner with Olivier, another spy. The restaurant’s “door crashes open, and a dozen gendarmes swam in, guns, batons, or haughty chins raised. Screams fill the café, and glass shatters as tables are overturned and precious rationed food and drink fall to the floor. . .” With help, both spies escape.
  • The Gestapo was cruel to prisoners: “Dogs let loose on prisoners, fingernails pried off, prisoners tied up with spiked handcuffs. . . Agents and Resistance fighters were often tortured for information.”  
  • Dindy’s supervisors told Dindy that a “dangerous man” had infiltrated her group. The supervisor told Dindy “she was fully authorized to have him disposed of as neatly as possible.” 
  • Two men put their family on a ship heading to England. “Their parents, wives, and Alfred’s three children all drowned when their ship . . . was torpedoed by the Germans.”  
  • The book mentions people who were killed by the Germans. Most accounts are not graphic. For example, according to Dindy, “the Germans had gotten all ancient Rome on the Resistance, skewering their bodies on iron posts as a warning to all.” 
  • Several agents were “brutally murdered in the Dachau concentration camp. . . all three were shot in the back of the head, then their bodies shoved into the camp’s crematoriums.”   
  • One man refused to do the Germans’ biddings. The man “tried to cut his throat rather than bend his will.”   
  • If Dindy and her crew saw Germans lurking around, they would kill the Germans. “One story has it that Dindy’s boys would drop German bodies in the Lignon River after they’d done away with them.” 
  • One spy was captured and “he was beaten, tortured, and then shipped off to Buchenwald, where he suffocated and died in a cattle car stuffed with more than 150 prisoners.” Another captured spy “had her front teeth knocked out and her arm broken.” 
  • Gestapo agent Klaus Barbie was brutal. “His accusers testified about Barbie raping female inmates in the presence of not only other guards, but also of the Resistance members waiting in the hallway to get tortured . . . Barbie encouraged German shepherds to chase naked women around their cells; each time the women were viciously bitten, Barbie would laugh maniacally. He beat children.” 
  • Spy Odette Sanson “underwent fourteen Gestapo interrogations. . . was held captive by the Germans for two years. . . they branded her back with a hot iron and pulled out all her toenails.” 

Drugs and Alcohol 

  • Occasionally, the book mentions adults drinking alcohol. For example, during prohibition, Dindy traveled to Europe where she could “enjoy oodles of wine.” 
  • After accidentally shooting herself, Dindy was given morphine in the hospital. 
  • Spies were given cyanide pills to use “on themselves or others.”  
  • To help agents’ stamina, they were issued amphetamines. “For Dindy, popping those bitter-tasting blue Benzedrine pills was sometimes the only way she could juggle the revolving door of agents, Resistance workers. . . who knocked on her door, day and night.” 
  • Dindy loved to drink “gin and Italians, a mix of gin and vermouth.”

Language   

  • Profanity is used often. Profanity includes ass, bastard, bitch, dumbass, damn, dicked, pussy, fuck, hell, and shit. 
  • When Dindy was nineteen, she “became engaged to a complete douchebag.”  
  • Gaulle was a “total dick when it came to how he treated the foreign agents.”  
  • Klaus Barbie, an evil Gestapo agent, “was a real motherfucker.” 

Supernatural 

  • After accidentally shooting herself, Dindy “insisted until her dying day that on ‘several occasions’ her deceased father, Edwin Hall, came to visit.” 

Spiritual Content 

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Top Secret: A Handbook of Codes, Ciphers, and Secret Writing

Attention: Junior Secret Agent 

Now that these top-secret files have fallen into your hands, you have in your possession everything you’ll need to know about making and breaking codes and ciphers. From everyday codes and pictographs to encryption and concealment methods used throughout history, this handbook proves the necessary tools for a budding cryptographer. And as you’ll see, a duo of seasoned, sneaky spies is on the case to illustrate how it all works. 

Your mission: Reading this book! 

Top Secret: A Handbook of Codes, Ciphers, and Secret Writing gives many examples of ciphers, including ones from literature such as Poe’s ciphers in “The Tell-Tale Heart” and “The Fall of the House of Usher.” For each coded message, the answers are in the back of the book, which allows readers to try to figure out the message without peeking at the answers. In addition to ciphers, the book includes information on code-breaking. There are several coded messages that readers will have fun trying to decipher. Readers will also learn about different liquids they can use to make invisible ink. 

Many examples of historical codes are scattered throughout the book, and the end of the book has a chapter titled the “Codemakers and Codebreakers Hall of Fame.” This chapter gives more examples of historical people, such as Benedict Arnold, who used ciphers. Many of the people who created ciphers did so to hide military secrets. However, no bloody battle scenes are described. Instead, the book uses a down-to-earth tone that will appeal to readers. In addition, every one to three pages has some type of graphic element—a practice code, a list, or a black and white illustration. Most of the illustrations are humorous, such as a spy running away from an angry pig.  

Top Secret: A Handbook of Codes, Ciphers, and Secret Writing uses an entertaining format to introduce the art of spying. Through historical examples, readers will learn many interesting facts about codemaking, ciphers, codebreaking, and concealment. Anyone who has ever wondered how spies pass secret messages must read this book. To learn more about the Culper Spy Ring, grab a copy of George Washington’s Spies by Claudia Friddell as well.  

Sexual Content 

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Violence 

  • Mary Queen of Scots used a substitution cipher, but “it was the discovery and deciphering of this system by her enemies that caused her to lose her head to the executioner when she was convicted of plotting to overthrow Queen Elizabeth.” 
  • An ancient Greek historian, Herodotus, would send messages to his generals. Herodotus found a servant with poor eyesight and then “shaved the slave’s head, then branded a message on his scalp! When the hair grew in, the master told the servant that his eyesight would be better when he had his head shaved at a camp some miles away.” 
  • During England’s civil war, several Puritans were captured and “made the long walk to the gallows.” 
  • Benedict Arnold betrayed the colonies by spying for the enemy. “After a midnight meeting with Arnold, André was captured. . . he was hanged in 1780.” 

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Mysterious Messages: A History of Codes and Ciphers

This fascinating look at history’s most mysterious messages is packed with puzzles to decode and ciphers that kids can use themselves. In this book you can find the encrypted notes of Spartan warriors, the brilliant code-crackers of Elizabeth I, secret messages of the American Revolution, spy books of the Civil War, the famous Enigma Machine, and the Navajo code talkers. As computers change the way we communicate, codes today are more intriguing than ever.  

From invisible ink to the CIA, this exciting trip through history is a hands-on, interactive experience—so get cracking! 

Mysterious Messages is for readers who want an in-depth historical look at the practice of creating codes and ciphers. The book starts with the father of history, Greek writer Herodotus, who documented some of the first cases of hiding messages. Sections of the book go into more detail about the historical aspects of hidden messages and give examples that readers can try to solve. Along with the stories, the book contains small sections titled “the Boring Definitions Box” that define words. Scattered throughout the book are pictures of the people discussed in the stories. Many of the pictures are of statues, paintings, photographs, and black and white sketches. In addition, historical documents are featured such as a letter written in code to the Queen of Scots, who was planning to assassinate Queen Elizabeth I.   

