Journey of York @HasanDavis

There are few stories more well known in United States history than that of the Lewis and Clark expedition from St. Louis to the farthest reaches of the continent, what would become known as Oregon/Washington. The pair of explorers took with them 23 crewmen, most were former military men with whom they had served; all but one were volunteers: York, the African slave whom Clark had inherited from his father’s estate. However, aside from the Shoshone woman, Sacagawea, and her “husband” Toussaint Charbanneau, no one was more valuable to the success of the exploration than the man known as York. Yet, for nearly two centuries York’s story and vital contributions have remained largely untold – until now.


To say that I am an avid devotee of the Lewis and Clark expedition is an understatement – and even that statement doesn’t do justice to my obsession. While my university degree is in history (and US politics,) my area of specialty is the Jefferson/Jacksonian period primarily because I simply could not get enough information about Lewis and Clark and their westward adventure. I wanted to know what they found, the native Americans they met, how they survived the winters, about their longboats. Yes, I’ve even retraced the Lewis and Clark trail from beginning to end and back again. I’ve toured Fort Clatsop, visited burial sites, read their journals and far, far more. What always has fascinated me, however, was how much this pair relied on York, how much they wrote about him and then how quickly his importance vanished. They used his skin color to fascinate native Americans who never had seen any human with that skin color. They thought he was a “medicine man” or “magic.” He opened doors for the explorers and saved their lives on more than one occasion. His brute strength enabled them to carry more boats over dry riverbeds and to build their fort before the winter cold could kill them. He even became – literally – the first African American to vote on American soil when the party had to decide which side of the Columbia river to set up their fort. It was groundbreaking. And yet, once the explorers returned back home – no mention of his bravery, heroics, saving strength or equality was mentioned again. It was during a time in American history when already a division was growing among the states over the slavery issue and giving York credit simply was not done. Shame on everyone involved and KUDOS to Hasan Davis for finally telling this hero’s story!!

The book is written for young readers and is very simplistic in its telling. Think back to the history books of your childhood and this book is written similarly. I would have liked for the illustrations to have been more imaginative in order to capture the attention of graphic savvy young readers, but the story itself is well told, doesn’t stray from historic fact and isn’t too heavy handed when it comes to finger pointing – which it could have done. I think this is an absolute must read for all young American readers, for teachers of young students, parents, and perhaps even adults who are clueless regarding the real heroes of the expedition. I love Lewis and Clark but I know, without a doubt, where the credit for their expedition’s success truly lies.

Thank you to #Netgalley, @CapstonePub and #HasanDavis for fulfilling all of my wishes for the new year by allowing me to read York’s story and especially to Mr. Davis for bringing York’s story to life at last!

For additional reading on the Lewis and Clark expedition, I highly recommend a historical fiction book by Anna L. Waldo titled “Sacajawea.” I have read it five times over the past 30+ years and will read it again this year. It never gets old. Fiction yes, but a beautiful, captivating story never-the-less.




A Dolphin Named Star #Capstone

I read a wonderful review by Lana at Cole Campfire Blog about two young girls who live at a wildlife sanctuary. The book sounded so marvelous that I had to get a copy for myself! Thank you Lana!

A Dolphin Named Star is a delightful story that I’m assuming is written for tweens, perhaps a little younger. (8-11 years old) It reminded me of a cross between Nancy Drew and the old television show, Flipper. Yes, yes, I know I’m showing my age but I read all of the Nancy Drew books and watched re-runs of Flipper so often that I, literally, could recite entire episodes by memory. Is it any wonder that I loved A Dolphin Named Star!?


Elsa and her best friend Olivia spend all of their time at the Seaside Sanctuary for wildlife where Elsa’s parents work. The girls have bonded with the new dolphins who have been rescued and are acclimatizing to their new outdoor “pool.” However, worry sets in for the girls as the dolphins immediately begin to get sick, have sores and, eventually, one of the trio dies. No one can figure out exactly what is wrong with the dolphins since water samples come back clean. The girls do some sleuthing to find the answers, hopefully in time to save the remaining dolphins.

This is, of course, a book that is written for the minds and attention level of kids, however, it is intelligently written and covers a lot of bases regarding the sanctity of wildlife, ocean pollution, corporate wrong-doing. Because my own kids grew up with books like this, from Nancy Drew to Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell, I think the book is perfectly written for their interests and knowledge base. In addition, as if the book weren’t terrific enough, there are discussion questions in the back of the book to encourage further dialogue and research. There also is a glossary of terms that might be unfamiliar to kids but which will further enhance their language skills and, hopefully, peak their interest so that they will search out other books on this topic.

A Dolphin Named Star is beautifully illustrated, marvelously written and a thoroughly enjoyable book. It is one in a set of four books about the girls and Seaside Sanctuary and would be an excellent gift for young readers.

