In 1874, President Lincoln’s coffin was moved to the newly completed Lincoln Monument. The following year, a notorious mob of money counterfeiters is caught in the act by members of the just-formed Secret Service. Benjamin Boyd, boss of this counterfeiting ring, is arrested and sent to prison. His employees want him back, and they have the perfect plan. They will steal President Lincoln’s body, hide it on the banks of the Sangamon river in Illinois, and pretend to “find” it. They will be happy to return the President’s body to its rightful resting place, of course, but in return for the release of Ben Boyd from prison and $200,000. Counterfeiters, Secret Service agents, double agents, grave robbers, and alot of bad luck… sometimes true history is so much stranger (and more fun!) than fiction.
No One is Perfect November 4, 2014
What makes someone successful? Is it what they do right? Or what they actually do wrong? How They Choked by Georgia Bragg looks at 15 people in history we often think of in terms of their successes. But what about their failures? Maybe those failures weren’t very public and maybe, as in the case of Amelia Earhart, they were.
What is great about this book, is the irreverent way Bragg approaches each of her subjects. As she says at the beginning of her book, no one is perfect, and the sooner we all learn that, that happier we will be.
The chapter on Thomas Edison showed how someone could be success during their life, but a not nice person to those around them, or as in the case of Vincent Van Gogh – no one liked him. Not his family, or people around him. Ever. He had to pay people to pretend to be his family and it got to the point where people wouldn’t even pose for him because they disliked being around him so much.
Recommended for grades 6th and up for anyone who wants to be surprised, shocked and down right disgusted at times.
Ever Want to Be Someone Else? October 27, 2014
What would it be like to pretend to be a different gender? Could you keep that up for a long time? What about pretending to be a different race? What if your life depended on how well you could hide who you really were?
Can I See Your I.D.?: True Stories of False Identities by Chris Barton looks at ten different people through history who have had to change their identity to keep themselves safe and others who just wanted a lark.
Most interesting are the stories of people who created whole new personas for themselves that were needed to keep them alive. For example, Solomon Perel was a young Jewish boy, trying to survive during World War II, and he hid in plain sight. You’ll have to read the book to find out how. Or what about the husband and wife who were slaves and came up with a plan to get their freedom, if they weren’t caught be slave catchers first.
This is a quick read that will have you thinking about who you might like to pretend to be, and if you could pull it off!
Recommended for grades 7 and up.
This Book Has IMPACT October 17, 2014
Full disclosure – I’m not a big fan of football. Never have been. But I know lots of people love the sport. Really, LOVE it. Can’t get enough of it. Can’t wait for Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday and now Thursday for their fix of football. Now though, there are headlines about former players losing their mental abilities to depression, early dementia, and even more occurrences of ALS and Parkinson’s Disease. How can a game that so many love, be so deadly? Has it always been this way, or is this a new development?
Turns out, when football was first being played in the late 1800s there was controversy surrounding the brutality of the sport. Many, many players died. It wasn’t unusual for a season to have 20 deaths. These were among college football players. Some began to believe that the sport needed to have massive changes if it was to continue, because the idea that young men could lose their lives playing a game became too much. In fact, even President Teddy Roosevelt, in 1905 became involved. He didn’t want the sport to go away and he wanted the coaches of the big college teams, Harvard and Yale to figure out a way to make it a little bit safer.
So things changed a bit. However, what didn’t change was the impact to players’ heads. Most people look at the helmet and think, “Well, they have protection.” However, the helmet does nothing to protect the brain inside the player’s skull. We now have the technology to measure “hits” that players’ brains are absorbing. Many hits are recorded at 100g, which is the equivalent of running into a brick wall at 20 mph. So you think only professionals are hitting this hard? No, these hits have been recorded being taken by 7 and 8 year olds.
What is the impact of all these hits? Well, concussions are one, but in the book Fourth Down and Inches by Carla Killough McClafferty, it turns out that repeated hits, which don’t lead to concussions, can still impact how a person processes information. In other words, their brains are being damaged by those repeated hits, even if they don’t get a concussion.
Now we see how older players, and by older, I mean early 40s, who are having terrible mental problems. Why? Something has been identified in the brains of athletes who have died, called CTE. It is progressive brain damage and what is shocking is younger players have been shone to have it, after they have died. One as young as 15 years old.
So the question becomes, is it still worth it?
Fascinating book, for anyone who has ever played the game of football, is still playing and anyone who loves the game itself. Recommended for Grades 7 and up.