Politics played a huge role in the development of codes and ciphers, and Mysterious Messages discusses the many ways spies secretly communicated. While the format has a visual element on every page, readers who aren’t interested in history and politics may find it difficult to finish the book. However, Mysterious Messages would be an excellent source to use for a research paper. The book will also appeal to readers who want to learn more about espionage and how codes and ciphers were used both in diplomatic times and times of war.  

Sexual Content 

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Violence 

  • In order to hide a message, a nobleman “slit open the belly of a freshly killed rabbit, hid his message inside, and sent it off with a courier posing as a hunter.” 
  • Christopher Marlowe was “murdered at the age of twenty-nine” because of his work as a secret agent. 
  • Several people who were caught spying were hanged.  
  • Mary, the Queen of Scots, used secret messages in an attempt to assassinate Queen Elizabeth I. “The Queen of Scots was tried, found guilty largely on the basis of the deciphered message, and beheaded.” The other people involved were “bowelled alive and quartered.”  
  • The British caught Nathan Hale spying. When he was found guilty of espionage, he was “hanged from the limb of an apple tree.”  
  • A British spy was captured with papers that contained details of a conspiracy. He was “hanged by the Americans.” 
  • During World War I, “a German submarine had torpedoed the Lusitania, a British passenger ship. Twelve hundred people drowned.”  

Drugs and Alcohol 

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Supernatural 

  • During World War II, a Polish cipher “was so desperate to read Germany’s Enigma-enciphered messages that it hired a psychic to try to make sense of them.”  

Spiritual Content 

  • In the 1500s, a man from Germany believed that “if you wrapped up your message in a picture of the person you were sending it to, buried it under the threshold of the house, and said the proper incantation, it would be delivered telepathically by a network of angels.”  
  • Since Queen Elizabeth embraced Protestantism, “the

Spy Files: Codes and Ciphers

Sneak into the secret lives of spies with this fascinating series about the world’s security services—with agent profiles, information on technology, and events that changed the world. Codes and Ciphers is packed full of interesting information beginning with the difference between a code and cipher, and how they were first developed.  

Codes and Ciphers uses a fun format that breaks up information into small, manageable parts. Each two-page spread changes topics and each page has only one to three short paragraphs plus photo captions. Each page has illustrations including historical photos, drawings, and illustrations of spy technology. Plus, some pages have an infographic titled “Top Secret” which gives additional information on spying. While the format will appeal to many readers, the large font and short paragraphs don’t allow each topic to be explored in detail. Readers who want to learn more in-depth information about codes and ciphers should check out Top Secret by Paul B. Janeczko. 

The wide range of spy information, which includes a lot of historical stories such as information on the World War II Navajo Code Talkers, is extremely interesting. Plus, readers will learn how to make their own codes, ciphers, and invisible ink. The book ends with a two-page glossary and an index. Codes and Ciphers will entertain readers and introduce many interesting facts. Spy-loving readers who want to add a little spy humor to their reading should sneak to the library and search for the Mac B. Kid Spy Series by Mac Barnett. 

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Drugs and Alcohol 

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The Usborne Book of Secret Codes

With this book of crafty codes, you can discover ways of sending top-secret messages that will leave snoopers completely baffled. Many of the codes are based on those used by real spies. There are nifty gadgets and lots of hints on how to keep your enemy stumped. As you learn new codes, you can follow a thrilling story involving undercover agents and secret code experts.

As readers learn about codes, they can also follow the story of “The Tomb of the Cursed Tongues.” Follow Agent A as she decodes messages that will help her uncover the fiendish activities of Agent X. In order to distinguish Agent A’s story from informational text, the story is typed in italics. If you get stumped, the answers appear at the back of the book. While Agent A’s story isn’t detailed, readers will have fun decoding messages and trying to solve the mystery.

The Usborne Book of Secret Codes explains each type of code in detail and gives examples that readers will be eager to decode. The book covers 15 types of secret codes including pigpen code, Morse Code, code wheel, and technobabble. Readers will also learn about the history of codes and how some code makers hid their messages. For example, “While working for the army, a military spy disguised himself as a butterfly collector. The patterns he drew of butterfly wings were, in fact, tiny plans of the enemy’s strategies.”

To add to the book’s fun, each page has large colorful illustrations that follow Agent A’s story. Plus, there are many examples of secret codes that readers can try to solve. The book includes simple directions to help readers create invisible writing, a code strip, a code wheel, and other spy codes. The large illustrations break up the text into short paragraphs that will appeal to even the most reluctant reader. The fun format will engage readers and give them many opportunities to interact with the text.

The Usborne Book of Secret Codes will teach readers about the fascinating ways that spies have hidden codes. The interactive book is perfect for readers who want to learn about spycraft. However, readers who want to learn more about the history of codes will want to add Top Secret: A Handbook of Codes, Ciphers, and Secret Writing by Paul B. Janeczko to their reading list. Also consider Anna Strong and the Revolutionary War Culper Spy Ring by Enigma Alverti & Laura Terry; it comes with a spycraft kit that readers use to decipher the different codes in the book, and readers will have fun interacting with the story and seeing if they can solve the puzzles by the end of the book.

Sexual Content

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Violence

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 Drugs and Alcohol

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Language

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Supernatural

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Spiritual Content

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The Real Spy’s Guide to Becoming a Spy

Created by the founding executive director of the International Spy Museum, who is also a former operative in the CIA’s Clandestine Service, this is the official handbook for kids who dream of one day becoming a spy or working in the intelligence field.

Have you ever wondered what spies really do? What kind of training is involved? Do you have to go to a special school or take a polygraph test? How do you live your “cover?” How does your work life affect your relationships with your friends and family? Is there danger involved?

This fascinating, fact-filled book answers these questions and more while providing a historical timeline, definitions of key terms, suggestions for further reading, an index, quizzes, and exercises to see if you have the right spy stuff. 

The Real Spy’s Guide to Becoming a Spy is packed full of interesting information about the spy world and it explains why spies are important. “Every country wants to know what other countries—both friends and enemies—are doing and how it might affect their national interests.” Readers will learn about the world of spies through fun infographics that include spy terms, job descriptions, true stories, and quizzes. Readers will also learn about common spy myths and what a spy’s life is really like.  

Readers will also learn about other jobs within the spy world, such as people who create spy science and technology, a case officer, and an intelligence analyst. In addition, the book explains what qualities spies need and what steps to take in order to become a spy. While a spy’s life isn’t as exciting as James Bond portrays it, readers will still enjoy learning about dead drops, listening devices, and ciphers. After taking the quizzes, readers will know if a spy’s life is for them.   

The book’s conversational tone and graphic elements give the story an interesting flair. Every page has some type of graphic element including black and white illustrations, “Spy Speak” glossaries, lists, and/or bold red titles. Breaking up the text with these graphic elements makes the reading more enjoyable and presents facts in a way that makes them easy to remember. Even though the book’s topic is serious and the importance of intelligence gathering is highlighted, the book will not fail to entertain readers interested in the world of spies.  

