Posted in Book Reviews

#Sponsored Book Spotlight: Nikola Tesla for Kids: His Life, Ideas, and Inventions, with 21 Activities: Amy M. O’Quinn


SYNOPSIS:A complete history of the mastermind, Nikola Tesla for Kids helps young readers understand the greatness of Tesla while learning various scientific concepts through experiments and activities. Tesla’s life was marked by several achievements—his AC polyphase system and his contributions to electrical engineering forever changed the world—but often his ideas were too advanced for society to welcome. Despite disagreements with employers, rivalries with other scientists and personal struggles, Tesla’s eccentricity and imagination never failed to shine through. From the author of Marie Curie for Kids, this book offers 21 fun activities for children to explore science and history through the lens of Tesla’s inventions such as: making a soda bottle submarine, designing a flying machine and building an electric current. In addition, Nikola Tesla for Kids provides resources for readers to learn more about Tesla’s life and STEM careers.

MY THOUGHTS:Besides the fact that I am thrilled to see a new, fresh autobiography for school-age children, this book encourages them to branch out. Reading of Tesla’s ability to think outside-the box and fearless determination, shows children that it’s okay to pursue their dreams. The next Tesla is out there and needs to know that he or she is capable. His work was impacted by his world. Those students who have had an uphill battle, academically or otherwise, need to know that they aren’t alone and that great names in STEM hardly had it easy.
Too often we find biographies that gloss over the trials in favor of the triumphs, doing a great disservice to the subject of the biography. Few people worth writing about sailed through life. They overcame, rose above, and tossed aside public opinion. Hopefully, while readers are inspired by the genius of Tesla, they will also pay attention to the life he led.
This is a definite 5 star book. Perfect for book reports, STEM classes, and independent reading, I’d recommend it for homeschool & brick-and-mortar libraries.
*I received the aforementioned title in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are mine. Pic/synopsis belong solely to the author/publisher.

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Posted in Book Reviews

#Sponsored Book Spotlight: JOE DE YONG: A LIFE IN THE WEST: William Reynolds


SYNOPSIS: Joseph Franklin De Yong was a cowboy artist, protégé of Charles Marion Russell (Montana’s cowboy artist), and an historical consultant on western films. Dan Gagliasso wrote, “While director John Ford made extensive use of Frederic Remington’s art in his western films, it was the Russell ‘look,’ kept alive by De Yong’s costume designs, scenic sketch art, and historical advice, that influenced the form and feel of such classic Westerns as The Plainsman (1937), Union Pacific (1939), Buffalo Bill (1944), Red River (1948), and Shane (1953).” The authentic work De Yong did in film continues to influence the way costume and set designs for western movies are conceived, as evidenced in classics like Dances with Wolves and Unforgiven, and the mini-series Lonesome Dove.
Joe De Yong: A Life in the West (Alamar Media/September 2018) by William Reynolds is an in-depth biography that takes readers on an incredible journey exploring western culture of the early 20th Century through the story of one unsung cowboy. Reynolds tells De Yong’s story by including photographs of sketches, paintings and documents culled from private collectors as well as from the permanent collections of major western museums.
De Yong’s life was one of challenges, including overcoming cerebral meningitis in 1913 that left him totally deaf. Never one for self-pity, De Yong went on to become the only protégé of his artistic hero Charles M. Russell. He would take the skills he learned and make a life in the movie business working with Cecil B. DeMille and many others. The early films De Yong worked on created a pathway to authentic depictions that – while it was never loudly recognized – was utilized by many in the industry.

Over ten years of research, Reynolds reveals the life of a relatively unknown artist/illustrator who started out to be “just a cowboy” who turns out was quite a “mover and shaker” touching the lives of so many in the western art world of the 1920s through the late 1960s.
This long-awaited, in-depth, biography a treat for any western art fan or disciple of Charles M. Russell.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
William Reynolds is an award-winning Western journalist and publisher who as worked in the Western industry for over 35 years. He is the author of several books on Western art and culture including The Faraway Horses with Buck Brannaman, The Cowboy Hat Book with master hatter Ritch Rand, and The Art of The Western Saddle. Reynolds is an active member of the Western Writers of America, Los Rancheros Visitadores, as well as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Santa Barbara Historical Museum and former board member of the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, and the Santa Ynez Valley Historical Museum. For more information about him visit his website, http://www.WCReynolds.com.