Thanks again to Lana for putting this book on my radar, to #Netgalley and @CapstonePub for my advance copy – published by  #StoneArchBooks.




Ten Nasty Little Toads by #SteveCole

This spring we had to completely recreate a waterfall pond here at The Wisteria House. The waterfall is beautiful, surrounded by gorgeous perennials and lovely Japanese maples – and TOADS! We have accumulated a plethora of TOADS. So, obviously, when I saw the book Ten Nasty Little Toads, I had to read it and, yes, of course I read it to my own TOADS in the pond who sit and “talk” with you as you read aloud.


The synopsis for Ten Nasty Little Toads compares it to the work of Roald Dahl. Well, that is quite a huge footstep to try to follow, especially considering that Dahl is one of my all time favorite authors of both kids and adult books! Was I ever surprised to discover that YES, it is just like so many of Dahl’s books! The writing, the “message”, the dark humor – oh the dark humor is so delicious – and the illustrations ALL are reminiscent of Dahl’s work.


This is a collection of short stories, or cautionary tales, about change and changing habits that are not so good for us. There are ten little toads – uhm, I mean children –  who need to change their nasty, beastly ways or they will suffer the consequences. Can they do it or will they forever remain these nasty little creatures? Even the good witch, Madame Rana, who tries to help them isn’t so sure. These are stories full of humor, a lot of MESS and grime and yucky stuff every where, and most of all, a very important message. It’s all wrapped up with some of the most astounding illustrations, created by #TimArchbold, that I have seen in a long time! Illustrators are my heroes – their work can really make a book and Archbold’s artwork absolutely does the trick for Ten Nasty Little Toads. I guarantee that once you start reading Wanda’s story – who resembles a wart with a body – you will be hooked!

As with Dahl’s work, this book is ideal for kids of all ages, including those of us who have the heart (and mind?) of a child! I promise you will LOVE Ten Nasty Little Toads.

A ton of thanks to #Netgalley, #HeadofZeus, #Zephyr, and #SteveCole for my copy of #TenNastyLittleToads

12 Weeks ‘Til Christmas/ Miracle on 34th Street – a Picture Book

imageedit_2_4957071024Can you believe it is only TWELVE weeks until Christmas 2018!? Well, since I have been counting down the weeks since last Christmas, I can! I love the holidays and what I love most is holiday reading! From now until Christmas, I will be reviewing holiday books every Tuesday.


One of my favorite Christmas movies is “Miracle on 34th Street” starring Natalie Wood. At the time that the movie was made, Valentine Davies also penned a short novella to accompany the film release. There have been several adaptations of the movie and book but no other book has been released by the Davies estate – until now.

Miracle on 34th Street is a picture book for kids of all ages. The story is accurately re-told for the enjoyment of children. The writing, while simple, is not childishly over-handed and the prose flows brilliantly throughout the book. The illustrations by James Newman Gray are exquisite. Their detail and vivid colors are sure to capture the eye of many young readers.

Most importantly, this new rendition fully captures the hope, magic and joy of the original movie. This is a must-have book for your holiday library collection.

Thank you to #Netgalley, #SourcebooksJabberwocky and the Davies Estate for this marvelous holiday tale.

One Very Odd Teacher by @Robbie_b_Yates

Every child remembers a teacher who was a little bizarre, prickly or ill-tempered. Some teachers, though, are very odd indeed, and warrant some closer attention…


Today I am thrilled to be one of the stops on a fantastic Blog Tour featuring this adorable book, One Very Odd Teacher by Robbie Yates.

The humming noise got louder. Adam willed himself to focus. He had to finish his math test.
Suddenly, the noise became unbearable. He glanced up.
Mrs. Murphy was inches away, leaning over another kid’s desk. Was the noise coming from her?

If you follow my blog or reviews, you know that I adore children’s books almost as much as I love suspense/thrillers. What I’ve never read, at least in years, are books targeting middle school age kids. That all changed when I got my copy of One Very Odd Teacher. I devoured it, literally not setting it aside from beginning to end!

Adam is not the best student but he is one of the most brightest. When he begins to suspect that his teacher is acting odd, most of his friends and his parents instead think it might be Adam who behaving strangely; after all, that’s what he does. Soon Adam is actually documenting the peculiarities of his teacher and his best friend finally starts to see – and hear – the teacher’s oddities. They decide to do a little investigating of their own outside of school hours and, of course, mayhem ensues.

Robbie Yates has a wicked sense of humor and I found myself laughing out loud throughout the book. I consider myself to be, you know, a serious kind of reader so I was fairly shocked at how very much I loved the book, adored Adam and loved the antics into which he finds himself. I can only imagine how much a kid will love this book! There are phrases, self-deprecating banter and puns that will keep any reader engaged with the story. There’s a even a very good lesson to all deftly hidden within the message of the book.

