Thursday, November 21, 2019

Poetry Friday - Thanksgiving Means FOOD, Doesn't it?

Poetry Friday is hosted today by Rebecca Herzog at SlothReads! She gave us a challenge last week which you can read about here. Thanks, Rebecca!
        

           First, another big thank you to Michelle H. Barnes and the TLD committee for this wonderful new volume of The Best of Today's Little Ditty. I have received my copy and am loving reading all the poems from those I know from Poetry Friday, those I know from other places, all gathered together in this wonderful book. Just look at that fabulous cover! I am grateful to have a poem included.

           Second, wishing you and yours a Happy Thanksgiving, however it works for you. My daughter and family and I have worked out various things we cook for this day these recent years, but I've spent Thanksgiving in various ways through the years, all special memories with people, no matter the food. But, it is mostly about food, isn't it? Here's Rebecca's fun challenge!


            Briefly, Rebecca writes: "to write a poem about what food you feel is most deserving of its own National Day. Or perhaps there is a food that you find so disgusting that it should never have its day in the spotlight. Either way, tell us why in a poem."


             I tried to focus on one thing, but couldn't get it out of my head about certain drinks that are beloved each season. I am often tickled by the excitement on social media when some drinks appear celebrated, FINALLY (some say), at Starbucks. Yet, others have been around seemingly forever, and they deserve a National Day on their own, don't they?


Thanks for the challenge, Rebecca! It was fun remembering all kinds of food and drink, choosing what I really like.



A National Day for A Season’s Best

Yes, it’s fall and that’s not all;
‘tis time for apple cider.
Taste the sharp and tangy brew
bottled apples – just for you!

Cold brings winter’s minty twist,
down at Starbucks once a year.
Their brand insists your order be
peppermint mocha delight (not free).

I yearn for spring, escape outdoors
while sipping iced tea, cool delight.
Just brew a teabag, maybe two,
sit and praise green leaves anew.

My childhood memories win in summer –
friends giggling on our porch
with icy lemonade, sitting on a swing,
sipping summer’s tasty fling.

                                       Linda Baie ©



Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Non-Fiction Picture Books Share Inspiring Lives


Visit Alyson Beecher on Wednesdays for Non-Fiction Picture Books at Kidlit Frenzy.  Thanks to her hosting and sharing and those who add their posts, you can discover and celebrate terrific nonfiction picture books!  I always learn from these books, am happy that they are more and more available today for children, for everyone! This week, Alyson shares all some new award lists and events she's excited about at NCTE this week! 




Thanks to Charlesbridge for this copy!

Elizabeth Rusch tells the inspiring life story of Mario Molino, scientist, the person that is great to have on a "climate change" team.

         When Mario Molino was eight he was given a microscope for his birthday, thus beginning his journey of "what ifs?". His chemist aunt brought more tools for his "lab" and eventually he talked his parents into creating his own laboratory from an extra bathroom. Here's a picture of that "new" room, illustrated whimsically by Teresa Martinez as she shows Mario's swirls of lab equipment. 


         After earning his PhD and beginning work in the US, he continued his earlier questioning about the new "sprays" and their effects in the air. This led to a breakthrough of the deadly ways CFCs were changing the Ozone. He had a partner, F. Sherwood Rowland (Sherry) and they confirmed that the Ozone was being destroyed--by CFCs! Then came shouts from the detractors, of "A load of Rubbish", "It's a Science-Fiction Tale" and "Utter Nonsense". 
          "He never gave up." The text tells us that twenty-eight countries all over the world eventually agreed to stop making CFCs. Now, Nobel prize winner Mario Molino, has taken on a new challenge, to face the current crisis of global warming. As seen in his life's timeline at the back, he was part of the support to join other countries in the Paris Agreement, signed in 2016. Unfortunately, President Trump calls global warming a hoax and has made the US withdraw from that agreement. Teresa Martinez's illustrations set a tone through the books with lights and darks, offering cartoon-like pictures like the one above.
          In speaking before the US Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, Molino says, "Climate change is perhaps the most worrisome global environmental problem confronting human society today." This is found in a fine epilogue, sharing all of Molino's amazing accomplishments. 
         In the backmatter, one can also find similarities between the research of "The Ozone Hole" and "Global Warming" in an easy to navigate graphic. Also included is a page of sources (Read More) and a short piece of actions ("Do More"). An author's note explains her research process.


