Pioneering the Vote by Neylan McBaine

Pioneering the Vote by Neylan McBaine

♦This post contains affiliate links. You don’t pay any extra, and I make a small commission.♦

♦Please see my Disclosure tab for more information.♦

Book Review of Pioneering the Vote by Neylan McBaine

I dedicate this book review to Mrs. Christie Pitts. In high school I took Mrs. Pitts’ AP American History class. I passed, thank goodness! Mrs. Pitts was an amazing teacher! My senior year, Mrs. Pitts started a new class: Women in History. I was a member of the inaugural class. Yes, it was all girls, and we LOVED it! This class focused on prominent women from American history, along with many women we had not ever heard of. It was so fun to look at history through some different viewpoints and to get to know some amazing women from our history. Mrs. Pitts inspired me to do and be better. She told us stories from her life that showed how far women had come in just her lifetime. I loved that class! It did cause some controversy, though! One day someone put a sign on her door that said, “Feminism 101.” We laughed about it and left it up as a badge of honor for a long time. It wasn’t quite true, but…what do you do?? Anyway, Mrs. Pitts would have loved this book! Here’s my review of Pioneering the Vote by Neylan McBaine.


“In 1895, Utah’s leading suffragist, Emmeline B. Wells, welcomed her friends Susan B. Anthony and Reverend Anna Howard Shaw to a gathering of more than 8,000 people from around the West at the Rocky Mountain Suffrage Convention. They were there to celebrate the suffrage movement’s recent wins and strategize their next triumphs. Pioneering the Vote tells the remarkable, largely unknown story of the early suffrage victories that happened in states and territories in the American West. With the encouragement of the eastern leaders, women from Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, and Idaho came together in a unique moment of friendship and unified purpose to secure the vote for women in America.

Told in alternating fiction and non-fiction narratives, this book offers a rare look at the suffrage movement from the point of view of the women in the western United States. With 2020 marking the centennial of the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment, join with these remarkable figures from the past to celebrate women’s right to vote.”

My Book Review:

I know I’m a day off (oops!) the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, but life happened yesterday and I didn’t get my review posted. Yes! The 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified by the people of Tennessee on August 18, 1920. Tennessee was the 36th, and final, state to ratify the amendment. The 19th Amendment gave women in the United States the right to vote.

Unfortunately, women of color in the United States still had many barriers to their enfranchisement. It wouldn’t be until many years later that women of color, Native American women, or women of Asian descent were able to vote. Even though many had been given the right to vote many years previous, there were places around the country that placed barriers in the way of their voting.

I’ve lived in Utah my whole life. I’ve lived in several different places around Utah, but always in Utah. I’m a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and I know the history of the Church. I thought I knew my state history quite well; I didn’t know this history. How had I never heard of these women? Utah tried many times to gain statehood and was unfortunately turned down because of polygamy. (FYI: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has not practiced polygamy in a VERY long time. The practice was discontinued in 1890.) In an effort to overcome that, Utah enfranchised its women. On February 12, 1870. Yes! Utah women voted for 17 years! Then, in 1887 they were disenfranchised.

I could go on and on! This book details the Rocky Mountain Suffrage Conference that was held in Salt Lake City, UT in 1895. Susan B. Anthony and the Reverend Anna Shaw attended, along with other prominent women suffragist activists of the day. The main point of the conference was to celebrate the vote to keep women’s enfranchisement in the Utah constitution, and to decide how to move forward to help other states around the nation achieve the same thing.

This book is very well researched and well written. There is some fiction in dialogues and such, but Ms. McBaine used diaries and newspaper articles to try and make it as accurate as possible. Many of the speeches that appear in the book were taken verbatim, as they were given at the conference. I didn’t know Susan B. Anthony came to Utah, or that she was good friends with Emmeline B. Wells. I didn’t even realize that Utah was the first, then really the third state to allow women the vote in their constitutions.

I learned so much reading this book, and I loved it! It focuses a lot on Utah, but also discusses the history of Wyoming and Colorado (the first and second states to allow women to vote and to guarantee it in their constitutions). The book goes on to talk about Idaho and California, and some of their struggles with women’s enfranchisement as well.

I know things are not perfect in our country; I know there are always things we can do to improve and make things better for each of our citizens. However, I am so thankful for this country. I’m thankful for the freedoms we enjoy, and I’m grateful for all those who have come before and worked tirelessly to make things better for me today. What an honor and privilege it is to be able to study the candidates in this upcoming election, and to be able to vote for the person I think will do the best job of running our country. What am I going to do to honor the women who have come before? What am I going to do to recognize and celebrate this 100th anniversary of the passing of the 19th Amendment? I am going to VOTE in November, and I challenge you to do the same. Don’t get caught up in the emotions and the rhetoric. Study the candidates. Read their platforms, look at their histories, and choose the person that best fits what you want in a leader. Do not take this privilege for granted.