As a former CIA operations officer and the founding executive director of the International Spy Museum, Peter Earnest uses his knowledge to teach readers about becoming a spy. By the end of reading The Real Spy’s Guide to Becoming a Spy, readers will have a better understanding of the spy world and if they have what it takes to go undercover. Readers who want to jump into the exciting, but the fictional world of a group of young spies should read the City Spies Series by James Ponti.  

Sexual Content 

  • None 

Violence 

  • A timeline titled “How Long Have Spies Been Around?” includes spies who were executed for espionage. For example, “Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were executed in the United States for espionage on behalf of the Soviet Union. . . The Rosenbergs were members of an atomic spy ring whose espionage helped the USSR develop its own nuclear bomb.” 
  • “A defector from Russian intelligence dies of radiation poisoning in London.” The defector believed the Russian president planned his assassination. 
  • Sometimes countries kill enemy leaders. “This is called targeted killing, rather than assassination.” 
  • In order to stop terrorist attacks, President Bush declared “war on terror. . . Armed drones have also been used to attack terrorist strongholds and kill terrorist leaders. The terrorists also rely on their own intelligence capabilities and covert tradecraft to plan and carry out their deadly activities.” 

Drugs and Alcohol 

  • When the KGB suspected that one of its operatives was working for the British, they gave him a truth serum.  

Language   

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Supernatural 

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Spiritual Content 

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What Was the First Thanksgiving?

After their first harvest in 1621, the Pilgrims at Plymouth shared a three-day feast with their Native American neighbors. Of course, the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag didn’t know it at the time, but they were making history. However, before that first Thanksgiving, the Pilgrims first had to travel to the New World and set up their colony.  

What Was the First Thanksgiving? begins with the reasons the Pilgrims left England and the difficult task of settling an untamed land. From the start, the Pilgrims had a rocky relationship with the Native Americans. But without the Native Americans’ help, the Pilgrims would most likely have perished. The book explores the complicated history between the Wampanoags and the Pilgrims.   

What Was the First Thanksgiving? will pull readers in with its fun format which has large, black and white illustrations on every page. The book uses large font, short chapters, and easy vocabulary that makes the book easy to read. Plus, each event is explained fully and broken into smaller sections, so readers will not get confused.  

To give readers a better understanding of the time period, the book includes sections with additional information about the people and the times. Plus, there are 16 pages of historical artwork depicting the Wampanoags, the Pilgrims, the Mayflower, and more. Topics cover everything from the Wampanoag, Squanto, and other historical people. The end of the book also includes a timeline.  

Even though the book focuses on the Pilgrims, it doesn’t portray them as if they were perfect people. Instead, the book explores how the Pilgrims took advantage of the Wampanoag people. For example, when they first arrived in Massachusetts, the Pilgrims “stole some corn. This meant that the Native Americans who’d harvested it would not have the corn for themselves. They might go hungry.” Despite this, for a brief time the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag people came together to “rejoice together after we had gathered the fruits of our labors.”  

Anyone interested in the Pilgrims should read What Was the First Thanksgiving? because it gives insight into the difficulties that the Pilgrims faced. Plus, it explains how Thanksgiving became a national holiday. Most people probably do not realize that without Sarah Hale, an author and editor for a magazine, Thanksgiving would never have become an important American tradition.  

What Was the First Thanksgiving? educates readers through interesting facts that are presented in an appealing format. The book is perfect for readers who need to research Thanksgiving and the Pilgrims. The back of the book also includes a bibliography with additional resources for readers who want to learn even more. Readers eager to read more about the Pilgrims should add The Mayflower by Kate Messner and A Journey to the New World: The Diary of Remember Patience Whipple by Kathryn Lasky to their must-read list. 

Sexual Content 

  • None 

Violence 

  • When the colonists began taking over the Algonquian’s land, the “tribe began attacking the settlers. In the winter of 1610, they surrounded the colony. Trapped, the colonists were soon starving. Only sixty settlers survived.” 
  • When they first got to Massachusetts, the Pilgrims stole the native people’s corn. “Native Americans attacked. They yelled war cries and shot arrows at the Pilgrims, who fired their muskets.” No one was injured. 

Drugs and Alcohol 

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Language   

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Supernatural 

  • None 

Spiritual Content 

  • The Puritans did not want to be part of the Church of England because they believed “the Bible was the law in religion.” 
  • When the Mayflower reached Massachusetts, the Pilgrims “said prayers of thanks.” 
  • The Pilgrims believed that the “Native Americans were savages because they lived in a different way. The Pilgrims believed they were special, and that God wanted them to claim the land in America for their own.”  
  • The Wampanoag had their own religion. “They believed there were spirits in the rivers and forest around them.” 
  • The Wampanoag leader tried to drive the white people away, so “he led attacks against English settlements all around New England. The English settlers attacked the Wampanoag in return. . . Many were killed on both sides.” 

Ice Wreck

In 1914, Ernest Shackleton and his crew set out for the South Pole. They never made it. Within sight of land, the ship ran into dangerous waters filled with chunks of ice. Then the sea froze around them! There was no hope of rescue. Could Shackleton find a way to save himself and his men?

Ernest Shackleton is an admirable explorer who demonstrates bravery and quick thinking. Even though the expedition to the South Pole was not a success, Shackleton and all of his men survived the brutal cold after their ship sank below the ocean. Ice Wreck explains Shackleton’s experiences through nonfiction text. Unlike a story, Ice Wreck only focuses on Shackleton and contains no dialogue or suspense.

Ice Wreck’s format will appeal to readers because of the short chapters, large font, and illustrations. The book contains photographs of the expedition as well as full-color drawings that appear every 1 to 2 pages. The Stepping Stones Series is specifically written for young readers and allows readers to explore different genres such as history, humor, mysteries, and classics.

Ice Wreck is an excellent choice for parents and teachers who want to introduce non-fiction reading to their children. Ernest Shackleton’s quick thinking and dedication to his men highlight the qualities of a great leader. To learn more about Shackleton’s expedition, Ice Wreck can be paired with Race to the South Pole.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • While stranded on an ice flow, the men were running out of food. “One sad day, there wasn’t enough left to feed the dogs. Soon they would starve. The men had to shoot them.”

 Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • None

Supernatural

  • None

Spiritual Content

  • None

Werewolf Myths

The werewolf, or lycanthrope, is a human that can take an animal form or an animal that can take human form. Shapeshifters are prevalent in legends across the world, including the Greek minotaur, Celtic selkies, Navajo skin-walkers, and more, dating back to the oldest myths from around the globe. Cave paintings from 25,000 years ago depict images of half-human, half-animal figures. Readers will learn about other cultures’ werewolf beliefs and how these beliefs were shaped. This thrilling volume is full of grisly tales as well as surprising scientific explanations for some werewolf anecdotes.  