         Most recently, courage and persistence are two traits that have been admired and written about in various ways. This book can be another to be placed on a list of picture book biographies that celebrate those traits. Also, in story fashion, the book offers an admirable role model for children, where those who are fascinated by something as Mario was with his microscope, can find their passions and be proud.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Monday Reading - Special Books



              Visit Kellee and Ricki at UnleashingReaders and Jen at Teach Mentor Texts to see what they've been reading, along with others who post their favorites. Yikes, sorry this is so long! I wanted to share them all! 
             If you're going to NCTE, wishing you a marvelous time! 

Thanks to Candlewick Press for this copy!
        I've enjoyed reading and seeing so many books this year, from serious to humorous, from frightening to satisfying. And I am grateful to all the authors and illustrators whose words and art have landed in my lap. This book by Helen Cooper is one you don't want to miss!
         If you like a fantasy for middle readers and if you love just a few illustrations in chapter books, and if you like those tense, scary moments that make you stand up to take a wee break and pace around a bit before going back to the page, this is the book. The first time in the US, published in the UK a couple of years ago, I am so glad to have read The Hippo at the End of the Hall. It all revolves around a young boy, Ben, with a single mom, trying hard to make ends meet via a little shop above their basement apartment. An invitation arrives with the milk, delivered by bees. It's one from the Gee Museum, "Come Now or Come Never", and Ben, never before deceiving his mother, takes off to discover answers to questions he has held to, but never thought would be answered. His father was lost at sea. His mother won't talk about him. And somehow Ben keeps secret a dream (or was it?) from years ago where his father had taken him to meet someone, to visit, and at the end of the hall, was a hippopotamus! Ben certainly now wants to know more. After all, he has that invitation! 
         The book takes place over only a few days, but it fills one up with museum delights, often called "curiosities". There is danger lurking from greedy landgrabbers and a terrible rainstorm, plus a witch who may or may not be good. Animals can talk, yet only a few people hear them or listen. A few, like the hippo and an owl, stand with Ben no matter the danger! I adored every bit of this tale, would think it would please many young fantasy lovers and make a great read-aloud! Both text and pictures are by Helen Cooper.
          Helen Cooper's website is here! She has won the Kate Greenaway medal twice, for Pumpkin Soup and The Boy Who Wouldn't Go To Bed. In the author's note, Helen writes of the genesis of the story, her early fascination with museums. Among others, she highlights The Harvard Museum of Natural History. I was so excited because I have been there and I have seen the hippo! It is a fascinating museum, has a fabulous exhibit of glass flowers and sad-to-see, the last dodo.

        Margaret Simon and I have known each other for a lot of years, online! We met while blogging and continue to keep in touch in various ways. Margaret has published several books, most recently a beautiful book of poetry focusing on her Louisiana home place, the Bayou Teche. I love it and not only does it have beautiful poems but shares some prompts for writing and art. This time I'm sharing about the sequel to Margaret's first novel, Blessen
       Blessen LaFleur, now a sixth-grader, tells her story with all its meanders, just like the Bayou Teche. Despite the sorrow of losing her hen, Blue, in the earlier book and the tragedy of her father drowning while saving Blessen, she is happy with her new hen, Sunshine. As readers learn of the love she has for her chicken, Margaret also lets us know that this setting is an important part of the story, allowing Blessen to repeat the "snake" story, legend of how the Bayou was formed. Blessen is often outside, doing chores or playing. She says, "I imagine walking on the clouds with the treetops as my roof. The tall grass tickles my bare feet."   
         Blessen and her single mom live in a trailer. We learn about her grandfather, who also passed away recently. There has been sorrow in her life, but she is surrounded by a loving family, a grandmother and aunts. There is a 'for sale' home nearby and Blessen first notices a little girl playing, thinks she might have a new friend/neighbor. After a few days of being curious, she meets Harmony, a joy-filled seven-year-old. Blessen eventually figures out her new friend is homeless and now missing her mother. Blessen's such a loving child, and after a few days of play, she brings Harmony home. It doesn't last because social services arrive to take Harmony for placement in a foster home. What happens next to Blessen as she tries to save Harmony from a strange foster home? Together they call themselves "the guardians of nature." And what an adventure for a day they have!     
            Margaret deftly weaves the various parts of the story allowing Blessen tell what's happening, what she feels about her past, the fact that the father she had barely known and is now gone, was African-American. Her mother and her mother's family is white. While Blessen does tell about it, a concern in part is that she doesn't look like her mother with straight blond hair. Blessen's curls give her fits! That small thing gives us a peek inside, and realize she's a typical, happy, sometimes grumpy, 11-year-old who loves her chicken and her family. Her introspection shows a thoughtful girl growing up. She thinks about being a hero: "Isn't that what a hero is someone who tries to do the right thing at any cost?"             
           One final thing I loved is knowing that other important character, Harmony. She's a seven-year-old who's been living in a vacant house, but is a cheerful girl, happy to find her new friend, Blessen. Margaret shows this "bouncy" young girl so beautifully through poetry. When something big happens, she sings a rhyme! Here's one example: 

