Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Review: Girl in Disguise

Summary: Inspired by the real story of investigator Kate Warne, this spirited novel follows the detective’s rise during one of the nation’s times of crisis, bringing to life a fiercely independent woman whose forgotten triumphs helped sway the fate of the country.

With no money and no husband, Kate Warne finds herself with few choices. The streets of 1856 Chicago offer a desperate widow mostly trouble and ruin—unless that widow has a knack for manipulation and an unusually quick mind. In a bold move that no other woman has tried, Kate convinces the legendary Allan Pinkerton to hire her as a detective. Battling criminals and coworkers alike, Kate immerses herself in the dangerous life of an operative, winning the right to tackle some of the agency’s toughest investigations. But is the woman she’s becoming—capable of any and all lies, swapping identities like dresses—the true Kate? Or has the real disguise been the good girl she always thought she was? -- Sourcebooks Landmark

I received a lot (and I mean a lot) of good books at last year's SIBA, but one of was really looking forward to was this historical fiction novel GIRL IN DISGUISE by Greer Macallister. This book tells a fictionalized account of Kate Warne, a woman who was the first female detective for the Pinkerton Agency in the mid 1800s. I don't read as much historical fiction as I used to, but this one really sounded fantastic.

GIRL IN DISGUISE begins when Kate Warne, a recent widow, finds herself in need of a job. She sees an ad that the famous Allan Pinkerton is hiring detectives, and she figures she should give it a shot. It says a great deal about Kate's personality and determination that she convinced the renowned detective to hire her!

Kate finds herself thrown into many cases because she's a woman -- she plays a ton of different roles including a fortune teller, a Southern belle, and even a caregiving sister; however, she also discovers that just being a woman immediately causes resentment among many of the men she works with. Kate is extremely tough, though; and she uses her acting abilities, as well as her skills at lying and deceit to solve many mysteries.

I adored GIRL IN DISGUISE, and I mean everything from the characters, to the storylines, to the writing. This book is epitomizes everything I love about historical fiction. Ms. Macallister took a real-life woman about which little is known, and she created a fantastic story surrounding her life. There were quite a few great stories that the author had to work with, including in one where she helped President Lincoln escape an assassination plot and another one where she was spy during the Civil War.

There are many great things about this novel, but I especially loved how Ms. Macallister chose to portray Kate. She was an exceptional woman who was extremely ahead of her time. That made for some entertaining stories about her career; however, she also gave Kate a lot of depth. Kate was actually fairly lonely much of her life due to the choices she made, and the author showed the toll it took on her state of mind and happiness. In addition, because Kate played so many roles, there was some confusion about who she really way and what were her motivations.

GIRL IN DISGUISE is Ms. Macallister's second novel, but the first one for me. Her first book is titled THE MAGICIAN'S LIE, and it sounds terrific too. After loving GIRL IN DISGUISE, I won't hesitate to pick up her first novel the next time I'm at the library!

All in all GIRL IN DISGUISE is a wonderfully written (and imagined!) story about an amazing woman. Highly recommended for fans of historical fiction!

I received an autographed (yay!) copy of this novel at last year's SIBA.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Review: In This Grave Hour

Summary: Sunday September 3rd 1939. At the moment Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain broadcasts to the nation Britain’s declaration of war with Germany, a senior Secret Service agent breaks into Maisie Dobbs' flat to await her return. Dr. Francesca Thomas has an urgent assignment for Maisie: to find the killer of a man who escaped occupied Belgium as a boy, some twenty-three years earlier during the Great War. In a London shadowed by barrage balloons, bomb shelters and the threat of invasion, within days another former Belgian refugee is found murdered. And as Maisie delves deeper into the killings of the dispossessed from the “last war," a new kind of refugee — an evacuee from London — appears in Maisie's life. The little girl billeted at Maisie’s home in Kent does not, or cannot, speak, and the authorities do not know who the child belongs to or who might have put her on the “Operation Pied Piper” evacuee train. They know only that her name is Anna.