Werewolf Myths is visually appealing. Each page has large illustrations that include short captions. In addition, each section is broken into smaller sections that have fun headlines such as “Hunt or Be Hunted” and “Puppy Love.” Another appealing aspect of the story is the fun facts that appear in a graphic that looks like a scroll. Throughout the book, readers will encounter bolded words that may be unfamiliar; however, the words are defined within the text, making the passage easy to understand.  

Since werewolves represent “humanity’s evil, murderous, dark side” many stories about them are violent and disturbing. The graphic descriptions of werewolves’ behavior and the ways “werewolves” were punished are disturbing. Despite this, the werewolf facts are interesting and refer to ancient myths as well as popular culture. None of the myths are covered in detail which allows the book to cover many interesting topics including movies, diseases, and convicted werewolves from history. Full of colorful pictures, interesting facts, and historical information, Werewolf Myths will entertain readers who want to understand where the legends of werewolves began. Readers who are howling for more werewolf lore should also read Behind the Legend: Werewolves by Erin Peabody. But beware: it’s even more graphic and gory than Werewolf Myths. 

Sexual Content 

  • None 

Violence 

  • In one myth, King Lycaon served the god Zeus “a special supper of roasted human flesh.” Angry, Zeus “kills all of Lycaon’s sons with bolts of lightning and turns the king into a yowling, bloodthirsty wolf-man.”  
  • Wolves “often dug corpses out of shallow graves.”  
  • If a werewolf was killed, “many European legends suggested decapitating the beast and burning its body to ashes” so the werewolf wouldn’t turn into a vampire.  
  • In France, if someone was accused of being a witch or werewolf, “they stood trial, and once convicted, the allegedly guilty werewolves were beaten, hanged, and burned.”
  • In Brazil in 1978, a “16-year-old Eliana Barbosa was nailed to a cross for three days while priests tried to exorcise the ‘wolf demon’ she claimed had taken over her soul.” 
  • In 1536, Gilles Garnier “killed and consumed the flesh of children. . . he howled at the moon after each killing.” For his crimes, Gilles was burned alive. 
  • In Germany, Peter Stump “attacked, mauled, and murdered many people.” Stump also “confessed to cannibalism. . . Authorities tied him to a wheel and pulled off his skin with hot pinchers. They shattered his bones and cut off his head. Finally, they burned what was left of his body.” 

Drugs and Alcohol 

  • Berserkers “were fierce warriors who dressed in animal skins to assume greater power and killer instincts. Today, we know that they also drank hallucinogenic potions, which made them truly go berserk!” 
  • During World War II, Nazis schemed “to commit mass murder by injecting poison into coffee, chocolate, and aspire.”  
  • To make a werewolf potion, people “set an iron pot over a fire and combined several ounces of hemlock, henbane, saffron, poppy seeds, aloe, opium, asafetida, solanum, and parsley.” This potion would cause hallucinations. 
  • Drinking wine with wolfsbane and nightshade would “produce powerful shape-shifting hallucinations.” 

Language   

  • None 

Supernatural 

  • Some cultures believed that magical wolf pelts allowed people to turn into wolves.   

Spiritual Content 

  • The book includes information about some ancient gods such as Anubis, “the ancient Egyptian god of the afterlife.” However, the religious beliefs are not discussed. 
  • Norse mythology includes a story about “the wisest of gods, Odin” who created the first wolf.  
  • Before early people began farming, wolves were considered “heroic deities.” 
  • In one myth, “goddess Ishtar” punished a shepherd by transforming him into a wolf. “Ishtar was an angel-like goddess of love, power, and war.” 
  • Some cultures believed werewolves received their power from the devil.

Vampire Myths

Whether they are characters in movies, books, or nightmares, vampires are among the most recognizable monsters in the world. Today, vampires are characterized by fangs and an unshakable lust for human blood, but some vampire myths differ from these notions. Vampire Myths begins by explaining why stories about blood-sucking vampires began, as well as different cultures’ vampire beliefs. Some of the vampire explanations are scary and cringe-worthy, such as in old Malaysian tales that describe vampires as “a floating head with entrails hanging to the ground.”

Vampire Myths is visually appealing. Each page has large illustrations that include short captions. In addition, each section is broken into smaller sections that have fun headlines such as “Bloody Feast” and “Buried Secrets.” Another appealing aspect of the story is the fun facts that appear in a graphic that looks like a scroll. Throughout the book, readers will encounter bolded words that may be unfamiliar; however, the words are defined within the text making the passage easy to understand.

Vampire Myths is not meant for the faint of heart. The graphic descriptions of vampire behavior and the different ways people killed the undead may be disturbing to younger readers. The vampire facts are interesting and include historical people connected with vampire lore. None of the myths are covered in detail which allows the book to cover many interesting topics including vampire movies, books, and people from history. Full of colorful pictures, interesting facts, and historical information, Vampire Myths will entertain readers who want to understand vampires and aren’t afraid of a little bit of horror.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • The Grim brothers wanted to rid a European village of a vampire. “First, the brothers dug up the grave and found the corpse with red-stained mouth and lips, proof that it must have been biting victims. . . The brothers decided to rip out the corpse’s accursed heart. . . They went on to whack the body with a blunt spade and remove the heart. Then they burned the corpse to a crisp.”
  • The ancient Greeks mutilated cadavers “to prevent the dead from returning to life. Vital organs including the brain, heart, and liver were removed.” Similarly, the Slavic people of Eastern Europe “bound the corpse, slit the muscles and tendons, cut off limbs, and drove a stake or cross through the heart.”
  • A buso is a tall, thin demon who prefers “to feast on rotting carcasses, but that has never stopped it from occasionally luring live victims to a very unpleasant death.”
  • To kill a vampire, someone would drive a stake through the heart. . . According to most African folklore, “vampires required two stakes: one through the heart and one to nail the tongue to the chin. This would prevent the undead from uttering spells and curses.”
  • The man who was the real Dracula “liked to sit and watch his victims die while he ate. Although he didn’t suck blood as the fictitious count did, some sources say he dipped his bread in his victim’s blood.” Dracula was rumored to have killed 40,000 people. “He impaled most victims on tall stakes. . . He would impale them by carefully sliding a wooden stick through the body without hitting any vital organs. That would ensure that the victim would die a slow and painful death.”
  • Some people joined vampire societies. Teenager Rob Ferrell joined a society and “committed a heinous double murder in 1996.”

 Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • None

Supernatural

  • In Asia, some people smeared garlic over their bodies “to shield against spells cast by witches or wizards.”

Spiritual Content

  • Some cultures wondered if people became ill because a demon spirit was bullying their body. “Call upon the wisest shaman or healer, and they might successfully drive the demon out.”
  • The Mayans “worshipped a bat deity known as Camazotz, the god of caves.”
  • Some people thought fire could “permanently snuff out” a vampire because “the Hebrew god once appeared in the form of a burning bush and often used fire to punish people, destroy cities, and cleanse the Earth.”

