Review of The Nantucket Sea Monster by Darcy Pattison

The Nantucket Sea Monster by Darcy Pattison

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Book Review of The Nantucket Sea Monster: A Fake News Story by Darcy Pattison

Lately it seems like there has been a lot of discussion about fake news stories. I don’t think I’d heard much about fake news stories until just a few years ago. Because they have been focused on, it makes it seem like printing fake news stories is a new thing. Apparently it’s not! Which sadly makes me feel better. In 1937 there was a story printed about a sea monster off of the coast of Nantucket. Was it real? Were the people of Nantucket doomed to live in daily fear for their lives? Find out more in my book review of The Nantucket Sea Monster: A Fake News Story by Darcy Pattison.


“Do you believe everything you read in the newspaper? Early in August 1937, a news flash came: a sea monster had been spotted lurking off the shore of Nantucket Island. Historically, the Massachusetts island had served as port for whaling ships. Eyewitnesses swore this wasn’t a whale, but some new, fearsome creature. As eyewitness account[s] piled up, newspaper stories of the sea monster spread quickly. Across the nation, people shivered in fear.

This nonfiction picture book is a perfect story to start discussions about non-political fake news stories.”

My Book Review:

I haven’t ever heard of this story before! I’m glad that Ms. Pattison has brought it to life for us to learn from. I think the story is well written. It explains the story well and is easy to read and understand. The fact that it’s a nonfiction picture book is great, of course.

The illustrations are a little different, but are bright colored and fun. It does have the feel of an earlier time; say maybe 1937? I think they’re well done, and I like the layout of the pages with the speech bubbles, the big headline font, and the quote boxes.

Reading this book to a class (or family) would be a great way to start a discussion about non-political fake news stories. It offers a safe way to discuss the pros and cons and the whys of fake news stories. I think it would be fun to split the class into two and have one half write real news stories and the other half write fake news stories. Then try to figure out which ones are which. It’d also be fun to have kids create their own sea monsters.

If nothing else, it’s a fun way to get kids interested in reading about history!  

Content Rating GRating: G (It’s clean!)

Recommendation: Everyone

My Rating: 4/5

4 Star Review

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here:

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. 

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

Hail to the Chief by Callista Gingrich What are You Thinking by Valerie Ackley  Discover America by Katherine Lee Bates

Book Review of To the Moon! by Jeffrey Kluger

To the Moon by Jeffrey Kluger

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Book Review of To The Moon! by Jeffrey Kluger

When I was a kid, I remember watching the space shuttle launches. I loved watching the launches! To think that those people would be going into space was amazing! Then, when I was in third grade there was a special launch; the Challenger would take Christa McAuliffe, a teacher, up into space. I wanted to be a teacher, so I was really excited for her! All the third graders got together and sat on the floor around the small television. Then, we watched in horror as the Challenger exploded before our very young, innocent eyes. That experience haunted me for a long time. Thankfully, that didn’t happen to the crew of the Apollo 8 spacecraft! I hope you enjoy my book review of To the Moon! By Jeffrey Kluger.


“The year was 1968, and the American people were still reeling from the spacecraft fire that killed the Apollo 1 crew a year earlier. On top of that, there were rumors that the Russian cosmonauts were getting ready to fly around the moon. NASA realized that they needed to take a bold step—and that they needed to take it now. They wanted to win the space race against Russia and hold true to President Kennedy’s promise to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade. So in a risky move, a few days before Christmas of that year, they sent Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and Bill Anders to the moon!

This book about the exciting and inspiring true story of Apollo 8, the first crewed American spaceship to break free of Earth’s orbit and reach the moon, tells the story of these three brave men, the frantic rush to get their rocket ready, and the journey that gave the American people—and the world—a new look at the planet we live on and the corner of space we inhabit.”