As Maisie’s search for the killer escalates, the country braces for what is to come. Britain is approaching its gravest hour — and Maisie could be nearing a crossroads of her own. -- Harper

Through the years, I have reviewed almost every Maisie Dobbs book that Jacqueline Winspear has written. There probably isn't a whole lot more for me to say. I look forward to each and every one of these novels; and the latest, IN THIS GRAVE HOUR, is another example of an excellent mystery. I absolutely adored this book, and I will never tire of Ms. Dobbs' adventures.

IN THIS GRAVE HOUR takes place in England during the outbreak of World War II. In fact, one of the first scenes is the famous announcement by Prime Minister Chamberlain declaring war against Germany. Maisie, who runs her own detective agency, is asked by a Secret Service agent to assist in finding out who was responsible for the murder of a man who immigrated to England from Belgium during World War I.

As London is preparing for attacks from Germany, Maisie is busy trying to gather clues about this man's past. However, another man, also a Belgium refugee, is found murdered; and Maisie begins to think that these men's murders are linked. Maisie's investigation leads her to discover interesting ties between a group of men who came to England from Belgium when they were just boys. Meanwhile, Maisie is dealing with refugee issues relating to the current war. Children are billeted at Maisie's home in the country, and one little girl named Anna, who won't speak, has definitely captured Maisie's interest!

I loved IN THIS GRAVE HOUR, but as I mentioned earlier, that's not a surprise. Maisie Dobbs is one of my favorite characters in literature, and Ms. Winspear is one of my favorite mystery authors. If you are familiar with this series, then you already know what a wonderful job the author does of bringing this time period to life; and you also know how complex of a character Maisie is. I think that the vast majority of my understanding of England in both World War I and World War II come from these books. (Guess how I prefer to get my history lessons!)

I found the mystery of these murders of these Belgium refugees to be really interesting, and I honestly didn't have a clue where the story was going. I learned a long time ago not to try to figure out the mysteries in these books because it's much more enjoyable to just go along with Maisie and her investigating skills. Suffice it to say that I was surprised by the outcome and I wouldn't have been able to figure out this culprit no matter how hard I tried!

As intriguing as the mystery was, I still think the strength of this novel lies in Maisie and her character development. Maisie has experienced so much trauma and heartbreak since the first novel (and actually even before that!), so the reality of war is especially terrifying for her. I thought the author did a great job of making Maisie's fears real as well as bringing some of the effects of her past life experiences to the forefront.

One thing I always appreciate is how Ms. Winspear ties together storylines from Maisie's past with the present, I appreciate even more how she ties the various storylines together within the same book. In the case of IN THIS GRAVE HOUR, one of the main recurring themes was the issue of refugees. (Do I even need to say how relevant parts of this story are to what's going on in today's world?) Ms. Winspear outdid herself in tying together the story about the Belgium men who were refugees as children with the plight of Anna, the young girl who was living at Maisie's country house.

As a fan of Maisie, I also appreciated how Anna brought out Maisie's maternal instincts. I don't want to give too much away about Maisie's past (and the other novels), but Maisie is a widow and has never had any children. When she meets Anna and realizes that they have no idea where Anna comes from or truly anything about her family, Maisie immediately wants to learn more about this girl. It makes sense given her occupation as a private detective, but it also shows that even Maisie isn't exempt from falling for a little girl.

If you are new to the series, you can definitely pick up IN THIS GRAVE HOUR and you'd be fine. Ms. Winspear does a great job of making these books work as stand-alone novels, but I would have to  recommend reading the entire series. These books are just so good and the way the author ties the books together is really something special. The mysteries definitely work on their own, but the character development as well as Europe's changes during the wars are extremely interesting to follow throughout the series.

