Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Some Writer! The Story of E.B. White

Some Writer! The Story of E.B. White

Written and Illustrated by Melissa Sweet

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (2016), Ages 8-12

This is a biography about E.B. White, author of Charlotte's Web, Stuart Little and The Trumpet of the Swan. We learn how his travels and life long love of the Maine woods shaped his literary career from being a regular contributor to The New Yorker to becoming an accidental author of some of the most beloved books for young readers.

Caldecott honor winner, Melissa Sweet weaves together a magical book full of White's original typewritten manuscripts with penned edits along with photos and her own illustrations depicting the author's work and life.

Sweet's original illustrations in this book are perfect. A combination of her drawings and watercolors compliment the text and the primary source material she carefully selects to make readers want to take their time with this book.

This book made me want to dig deeper into the life and writings of E.B. White. I especially want to read some of his earlier pieces in The New Yorker. The care that Sweet took with the illustrations in this book makes me want to have a copy of my own on my bookshelf at home. 

Reviewed by Colleen Boff

Monday, May 22, 2017

Con Academy

Con Academy

Written by: Joe Schrieber

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company (2015), Ages 10-16

At the heart of this story is an intricate web of one con act after another. But there are greater issues of morals and values at play here. Will Shea is the main character and the primary con man who scammed his way into an elite prep school only to run into quite a few other clever con artists along the way. This story has it all--intrigue, cleverness, a tad bit of romance.

Character development is a particular strength of this author. Some characters are likeable whiles others are definitely not! Because Schrieber develops his characters so well, it is easy to begin thinking of which actors might play these different characters if this story were made into a movie.

This was quick read and a real page turner. It reminded me of Ocean's Eleven of Catch Me if You Can.

Reviewed by Colleen Boff

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War

Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War

Written by Steve Sheinkin 

Roaring Book Press (2015), Ages 10-14 

This is the story of Daniel Ellsberg, a government analyst and Washington insider during the Johnson and Nixon administrations who some would claim was a traitor of the United States and others would say was the American people’s most important watch dog of democracy. His claim to fame is that he leaked decades of government secrets, known as the Pentagon Papers, to the Press which ultimately led to the end of Nixon’s presidency and the conclusion of the United States involvement in Vietnam. 

Sheinkin knits together the key details of this complex time in American history in a way that makes this book a page turner. Photographs from the press interspersed throughout personalize Ellsberg and important government figures of the time. 

Complete with many references, this book will inspire more in depth research into primary sources such as an exploration of the articles that hit the headlines of major newspapers around the country once Ellsberg leaked the contents of the Pentagon Papers. Recipient of the Excellence in Young Adult Nonfiction by YALSA-ALA for this book, Sheinkin does a masterful job of telling this complex story in such a way that would appeal to even the most reluctant non-fiction reader. 

Review by Colleen Boff