MY THOUGHTS: This book is absolutely amazing! The level of research and deciation that William Reynolds has given to this work is staggering. From page 1, readers can feel the passion that he had for this project. When an author believes this strong in his work, it’s contagious. You love it because the author loves it.

I’m sorry to say that I wasn’t familiar with Mr. De Yong prior to this work. Now, I can honestly say that I feel as if I really know him. As a homeschooler, I love biographies of often overlooked yet amazing individuals. Biographies such as this one give children a chance to explore the world how it once was and those who made it what it is today. Authors such as Mr. Reynolds give readers an opportunity to explore, grow, and extend their education beyond textbooks.

As opposed to many mainstream biographies, Joe De Yong’s contains a vast amount of images; in fact, over 500! That’s tremendous! If you happen to have a reluctant reader who is also a fan of westerns or cowboys, then you need to pick this book up. In addition to being a biography, readers are also treated to American History, western culture, and, of course, art.

It really is worth a read and it is a profound educational piece. Well-done! I give it 5 stars!

 

Posted in Book Reviews

Book Spotlight: Audrey Hepburn (Little People, Big Dreams):Amaia Arrazola, Isabel Sanchez Vegara

SYNOPSIS: “New in the Little People, Big Dreams series, this inspiring and informative little biography follows the colourful life of iconic actress Audrey Hepburn, from her early life during World War Two, to ballet school, her acting career and UNICEF work. With stylish and quirky illustrations and extra facts at the back, this empowering series celebrates the important life stories of wonderful women of the world. From designers and artists to scientists, all of them went on to achieve incredible things, yet all of them began life as a little child with a dream. These books make the lives of these role models accessible for children, providing a powerful message to inspire the next generation of outstanding people who will change the world!”

MY THOUGHTS:I absolutely ADORE this series. It is such a refreshing take on biographies! Introducing younger readers to iconic, historical people gives them a tremendous advantage as they move through school. This installment of the series was every bit as delightful as the Rosa Parks biography that I reviewed prior.
Audrey Hepburn is a name that is quite familiar to those of us age 40 and over, but, unfortunately, probably not known to the younger set. Now, they can gain insight into why she was so popular and why so many women did (& still do) aspire to be just like her. She truly was more than just a pretty face.
I love that this book will spark teachable moments via children asking their parents & grandparents more about her. It hand delivers a cross-generational conversation starter. Another huge plus are the illustrations. They are just so darn cute! An adorable ‘Audrey’ graces the cover and her caricature throughout the book is simply perfect.
I continue to recommend the series and have seen that they will all be 5 star books. They’re a must for home & school libraries.

Posted in Book Reviews

Bella’s Gift: Rick & Karen Santorum

_225_350_Book.1493.cover       As a lifelong Pennsylvania resident, Rick Santorum’s name is familiar to me. I remember his first win for the House & he stood out to me as a great candidate for families with his Pro-Life stance & obvious moral compass. After reading ‘Bella’s Gift’, I see my initial opinion of his character was right.

Whether or not you back the Santorums politically, all will agree that their family doesn’t just talk the talk. They live their faith. Beautifully honest, Bella’s life journey is told with integrity. While maintaining a family of eight children, the Santorums brave the ups & downs of parenting a special needs child. This darling, little angel was born with a condition known as Trisomy 18, or Edward’s Syndrome. Very few of the children born with this illness make it to age one. Doctors informed them that they needed to prepare for her impending death. They believed otherwise.

Fighting for Bella’s rights, they navigate the often complicated medical system. Relying on God to guide them in their parenting, Rick & Karen are not just role models for special needs parents: they’re role model for parents of every child. Beating the odds just seemed to come naturally for them.