Many years ago, my book club read and discussed the first book in the Maisie Dobbs series. This was a time when most book clubs didn't pick mysteries to discuss. It was a fantastic selection and we had so much to discuss. That's because these books are so deep on so many levels. IN THIS GRAVE HOUR would also make a great selection. There is a reading guide available with thirteen intriguing questions. Some of the themes you might want explore include grief, fear, challenges of refugees, memory, family, sacrifice, empathy, and anger.

IN THIS GRAVE HOUR is a terrific mystery and also a relevant novel in today's world. I was entertained and provided with some food for thought. Highly recommended!

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this novel.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Kid Konnection: More Animal Bites


Every Saturday, I host a feature called Kid Konnection -- a regular weekend feature about anything related to children's books. This week I'm going to share with you two books from the popular television and book series Animal Bites.

Summary: With more than 200 adorable photos of baby animals and their families, there's serious "aw" factor on every page of Animal Planet Baby Animals. This fun addition to the Animal Bites series provides kids in the first years of schooling with the perfect bite-sized view of their favorite animals. Arranged thematically with a focus on animal behavior and family relationships, young readers will explore sections about life cycles, feeding, play time, conservation, getting around, and much more. Special book features designed for this age group include simple infographics and 'All Grown Up' animal facts to help kids learn more about how young and adult animals differ-just like humans!

For more Animal Bites books, check out Animal Planet Ocean Animals, Animal Planet Polar Animals, Animal Planet Wild Animals, Animal Planet Farm Animals, and Animal Planet Animals on the Move.

A portion of the proceeds from the sale of books in the Animal Bites series benefits the principal partners of R.O.A.R. (Reach Out. Act. Respond.), Animal Planet's initiative dedicated to improving the lives of animals in our communities and in the wild. -- Liberty Street

Prepare for cuteness overload in the new book ANIMAL PLANET BABY ANIMALS by Dorothea DePrisco! This book, aimed at kids ages four to eight, is positively adorable. There are over 200 pictures of baby animals in this book, and each one is cuter than the next.

There is no doubt that children will love looking at the gorgeous, full color photographs in BABY ANIMALS, but this book is also chock-full of fun facts about baby animals. There are colorful tabs on each page which help kids navigate the book. For example, there are different tabs for "how they grow," "where they live," "big data," and more. In addition, the author uses "info bites" sections to give specifics about various animals.
I just adore the entire Animal Bites series. These books make learning fun with the fun photos and the ways the facts are presented. I also love that there is a focus on conservation in the books. It's never too early to get children thinking about our planet and its inhabitants!

Summary: With more than 200 gorgeous photos of animals in their natural habitats, there's action and adventure on every page of Animal Planet Animals on the Move. This fast-moving addition to the Animal Bites series provides kids in the first years of schooling with the perfect bite-sized view of their favorite animals. Arranged thematically with a focus on animal behavior and family relationships, young readers will explore sections about migration, fast and slow, hunting and playing, and animal movement on land, in the air, and in water, Special book features designed for this age group include simple graphics and 'Just Like Me' sidebars with fascinating animal facts for young readers to learn more about themselves and the amazing animals that share our world.

For more Animal Bites books, check out Animal Planet Ocean Animals, Animal Planet Polar Animals, Animal Planet Wild Animals, Animal Planet Farm Animals, and Animal Planet Baby Animals.

A portion of the proceeds from the sale of books in the Animal Bites series benefits the principal partners of R.O.A.R. (Reach Out. Act. Respond.), Animal Planet's initiative dedicated to improving the lives of animals in our communities and in the wild. -- Liberty Press

ANIMAL PLANET ANIMALS ON THE MOVE by Dorothea DePrisco is another fantastic book for children interested in animals and nature. It probably won't surprise you that I found the beautiful photographs to be the initial draw of this book. Upon further review, though, I was also very impressed with the factual data.