My Book Review:

I found this book fascinating! I love reading about history, especially about moments in time where people were able to accomplish the unbelievable! Moments when people come together to do the unimaginable are so inspiring! To the Moon! Is very well written! It’s nonfiction, but it reads like fiction. Seriously. It’s easy to follow and understand, and it brings the past to life. The descriptions of all the equipment and procedures are so well written that you understand exactly what is going on. It’s not boring, and it doesn’t drag on.

These events were exciting in real time, and Jeffrey Kluger does an amazing job of making them just as exciting today. Even though I knew that everything turned out okay, I still found myself holding my breath and gasping when something went wrong. What an exciting time in America’s history! I may not have been alive in 1968, but this book made the whole experience part of my history.

There is so much we can learn from the astronauts and the people at NASA during the space race. This book has so many lessons that they learned that are important today. I love that the book is written for YA. It should be required reading for every American history class that studies the 1960s. If your YA needs to read a nonfiction book, this would be a great choice! I highly recommend this book for YA and adults alike! The pictures at the end sum it up perfectly; I enjoyed putting faces to the  names of all these people I had come to look up to.


Content Rating PGRating: PG (It’s clean. There’s no profanity or “intimacy,” but there were people that died, and their deaths were shocking.)

Age Recommendation: YA (12-18) and up

My rating: 4.5/5

4.5 Star Rating

If you would like to purchase this book, click here:

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.


Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

  Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand  The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown

[Book Review] Remember the Ladies by Callista Gingrich

Remember the Ladies by Callista Gingrich
Remember the Ladies
Callista Gingrich

Ellis the Elephant is headed back to the White House! In Remember the Ladies, the seventh in Callista Gingrich’s New York Times bestselling series, Ellis meets some of America’s greatest first ladies and discovers their many contributions to American history. Join Ellis as he travels back in time to encounter:
  • Martha Washington as she invents what it means to be a first lady
  • Dolley Madison as she saves a portrait of George Washington from a burning White House
  • Mary Todd Lincoln as she supports Union troops throughout the Civil War
  • Eleanor Roosevelt as she redefines and strengthens the role of first lady
  • Jackie Kennedy as she brings style and glamour to the White House
With beautiful illustrations and charming rhymes, Remember the Ladies will delight young and old alike with a look at the first ladies who helped make America an exceptional nation.
My Review:
This book is so cute! The illustrations are adorable, and I love that it’s teaching the children about the first ladies. I think the first ladies sometimes get overlooked, but many of them have done some great things, and have championed some very important causes. I actually learned a lot! I didn’t know about many of the middle first ladies. I know quite a bit about Martha Washington and Abigail Adams, and then I know quite a bit about the more current first ladies, but I learned a great deal about some of those first ladies in the middle. For example, did you know that Abigail Fillmore added a library to the White House? I’d love to see the library in the White House! And I didn’t know that Jackie Kennedy gave Americans the first televised tour of the White House, or that Lady Bird Johnson worked to clean up America’s highways. This book highlights many of the first ladies, and I love that the title is based on Abigail Adams telling her husband to “remember the ladies!” I think this book does a good job of covering first ladies from both parties. At the end there is a little snippet on each first lady. I was surprised to know that in a few cases the presidents’ wives didn’t want the role, so a daughter or someone else would fill the position. I enjoyed this book and do recommend it.
Rating: G (Clean!)
Recommendation: Everyone
Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Getting To Know FreedomFactor.Org

Today I wanted to take a moment to spotlight:
This is Stan Ellsworth, host of American Ride, and he’s working with Freedom
to teach Americans about our history and help them read the U.S. Constitution. 
This is Freedom’s mission statement:
“We at Freedom Factor have a passion for our American Heritage and want to share it with the world. The United States Constitution is the centerpiece of this heritage. What makes America unique in world history is the emphasis on local government and written Constitutions. Written Constitutions mark ‘a momentous advance in civilization and it is especially interesting as being peculiarly American.’ To keep our civilization advancing we are asking you to do three simple things: Read the U.S. Constitution, get to KNOW it better, and SHARE it with others. Partner with us in our efforts to put a Pocket Constitution into the hand of every American. Let’s together spread the message that protects us, promotes our happiness, and most importantly, brings us together.”
Hear it from Mr. Ellsworth himself (This is the first of many videos that teach U.S. History):

This site is so great! I wish I had known about it sooner!