Follow the dynamic story of a family overcoming the odds to celebrate their miracle girl. It is a must read for every parent of any faith. If you aren’t yet a parent, their story will give you a total new respect for those who are parents. I highly recommend reading it. You’ll be very glad you did! It’s absolutely a 5 star piece.

 

 

About the Authors

Rick Santorum, a native of Pennsylvania, was a candidate for the Republican nomination for president of the United States in 2012. He served in the House of Representatives from 1991 to 1995 and in the Senate from 1995 to 2007 and is the author of several books, including the 2005 New York Times bestseller It Takes a Family. Rick’s most important role and love in life is being a husband and father.

Karen Santorum is a former neonatal nurse and attorney. She is the author of Letters to Gabriel and Everyday Graces: A Child’s Book of Good Manners. Karen and her husband, Rick, are the parents of eight children. Her greatest role and love in life is being a full-time mother at home.

Elizabeth Santorum, graduated magna cum laude from the University of Dallas. During the 2012 Republican presidential primary, she spent a year campaigning on behalf of her father, Senator Rick Santorum. Appearing on CNN, Fox News, NBC, and many other news outlets at twenty years old, she became one of the campaign’s most requested surrogate speakers. Elizabeth has spent time doing mission work in Uganda, is currently a John Jay Fellow, and has always been a great big sister.

 

 

 

Posted in Book Reviews

My Battle Against Hitler: Dietrich Von Hildebrand Presented by John Henry Crosby with John F. Crosby

9780385347518

SYNOPSIS: How does a person become Hitler’s enemy number one? Not through espionage or violence, it turns out, but by striking fearlessly at the intellectual and spiritual roots of National Socialism.

            Dietrich von Hildebrand was a German Catholic thinker and teacher who devoted the full force of his intellect to breaking the deadly spell of Nazism that ensnared so many of his beloved countrymen.

            His story might well have been lost to us were it not for this memoir he penned in the last decades of his life at the request of his wife, Alice von Hildebrand. In My Battle Against Hitler, covering the years from 1921 to 1938, von Hildebrand tells of the scorn and ridicule he endured for sounding the alarm when many still viewed Hitler as a positive and inevitable force. He expresses the sorrow of having to leave behind his home, friends, and family in Germany to conduct his fight against the Nazis from Austria. He recounts how he defiantly challenged Nazism in the public square, prompting the German ambassador in Vienna to describe him to Hitler as “the architect of the intellectual resistance in Austria.” And in the midst of all the danger he faced, he conveys his unwavering trust in God, even during his harrowing escape from Vienna and his desperate flight across Europe, with the Nazis always just one step behind.

            Dietrich von Hildebrand belongs to the very earliest anti-Nazi resistance. His public statements led the Nazis to blacklist him already in 1921, long before the horrors of the Third Reich and more than twenty-three years before the famous assassination attempt on Hitler in July 1944. His battle would culminate in the countless articles he published in Vienna, a selection of which are featured in this volume.

            “It is an immense privilege,” writes editor John Henry Crosby, founder of the Hildebrand Project, “to present to the world the shining witness of one man who risked everything to follow his conscience and stand in defiance of tyranny.”

MY THOUGHTS:

Of all the heroes discussed in regards to WWII, von Hildebrand isn’t one who’s usually mentioned. However, he should be. He certainly has much to offer in terms of his thoughts & writing.

This particular biography did him justice by telling his story & reaffirming his place in history. However, most of the book was flat & one-dimensional. The only time the pace came close to picking up was near the end. As a whole, I felt more like I was reading a high school textbook than a biography.

Understandably, with biographies, one cannot expect bells & whistles per se. There are sure to be moments when life is rather bland. But, a figure that stood out as much as Hildebrand needed a more stirring reflection on his life.

Teachers & students who wish to highlight more unsung heroes of the world wars would benefit from this book. Other than that, I couldn’t say that it was enjoyable to finish as an entertainment.

I have to rate it 3 stars for these reasons. I received a copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.