I highly recommend Pioneering the Vote by Neylan McBaine, especially as we celebrate the momentous occasion of the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment.

Content Rating PGRating: PG (There’s no profanity, violence, or “intimacy” in this book.)

Recommendation: YA+

My Rating: 4/5

4 Star Review

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


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


Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

Remember the Ladies by Callista Gingrich the immortal life of henrietta lacks

Catastrophes and Heroes by Jerry Borrowman

Catastrophes and Heroes by Jerry Borrowman

♦This post contains affiliate links. You don’t pay any extra, and I make a small commission.♦

♦Please see my Disclosure tab for more information.♦

Book Review of Catastrophes and Heroes by Jerry Borrowman

I have witnessed (on tv) many man-made disasters in my lifetime. One of the first to come to my mind is the explosion of the space shuttle when I was in third grade. I watched it live with the rest of the third grade, and it was traumatic, to say the least. I can also remember hearing about or watching trains derail, airplanes crash, decks collapse, and dams fail. It’s scary every time something like this happens. Lessons are learned, amazing people are there to help, and situations become safer because of these disasters. That is what Catastrophes and Heroes by Jerry Borrowman is about. Borrowman takes the reader through eight man-made disasters, the decisions that led up to them, the heroes that helped, and the lessons that were learned.


“A century of the industrial age saw unprecedented leaps in technology and engineering, from the first flight of an airplane to the first flight of humans to the moon. But alongside these awe-inspiring achievements were horrible disasters caused by faulty engineering or careless judgment. Catastrophes and Heroes explores eight such disasters and recognizes the unheralded heroes who stepped up to save others in times of great danger–and the policies that changed as a result.
  • Eight disaster stories spanning the globe and listed in chronological order from 1865 to 1963.
  • Each chapter contains such sections as: The Human Cost of Tragedy, Overview, Fateful Choices, Victims and First Responder Heroes, and Professional Heroes.”

My Book Review:

This well written book goes into great detail about each of these eight disasters. There are train derailments, dam failures, bridge collapses, boat fires, and more. It’s obvious that Borrowman has put a lot of time and effort into his research for this book. For each of the disasters he discusses the people involved, the safety standards of the time, the engineering knowledge of the time, and many of the decisions made leading up to the disaster. He then walks the reader through the disaster, the aftermath, the heroes that helped, and the safety standards that changed as a result.

I had never heard of any of these disasters. I’m even a history lover, and I did not know about any of these situations. As I read, I did find it interesting to learn about what happened in each of these experiences. I especially liked reading about the people who jumped right in to help the victims in their time of need. Another point of interest was learning about the safety changes that occurred because of these catastrophes. Often times we don’t know what needs fixing until it’s too late. Unfortunately, many people lost their lives in these tragedies, but fortunately, changes were made that made all of us safer today.

I liked this book, but it was a bit too depressing for me. Borrowman definitely focused more on the catastrophe part than the hero part, and reading somber story after somber story was a bit much for me. I could only read it a little bit at a time. That being said, I did like learning about the history of it and learning about the heroes who helped in the aftermath. I’m glad that we have record of these disasters so that we do not repeat the mistakes going forward.

Content Rating PG-13Content Rating: PG-13 (There is minimal profanity; just a couple of words. There isn’t any “intimacy,” but there is quite a bit of violence as many people were killed or injured in these disasters.)

Recommendation: 16+ (I don’t think children younger would be interested in this topic anyway.)

My Rating: 3/5

3 Star Rating

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


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


Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

Invisible Heroes of WWII by Jerry Borrowman Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand Slave Stealers by Timothy Ballard

Invisible Heroes of World War II by Jerry Borrowman

Invisible Heroes of WWII by Jerry Borrowman

♦This post contains affiliate links. You don’t pay any extra, and I make a small commission.♦

♦Please see my Disclosure tab for more information.♦

Book Review of Invisible Heroes of World War II by Jerry Borrowman

I have read a lot of books about World War II. Some fiction and some nonfiction. Many of them are told from different viewpoints: prisoner of war, concentration camp survivor, little girl, soldier, and even death. This book is different in that it doesn’t follow a storyline. There’s no plot. This book details the experiences of several individuals or groups during World War II. Some of them are men and some of them are women. I especially liked hearing the women’s stories because it doesn’t seem like there are as many out there as there are for the men. Some of the experiences are on the battlefront, and some of them are closer to home. Each story gives you a little more insight into what people went through during the war. It’s always good to remember the past so we don’t need to repeat it. I hope you enjoy my book review of Invisible Heroes of World War II  by Jerry Borrowman.