You can read the U.S. Constitution:

There’s a great audio program that teaches kids about the U.S. Constitution:

And if you create an account there are videos that teach U.S. History:

In American politics right now, it seems like no one agrees on anything, and no one gets along. Many people have a “my way or the highway” attitude; consequently, there aren’t many people on opposite sides of the aisle that work together. Is compromise a word anyone understands any more? When our Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution, it wasn’t easy. There were differing opinions. There were strong emotions. There weren’t even any examples of what they were trying to accomplish. Years ago I read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families by Stephen R. Covey. In it, Mr. Covey talks about how there’s something even higher and better than compromise. When people really come together, it’s not just my way, your way, or compromise; there’s a fourth option. You take what person #1 wants and what person #2 wants, and you don’t make either one of them compromise, but you have them come hand in hand and find another option. You create something completely different that fits the needs of both equally. (He gave an example of a young married couple that didn’t have a lot of money. The husband wanted a new sofa, and the wife said that they couldn’t afford one. To make it work, they bought an old sofa at a thrift store and they learned how to reupholster it….they both got what they wanted). That is what is missing in politics today, and I find that disheartening because coming together like that is what brought about the Constitution of the United States of America.

A couple of years ago I was trying to get my teaching license current after letting it expire. I took an American History class, and we talked about the making of the Constitution. I hadn’t read it since high school (oops!). So I took the time to read and study the Constitution. I was amazed at how much I thought I knew, but didn’t really know. There were a few things I thought were included in the Constitution, but aren’t; and there were a few things in the Constitution that I didn’t know were there. I love this project by Freedom because I think it is so important for us as citizens to get back to the basics. We need to read and study our Constitution. We need to talk to each other. We need to discuss our differences in a way that uplifts each other. I think we all really want the same things, we just have different ways of getting there. If we take the time to talk to each other without vilifying or destroying, I think we’ll see that we’re not enemies; in fact, we’re on the same team. Let’s come together, find common ground, and help each other. It all starts with education. The more we learn about how our government works and the more we learn about each other, the more we see each other’s individual worth, the better voters and leaders we become, and that results in a better run government. After all, to quote Abraham Lincoln, this is a “government of the people, by the people, for the people,” so the people better know their Constitution!

Disclosure: I did receive a free Pocket Constitution from this organization for providing this spotlight. However, this does not sway my opinion. I think it’s a great organization, and I’m excited to delve more into their site and resources in the future. 

Hail to the Chief (An Ellis the Elephant Story)

Hail to the Chief
(An Ellis the Elephant Story)
Callista Gingrich

“Ellis the elephant is back, and he’s headed to the White House! In Hail to the Chief, the sixth in Callista Gingrich’s New York Times bestselling series, Ellis meets some of America’s greatest presidents and discovers how they have led our country throughout American history. Join Ellis as he travels back in time to encounter:
  • George Washington as he is sworn in as our first president.
  • Andrew Jackson as he welcomes thousands of Americans to the White House.
  • Abraham Lincoln as he delivers the Gettysburg Address.
  • Theodore Roosevelt as he builds our national park system.
  • Lyndon Johnson as he signs the Civil Rights Act.
With beautiful illustrations and charming rhymes, Hail to the Chief will delight young and old alike with a glimpse at the leaders who helped make America an exceptional nation.”
My Review:
What a great book! I love that it’s a darling picture book with colorful illustrations, and yet it’s packed with information! Children will think they’re reading about a cute little elephant, and yet they’re learning about American presidents and history. You know me, I hate it when authors push their agenda onto children through books and movies, and I was worried that this book might do that; it did not, thankfully! It is an unbiased look at several of America’s former presidents; Republican and Democratic alike. The only agenda in this book is to get children excited about American history by helping them learn about former presidents. I even learned a few things! It’s written in poem format, which is great because learning to rhyme is also an important skill for children to have. It’s not forced rhyming, either. It flows well and is easy to read and understand. My copy is hardback, which I love for its durability. The illustrations are very well done. They’re colorful, interesting, and full of great details. Not all the former presidents are highlighted in the book, but there is a little blurb on each of the presidents in the back of the book. (*Update 1/6/17: I had a reader contact me regarding the blurbs. She felt like the blurbs were biased, so I read through them. I think most of them are unbiased and informational. There are a few, especially with the more current presidents,  that are slightly biased. I didn’t feel like they were extremely biased, but there was a hint. Still, I think the benefits of the book outweigh the negative. If you feel the blurbs are biased then you could take those pages out, since they are not a part of the actual story. The story itself is unbiased.*)  I highly recommend this book for old and young alike! This book should be in every elementary school library in the United States!
Rating: G (Clean!)
Recommendation: Everyone!
Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.