ANIMALS ON THE MOVE is set up the same way as BABY ANIMALS with the tabs and "info bites" sections. There are also over 200 photographs which will keep children's interest. While BABY ANIMALS definitely had the "cute" factor, this book has more of a "wow" factor. For example, kids will learn interesting facts about animals. Did you know that a peregrine falcons can dive at 200 miles per hour?
I can't recommend ANIMAL PLANET BABY ANIMALS and ANIMAL PLANET ANIMALS ON THE MOVE enough. They are perfect for both home and school libraries!

Thanks to Blue Slip Media for providing review copies of these books.

If you'd like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children's books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week, please leave a comment as well as a link below with your name/blog name and the title of the book! Feel free to grab the little button too!


Thursday, March 16, 2017

Guest Review: Unholy Code

Summary: The Summer of Blood explodes. The U.S. is under siege from foreign jihadists and domestic terrorists. When a brilliant exploit strikes at the heart of the National Security Agency's own network, former NSA operative Lana Elkins discovers that it came from within the United States itself. More surprising still is the attacker: Steel Fist, a cyber-savvy radical white supremacist whose legions feed on his anti-Islamic exhortations. His popularity only grows when a jihadist team carries out a bold, but baffling, attack on the Louisiana coast, bringing ashore a lethal invader no one can see.

Most mysterious of all are Golden Voice, a hacker of unparalleled skill with a murderous agenda and a secret past, and Tahir Hijazi, a Muslim refugee from Sudan with his own shadowy history. When Tahir's young nephew starts dating Lana's daughter Emma, Steel Fist calls upon his fans to embark on a new mission: assassinate the entire Elkins family.

As extremists battle each other with Lana fighting both ends from the middle the conflict becomes deeply personal, the stakes tragically high.

In Thomas Waite's edgiest tale yet, battles savage the American heartland, shaking the very foundations of the world's mightiest nation. -- Marlborough Press

A few years ago my dad reviewed LETHAL CODE by Thomas Waite, so it just made sense that he'd review the third book in the series UNHOLY CODE: A LANA ELKINS THRILLER. He seems to like thrillers that deal with the U.S. government, and UNHOLY CODE seems especially timely because it deals with cyber-security! Here are his thoughts:

Having previously enjoyed LETHAL CODE by Thomas Waite, I looked forward to reading UNHOLY CODE. Lana Elkins is again the lead character. Lana was a former NSA employee who now runs her own cyber-security company and works closely with the U.S. government in preventing cyber-attacks.

UNHOLY CODE deals with the issues of cyber-hacking and terrorism but does it with a plethora of story lines that keeps the reader very busy keeping track of them. The story begins with the United States on high alert for foreign attacks due to a nuclear blast on the arctic shelf that left the U.S. coast line vulnerable. Then Jihadists execute two brazen attacks – one on a Louisiana coast town and one on a Gulf oil platform. At the same time, a tech-savvy radical white supremacist fires up his followers with anti-Islamist rhetoric and a sophisticated hacker is manipulating several cyber-systems to enhance a murderous agenda. To complicate matters further, Lana’s 17 year-old daughter, Emma, is dating the nephew of a Muslim refugee with a somewhat questionable past. These issues puts the entire Elkins family in grave danger.

These story lines are greatly enhanced by a lengthy list of interesting and believable characters. First is Lana who has just reunited with her ex-husband, Dan, a prior drug runner and recent DEA informer. She also has her hands full with a serious gambling addiction and a difficult and somewhat independent teenage daughter, Emma. Those readers who like their heroes to show their vulnerabilities will love Lana. The readers are introduced to white supremacist, “Steel Fist”, hacker supreme, “Golden Voice” and Tahir, the Muslim with questionable loyalties. For good measure, author Thomas Waite throws in a speed boat racer, Jimmy McMasters, and an oil rig worker, Ken, who display a level of heroism that is pure American. The author mixes in an ex-Russian soldier, Ludmila and heroic dogs Jojo, Cairo and Biko.

