Thursday, August 25, 2016

Tillie Pierce: Teen Eyewitness to the Battle of Gettysburg - a review

Tillie Pierce: Teen Eyewitness to the Battle of Gettysburg

By Tanya Anderson
Quindaro Press, 2016

I wondered why I was getting an "Early Reviewer" copy of a book that was originally published in 2013.  Quindaro Press has reissued the book as a paperback with "French flaps" - sturdy,gatefold flyleafs. They keep the original dust jacket information available, they can be used for bookmarking, and they make the book sturdier.

Tillie Pierce is a short and compelling account of a week in a life of a teen girl who lived in Gettysburg during the Battle of Gettysburg.  Author Tanya Anderson uses many of Tillie Pierce's own words*, but mixes them with a more modern-style narrative, and includes photographs, maps, and background information.  Words that are archaic or might be unfamiliar, e.g., caissons, consumption, accoutrement, are defined parenthetically.  (I prefer footnoting, but parenthetical makes for easier reading).

As you might expect from writer Tanya Anderson, the research is commendable.  The book includes: Bibliography, Black-and-White Photographs,  Further Reading, Glossary, Index, Photo Captions, Source Notes, Table of Contents, Timeline.  There are even step-by-step instructions to use Google Earth to follow the exact path that Tillie took from her home to a neighboring farmhouse which became a de facto military hospital.

If you haven't read Tillie Pierce yet, take advantage of this new edition to read or purchase it.  You won't be disappointed. You can check out its many starred reviews and awards here: Reviews and Awards for Tillie Pierce: Teen Eyewitness to the Battle of Gettysburg  If you're a history teacher, I can't think of a more exciting way to interest teens in history than to let them experience it through the eyes of another teen.

Finally, a note on the publisher, Quindaro: After more than ten years in the publishing business, Quindaro has a new mission.  They have committed to focusing on the YA market, publishing nonfiction designed "to engage the next generation of readers in history." I look forward to seeing their future offerings, and am hoping to review a copy of the upcoming Gunpowder Girls, also by Tanya Anderson.

*Tillie wrote her own book titled, At Gettysburg or What a Girl Saw and Heard of the Battle: A True Narrative.

My copy of Tillie Pierce: Teen Eyewitness to the Battle of Gettysburg was provided by LibraryThing Early Reviewers program

Friday, August 19, 2016

Everland - an audiobook review

by Wendy Spinale
Read by Fiona Hardingham, Steve West
Scholastic Audio, 2016

Everland is a *steampunk homage to Peter Pan, and the first in a series.  The setting is London, renamed Everland after its defeat by the Germans and the ravages of a deadly virus that targets adults.

I reviewed Everland for AudioFile Magazine.  Read my review here: []

Listen to a sample clip of Everland here: []
Everland is told from the dual perspectives of Gwen and Hook, and has two capable narrators.  This is ostensibly a YA title so it has a hint of romance, but I think it's also appropriate for younger readers.  It was a tad too sentimental in places and there were a few modernisms I would have left out (the word "snark" and a fist-bump come to mind), but it's a faithful re-working of the Peter Pan story and has great potential as a series. 

If you're not familiar with the steampunk genre, here's a primer that I've posted before:
*steam·punk [steem-puhngk]
1.a subgenre of science fiction and fantasy featuring advanced machines and other technology based on steam power of the 19th century and taking place in a recognizable historical period or a fantasy world.
2.a subculture inspired by this literary and film subgenre: the fashions and gadgets of steampunk.
Also, steam punk, steam-punk.
1985–90;  modeled on cyberpunk
  * steampunk. Unabridged. Random House, Inc. (accessed: March 26, 2013).

Saturday, August 6, 2016

The Best Man - a review

The Best Man
by Richard Peck
Dial Books, 2016

Richard Peck is a phenomenal writer, and his intent here was write a novel,

" ... addressed to grade-school and middle-school readers. A novel to spark discussion and to open a door to world suddenly living in a whole different era."

He has succeeded in introducing the topic of same-sex marriage in a kind and thoughtful way to his intended audience. Written in the first-person perspective of a rising sixth grader, The Best Man follows young Archer Magill from the end of fifth grade through the beginning of sixth -- through two weddings, bullying, friendship, death, the beginnings of puberty, and wonderful times with his quirky and lovable family. Along the way, he will be the best man in two unforgettable weddings, each of a very different sort. The Best Man is funny and also features Archer's best friend, Lynn,

She was never going to do a lot of peer-grouping with girls. It wasn't her.
"What's that you're drinking?" I inquired.
" A wheat grass smoothie." She wiped off a mustache.
"What's it taste like?"
"Like an open field," she said, "with cow pies."
Then out of nowhere she said, "I'll probably marry Raymond Petrovich. It crossed my mind when he was canceling our absences on e-mail this morning. He's a take-charge guy."
"I thought you weren't ever going to get married," I said, "end of story."
"I was in elementary school when I said that. I've moved on. ..."

This is a story of male role models. You'll love them all. No one tells a story quite like Richard Peck.

This review is of an uncorrected Advance Reader Copy of the book.