     Monkey see, Monkey Do
     We are together, me and you.
     swinging in the high gum tree
     Praying someone sets us free

           "Swinging in the high gum tree" is a fun inclusion in the midst of sadness. For a rather brief book, I found myself more and more involved, loving Blessen more and more, wishing for good times for Sunshine (along with some struggles), and of course, crossing my fingers for a happy outcome for Harmony. I enjoyed it very much.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Poetry Friday - Who Won?

           Poetry Friday is hosted today by Michelle Heidenrich Barnes at Today's Little Ditty! Today, she has a marvelous surprise!



          I had fun this week with a challenge on FB thanks to Heidi Bee Roemer to write a higgledy-piggledy, which is a double dactyl containing nonsense language. This humorous form pokes fun at the subject, which must be mentioned in Line 2 AND it must contain a single six-syllable word in the closing stanza. I know I wrote one when I worked with Renee La Tulippe, but cannot find it. You can find more information about the double dactyl here at the Poetry Foundation. They are not easy!


       Spark

Higgledy-piggledy!
Courting their nemesis,
Tesla and Edison.
DC or AC.

Both men electrically.
undemocratically
fancied the power called 
egocentricity.
Linda Baie ©


Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Learning from Non-Fiction Picture Books



Visit Alyson Beecher on Wednesdays for Non-Fiction Picture Books at Kidlit Frenzy.  Thanks to her hosting and sharing and those who add their posts, you can discover and celebrate terrific nonfiction picture books!  I always learn from these books, am happy that they are more and more available today for children, for everyone!


              Again with the computer science nonprofit Girls Who Code, Josh Funk and Sara Palacios take readers on another adventure, this time to an amusement park. One pleasing part here is that Pearl and her robot friend, Pascal whom we met in How To Code A Sandcastle, are back, and discover right away that their top goal, to ride that fabulous Python Coaster, may need to wait a bit. The line is so, so long. Pearl begins with a map and announces she'll use "code" for their day. When a coding term is introduced, Funk gives clear, easy-to-understand, definitions. For example, they have ten tokens for rides and Pearl is going to keep track through using a "variable", which holds information, this time those tokens! They begin with a Ferris wheel (robots ride free) which is one token. And since they love the ride, Pearl explains a "loop", which repeats the action of "one token-one ride". There follows a few other needed actions/terms, all while having a great time on the rides, and all those other amusement park delights: trying to win a prize and ice cream! Oops, having fun this time means spending tokens and suddenly they're out but have still not been on that coaster. 
           Along with learning this new way to keep track of the new coding rules, the new challenge might also mean another code that's missing? When teachers want a way to introduce coding, using the colorfully designed illustrations in an amusement part, labeled with the instructions will aid the process. 
             

A favorite page gives an idea of the creative way Sara Palacios illustrates Josh's way of explanations, this time more about a "variable", but shown in the ice cream shop menu, with a diverse group of people happy to have some delicious ice cream! 






















           There is an introduction by the founder, Reshma Saujani, of Girls Who CodeAdditional explanations of the code words can be found in the backmatter. Thanks to Josh Funk and Sara Palacios for another book that shows how coding works, can be helpful, and is easy to learn!


Monday, November 11, 2019

Monday Reading - A few Favorites



              Visit Kellee and Ricki at UnleashingReaders and Jen at Teach Mentor Texts to see what they've been reading, along with others who post their favorites. I have a second post today, highlighting a new middle-grade book, number three in a series. Please take a look here!






                          Thanks to Candlewick Press for these next two books.



         This book, out last summer, is a compilation from an exhibit that features postcards sent by more than 50 children's book illustrators from around the world to show solidarity with today's migrants. It is both inspiring and gorgeous to see the profoundly emotional art.