1776 by David McCullough

(Summary taken from the book jacket) “In this stirring book, David McCullough tells the intensely human story of those who marched with general George Washington in the year of the Declaration of Independence–when the whole American cause was riding on their success, without which all hope for independence would have been dashed and the noble ideals of the Declaration would have amounted to little more than words on paper. Based on extensive research in both American and British archives, 1776 is a powerful drama written with extraordinary narrative vitality. It is the story of Americans in the ranks, men of every shape, size, and color, farmers, schoolteachers, shoemakers, no-accounts, and mere boys turned soldiers. And it is the story of the King’s men, the British commander, William Howe, and his highly disciplined redcoats who looked on their rebel foes with contempt and fought with a valor too little known. Here also is the Revolution as experienced by American Loyalists, Hessian mercenaries, politicians, preachers, traitors, spies, men and women of all kinds caught in the paths of war. At the center of the drama, with Washington, are two young American patriots, who, at first, knew no more of war than what they had read in books–Nathanael Greene, a Quaker who was made a general at thirty-three, and Henry Knox, a twenty-five-year-old bookseller who had the preposterous idea of hauling the guns of Fort Ticonderoga overland to Boston  in the dead of winter. But it is the American commander-in-chief who stands foremost–Washington, who had never before led an army in battle.”

Oh how I love this book! I have read it a few times and definitely recommend that every American read this book at least once. I like to read it every 4th of July, just to remind myself of what our country stands for, and of the price that has been paid for our freedom. What a miracle our country is. There are many stories that I know I didn’t learn in school. McCullough is a very good writer. He’s engaging, interesting, and knowledgable. This doesn’t read like a history text book, it is very well written. I love this book! Yes, yes, yes! Every American citizen from Junior High up should read this book or have it read to them. (Now do you want to know how I really feel??? =)

Rating:  It was a war, so some of it’s not pretty, but there’s no language or “intimacy.”

Recommendation: 14 years-old and up. Every student (and U.S. citizen) should read this book!

*This review was first published on 7/1/10.