Somehow author Thomas Waite pulls these complex and varied storylines about terrorism, national security, murder, bigotry, love and loyalty together in a fast paced high tension novel. The UNHOLY CODE is a thriller with plenty of violence and twists and turns to keep the most avid readers of this genre happy.

Thanks to Booking Pap Pap for his review and to Saichek Publicity for providing a review copy of this novel.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Review: This Is How It Always Is

Summary: This is how a family keeps a secret…and how that secret ends up keeping them.

This is how a family lives happily ever after…until happily ever after becomes complicated.

This is how children change…and then change the world.

This is Claude. He’s five years old, the youngest of five brothers, and loves peanut butter sandwiches. He also loves wearing a dress, and dreams of being a princess.

When he grows up, Claude says, he wants to be a girl.

Rosie and Penn want Claude to be whoever Claude wants to be. They’re just not sure they’re ready to share that with the world. Soon the entire family is keeping Claude’s secret. Until one day it explodes.

Laurie Frankel's This Is How It Always Is is a novel about revelations, transformations, fairy tales, and family. And it’s about the ways this is how it always is: Change is always hard and miraculous and hard again, parenting is always a leap into the unknown with crossed fingers and full hearts, children grow but not always according to plan. And families with secrets don’t get to keep them forever. -- Flatiron Books

THIS IS HOW IT ALWAYS IS by Laurie Frankel is a book that, frankly, surprised me... in all the best ways. I had heard some buzz about this novel at SIBA (and truthfully, even before that!), and I was assured that the book would make me think -- and think I did. However, THIS IS HOW IT ALWAYS IS made me feel too. I don't think you can ask much more from a book than that!

THIS IS HOW IT ALWAYS IS tells the story of one very big family who has an even bigger secret. Rosie and Penn are the parents of four rambunctious boys. Of course, it's natural that they would like a little girl; however, they decide to have one more child -- truly not caring if it's another boy. Well, guess what? It's another boy they name Claude. However, Claude knows from a very young age that he wants to be a girl.

Rosie and Penn (and even his four bring brothers) are all extremely supportive, but the rest of the community... not so much. They decided to move to the more progressive Seattle area and just introduce Claude as Poppy. Through the next few years, the family has the normal issues that all families have; however, Poppy has made friends and seems happy. That is, until her "secret" is eventually revealed, and everything comes crashing down for Poppy and the rest of her family.

I couldn't put down THIS IS HOW IT ALWAYS IS. I was drawn into this family's story from the first few pages, and I became more and more caught up in their lives (and lies). THIS IS HOW IT ALWAYS IS is a big book -- almost 400 pages; however, I think I read it in just a little over two days. I found these characters to be very real and I couldn't help but care so much about all of them. I think this is a major testament to the author's ability to bring this story to life.

And maybe that's because Ms. Frankel wrote what she knew. Ms. Frankel's adopted child is transgender, and I believe her parenting has made her the exact right person to tell this story. She wrote with a sense of compassion and understanding that, at times, brought tears to my eyes. I loved how supportive Poppy's parents were and just how much they were willing to sacrifice to make her happy. There are a few lessons in this novel for all parents!

Ms. Frankel did a few other neat things with this novel besides having a great premise. For example, the father was a writer who loved to tell bedtime stories to his kids. He actually created a long-running fairy tale to help Poppy and her brothers to deal with their issues. This fairy tale had characters and storylines that were symbolic of what was going on in Poppy's life, and it was definitely interesting to see how she interpreted the tales... especially as she got older.

It probably goes without saying that THIS IS HOW IT ALWAYS IS would make an outstanding book club selection, especially for readers who are also parents. There is a reading guide available with seventeen questions. Some of the themes you might want to explore include gender identity, parenting, sacrifice, forgiveness, secrets, bravery, acceptance, guilt, and gender stereotypes.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed THIS IS HOW IT ALWAYS IS and I highly recommend it to fans of literary fiction.