Invisible Heroes of World War II documents the largely untold true stories of a diverse group of soldiers and noncombatants—men and women—from all over the world who fought with the Allies during World War II. These heroes made significant contributions in the war effort, but often went unnoticed by historical accounts.

Some were frontline soldiers who were captured by the enemy and endured horrific conditions as prisoners of war, others were ordinary citizens who fought in the French Resistance and provided vital operations to undermine Nazi occupation, while others were engineers, industry workers, or war correspondents and photographers. All served with valor and distinction as part of the massive Allied forces who fought to free the world from tyranny and oppression.

  • Features people of diverse backgrounds in age, race, ethnicity, and social status.
  • June 6, 2019 will be the 75th anniversary of D-Day.”

My Book Review:

Each of these stories is so compelling. The first story jumps right into the story of a prisoner of war. It’s a vantage point I have read before, but it starts in the Philippines, which I know I haven’t read about previously. I really had no idea what went on in the Philippines, so it was interesting to read about in detail. After reading Pat Patton’s experience, I can understand why some people had such harsh feelings against the Japanese. Like Louis Zampirini, Pat Patton suffered because of the brutality of his Japanese captors.

Another section of the book talks about Rosie the Riveter and how she came to be.  I liked learning about the different women who worked in plants and factories. It’s interesting how attitudes towards women working outside of the home have changed in the years since World War II. Ronnie the Bren Gun Girl and Charlcia Neumen were just a couple of women featured. They did very different jobs—one making guns and the other riveting planes—but each was an important job that made a big impact. Afterward, Charlcia said,

“It was a very good experience for me because of the challenge of doing something like that, to prove to myself that I could do it…I didn’t think I could do it. So I found out I could do it; it was the type of thing that I could do, that I liked to do.”

I loved learning about the Navajo Code Talkers, the Purple Heart Battalion, Dickey Chapelle, Joseph Medicine Crow, and the engineers and builders. Ok, I really loved reading about all the people in this book. Seriously. It’s so good! The people and groups discussed in this book truly were heroes, and I think it’s imperative for all of us to really think about who we look up to and consider heroes. I added a few heroes to my list after reading this book. 

These are just a few of the remarkable people featured. We can learn so much from each of their experiences. I love that the people and groups spotlighted weren’t necessarily famous or well known.  Normal, ordinary people can achieve amazing things. (Why do we like hearing this? I think we all want hope that we can make a difference in the world even though we don’t think we’re special.) Each story is well written, compelling, and shows a part of the war that we need to remember and learn from. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know more about these heroes, and I think you will too!

invisible heroes blog tour

Content Rating RRating: R (War-time atrocities–some of them quite graphic.)

Recommendation: 16+ 

My Rating: 4.5/5

4.5 Star Rating

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


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

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

the book thief by markus zusak Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand  The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown

Book Review of The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown

The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown

Book Review of The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown

I love inspirational stories, and this one does not disappoint! Wow. The strength and determination of these men inspires me to do better, work harder, and dream bigger. If they can do the impossible, so can I! I hope you enjoy my book review of The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown. 


“Out of the depths of the Depression comes an irresistible story about beating the odds and finding hope in the most desperate of times–the improbable, intimate account of nine working-class boys from the American West who at the 1936 Olympics showed the world what true grit really meant. Daniel James Brown’s stirring book tells the story of the University of Washington’s 1936 eight-oar crew, a team that transformed the sport and grabbed the attention of millions of Americans.
It was an unlikely quest from the start–a team composed of the sons of loggers, shipyard workers, and farmers, who first had to master the harsh physical and psychological demands of collegiate rowing and then defeat the East Coast’s elite teams that had long dominated the sport. The emotional heart of the story lies with Joe Rantz, a teenager without family or prospects, who rows not only to regain his shattered self-regard but to find a real place for himself in the world. Plagued by personal demons, a devastating family history, and crushing poverty, Joe knows that a seat in the Washington freshman shell is his only option to remain in college.
The crew is slowly assembled by an enigmatic and determined coach and mentored by a visionary, eccentric British boat designer, but it is the boys’ commitment to one another that makes them a winning team. Finally gaining the Olympic berth they long sought, they face their biggest challenge–rowing against the German and Italian crews under Adolf Hitler’s gaze and before Leni Riefenstahl’s cameras at the “Nazi Olympics” in Berlin, 1936. Drawing on the boys’ own diaries and journals and their vivid memories of a once-in-a-lifetime shared dream, Daniel James Brown has created a portrait of an era, a celebration of a remarkable achievement, and a chronicle of one extraordinary young man’s personal quest, all in this immensely satisfying book.”