Revolutionary Summer

Revolutionary Summer by Joseph J. Ellis

“A distinctive portrait of the crescendo moment in American history from the Pulitzer Prize-winning American historian Joseph J. Ellis. The summer months of 1776 witnessed the most consequential events in the story of our country’s founding. While the thirteen colonies came together and agreed to secede from the British Empire, the British were dispatching the largest armada ever to cross the Atlantic to crush the rebellion in the cradle. The Continental Congress and the Continental Army were forced to make decisions on the run, improvising as history congealed around them. In a brilliant and seamless narrative, Ellis meticulously examines the most influential figures in this propitious moment, including George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and Britain’s Admiral Lord Richard Howe and General William Howe. He weaves together the political and military experiences as two sides of a single story, showing how events on one front influenced outcomes on the other. Revolutionary Summer tells an old story in a new way, with freshness at once colorful and compelling.”
My Review:
By now you should all know how much I love American History. That is one of the reasons I slacked off my blogging at the beginning of the year. I took an American History college course so that I would have enough credit to renew my teaching license (yay!!). I have read 1776 a bunch of times, and I love it every time. Needless to say, I was really excited to read this book! It took me awhile to read it (hence my lack of blogging lately……), but it did not disappoint! It isn’t quite as easy to read as 1776 is, but it is still so well written. I loved how Mr. Ellis delved into the British side of it as well as the American side. It was interesting to learn the intentions and different strategies of the Howe brothers. I know I have heard about them before, but I really enjoyed getting into their heads a little more. I have to say, I am so glad that they made the atypical blunders and missteps that they did; it made our cause possible against such a formidable foe. This book went quite a bit into the politics of the day and how the political feeling of the day actually hindered our win. The people felt that a national army went against everything they were fighting for; therefore, the Continental Congress, even though they wanted a national army, was never able to actually provide General Washington with that luxury. Washington had to win the war with a piecemeal of state militias. The terms were about one year, and the personnel were constantly changing. Crazy! There were many things (I would say miracles, others may have another word for it…..) that had to come together in just the right way for us to win. Thankfully, it worked in our favor. This book is well written, very informative, and packed full of information. I learned a lot, and enjoyed reading it. If you are an American History fan like I am, then you definitely need to read this book, and if you aren’t, then you should still read it! 

Rating: PG-13 (It’s war. It describes certain battles where many people died.It’s not overly graphic, but does spell out what happened during these battles.)

Recommendation: 14-15 years-old, depending on the YA’s maturity level. This book would be great for a history class. Every American should read this book so we remember where we came from and the lives that were lost to give us the freedoms we enjoy today.

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

*This review was first published on May 20, 2015.


Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick
This book describes the events that happened before the Mayflower left England, during the voyage across the Atlantic, and after the Pilgrims decided to settle Plymouth. It describes the ever-changing relationships between the Pilgrims and the Natives, in great detail. Philbrick spends a lot of time describing King Phillip’s War of 1675-1676, of which I did not even know. This war was devastating to both the English and the Native Americans alike, and yet it is not very well publicized. The book takes you into the early 17th Century and debunks the common myths about the first Thanksgiving and even Plymouth Rock.
I really liked this book. Both my husband and I come from Pricilla Mullins, a young girl who traveled on the Mayflower, and who was orphaned early on. The book does not go into a lot of detail about each individual on the ship, which is what I was expecting, but more the main characters and the situations they went through in general. Philbrick’s writing is not as captivating as David McCoullough’s, but is good and I felt as if I too suffered through that first winter. He is really good at not taking sides, or showing too much of a bias. I felt for the Natives and the English alike. He shows the good, the bad, and the ugly of everyone involved. I enjoy history books, especially when they involve my ancestors, so even though it took me a long time to read (I renewed it three times at the library), I learned a lot and was glad I had read it. I would recommend this book for high schoolers and adults. I was really glad to learn the truth about what happened, instead of the fluff and sentamentality that we now seem to take as truth.
Rated: PG-13+ (war atrocities)
Recommendation: High School and Up
*This post was originally published on 11/23/09

What Would The Founding Fathers Think?

What Would The Founding Fathers Think? by David Bowman
(Summary taken from the back of the book) “Join Washington, Franklin, and Madison (via SKYPE/CHAT session) as they discuss our country’s current crisis as compared with their original intentions for America. With wit, humor, and a variety of visuals, David Bowman skillfully teaches preteens and teens alike the wisdom of returning to our nation’s founding principles and in a way that they will ‘get it.'”

