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A Bookaholic, Pro-life, Pro-Family, Pro-Oxford Comma, Catholic (with Asperger's) who reads and writes as her obsession. I've been reading over 400 books a year lately. These are my ramblings on some of the books I read. To read about all the books I read and comment on, visit me at LibraryThing or Goodreads.

I've been blogging since 2007 and at this point (July 2015) am trying my hand at turning the theme of this blog towards mystery, thriller, and crime, fiction and nonfiction. I have some special interest topics and categories within this broad genre which include (but are not limited to) serial killers, scandi-crime, Victorian history and historicals, history of the criminally insane and asylums, psychopathology, death, funerary practices and burial, corpses, true crime and anything dealing with the real life macabre, or that portrayed in fiction.

I also read a short story a day from various collections, sometimes anthologies othertimes collections of a single author's work. These reviews are also posted here and while they are of mixed genre the mystery, thriller, horror, gothic and macabre often appear within their pages as well.


I also blog about
graphic novels and manga on a separate BLOG.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Three History "I Can Read" Easy Readers

379. The Big Balloon Race by Eleanor Coerr. Pictures by Carolyn Croll.
I Can Read Book, Level 3

Rating: (3/5)

(US) - (Canada) - (UK)

1981, HarperCollins, 64 pgs

Age: (7+)

"Ariel would love to be in the basket of Lucky Star on the day of the big balloon race against Bernard the Brave. Her mother, Carlotta the Great, is the best lady balloonist in America. But Ariel's parents think she is too young. Little do they know she is asleep in the Odds and Ends box when Carlotta the Great orders "Hands off!" and the balloon race begins."

Purchased a new copy from an online retailer.

Based on the true life adventures of the famous balloonist Myers family of the late 1800s, this tells a tale of the mother participating in a balloon race and the daughter's accidentally stowing away and coming along for the trip.  The story seems a little bigger than life and I wouldn't believe it to be fact but it is an interesting introduction to this family, hot-air ballooning and independent women of the Victorian age.  Cute folk art type illustrations add to the appeal.

*****

384. Wagon Wheels by Barbara Brenner. Pictures by Don Bolognese.
I Can Read Book, Level 3

Rating: (4/5)

(US) - (Canada) - (UK)

1978; 1993 HarperCollins, 64 pgs

Age: (7+)

"The Muldie boys and their father have come a long way to Kansas. But when Daddy moves on, the three boys must begin their own journey. They must learn to care for one another and face the dangers of the wilderness alone."

Purchased a new copy from an online retailer.

I really like this story and find it very unique in its choice of topic.  Here we have a tale of black pioneers heading west to settle on free land being offered by the government.  Based on the real life story of the Muldie boys, whose story was chronicled in a local teacher's journal from the town of Nicodemus.  The book runs chronologically and tells of the hardships of the pioneers traveling this way, dugouts, harsh winter, an encounter with Indians and prairie fires.  The boy's father being a carpenter and not a farmer though must move further on to the forested land and at this point he leaves the three boys (11, 8, and 3) to fend for themselves with the aid of the neighbours.  Now this is a true account and I've read plenty of such circumstances happening, children were a hardy breed back then.  But this being an easy reader, the author does not make this transition well by omitting any logical explanation for the modern child reader to comprehend these circumstances.  This may be frightening to young readers who are reading beyond their age range.  The author's note at the end does explain a bit better.  This is the only reason I give 4stars rather than five.  I am keeping this one for my collection until I find an original hardcover; I have a concern with the illustrations being re-copyrighted by Bolognese in 1993 though making me wonder if they were slightly "updated" anywhere.  Looking forward to being able to compare the two.  A great reader though of frontier life from both the black-family and Osage Indian point of view.

*****


387. Snowshoe Thompson by Nancy Smiler Levinson. Pictures by Joan Sandin
I Can Read Book, Level 3

Rating: (4/5)

(US) - (Canada) - (UK)

1992 HarperCollins, 64 pgs

Age: (7+)

"Danny wishes his dad would come home from Nevada for Christmas and writes him a letter to tell him so. When snow cuts off the mail until spring, only postman John Thompson can get through the Sierra Nevada Mountains to deliver his letter. "

Purchased a used copy from a thrift shop.

This is an interesting piece of historical fiction about a relatively obscure historical figure in postal history that also describes the beginning use of skis in America.  Joe Thompson was from Norway and when it was impossible to cross the Sierra Mountains to deliver the mail one winter he decided to make himself a pair of skis to the delight of his fellow settlers.  These strange snowshoes, thus earning Joe the nomenclature "Snowshoe Thompson" amazed the other folks and the idea caught on.  A fairly simple story but one that shows how items from the "old country" came to be used in the Americas by settlers and an heroic tale as Joe comes through and saves the day.  The illustrations are by the renowned Joan Sandin who has been illustrating since the seventies and has contributed to several books in the "I Can Read Books" series.  She does wonderful period piece work and these add greatly to the story.

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