           From Satoko Watanabe in Japan: 
                                  A little bird flies in the sky.
                                  A little bird is damaged.
                                  A Little bird needs a place to rest.
            He shows a sweet-welcoming bear with a "little bird" perched on its nose.

            From Shaun Tan, Australia
                                   Where there is change
                                    there is hope.
                                    Where there is hope
                                     there is life.
             He shows a postcard with paper ripped from it that has turned into an origami bird.

              Brief bios of each artist are given at the back with one final poem, an acrostic using the word, "peregrine" by Robert McFarlane and Jackie Morris, UK. The art is a peregrine falcon.


           I'm guessing that children have no idea of the many intriguing wonders beneath us. Out in October, this book's journey shows those amazing sites all over the world in a "lift the flap" bonanza! For instance, on the double-page about prairie-dog towns, eight flaps lift to divulge secrets of this underground place, sometimes in poetry and sometimes in prose, readers learn what the "dogs" do, like females with their pups, who to beware of, who might take over the town, like ferrets. Sam Brewster takes us readers to the underground subway neighborhoods in Montreal, London, and Tokyo.  "Poland's glistening salt-rock mines,/carved with care throughout the years,/A maze of caves and passageways,/ statues, sculptures, chandeliers." can be found in a marvelous vertical double-page. Graphic art includes so many details that it's hard not to miss some. Then, it's time to look more carefully or return to read again and again. I imagine readers of all ages will adore this book and learning something new! 


             A family is woven together in these heart-stopping illustrations by Weshoyot Alvitree as Traci Sorell tells a story of what binds the family. In poetic style, Traci first shows us the mountain's base where grows a hickory tree. Beneath sits a cabin, and in that cabin, a wood stove gives warmth as a family watches a grandma's weaving, all close together while they wait, wait, for the one member missing. She is a pilot off to serve, like many others from the Cherokee Nation. Our own groups, whatever and wherever they may be, hold us up as we hope that they will soon be home safely. In an author's note, Traci tells a little more of those Native women who have served in wars "while receiving strong support from their families."

It's Monday - Sixth Grade Serious & Silly



              Visit Kellee and Ricki at UnleashingReaders and Jen at Teach Mentor Texts to see what they've been reading, along with others who post their favorites. I'm sharing two posts today, this one dedicated to what has become a series, newly adding book three.
              I reviewed the first Dewey Fairchild book a couple of years ago here. And I wrote about the early questions I had about the premise of the book. It seemed over-the-top with the way Dewey worked with his secret office and next-door neighbor and elder friend Clara as his assistant. Everyone, including clients, is constantly fortified by Clara's cookies, too. But, I was asked to share book number three, Dewey Fairchild, Sibling Problem Solver this last month and they sent me all three books. Well, I enjoyed book three so much that I took the time to read book two which I had missed. I still like them as much as ever, hope you will find them and enjoy their totally satisfying stories!

           I felt a bit uneasy thinking about Dewey taking clients who had problems with their teachers, with the possibility of his interfering with teachers, but I needn't have been concerned. The problems are real and Dewey's solutions were considerate and actually focused on helping the teacher, resulting in good solutions for everyone. For example, one teacher's students complain he is boring and he does not realize what he's like until the tables are turned. He's bored by the students! Another has linked the curriculum expectations to the study of sharks, so much that kids are afraid to drink from the water fountain. Dewey discovers the reason, helps the teacher look at sharks in ways he had not considered, a great lesson for everyone. It is terrific to see the lesson in expanding research, learning about ALL sides.
           As in the first one, Dewey's friends and family, members and activities with them show up often, more entertaining than the one focus on problem-solving. Yet this time, Dewey and his friends have a school-wide challenge: they've taken away the vending machines (for snacks on break) and introduced a new toilet-paper roll which dispenses only one sheet at a time. "Outraged" is the word for the outcry so Dewey and friends, Colin and Seraphina, with Clara's spectacular cookie-baking help, plan a protest. But first, the research comes, and a frantic search for Colin's retainer, all in the real lives of middle-school kids! The day-to-day life of the families and kids is also included, this time showing Dewey's dad who is student teaching so he can become a math teacher, Dewey's interest in drones, and some of the parts of his life not so good, like having to watch his little sister, called "Pooh Bear" when he believes there are more important things to do. It's a real-life and fun story many kids will enjoy.