Behind the Legend: Werewolves

Behind the Legend looks at creatures and monsters throughout history and analyzes them through a scientific, myth-busting lens, debating whether the evidence provided is adequate proof of these creatures’ existence. In Werewolves, readers learn about all the sightings and “proof” of werewolves, from historical stories of wolves that terrorized towns—such as the Beast of Gévaudan—as well as people (even children!) who were believed to transform into wolves. This book also discusses additional history about the monster, such as how werewolves became major figures in popular culture, more recent supposed werewolf sightings and theories on werewolf transformations. 

Werewolves is incredibly engaging and will appeal to even the most reluctant readers. The oversized text and short passages are easy to read. Plus, large black-and-white illustrations appear on almost every page. The illustrations bring the legend of werewolves to life and are often comical. However, some of the illustrations may disturb sensitive readers because they show mob scenes, torture, and blood-thirsty werewolves. Despite this, the book’s conversational tone adds humor and makes it clear that “like a new moon, there’s a tiny sliver of a chance that werewolves exist.” 

Even though Werewolves is non-fiction, it is filled with many interesting stories that explain how different werewolves’ myths began. The book also examines ancient stories and beliefs. Anyone who has wondered how werewolves worked their way into pop culture should read Werewolves. The entertaining book that shows why werewolves fascinate people, is informative and interesting. And it leaves the reader with this thought: “Werewolves show us that changes are possible. That we can maybe turn ourselves into anything we can imagine (as long as it doesn’t involve fangs).”  

Sexual Content 

  • None 

Violence 

  • In Caesar’s time, people who were “accused of being werewolves were burned at the stake or forced to endure other forms of barbaric torture that are simply too horrific to mention!” 
  • According to mythology, King Lycaon “serves Zeus a dinner that includes—gag alert!—a boiled person.” The King was known to be savage because he had a “penchant for human dinner entrees.” 
  • In the sixteenth century, the German town of Bedburg had a “savage killer on the loose.” At first, livestock was missing and “the farmers would find remnants of the animals, which had been mutilated, torn apart, or half eaten.” Then, children began to disappear. Townspeople learned that a man, Peter Stubb, was the culprit.  
  • When Peter Stubb was “tortured on the rack. . . Stubb admitted to being a werewolf.” He was put to death “by having his flesh poked with red-hot burning pinchers.” An illustration shows Stubbs on the rack. 
  • One story tells of a hunter who fights with a creature. “He’s able to slice off the animal’s paw, which makes the beast finally retreat.” When he pulled out the paw, he finds “a woman’s hand, adorned with a wedding ring.” A woman is then accused of witchcraft and put to death. 
  • One story tells of a Pernette, who was “overcome by dark and barbaric forces, [and] pounced on [a] girl. . .” The girl’s brother chases “off their crazed attacker, although the brother died shortly after. Pernette. . . was immediately killed by a mob of townspeople.” 
  • Pernette’s family was killed and “they died a brutal and barbaric death at the hands of their accusers.” 
  • A mob chased a creature that was killing people. “The expert gunman’s bullet struck the beast’s head, passing right through it. . . with Beauterne’s men repeatedly discharging their weapons at it, the long-feared killer finally collapsed for good.” 

Drugs and Alcohol 

  • A boy said he had a “magical ointment” that “helped transform him into a werewolf.” 

Language   

  • None 

Supernatural 

  • None 

Spiritual Content 

  • In mythology, the “mischievous god Loki. . .transforms himself into a whole assortment of animals. . .” 
  • Ancient Egyptians believed that Anubis was a god who was “part man, part jackal.” 

Ghostology: A True Revelation of Spirits, Ghouls, and Hauntings

Have you been hearing strange footsteps and knocks, whispers, and rattling chains? Perhaps the early twentieth-century author of this newly discovered tome has some secrets to share. Within the book’s weathered pages you’ll hear of a headless French pirate in search of his missing noggin, a vanishing pair of young trickster twins, a ghostly woman who screams for attention, and other communications from the “fun side.” 

Readers who wish to explore the mysteries of the paranormal will find some hands-on challenges to lift their spirits, along with tips on a range of spectral subjects, such as what to pack in a ghostologist’s field kit, how to distinguish different types of ghosts, the best ways to hunt them, and spotting the unfortunate fakes and frauds. Too bad the late author never got to see her guide find its way into the world! But wait—what are those strange and scratchy asides that appear in odd places throughout the book? 

Ghostology is packed full of information about ghosts and explains the different types of ghosts as well as famous hauntings. Readers will be forced to interact with the book because the book is similar to a pop-up book that ask readers to open flaps that appear on some pages. Just because the book has only 30 pages doesn’t mean this will be a quick read. Each page is overloaded with information—definitions, ghostly stories, spells, information about psychics, and much more. 

Each page is a visual joy to behold. Large illustrations, photographs, lists, maps, and other graphic elements are scattered over the pages, which look similar to a scrapbook. While some of the illustrations are full color and beautiful, others are black and white and show ghosts in frightening detail. However, don’t expect to believe everything you see; Ghostology takes a look at some historical “proof” of hauntings and explains why you should or shouldn’t believe the evidence. Either way, you will have to decide if the book is truth or fiction. 

While Ghostology presents all the information as facts, occasionally the book has a fun, tongue-in-cheek tone. For example, toward the end of the book, in font that looks like handwriting, readers will see “Ha! HA! HA! You opened the page. At last I am Free! When darkness falls you’re sure to see . . . Lucinda (R.I.P.)” Be advised: some of the stories are creepy and some pages explain how to bring a spirit into the human world. 

Readers interested in all aspects of ghosts, including learning about historical ghost hunters and how to hunt ghosts, must read Ghostology. This book will give you a host of real ghost hauntings, haunted places, and other facts that you will be eager to learn more about. For those who want to jump into the fictional world of ghosts, The House on Stone’s Throw Island by Dan Poblocki and the City of Ghosts Series by Victoria Schwab are sure to get your heart thumping. 

Sexual Content 

  • None 

Violence 

  • Anne Boleyn’s ghost was “beheaded at the Tower of London in 1536 on the orders of her husband.” Now she “haunts the Tower, where she screams, slams doors, and leaves unsightly bloodstains on the floor on the anniversary of her death.” 

Drugs and Alcohol 

  • None 

Language   

  • None 

Supernatural 

  • The entire book is about different types of ghosts and famous hauntings. The book includes ways to entice spirits to make an appearance. For example, “to make a ghost visible in a mirror, stare at your own reflection in a dark room. . .” Then repeat these words, “Ookie, Wookie, Don’t say boo! Ookie, Wookie, I see you!” 
  • Poltergeist are explained. They can “cause physical disturbances, throwing or levitating objects, knocking at doors, even pinching, hitting, or using their teeth.”  
  • The book explains types of ghosts. The story lists a host of real ghosts such as Anne Boleyn’s ghost, Abraham Lincoln, and “even criminals such as the English highwayman Dick Turpin.”  

Spiritual Content 

  • None 

What Were the Salem Witch Trials?