Going for Gold! October 7, 2014
So imagine hearing there is just money to be had lying around? What would you do? Would you go for it? That is the situation that happened in 1897 when a steamer came into Seattle with sixty-eight men who unloaded thousands and thousands of dollars worth of gold in cans, bags, blankets and even moccasins. Yes, the second great gold rush in the history of the United States had begun, and it wasn’t even on American soil. It was in Canada, but that didn’t stop Americans from making the long journey to the cold, arctic area of the Klondike.
What makes the book Call of the Klondike by David Meissner and Kim Richardson so fascinating is the personal, first hand accounts of two adventures’ who were inspired after seeing those 68 men disembark from that ship. The two men were Stanley Pearce and Marshall Bond, who were friends and both came from mining families. They just happened to be in the right place at the right time, and both had families that could set them up nicely for an outfit. So they took off for the Klondike quickly to get ahead of any others who would be taken over by gold lust. And they were right to go, because a huge wave of gold seekers were just a few months behind them.
Getting to the area where gold had been found wasn’t easy. First there was a four or five day boat ride, followed by 500 miles of trails and lakes, much of it done in cold, icy rain, or freezing cold weather.
This book looks at the lives of these two men through letters home to their parents, and the journal one of them kept during this adventurous year in our country’s history to give us a rare glimpse into this rush and the hardships many faced for a chance at getting rich.
Great read for grades 6th and up.
He Hid, But Was Found August 14, 2014
After World War II and the Nuremberg Trails, not ALL the major Nazis were captured and tried. Some escaped justice for a time and some for all time. One major person of interest was Adolf Eichmann, the Nazi official who was in charge of removing Jews from Germany and ultimately, all of German occupied Europe. This meant he was the one responsible for rounding up the Jews, and transporting them to concentration camps all over Europe where they faced unimaginable horrors trying to survive. Many had no chance of survival, as they were killed immediately.
As the war drew to a close, and it became evident Germany was losing, Eichmann was told to stop killing Jews, but he didn’t. He began moving them out of the camps on long torture filled walks in terrible weather where more and more died.
However, at the end of the war, Eichmann wasn’t on trail. He wasn’t to be found. Some didn’t even know his role in the war, and others, once they found out, didn’t even have a picture to know who they were looking for.
Thus it wasn’t until a girl named Sylvia, living in Argentina in 1956 brought home her new boyfriend to meet her family. His name was Nick Eichmann. During dinner he admitted his father had been a high ranking Nazi official who was instrumental in eliminating Jews in Europe. Many former Nazi found a haven in Argentina after the war, and anti Jewish sentiments were high even after the war in Argentina. For that reason, Sylvia’s father, who was half Jewish, had never admitted to anyone in Argentina his heritage. It made for a very uncomfortable dinner.
It wasn’t until months later, after Sylvia had broken up with Nick Eichmann, that she and her father read an article naming the notorious Nazi, Adolf Eichmann. They realized they might have been having dinner with one of his sons.
Thus began the secret spy operation by Israel to bring to justice one of the most hated and feared men from the Nazi organization. The Nazi Hunters by Neal Bascomb tells the tale of how one of the most infamous men of World War II was kidnapped, drugged and ultimately taken to trail for his crimes.
Highly recommended for anyone who is interested reading about World War II or a good spy story in grades 7th and up.
Is there such a thing as Too Young? May 27, 2014
I will admit it; I’m a survival junkie. When it comes to adventure stories, I like mine on the high seas or in high altitude. I love reading about these people and the things they do in real life, because I know I will NEVER do anything like that! So when I saw No Summit Out of Sight by Jordan Romero and Linda Le Blanc, I had to grab it. I wasn’t disappointed.
Years ago I read a book called Within Reach: My Everest Story by Mark Pfetzer which was about a young man who attempted to climb Mt. Everest. He was the youngest to ever attempt at that time at the age of 16.
No Summit Out of Sight chronicles the climbing life of Jordan Romero, who currently does hold the world record for being the youngest to climb Mt. Everest at the age of 13. However, what I didn’t know is that Everest was only one stop for him, on his bid to climb the Seven Summits. The Seven Summits are the highest mountains on each of the seven continents, including Antarctica.
What is amazing about this young man, is the fact he got this idea when he was only 9 years old, and where he got the idea from was very interesting. It shows how something that others walk by every day can change someone else’s life.
For anyone who is interested in high adventure and real life drama, this is a great book to pick up and enjoy, as I did!
Recommended for grades 6th and up.