Thursday, April 10, 2014

Two Wonderful Books by Hope Irvin Marston

Sackets Harbor Powder Monkey: The War of 1812 – Hope Irvin Marston

From Goodreads:

It's 1811 and eleven-year-old Rankin McMullin has joined the warship ONEIDA to fight the British and end the laws that force New York farmers to smuggle their potash across Lake Ontario to Canada in order to survive. As a powder boy on the brig, his job is to carry gunpowder to the carronades. Eventually the shooting war begins. How the first battle ends surprises Rankin and everybody else.

My Thoughts:

This was a wonderful book.  I love reading historical fiction.  The author has done a lot of research into the War of 1812.  As a teacher I can tell you we don’t teach a lot about this war.  I was surprised at how much I learned.  I didn’t know what a powder monkey was. To think that young boys, around the age of 11 served on these war ships and gave their lives at such a young age was surprising.  A powder monkey had to be fast and agile. Their main job was to run up and down the ladders from the deck, bringing gunpowder to the cannons. For that reason alone they were often targeted.  If the person firing the cannons couldn’t get the powder from below then they couldn’t fire their cannon.

I couldn’t understand why Rankin was so set on joining the battle. He seemed almost fearless. His older brother William signed on and was trained to fire the cannon.  One reason they were both signed on was because they could read and write.  Most boys of that time, unless their parents were wealthy were unable to read and write. The bibliography and glossary helped a lot.  For those people like me who want more information the bibliography was perfect.

Eye on the Iditarod Aisling’s Quest

From Goodreads

'I was born to race. Born to drive a team of sled dogs. Born to follow my dream of running the Iditarod.' This is the real-life story of a young girl with a big dream. From the time she was three years old, Aisling (pronounced 'Ashley') Lara Shepherd loved watching sled dog racing on television. Inspired by the drive and determination of the dogs and the people who race them, Aisling set out on a personal quest to one day run her own dogs in the famous Iditarod race in Alaska. Follow eleven-year-old Aisling as she conquers obstacles, deals with heartbreak and loss, and achieves great victories—all while keeping her eye on the Iditarod.

My Thoughts

From the very beginning I had a connection with Aisling.  When she described her eye condition and surgery I understood. Thyroid disease almost cost me my vision.  I didn’t let it stop me. I wrote and finished my first book while going through my five eye surgeries.  I am not sure anything would make me brave enough to try the Iditarod.  I admire the strength, perseverance, and courage a race like this takes. The fact that Aisling was only eleven years old makes me admire her even more.  The book not only teaches you about the race and all that goes into it, but also gives you a look at Aisling’s life. I do have to mention the illustrations.  Bob Renaud has created a set of illustrations that resemble photographs. They are that good.  I look forward to reading more books by this author.  The amount of research she puts into each and every book makes this something that I really enjoy having on my shelves.  There were two other things I enjoyed in this book besides the glossary that helped me understand the terms I didn’t know. One of them was the list of books she has included that are on the subject of the Iditarod and lesson ideas for teaching about the Iditarod. Now all I need to figure out is how I can bring the Iditarod into my Florida classroom curriculum. Like always when a subject intrigues me, I’m sure I’ll find a way.  This is a definite must read for boys and girls and for shelves in all middle schools.

About the Author (From Goodreads)

Hope Irvin Marston was the founder of the Black River Valley Writers Club and the founder and director of the North Country Children's Writers and Illustrators Workshop. She has taught creative writing workshops at Jefferson Community College and the Jefferson-Lewis Teacher Center for many years. She has also been on staff at Christian Writers Conferences at Hephzibah Heights (MA), Montrose Bible Conference (PA), and a St. Davids Christian Writers Conference at Beaver Falls, Pa. Hope is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and a book reviewer for Church Libraries.

I received copies of the book in exchange for my review.  I was not compensated for it and the comments here are my own.

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