           Now, in this newest one out, Dewey has discovered some personal learning along with helping others solve sibling problems. The first problem begins with a 'parent' problem. Archie Thomas' mother won't allow video games during the week, but when they compromise with Dewey's help, the older sister is dismayed because Archie's mother is now entranced with the social media interactions, and managing to embarrass her daughter. After figuring that out, a new client emerges, a girl whose brother won't leave her alone and does some fairly mean things to her often. Dewey's problem-solving, and enticing stake-out to observe the problem is real research. Reading about his thinking, then connecting it to his own life for the solution shows Dewey is growing older and realizing that his life is not perfect either. He needs to find a few solutions for himself, too. 
           Oh my, Dewey has another personal problem! little sister Pooh Bear manages to figure out Dewey's secret office in the attic, and when she and older sister Stephanie slide through the air vents (yes, that's the entry!), Dewey struggles with the solution. What to do, what to do? 
           As in the first two books, social problems are also tackled by Lorri Horn. In the book about teacher problem-solving, the rights of children to speak their minds and protest is respected and upheld. This time, with a description of Dewey's solution to the bothersome brother problem, discussion of colors denoting gender and how those beliefs started is included in a solution that did not go well. Dewey's work is not always perfect! More adventures with drones and now those that take pictures also take place. And, descriptions of the characters show the author wants to be sure that readers know diverse kids and adults are in Dewey's life. 
          Clara, the endearing, next-door neighbor who is Dewey's assistant keeps the support going, too. She and her dog, Wolfie, are mainstays in Dewey's life, along with the family. Their support, warm and fun conversations bring a feel-good vibe to all the stories. 
          There is a lot to love in these books that will entertain, but also inform thinking for readers. I enjoyed them very much.

           See Lorri Horn's SCBWI's profile here. Thanks to Amberjack Publishing for the books!

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Poetry Friday – Finally Featuring!

           Poetry Friday is hosted today by Irene Latham at Live Your Poem! Today, she welcomes us with poems from a treasured book and poet, and one by herself – poems of comfort. Thank you, Irene!




            It's long overdue that I share this marvelous "almost new" poetry book by Michelle Schaub, illustrated by Carmen Saldaña. It was out in September! First, I pre-ordered it because I loved Michelle's earlier collection, Fresh-Picked Poetry: A Day At The Farmer's Market. Then I won an autographed copy from Matt Essenwine's post, lucky me! So that was for my granddaughters! Then! I was sent a copy from Charlesbridge! FYI - I gave one to my granddaughters' school! I imagine most of you have read this new "treasure" of a book, but if not, be sure to find it!



        This young girl hears from her teacher; the class must prepare to bring in a 'collection' to share. But, and it seems to be a big "but", she has a "Collection Conundrum", no "random items. . . share a common thread". Although she hasn't found that "thread", Michelle carries the story into a poetic collection thread as the girl examines friends, family, and neighbors to learn of their own collections. The family shows a button collection, trains and snow globes, where Sissy says: "When confetti settles like sprinkles on a cake,/time to make it snow again–/Just tip and.../Shake! Shake! Shake!" Nothing seems to connect as she travels on to a friend who collects black and white animal figurines ("and in a spot of honor–skunks,/her current fascination"), a neighbor is proud of all his birdhouses ("Merrily from each tree,/legions of homes swing free"), and bringing one to me, too, the mailman ("because, across the well-worn miles, he's energized by saved-up smiles".) You may know already that after much tantalizing research, the conclusion is the best! She chooses especially, "gathered up inside this book: my favorite.../POETRY!"  
        In the end, Michelle has added a few tips for starting a collection. Carmen's vivid, colorful illustrations delight with the inclusion of many kinds of things treasured by so many kinds of people. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Non-Fiction History Books Celebrate the Past, Include the Present

Visit Alyson Beecher on Wednesdays for Non-Fiction Picture Books at Kidlit Frenzy.  Thanks to her hosting and sharing and those who add their posts, you can discover and celebrate terrific nonfiction picture books!  I always learn from these books, am happy that they are more and more available today for children, for everyone!

        Last week I shared a book titled Suffragette, The Battle for Equality. The 'way-back-when' history of women fighting always for other women, for their right to be heard!













Thanks to Candlewick Press for this book!
          This week, I love introducing still another book filled with short biographies of more recent women, some now passed, but who in the past century up to today, continue that fight for women's equal rights, continue to live their lives as examples of how persistence can achieve goals. Illustrations by Kylie Akia and Alexandra Bye carry a patriotic theme.