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this novel.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Review: I See You

Summary: Every morning and evening, Zoe Walker takes the same route to the train station, waits at a certain place on the platform, finds her favorite spot in the car, never suspecting that someone is watching her…

It all starts with a classified ad. During her commute home one night, while glancing through her local paper, Zoe sees her own face staring back at her; a grainy photo along with a phone number and a listing for a website called FindTheOne.com.

Other women begin appearing in the same ad, a different one every day, and Zoe realizes they’ve become the victims of increasingly violent crimes—including murder. With the help of a determined cop, she uncovers the ad’s twisted purpose…A discovery that turns her paranoia into full-blown panic. Zoe is sure that someone close to her has set her up as the next target.

And now that man on the train—the one smiling at Zoe from across the car—could be more than just a friendly stranger. He could be someone who has deliberately chosen her and is ready to make his next move… -- Berkley

If you are looking for one creepy and twisted thriller, then I think I have a suggestion for you. The book is called I SEE YOU by Clare Mackintosh, and I have to say that I really enjoyed this one. The premise of the story was definitely intriguing, and the author's ability to create suspense is definitely worth noting.

I SEE YOU tells the story of Zoe Walker, a woman and mother of two, whose life is turned upside down one day when she notices her photo in a classified ad for FindTheOne.com. Zoe isn't quite sure that it's a photograph of her (it's kind of blurry and grainy); and her family is quick to think it's just someone who looks like her. However, when Zoe discovers that different women and appearing in the same ad each day... and that these women are becoming the victims of crimes (including murder), she begins to worry.

Much to Zoe's frustration, the police aren't exactly how serious to take Zoe's report. Fortunately, one young cop (who just happens to have some major baggage) believes her and wants to help. As they learn more and more about the women and the crimes, they discover some very scary things about the  intent of the ad. Naturally, Zoe's concern quickly turns to full-blown panic (and paranoia) -- she evens begin having doubts about her loved ones. Will they get to the bottom of these ads before Zoe becomes the next victim?

I really enjoyed I SEE YOU. It's a gripping suspense novel that definitely plays tricks with readers' minds. The novel has a twist at the end... and then another huge twist; however, I will admit that I wasn't totally shocked by the reveal. Having said that, I did appreciate how the story unfolded and how Zoe learned the truth about who was responsible. The novel was really like a roller coaster ride as I tried to figure out what in the heck was going on; and I actually felt like I was along with Zoe for the ride!

In addition to Zoe and her story, I also really enjoyed the character of Kelly Swift, the officer who believed Zoe and was doing her best to help her. Kelly was a fantastic character who I actually found much more interesting than Zoe. She had a complicated background, including some baggage from her personal life and her professional one, that made her and her actions intriguing to me. I would love to see her appear in future books by Ms. Mackintosh.

And speaking of Ms. Mackintosh's books, I SEE YOU is her second novel, but it's where I started. Her first one, I LET YOU GO, was a New York Times best-seller; and there is absolutely no doubt that I'm going to track it down... right away. I truly appreciated Ms. Mackintosh's writing and character development as well as the way she incorporated so many twists into the story. I have a feeling that Ms. Mackintosh's books are right up my alley!

I SEE YOU would make a terrific book club selection. I was happy to find a reading guide for this novel -- that's not always the case with thrillers. The guide has nine thought-provoking questions including ones about victims, trust, family, fear, and parenting. I also think many of the characters and their actions are worthy of discussion.

Overall, I enjoyed I SEE YOU very much and I highly recommend it to fans of suspense and mysteries.

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this novel.

Mystery Mondays is a regular feature where I review all types of mystery books -- traditional mysteries, suspense/thrillers, and even cozies! Please feel free to share your thoughts on any recent mystery books that you've read.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Kid Konnection: Presidents and First Ladies


Every Saturday, I host a feature called Kid Konnection -- a regular weekend feature about anything related to children's books. This week I'm going to share with you two books -- one about Presidents and one about First Ladies.