This is a tough one. If you remember me reviewing this book: Just Fine The Way They Are, you will remember that I do not think politics belong in children’s books. Children have very impressionable minds and they don’t have the power to decide for themselves. They can’t always hear the other side of the story to choose what they believe. They just believe whatever they hear. And, I don’t think children should be burdened with politics when they are too young to really understand and shouldn’t need to worry about it yet. This book is a little different than the previous example. It is not a children’s picture book (although it has some great illustrations), it is written for an older audience, and it doesn’t hide what it is. You know just from looking at the cover that it is a political book, and that it has a conservative bias. Even with all these differences, I think I’m going to stick with my previous thoughts. Politics do not belong in children’s books. It doesn’t matter which side of the aisle you’re on or what you believe, children should be left out of it. Now, history is a different matter. Children should definitely be learning about our world, country, and state histories. They need to learn about our constitution and about our founding fathers. They need to be learning about events in our past that have made us who we are today. But, they should be learning it in an unbiased and nonpolitical way.

That being said, for what this book is, it is done well. It is well written, engaging, has some great illustrations, and definitely gets its point across. It is written in an easy-to-read and understand way, and is not boring. My 11 year-old would be able to understand it. There are some references to things that were popular when I was growing up (He-Man), that my son wouldn’t get, but they are explained well so it shouldn’t be a problem. The author gives quite a few quotes from the founding fathers, so it looks as though he did his homework. There are references to things like “Skype” and “Chat” that are humorous and kids today would understand. He also uses texting terms like “LOL” that make it so teens relate to it. There is also some very good historical information that is not biased: it is straightforward and informative. I like that the book talks about the importance of the family and having high moral standards. I don’t think those things are left or right, they are just good things all the way around.

I may be the only person out there that doesn’t think politics should be in books written for children, so I’ll just say that if it is read, I think it should be the starting point of a discussion. And it should be discussed with the parents. I also think you should read a book that leans the other way so children understand that there are other viewpoints. I don’t think this book should be read in schools because it leans too far to one side. It might be okay in a high school government class where the class reads a book written from left and right and they can compare and contrast viewpoints. If you lean conservative, you will probably really like this book. If you don’t, you will most likely not enjoy it.

Rating: G (It’s clean)

Recommendation: High School and Up. Once you get to high school, you begin thinking on your own. You start figuring out who you are and what you really think and believe, and you’re old enough to see hidden (or not hidden) agendas in books or movies.

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

America’s Prophet

America’s Prophet by Bruce Feiler
(Summary taken from the book jacket) “The pilgrims quoted his story. Franklin and Jefferson proposed he appear on the U.S. seal. Washington and Lincoln were called his incarnations. The Statue of Liberty and Superman were molded in his image. Martin Luther King, Jr., invoked him the night before he died. Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama cited him as inspiration. For four hundred years, one figure inspired more Americans than any other. His name is Moses. In this groundbreaking book, New York Times best-selling author Bruce Feiler travels through touchstones in American history and traces the biblical prophet’s influence from the Mayflower through today. He visits the island where the pilgrims spent their first Sabbath, climbs the bell tower where the Liberty Bell was inscribed with a quote from Moses, retraces the Underground Railroad where “Go Down, Moses” was the national anthem of slaves, and dons the robe Charlton Heston wore in The Ten Commandments. One part adventure story, one part literary detective story, one part exploration of faith in contemporary life, America’s Prophet takes readers through the landmarks of America’s narrative–from Gettysburg to Selma, the Silver Screen to the Oval Office–to understand how Moses has shaped the nation’s character.”
I really enjoyed this book. It reads easily, yet is very informative. He uses a lot of great vocabulary words, some that I had to look up. Feiler brings up things I had no idea happened in America’s past, and I loved it. I love American history, so this book was great for me. I also love the Moses story, so it fit in perfectly with my train of thought. I loved all the little-known details he puts in the book. He did a lot of research and it all comes together very smoothly. I didn’t realize how much our country was influenced by Moses and his story, and I found it interesting and intriguing. Anyway, I would definitely recommend this book. You don’t have to be a believer in Moses to enjoy it because it discusses America’s history, and whether you believe or not, our history was influenced by Moses.
Rating: PG
Recommendation: This would be great for any history class to reference. I think high school students and up would gain a greater understanding of our country’s heritage by reading this book. It is lighter than a text book but is still history. His style of writing is very engaging.