          While reading profiles of fifty women, many whom I enjoy hearing speak today, I am both proud of their achievements, but sad at the obstacles they faced and had to overcome. The authors, Virginia State Senator Janet Howell and her daughter, Theresa Howell have identified eight important character traits that "great leaders often develop, along with some suggestions of how those qualities can be expressed."  Wouldn't it be terrific to examine each one, to discuss with students how these traits help in achieving life's goals? 

Here are some of the women with a special quote included and a tidbit of information I pulled from the profiles:

           I'm proud that Condoleezza Rice achieved a doctorate right here in Denver, at the University of Denver! She developed a reputation through her writings as an expert in Russian affairs and culture.

Monday, November 4, 2019

Monday Reading - More Books to Love





              Visit Kellee and Ricki at UnleashingReaders and Jen at Teach Mentor Texts to see what they've been reading, along with others who post their favorites. I'm sharing many books today, combining some new ones with  others I want to be sure to share in case they are new to you readers.

             Thanks to Charlesbridge for the copy of this terrific book!
      Jade Levy is tired of Tiveda, Colorado. Everyone leaves and her family was supposed to also until her dad got sick. She struggles to make friends, at least is tired of making new ones, so she writes herself a friend in a special notebook! Now she's in command, able to have fun with a friend who won't leave until Jade herself wants her to. Then this friend, Zoe, appears for real across the street and the experiences with her and other kids at school become a bit strange but really fun, at first. 

       Reading the story and its underlying sadness made me sad, too. Jade does need a friend, especially now that her dad is ill, stays in a chair most days and her mother doesn't seem able to stop being busy. Change hurts kids more than they might ever tell their loved ones and this feels like someone keeping too many secrets until finally, she does find someone who cares. However, even that takes a while for her to trust this boy she knows, until she discovers he has a secret, too. There are strong voices all the way through the story, making me hope that readers who find this story will find needed connections and some hope, too.  


Thanks to NetGalley and Wednesday Books for the ARC of this book by Gae Polisner.

            Some may believe this is "make-believe", but Gae Polisner's new story, out next April, shows one girl's life in all its reality; all its hopes, some horribly dashed; yet, she keeps on, making choices that are "right" for her. Will you agree with every part?  Perhaps not, but in the turmoil of this young teen whose father is away for work longer and longer, whose mother is drifting away in a heart-breaking mental disorder, and whose bestie Aubrey has drifted on to other girlfriends, readers will cling with her as they wish her better days. 
          JL writes her story in a long journal/letter to Aubrey about everything that has happened since the two stopped being friends. It moves back and forth in time, layer upon layer. JL Markham is fifteen, now finding some pleasant hours with the tropical butterflies she has recently been raising, and in Max, a new love, but an older senior who'll be leaving town soon. The age gap is of some concern, but Max seems JL's only anchor at this time. The plight of a young girl with few people to turn to fills us readers with worry, something we all might consider if we have the time to take with a young person. Polisner has offered much to ponder in this book!
         Questioning, questioning is part of what Gae Polisner shows JL doing: Should she leave with Max? Can she leave her mother without anyone to care for her? How can she find her special friendship with Aubrey again? How far can she go sexually to show she loves Max? The inner turmoil shown with JL telling her story is poignant, feels very real to me, although I suspect teens hide problems too well from the adults in their lives, perhaps the biggest tragedy? And perhaps adults should be reading this story, too?


            I had this on my Kindle and read most of it on the plane coming home last weekend. This is a fast read and I imagine most middle school readers will like it, full of adventure and about a thirteen-year-old Irish boy stuck in Berlin during World War II. His father is the ambassador to Ireland and what Michael O'Shaunessey doesn't know until the night of Kristallnacht is that his parents are spies. Ireland was neutral in this war and was often criticized for that decision, but in his author's note, Gratz explains that after the war it was discovered that many Irish in this situation served as spies and helped the Allies in the war. I didn't care for the book as much as the others I've read by Alan Gratz. It felt too fabricated, too "all works out". Like Gratz's others, however, it is based on historical truth. The parts about the indoctrination of Hitler Youth are frightening. It is hard to believe that such actions might happen with a thirteen-year-old taking care of his own spying responsibilities. I will say that those times are not today and sadly, they probably happened more than I can imagine.