Something wicked was brewing in the small town of Salem, Massachusetts in 1692. It started when two girls, Betty Parris and Abigail Williams, began having hysterical fits. Soon after, other local girls claimed they were being pricked with pins. With no other explanation available, the residents of Salem came to one conclusion: it was witchcraft! Over the next year and a half, nineteen people were convicted of witchcraft and hanged while more languished in prison as hysteria swept the colony. Author Joan Holub gives readers an inside look at this sinister chapter in history.  

What Were the Salem Witch Trials? will pull readers in with its fun format that has large black-and-white illustrations on every page. The book uses large font, short chapters, and easy vocabulary that make the story easy to read. Plus, each event is explained fully and broken into smaller sections, so readers do not get confused.  

The book doesn’t just cover the witch trials. Scattered throughout the book are sections that give additional information about the people and the times. Topics cover everything from Puritans’ beliefs, superstitions, stories written about the witch trials, Halloween, and even the McCarthy witch hunt. The end of the book includes a timeline, artwork that depicts the time period, and more pictures. 

The book doesn’t just stick to the facts; instead, Holub adds her own theories. For example, while no one knows why the accusers made their accusations, the book speculates that perhaps the girls “were scared.” Maybe if the girls “felt an odd pain, perhaps they wondered if an invisible hand had caused it.” Maybe the girls just want attention. This speculation will help readers put themselves into the accusers’ shoes and make them think about what they would have done in a similar situation.  

Anyone who is interested in the Salem Witch Trials or the Puritans should read What Were the Salem Witch Trials? Even though the book focuses on the trials, readers will also learn about the court system in Salem. “It was up to suspects to prove they were not guilty. . .The suspects in the witch trials were not allowed to have lawyers. They had to defend themselves.” Many came to believe that the trials were unjust, and readers will be surprised to learn the trials still have a lasting impact today. 

What Were the Salem Witch Trials? brings history to life in a format that will appeal to even the most reluctant of readers. Whether you are researching the Salem Witch Trials or just interested in the events, What Were the Salem Witch Trials? will be a helpful and interesting source. Readers who want to learn more about historical events should also check out the I Survived Series by Lauren Tarshis. 

Sexual Content 

  • None 

Violence 

  • When Sara Good and Sarah Osborne refuse to confess, “they were chained to a wall in jail.” 
  • Other accused people were “tortured to make them confess.” 
  • People convicted of witchcraft were killed. “They were chained to a post, with wood piled around their feet. The wood was set on fire.”  
  • For one woman convicted of witchcraft, “Her hands were tied together and so were her feet. At the end of the rope was a big loop, called a noose. When the noose was put around her neck, her feet were pushed off the ladder so they dangled in midair. The noose slowly choked her to death. It was an extremely cruel way to die.” 
  • Giles Corey refused to confess to being a witch, so he was pressed. Giles was “forced to lie on his back in a field near the jail, heavy stones were set on his chest. . . After two days of pressing, the weight of the stones crushed Giles Corey to death.” 
  • A four-year-old accused of witchcraft spent “eight months in jail and became mentally ill” due to her time in jail. In all, twenty people were executed, “nineteen by hanging and one by pressing.” 

Drugs and Alcohol 

  • The Puritans had remedies for illnesses. For example, when one girl became sick her parents might have given her “a dose of parsnip seeds” or “castor oil mixed with amber.” 
  • Some thought that a “witch cake” could cure witchcraft. The recipe instructed: “mix rye flour with some of the girls’ urine to make a sort of dough. Then pat the dough into a cake shape. . . feed it to a dog. While the dog ate the cake, the witch was supposed to feel every bite of its teeth. She would come to the house and beg for the pain to stop.” The witch cake did not work. 

Language   

  • None 

Supernatural 

  • Many people were accused of witchcraft, and the book includes specific examples of what people were accused of, such as one woman who “magically sent a wolf to chase [the accuser].” 
  • One woman was accused of being a witch and visiting the victims “in the shape of a bird.” 
  • Puritans believed that witches had “strange marks. . . witches supposedly communicated with certain kinds of spirits, called familiars, through these marks.” 
  • For good luck, some Puritans “might nail a horseshoe by their door. They’d spread bay leaves around the outside of their houses. Some people carried a piece of mountain ash. . .” 
  • In England, leaders “sometimes paid witchfinders to start witch hunts. Witchfinders were people who made deals with the Devil, but then had been cured. They . . . promised they could protect people from it.” 
  • Some speculate that the girls who accused others of being witches became upset after trying to look into the future. The girls “filled a cup with water. Then they dropped the clear part of a raw egg into the water and watched it swirl.” The girls saw a “coffin shape. This was bad news. A sign of death.” 

Spiritual Content 

  • Puritans believed that the Bible’s words were law and that “discipline would keep children close to God and far from the Devil. That way, the Devil couldn’t trick them into doing his evil work.” 
  • When some of the girls in the village became sick, others “prayed for the girls to get well.” 
  • Puritans believed someone became a witch when “the Devil came and asked you to become his servant. He made you sign his special book, using your blood as ink.” 
  • In January 1697, “the Massachusetts Bay Colony held an official day of prayer and fasting to ask forgiveness for wrongdoings, especially in the trials.” 

Finding the First T. Rex

Famous dinosaur hunter Barnum Brown brought amazing skeletons and fossils to the museums. Ancient plant-eaters, three-horned Triceratops, Brown had found them all. But in 1902, he found a thrilling surprise. It was the jawbone of a strange creature. A brand-new dinosaur would shock the world—the mighty Tyrannosaurus rex!

The story of the first T. rex begins with Albert Bickmore, who founded the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Soon after the museum opened, the crowds stopped coming to the museum. To get people excited about coming to the museum, Bickmore knew they needed something exciting. So he hired Barnum Brown to go find dinosaur fossils. Readers may think reading about a museum and a fossil hunter would be boring. They would be wrong.

Readers may imagine that scientists who dig up dinosaur bones have a mundane life, but Finding the First T. Rex includes how Brown and other scientists were often in danger. Brown’s amazing discovery didn’t end with finding the bones. He also had to safely remove the fossils from the hard dirt and transport them to the museum. Once the fossils were at the museum it took another seven years to get the first Tyrannosaurus rex put together!

Finding the First T. Rex uses short chapters and explains some of the vocabulary, which makes the book accessible to reluctant readers. Large black and white illustrations appear every 5 to 9 pages. The illustrations will give readers an understanding of the size and the scope of the T. rex. While the book is easy enough for young, fluent readers, the content will be interesting to older readers as well. The back of the book contains more information about dinosaurs.

Finding the First T. Rex explains how many people worked together to find the first T. rex fossil and display it for the public. The story highlights the educational importance of museums as well as demonstrates how perseverance was essential in finding the T. rex. Young readers who’d like to take a step back in time and learn more about dinosaurs should also check out Don’t Disturb the Dinosaurs by Ada Hopper.

Sexual Content

  • Real T. rexes “mated and raised their babies. . . in America.”

