Book Review: Royal Magic

Royal Magic by Ruth Chew

Royal Magic
by Ruth Chew
4 out of 5 stars

Cindy and Jack are visiting a museum when they are magically transported through one of the displays into ancient Africa. In the middle of the jungle, the children meet a man with a beautiful flute who escorts them to the royal palace to meet the king of the Edo empire. There they find court intrigue and a royal secret.

I loved this fun story! The history is really interesting and we get to learn about the culture of the Edo empire (also called the Benin Kingdom) in ancient Nigeria. It was an amazing kingdom with roads and infrastructure and walled cities and trade. The king was called the Oba, and Cindy and Jack get to meet the Queen as well. I loved reading about the unique customs and manners of the people, their greetings and social hierarchy. Everything from the way they built their homes to the way they ate their food had a special organization to it.

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Book Review: The Frenzied Prince

The Frenzied Prince by Padraic Colum

The Frenzied Prince: Heroic Stories of Ancient Ireland
by Padraic Colum
4 out of 5 stars

Prince Suivne has gone mad after the battle of Moy Rah, and he wanders the wilderness running from all men. King Donald sends his best scholars to find Suivne and restore him to sanity through their art of storytelling. The storytellers find Suivne and use the stories and legends of Ireland to remind him of his lineage and obligations in the royal court.

I loved the way that each of these legends were bookended with the continuing story of Prince Suivne, and how each story had an effect on him to remind him of his heritage and to inspire him to courage and kindness. It’s a clever and effective story structure and lends an extra meaning to each of the tales.

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Book Review: The Boatman’s Daughter

The Illustrated Boatman's Daughter by Tom Durwood

The Illustrated Boatman’s Daughter
by Tom Durwood (Goodreads Author)
2 out of 5 stars
In 1860s Egypt, Salima helps her father with his ferryboat business, but she longs for more education and wants to travel and see the world. Hoping to make some money to pay for school, she applies for a clerk position with a company overseeing the construction of the Suez Canal. She becomes entangled with the corruption and danger surrounding the various European and Egyptian powers struggling for control of the new canal.

The writing style is really excellent, and made me care deeply about the characters. However, it could use a copy editor for little things like punctuation.

The plot was exciting, and the adventure was interesting. However, there were times when I couldn’t understand why the plot took the direction it did in some scenes. It wasn’t clear why the characters chose to do what they did, or how they got to a certain point, or how they gained particular knowledge. It was just some little things that didn’t quite add up, but it didn’t ruin my enjoyment of the overall story.

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Non Fiction Review: Ensnared in the Wolf’s Lair

Ensnared in the Wolf's Lair by Ann Bausum

Ensnared in the Wolf’s Lair: Inside the 1944 Plot to Kill Hitler and the Ghost Children of His Revenge
by Ann Bausum
4 out of 5 stars

In the midst of Nazi Germany, a group of men attempt to assassinate Hitler. Their plan fails, and their families pay the price. Hitler is merciless in his revenge on the families and children of the men who tried to kill him. But a few of the children survive, and they are nicknamed the Ghost Children.

I appreciate this clear look at a complicated time in history, and how the nuances of the political climate in Germany were so much more complex than we can understand today. I think history tends to remember all Germans as being evil people who were complicit with Hitler’s plans, but so many of the German people were actively fighting against him from within.

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Non Fiction Review: Kid Innovators

Kid Innovators by Robin Stevenson

Kid Innovators: True Tales of Childhood from Inventors and Trailblazers
by Robin Stevenson (Goodreads Author), Allison Steinfeld (Illustrator)
4 out of 5 stars

All inventors start out as curious kids who love to learn and explore. This book gives short biographies of some famous innovators and how their childhood shaped their dreams. The bios include the stories of Steve Jobs, Jacques Cousteau, Florence Nightingale, Walt Disney, the Wright brothers, and many others.

There are sections about technology, exploring, codes, medicine, and trailblazers. It’s not just about inventing something new. It’s about revolutionizing how something is used, how art is created, or how people think. The history of computer codes, airplanes, wind turbines, rockets, nursing, hair products, entertainment, and a dozen other fields are explored.

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Book Review: Timeline Science and Technology

Timeline Science and Technology by Peter Goes

Timeline Science and Technology
by Peter Goes
4 out of 5 stars

This book gives an interesting timeline of human history, following the Stone Age, the Bronze Age, Ancient Civilizations, the Greek and Roman Empires, Chinese emperors, the Byzantine Empire, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, the Reformation, the Industrial Revolution, up to the present time. The last pages are divided into each decade of the 1900s, giving more details about each year, right up to the year 2020.

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Non Fiction Book Review: Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

The Autobiography and Other Writings by Benjamin Franklin
The Autobiography and Other Writings
by Benjamin Franklin

3 out of 5 stars

This is an interesting look at Benjamin Franklin’s life. The first part is his autobiography, which he never finished. It tells mostly of his early life and his beginnings in the printing business. Then there are collections of his letters, scientific writings, and political writing. These are divided by topic, with short explanations from the editor giving general information surrounding those letters or publications. It shows his work as a scientist and inventor, his gradual assent into public life as a statesman and politician, and his personal life as a husband and father and his personal relationships.

I found it very interesting and readable, and I loved seeing how meticulous and sensible Franklin was in ordering and organizing his life. He had some excellent ideas and some crazy ideas. He was a person always searching and wondering and puzzling through the mysteries of life. He must have had a terrific amount of energy, since he often writes about diligence and industry. He was a rare personality.

I enjoyed this close look into American history!

Non Fiction Review: The Story of Abraham Lincoln

The Story of Abraham Lincoln by Carla Jablonski
The Story of Abraham Lincoln: A Biography Book for New Readers
by Carla Jablonski

5 out of 5 stars


This children’s book tells the history of Abraham Lincoln, from his childhood to his death.
I like that the story is told with a simple writing style, easy for a child to understand, and there is a glossary at the back from some of the bigger or unfamiliar words. This would be a great book for 7-10 year old readers.

There are fun cartoon illustrations showing Abe as a young boy on the farm, as a young politician, as a family man, and finally as President of the United States. I really like the bright colors and design of the book! Continue reading

Non Fiction Review: Turn It Up!

Turn It Up! by National Geographic Kids
Turn It Up!: A Pitch-Perfect History of Music That Rocked the World
by National Geographic Kids

5 out of 5 stars

This book gives an overview of the history of music and how music developed over time to include different styles. With paintings and photographs showcased in a colorful design, this book is sure to capture the attention of anyone interested in music!

I really love how the information is organized in easy-to-read text boxes. Each chapter focuses on one era of music history, covering Ancient, Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, Romantic, Impressionist, Modern, and Post-Modern music.

This book has biographies and songs of music styles like Jazz, Pop, Big Band, Blues, Rock, Reggae, Heavy Metal, and a dozen more, featuring music stars, composers, singers, musicians, conductors, and influencers who created the music we know today. Continue reading