I would highly recommend One Very Odd Teacher regardless of your age but especially if you have a pre-teen. It is One Very Terrific Book! Oh, and for the record, I usually comment on the things that I learn from books and, yes, I learned something new! For all of my very perfect, high marks in English Grammar throughout high school and at university, I never learned what a sibilant was! No, seriously! Americans come up with all of these rules that kids are forced to learn regarding the adding of “s” and/or “es” to a word. Yet, all along there was a very simple definition! <slap my forehead> If only I had this book when I was in junior high school! 😉 Thank you Robbie!

You can find your copy at Amazon where is FREE for Kindle Unlimited folks. There also is a paperback copy available which I must own!

This tour is brought to you by one heck of great digi blog tour resource:

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Thank you, Shalini, for making me part of the fun!

Hipster breakfast egg characters with mustache, beard, black bowler hat and glasses. Creative design holiday poster eggs cups. drawn gentleman faces vintage style. gray background.

Robbie Yates – I know, right? You know already that he is going to fun just from his photo! Yates is an author from Melbourne, Australia. He likes cocoa, cheeky poetry, and eating all of the red jellybeans before anybody else can get to them.
In his free time, Robbie likes to read ridiculous and wacky kids’ fiction. He also likes practical jokes and terrible puns. If you have not experienced Robbie’s poetry then you should run, don’t walk, over to his blog right now and read it. 🙂 The rest of your day will be brighter if you do.

You can learn about Yates at any of the following links:

Amazon Author Central page
Author’s Website

There are many more stops on the tour over the next few days and I hope you will check out all of these terrific reviews!

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The Lying King by #AlexBeard

“A runt who wanted to be a huge pig…”


The Lying King, wordplay noted, is  wonderfully illustrated, hilariously told modern-day fable about a warthog who wanted to be king. He made promises he couldn’t keep, told lies that grew more preposterous with each telling and bullying all who got in is way. He lied to get money, questioned whether the truth was actually the truth and pitted those in the kingdom against one another to gain favor for himself.

Hmmm… why does this sound so incredibly familiar? No idea. Soon, the king’s lies catch up to him and bring about his folly. <sigh>

Written for children and obviously for adults who never learned the very important lesson that LYING is not acceptable and, ultimately, you will get caught; this book is utterly delightful for “kids” of all ages. Beard is an artist as well as a writer and his illustrations are a beautiful, captivating addition to the book. I read this out loud to guests staying with us and everyone loved it – especially the kids! It’s a perfect “lesson” book that can teach all of us the importance of the truth in this era of “fake news” and alternative facts. FIVE brilliant shiny stars for The Lying King – no lie!

I’m super happy to have received this book from #Netgalley and to #AlexBeard for his collection of children’s books. Although this was a download originally, I’m now the proud owner of his entire collection. They are too good not to own!






Snowy: A Leopard of the High Mountains

There are days when one review simply is not enough so for Thursdays I give you Two…


When my children were small, I purchased many, MANY, foreign inspired or authored books so that they would grow up knowing as much as possible about the world around them. My daughter’s favorite book still is a Russian fairy tale, Natasha and the Bear. Now that they are adults, all three are frequent world travelers and over the years we have hosted multiple exchange students. When I saw Snowy: A Leopard of the High Mountains, I knew this was a must own for our home library.


Milisava Petkovic is a writer from Serbia and Xuan Loc Xuan is a freelance illustrator based in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Together they have created a sweet, heartfelt tale of friendship, family, and the beauty of nature.

While playing in the mountains with her mother, hunters appear and threaten their tranquility. Snowy’s mother diverts the hunters and tells Snowy to run the other direction and meet her back at their home. Snowy runs so hard and for so long that soon she realizes she very lost. Trying to find her way home, she enlists the help of several forest inhabitants, each of whom teach Snowy their unique, basic skills for survival.

Snowy is a delightful book that introduces young readers to animals they may never have heard of before – or, at the very least – a different variation of those creatures. That is the beauty of this book, as well as learning about their co-dependency on one another for survival.

81QyGdytqOLIn addition, Xuan’s illustrations are both lovely and soothing and highlight the story line perfectly. At first glance, I thought the illustrations might be too muted for young readers to enjoy, so I shared the book with a young friend of mine and they were her favorite part of the story. They are created in an Asian style with perfect lines, wonderful colors but not the vibrant, perfectly edited photos of most North American children’s books. This style works well with the story and they are incredible illustrations to admire and enhance the story.

Snowy: A Leopard of the High Mountains is a perfect addition to our home library and I highly recommend it to anyone who appreciates international work and, most especially, for parents of young readers.

I’m grateful for my advanced copy from #Netgalley and to Xuan Loc Xuan and Milisava Petkovic for sharing their work with me. Also, thanks to #FoxChapelPublishing for my copy of #SnowytheLeopard