Violence

  • The book begins with a fight between two meat-eating dinosaurs. “They opened their horrible jaws. And they snapped their saw-edged teeth. Their thumps, chomps, and grunt rang through the steamy swamp where they lived. Finally, one of the monsters fell to the ground. . . After a few minutes he died.”
  • One of Brown’s workers went into town to get the mail. On the way back to the archeological site, cowboys followed him. The cowboys “grabbed their rifles and began shooting. Lead bullets whizzed over the scientist’s head! He drove the horses to a gallop.” The scientist was able to get away.

 Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • None

Supernatural

  • None

Spiritual Content

  • None

Ancient Animals: Plesiosaur

It lived deep in the ocean. Other animals might not notice when it swims close. But beware. . . it is a hunter with sharp teeth and a long, long neck. What is it? It’s a plesiosaur.

Plesiosaur will appeal to young readers who are interested in dinosaurs and other extinct animals. Readers will learn many interesting facts such as how “a pile of smooth stones sat in [the plesiosaur’s] stomach. The stones may have helped to crush food.” The book also explains how the plesiosaur, which was a reptile, was different than mammals. While it is not clear why the plesiosaurs went extinct, the book covers several reasons they are no longer alive. In addition, the end of the book compares the plesiosaur to other marine reptiles such as the marine iguana and the saltwater crocodile.

The book’s easy-to-read format will appeal to even the most reluctant readers. Each two-page spread has a one-page picture and one page of text. Each page has 3 to 5 sentences typed in oversized text that is surrounded by white space. The large pictures show the plesiosaur as well as other sea creatures that swam in an ocean that once covered Kansas. The illustrations also label the different types of sea creatures that appear.

The mix of text and illustrations is both appealing and educational. Readers will learn about how the plesiosaur took care of their young and the plesiosaur’s predators. The easy-to-read format breaks the text into manageable sections so young readers will not get bored. Beginning readers who are interested in dinosaurs and paleontology should also read the picture book Barnum Brown Dinosaur Hunter by David Sheldon.

Sexual Content

  • None

 

Violence

  • The book discusses the plesiosaur’s eating habits. A plesiosaur “grabbed the fish with sharp, thin teeth. It gulped the meal down in one bite.”

 Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • None

Supernatural

  • None

Spiritual Content

  • None

Exploring Flight

Why do airplanes look the way they do? Why can’t birds fly when they’re first born? And why do some paper planes fly farther than others?

Exploring Flight is the perfect nonfiction resource for all these questions and more. Discover everything there is to know about flight from Ada Twist, Scientist—from information about creatures that fly, to the history of aircraft, to modern technology that allows us to soar through the air faster than ever.

Fans of Ada Twist who are interested in flight will enjoy reading Exploring Flight and learning about how an object flies because of thrust, drag, lift, and weight. However, some readers may become frustrated by the quickly changing topics. For example, the text includes a poem written by Ada, brainstorming ideas and questions that Ada has. One page asks, “What could make a penguin fly?” The brainstorming answers include the following. “1. Wear a hat with a propeller. 2. I could make parrot wings for them to flap, flap, flap. 3. Buy a ticket on South Pole Airlines.”

The book’s format will appeal to young readers because each page includes large pictures, Ada’s drawings, and brightly colored fonts. The informational text appears in type and the important terms are in bold font. However, the bolded words are not always defined and there is no glossary. To distinguish Ada’s thoughts and questions, they appear in brown font that looks like handwriting. Many of Ada’s ideas add a little silliness to the topic. For example, Ada wonders “If a cat toots, will it scoot? If it toots a lot, will it fly to the moon?”

Exploring Flight will teach readers about many different aspects of flight and includes information about planes, birds, rockets, spiders and hot air balloons. There are also several pages that list important people such as Paul Cornu, who invented the first helicopter model. In addition, the back of the book includes two fun science experiments that will excite younger readers.

If your little reader wonders why things are able to fly, then Exploring Flight will delight. The book uses kid-friendly examples to help explain difficult concepts. Plus, the nonfiction book has plenty of fun illustrations as well as pictures from the Netflix Series. The text is broken up into manageable sections with one to seven sentences per page. However, readers may need help understanding some of the complex ideas. Exploring Flight mixes a little silliness in with fun facts to teach readers all about flight. To learn about different scientists readers should also read the picture book series Amazing Scientists by Julia Finley Mosca. Another excellent picture book series that will pique reader’s interest in space flight is Mousetronaut by Mark Kelly.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • None

 Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • None

Supernatural

  • None

Spiritual Content

  • None

Miss Mary Reporting: The True Story of Sportswriter Mary Garber 

“Press Box: Women and children not admitted.” So read the press pass that Mary Garber had to wear as a reporter at sporting events. It was embarrassing, even insulting, but in the 1940s, sports—and sports reporting—was a man’s world.

Mary didn’t let that stop her. She never let anything stop her really. As a kid, she played quarterback for her local football team. Later, as a reporter, she dug in her heels and built up her own sports beat. For close to fifty years, Mary shined the spotlight on local heroes whose efforts might otherwise have gone unnoticed. “‘That’s Miss Mary Garber,’ one boy said at a soapbox derby. ‘And she doesn’t care who you are, or where you’re from, or what you are. If you do something, she’s going to write about you.’”

This is the story of a woman who pursued her dream and changed the world.

If you’re looking for an inspirational story that will encourage young readers to follow their dreams, then Miss Mary Reporting is the book for you. While the story focuses on the hard work and dedication that made Miss Mary an excellent reporter, the story also shows how others helped Miss Mary along the way. In addition, the book briefly mentions the segregated Negro leagues as well as Jackie Robinson and the discrimination he faced.

While Miss Mary’s story is inspirational, younger readers may have a difficult time sitting through a reading of the book because of the text-heavy pages. Each page has four to seven complex sentences and the text includes difficult vocabulary. The full-page illustrations use muted tones that reflect the serious topic of discrimination. The illustrations will give readers a peek into the past because it shows the clothing, hairstyles, and other aspects of the time period. Readers who want to learn more will find an author’s note, a timeline, and a list of more resources at the end of the book.

Miss Mary’s biography will inspire readers and show how one woman impacted the world of sports. However, the heavy topic makes the picture book more suited to older readers. While Miss Mary’s story is interesting, it’s not necessarily entertaining; the book is best read by those who have an interest in sports and journalism. Readers who would like to learn more about women in sports should also read Catching the Moon: The Story of a Young Girl’s Baseball Dream by Crystal Hubbard and She Persisted in Sports by Chelsea Clinton.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • None

 Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

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Supernatural

  • None

Spiritual Content

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Dragons

Are giant, fire-breathing dragons real, or just a myth? You decide with this new book in the nonfiction series, Behind the Legend!

Behind the Legend looks at creatures and monsters throughout history and analyzes them through a scientific, myth-busting lens, debating whether the sightings and evidence provided are adequate proof of a creature’s existence. In Behind the Legend: Dragons, readers learn about the sightings and “proof” of dragons from stories throughout history. The authors explore stories of dragons terrorizing towns, the people who claim to have fought dragons—such as St. George—and dives into stories from diverse cultures such as China, Japan, and Mexico. This book discusses additional history about the monster, including how dragons became major figures in popular culture. 