My Book Review:

Wow! The 1936 Olympics have produced some of the best stories I have ever read! First was “Unbroken” about Louis Zampirini. He ran in the 1936 Olympics. That book was so good! Then there’s the story of Jessie Owens. I haven’t read a book about him, but I recently saw the movie “Race,” and Jessie’s story is fantastic too! And then there’s this book. Amazing. Seriously amazing. I loved it! The writing is very well done. It may be nonfiction, but it definitely reads like fiction. The descriptions are beautifully done, and the writing captivates you from the get-go.
Joe Rantz’ story is unbelievable! The circumstances he overcame in his life put him right up there with Louis Zampirini as one of the most inspirational people I’ve read about. Most people would give up and die rather than go through what he did. His so-called parents made me so angry. They are not fit to be called parents. The things they did to him were unconscionable. And yet he survived, and not only survived, but thrived. What an inspiration he is!!
The stories of the other men are also well told and captivating. I loved learning about George Pocock. He has such an interesting story. I never thought I’d enjoy learning about how to make a rowing boat, but he makes it seem so important and interesting. I enjoyed reading all the quotes by Pocock at the beginning of each chapter. This quote by Pocock really speaks to the difficulty of the sport:
“Rowing is perhaps the toughest of sports. Once the race starts, there are no time-outs, no substitutions. It calls upon the limits of human endurance. The coach must therefore impart the secrets of the special kind of endurance that comes from mind, heart, and body.”
I also enjoyed looking at the pictures in the book. I liked that they weren’t all bunched together in the middle, but they were spread here and there throughout the book. One thing I loved was how all these stories showed how trials make people stronger. Usually we just want our lives to be easy, right? Well, look at how strong these men became because their lives were not easy. I think attitudes are a little different now, and that’s unsettling. There seems to be a trend of if it’s not easy I won’t do it. We need more determination and hard work like these men had. I loved this book! I loved the writing, the characters, the story; I loved all of it. Five star ratings are unusual for me, but this one deserves it; I highly recommend this book!

Content Rating PG-13+Rating: PG 13+ (There is some profanity, but not a lot. There isn’t any “intimacy.” There are, however, a few situations that border on domestic violence. They are difficult to read, and not appropriate for young readers.)


Recommendation: 14 years-old and up.

Rated 5/5 (I don’t give many of those!!)

5 Star Book Review Rating

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

the nightingale by kristin hannah The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom  Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

This review was originally published on 3/21/16; updated on 3/8/18.

12 Amazing World War 2 Books You Can’t Put Down

12 Amazing WWll Books You Can't Put Down

12 Amazing World War 2 Books

Today I thought I’d switch things up a bit!
(I know, it’s unlike me…spring fever maybe??)

My 12 Favorite World War 2 Books

Here are my 12 favorite Wold War 2 Books. Some of them are nonfiction and some of them are fiction; I like both–I can’t help it!
(I didn’t put them in any particular order…Click on the Picture to Read My Review)
1. All The Light We Cannot See
Anthony Doerr
2. The Boys in the Boat
Daniel James Brown
3.  The Monuments Men
Robert M. Edsel
(Ok, this may not have been my favorite book, but the story of what these men did was amazing.)
4. The Book Thief
Markus Zusak
the book thief by markus zusak
5.  Unbroken
Laura Hillenbrand
6.  A Woman’s Place
Lynn Austin
7.  The Diary of Anne Frank
Anne Frank
(I have read this book several times, but not since I started my blog -gasp!- so I don’t have a review….I’ll need to get on that!)
8.  The Hiding Place
Corrie Ten Boom
9.  Man’s Search For Meaning
Viktor E. Frankl
(I have also read and loved this book, but I have not reviewed it….yet!)
10. When The Emperor Was Divine
Julie Otsuka
(I didn’t love this book, but it was VERY eye-opening.)
11.  The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society
Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
12.  The Nightingale
Kristin Hannah
the nightingale by kristin hannah
Each of these World War 2 books highlights a different aspect of World War 2. Some of them are fiction and some of them are nonfiction, but whether it is true or not, each brings a different piece of the war to light. There are people in internment camps, people trying to hide Jews in their homes, and a Japanese-American family inside an internment camp here in the United States. There is a story about what the women in the United States did at home during the war and how they helped the efforts, and there’s a story of how the war affected a little girl and her family in Germany.
I have laughed, cried, gotten angry, and learned so much as I have read these books. I hope they touch you as they have touched me.
Do you have any other favorite World War 2 books? Comment below, I’d love to read them!
Happy Reading!