Summary: TIME For Kids presents a complete overview of our nation's chief executives from George Washington to the newly elected 45th president!

Did you know that James Monroe was the first president to appear without a wig in public? Or that George W. Bush appointed the first African-American secretary of state? Presidents of the United States invites the reader inside the White House to discover fascinating facts about the U.S. commanders-in-chief-their origins, accomplishments, and place in history-as told through famous quotes, important historical dates, and a timeline of events. Special sections cover the election process, the branches of government, and the role of presidents in the expansion of our nation from before the 13 colonies through westward expansion. With more than 200 photographs, illustrations, portrait reproductions, and maps. -- Liberty Street

My son loves books about history, and one that definitely caught his eye these past few weeks is TIME FOR KIDS PRESIDENTS OF THE UNITED STATES, This book, aimed at ages 8 - 12, features all of our country's presidents... including our 45th one, Donald Trump.

I think TIME FOR KIDS PRESIDENTS OF THE UNITED STATES is a fantastic book! In fact, I love that it condenses the history of the presidents' lives and careers in one easy-to-read book. This relatively short book (around 80 pages) is perfect for kids who want to learn about our executive branch of the government. What's even better is that it's not overwhelming or intimidating because the information is presented in such a concise way. There are even lots of pictures and photographs to break up the text!

In addition to providing brief histories of each president, TIME FOR KIDS PRESIDENTS OF THE UNITED STATES also provides interesting information on the history of the office of the presidency as well as a primer on the three branches of government. There is also a discussion of the political party system in the United States and a sections on the First Ladies and the White House.

TIME FOR KIDS PRESIDENTS OF THE UNITED STATES is a fantastic resource for both school and home libraries. Highly recommended.

Summary: First Ladies are more than just wives of U.S. presidents! This fun, kid-friendly book of trivia and history shows that First Ladies help influence America in ways both large and small.

Did you know that Mary Todd Lincoln hated slavery and helped to end it in America? Or that Edith Wilson helped decode secret messages during World War I? How about that Sarah Polk didn’t let anyone dance in the White House while she was first lady?

It’s true! In addition to being hostesses, advocates, ambassadors, activists, patriots, and role-models, each first lady put her own stamp on the White House—and on our country. In this fun-filled, fact-filled book, you can find out just what made each first lady unique and why they were so important. As it turns out, first ladies are a pretty big deal after all!

This book is perfect for fans of So You Want to be President? and Rad American Women from A-Z:Rebels, Trailbalzers, and Visionaries who Shaped Our History…And Our Future, and is a great entry point to discussing elections, inaugurations, and all aspects of the White House with children. -- Philomel

WHAT'S THE BIG DEAL ABOUT FIRST LADIES by Ruby Shamir and Matt Faulkner is a picture book that's ideal for kids ages 4 - 8 who want to learn more about our country's First Ladies. Most people recognize the important ceremonial role of First Ladies; however, this book spotlights also the accomplishments of various First Ladies.

I adored WHAT'S THE BIG DEAL ABOUT FIRST LADIES! It's a wonderful picture book that has already received its fair share of praise including a starred review from Kirkus. This book truly makes learning fun. There is interesting text about the roles and responsibilities of a First Lady, but there are also little tidbits that give real life examples of First Ladies' actions and the influence they had.

The text in WHAT'S THE BIG DEAL ABOUT FIRST LADIES is presented is such a friendly format -- it's almost conversational. While there are plenty of books about our presidents, I can't remember seeing one about First Ladies... nevertheless a picture book! Young readers (but especially girls) will be sure to appreciate how this picture book focuses on women and their accomplishments.

WHAT'S THE BIG DEAL ABOUT FIRST LADIES is an excellent picture book and another must-have addition to home and school libraries!

Thanks to Blue Slip Media and Penguin for providing review copies of these books.

If you'd like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children's books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week, please leave a comment as well as a link below with your name/blog name and the title of the book! Feel free to grab the little button too!