If you’re interested in dragons, then Behind the Legend: Dragons is a must-read because of the plethora of facts and stories. Readers will learn about the first dragon poem, Beowulf, as well as many other ancient stories and myths. The black-and-white illustrations show what ancient people thought dragons looked like. Even though Dragons is non-fiction, it is filled with dragon stories from different cultures such as the Incas of Peru. The book explains how some cultures viewed dragons as monsters, while others believed dragons were divine. Peabody concludes with stories of the real-life dragons that still live on earth. At the back of the book, readers will find a list of books that dragon-lovers will want to add to their reading list including Eragon by Christopher Paoline. If you’re looking for more stories that feature dragons, check out Rise of the Dragon Moon by Gabrille K. Byrne, Legends of the Sky by Liz Flanagan, and Dragon Myths by Jenny Mason. 

Sexual Content 

  • None 

Violence 

  • The book tells the story of many dragons that were “fierce, cunning, and bloodthirsty. They devoured people, children, and pets—popping victims into their smoldering jaws like M&M’s.”  
  • The poem Beowulf chronicles a “stingy, gold-hoarding dragon” that is destroying a kingdom. King Beowulf and Wiglaf battle the dragon. The dragon “lunges for Beowulf’s neck. Blood spills in gushing streams. The brave king ultimately succumbs to this irreversible wound, but not before his faithful friend thrust a perfectly positioned sword into the dragon’s soft underbelly.” 
  • A dragon was destroying a town’s crops. “The villagers offered up sheep to satisfy the dragon.” When the town ran out of sheep, the “townsfolk decided that the best way to appease the crop killing dragon was to feed it children! Sadly, and horribly, multiple kids were sacrificed.” Finally, “the princess is tied to a stake” for the dragon, but before she is eaten a knight saves her. 
  • One legend tells of a town that could not get rid of a dragon. “When they sliced it into pieces, the worm reconnected itself and slithered on.”  
  • One legend tells the story of two shamans who “used tier magic to transform themselves into formidable beasts that duked it out in a nearby lake.” One of the shamans “morphed into a ferocious leech whose sharp, sucker-like mouth could latch onto something’s skin and suck out its content.”  

Drugs and Alcohol 

  • None 

Language   

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Supernatural 

  • John goes to a wise witch to discover how to destroy a “worm.” In order to get the advice, John promises that “once the worm was dead, John would have to kill the next person he saw.” Later John refuses to kill anyone. “Instead, he would have to endure the worm’s bitter curse: For the next nine generations, all heirs to the Lambton estate would die an early death.” 

Spiritual Content 

  • A knight named George defeats a dragon that is terrorizing the town. “George delivered the wounded beast to the king, promising to finish it off if the people in the kingdom converted to Christianity.” 
  • In one legend, Saint Marta of Bethan, a biblical figure from the New Testament, helps defeat a dragon. “With a few prayers and humans, she entranced the dragon, which was later killed by the townspeople.” 
  • Christianity vilified dragons. The Old Testament tells the story of how a “twisted serpent” temps Eve with an apple. “When the beast becomes too wild and unruly, it is slain by the archangel Gabriel and then fed to the people.”  
  • The dragon Quetzalcóatl “was an important god to people living in early Mexico and Central America. It’s quite possible, too, that the Quetzalcóatl was a real person. This Aztec leader was said to help civilize his people by denouncing barbaric practices such as human sacrifice.”  
  • Quetzalcóatl’s enemy was Tezcatlipoca, “a god known for darkness and trickery.” 
  • A Swiss naturalist found a skeleton that he believed was “of a ‘wicked’ man. . . who God had punished and drowned during the Great Flood.” 

Amelia Earhart

When Amelia was young, she liked to imagine she could stretch her wings and fly away like a bird. As a grown woman, she set a new female world record for flying up to 14,000 feet. She also flew across the Atlantic and the Pacific oceans, and eventually undertook the most dangerous mission of all: to fly all the way around the world.

As part of the Little People, Big Dreams Series, Amelia Earhart retells the story of Amelia Earhart in a picture book format. Each two-page spread has one to two simple sentences that are easy to read. Another positive aspect of Amelia Earhart is the brightly colored illustrations. The simple illustrations are whimsical and beautiful. For example, one page features the ocean where a huge whale swims; Amelia flies over the whale, making her plane look tiny in comparison.

Because the picture book is intended for young readers, Amelia’s life is not explored in detail. However, the biography explains enough of Amelia’s accomplishments to show Amelia didn’t allow obstacles to stand in the way of her dreams. The back of the book also has a short timeline of Amelia’s life and includes four historical photos. There is also a list of other books about Amelia Earhart as well as a list of other books in the Little People, Big Dreams Series.

 Amelia Earhart’s story highlights her amazing accomplishments in a kid friendly format that won’t overwhelm young readers. Beginning readers will enjoy learning about Amelia’s bravery as she flew “thousands of miles, over oceans and jungles and over the savanna, where giraffes turned their heads.” By reading Amelia’s story, readers will learn that dreams do come true. Readers who are interested in flight should also read the picture book Wood, Wire, Wings: Emma Lilian Todd Invents an Airplane by Kirsten W. Lawson.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • Although the book doesn’t explain Amelia Earhart’s plane crash, it does say that “she flew on like a bird, farther than anyone had gone before. . . never to return.”

 Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

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Supernatural

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Spiritual Content

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Ancient Animals: Terror Bird

It has a sharp beak that cuts flesh and splits bones. It runs fast. It cannot fly. It can be as tall as a basketball hoop. It is the biggest meat-eating bird that lived on earth. What is it? It’s a terror bird.

Terror Bird will appeal to young readers who are interested in dinosaurs and other extinct animals. Readers will learn about top predators and how they helped their environment stay in balance. The book briefly covers the birds’ migration and reasons the species went extinct. Plus, the end of the book compares the terror bird to other large birds such as the emu and ostrich.

The book’s easy-to-read format will appeal to even the most reluctant readers. Each two-page spread has a one-page picture and one page of text. Each page has 3 to 5 sentences typed in oversized text that is surrounded by white space. The large pictures show the terror birds hunting different types of prey and a few of the pictures show blood. The pictures also show the sheer size of the terror bird by showing it next to other animals that the bird hunted.

The mix of text and illustrations is both appealing and educational. Readers will learn about the only bird that was a top predator and they’ll be amazed by the gigantic size of the bird. The easy-to-read format breaks the text into manageable sections so beginning readers will not get bored. Readers who want to learn more about prehistoric times may also want to read Don’t Disturb the Dinosaurs by Ada Hopper.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • The terror birds’ hunting habits are discussed. “A terror bird chased prey on long, strong legs. It could break bones with one kick. . . The heavy head swung down like an ax. The deadly beak cut flesh and split bone.”

 Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • None

Supernatural

  • None

Spiritual Content

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