This post was originally published on 3/31/16; updated on 2/15/18.

[Book Review] Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World by Jennifer Armstrong

Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World by Jennifer Armstrong

[Book Review] Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World by Jennifer Armstrong


“In August 1914, Ernest Shackleton and 27 men sailed from England in an attempt to become the first team of explorers to cross Antarctica. Five months later and still 100 miles from land, their ship, Endurance, became trapped in ice. When Endurance broke apart and sank, the expedition survived another five months camping on ice floes, followed by a perilous journey through stormy seas to remote and unvisited Elephant Island. In a dramatic climax to this amazing survival story, Shackleton and five others navigated 800 miles of treacherous open ocean in a 20-foot boat to fetch a rescue ship. Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World vividly re-creates one of the most extraordinary adventure stories in history. Jennifer Armstrong narrates this unbelievable story with vigor, and eye for detail, and an appreciation of the marvelous leadership of Ernest Shackleton, who brought home every one of his men alive. With them survived a remarkable archive of photographs of the expedition, more than 40 of which are reported here.”

My Review:

I love this book! It is an amazing story! Seriously amazing, and I think it teaches wonderful lessons about hard work, determination, working together, and great leadership. It is so well written that it reads as fiction. I love the format with the pictures and the maps. I love to just look at the pictures because they capture the moment so well. I look up to Ernest Shackleton because of his great leadership ability. As you’re reading, you know that no one dies, but you can’t believe it!  These men go through so many trials and hardships, and not one of them dies. It is incredible! Ms. Armstrong did a great job with this book and I highly recommend it! I recommend it as a read-aloud and also as a personal read. This book is one of my all-time-favorite nonfiction reads!
 Content Rating PG+

Rating: PG+ (It is clean, but they do suffer through a lot of hardships, some of which are not pleasant to read.)

Age Recommendation: Fifth Grade and up. It is a great read-aloud for home or school, and is also a wonderful book for kids and adults alike to sit down and read. Parents may want to read it first just so they know if it is appropriate for their child.

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown   1776 by David McCullough  Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
*This post was first published on 8/8/12, and was updated on 1/10/18.

[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. 

Viking Age: Everyday Life

Viking Age: Everyday Life
During the Extraordinary Era of the Norsemen
Kirsten Wolf

“The Viking age comes alive in this vivid, abundantly illustrated exploration of its people and their world. What kinds of houses did the Scandinavians live in? Were they literate? What kinds of clothing did they wear? How did they view death? Filled with a wealth of information on every aspect of the Viking age, this fascinating and informative book answers these questions and many more. You’ll explore all aspects of line, including marriage, settlement conditions, crafts and industries, language, health and medicine, food and drink, boatbuilding, politics, warfare, and sports.”
My Review:
This is the third in the Everyday Life series that I have read. I’ve read Ancient Egypt and The Middle Ages, and this, surprisingly, has been my favorite! It’s crazy because I thought I’d like the Egypt one the best. Learning about the Vikings has never particularly interested me, but this book did a great job of explaining everything and making it interesting. One of the reasons I didn’t love the other books as much as I thought I would was because the writing was very technical and difficult to read. It took me forever to read them! This book was actually written very well. It brought the Vikings to life, and even though the writing was still a bit technical, it was understandable! I thought it flowed well, was fairly easy to read and understand, and it did a good job of explaining everything in a way that readers could enjoy. There are many pictures and illustrations, and I found it so fun to look at and study them. I liked learning about their coins, jewelry, homes, and their raids. I hate to say it, but “How To Train Your Dragon” is about as much as I did know about the Vikings before reading this book. Now though, I feel totally educated! Ms. Wolf did a great job with this book! 
Rating: PG+ (There isn’t any profanity in this book. There is talk of marriage and the things that go with it-not too detailed, but it is discussed. There is a little bit of violence when they discuss raids and warfare and such, but once again, it’s not too graphic.)
Recommendation: 12 or 13 years-old and up (The language may be too difficult for some of the 12 and 13 year-olds, and younger children most likely won’t be interested anyway.)
Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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.