An Eclectic Mix of Books

I couldn’t think of a theme for the books I just review, so you’re getting a hodge-podge mixture.


Just because there are scary shark movies and stories floating around, doesn’t mean these fish are all bad. As matter of fact, they don’t really mean to harm humans, we just get in their way. And Jacques Cousteau’s member lingers on to make us all, or at least lots of us, be interested in the oceans.

Great White Shark Adventure

Fabien Cousteau and James O. Fraioli

Illustrated by Joe St. Pierre

Part of the new Fabien Cousteau Expeditions series about the oceans and their creatures, this book tells of a hunt for a gigantic great white shark off the southern tip of Africa. Junior Expeditioners, Bella and Marcus, are joining Jacques Cousteau’s grandson Fabien on a hunt for an extra-large great white shark. The group decides the shark might be in waters around two islands that are breeding grounds for fur seals and penguins. These animals swim in the water between the two islands, making it an ideal hunting ground for sharks. The book is full of interesting information about all kinds of sea creatures and the drawings, though cartoonish, depict the animals well. The two junior expeditioners, considered full members of the research team, get to swim in the ocean and use the submersible observation bell made of plexiglass. Wouldn’t that be a cool thing to do? The book gives the reader quite an education about sharks and other marine life. It’s a welcome addition to any school library.

BIBLIO: 2019, Margaret K. McElderry Books/Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division/Simon & Schuster Publishing, Ages 8 to12, $12.99.

REVIEWER: Sarah Maury Swan

FORMAT: Graphic Non-Fiction

ISBN: 1534420886

If you want to keep yourself up at night worrying about how horrible people can be to each other, just read some historical fiction. This book is about Irish immigrants coming to New York City during the U.S. Civil War, which was hardly civil, I might add.


Last of the Name

Rosanne Parry

Twelve-year-old Daniel O’Carolan and his older sister, Kathleen, arrive in New York City on March 26th, 1863 after fleeing poverty and English brutality in Ireland. Their granny, the last remaining adult of the family, dies on board the ship they’re sailing on. She leaves them with a special bundle which she says will get them through the toughest times. Kathleen has promised that she will take care of Danny with out fail. They end being house servants for a wealthy family, which means Danny has to become Mary and wear girl’s clothing. Though Kathleen is readily accepted as a maid, the lady of the house is not sure what the younger child can do. He lands his job by singing and enchanting the lady of the house. But he sneaks off when he can, wearing his boy’s clothes. He does gain an appreciation for what girls and women have to endure from society. hen Danny is being a boy, he takes every chance he can to sing and dance, earning a penny here and a penny there. The time of their arrival is not a propitious one, since the country is smack in the middle of the Civil War. Negro people are coming north by the droves to look for work, taking jobs from men who are striking for better wages. The Irish are also despised for the taking jobs. Plus, the Protestants are trying to dissuade the Irish and others from being Catholics. Life is tough for most people in New York, except the wealthy. The story ends around time of the “Draft Riot” in the summer of 1863, which leaves most of New York City in ruins. The book is well written and compelling with lots for teachers to use in the classroom. There is a brief bibliography and several discussion questions at the end.

BIBLIO: 2019, Carolrhoda Books/Lerner Publishing Group, Inc., Ages 10 to 14, $17.99.

REVIEWER: Sarah Maury Swan

FORMAT: Middle Grade

ISBN: 9781541542358


This book is a humorous take on accepting each other’s differences.

Zombies Don’t Eat Veggies!

Megan Lacera and Jorge Lacera

Illustrated by Jorge Lacera

Acceptance of diversity is an ongoing theme in modern children’s lives. This book uses the conceit of a young zombie named Mo Romero who would rather eat veggies than humans. Problem is he needs to convince his parents that it’s okay to like veggies. He sneaks out at night to tend his vegetable garden and make his delicious meals of veggies. He tries to disguise veggies as parts of the human body and bury them in his parents’ eyeball stew, but he always gets caught out. One night he decides to make gazpacho, sure that he could convince his parents it is blood soup. Nope, doesn’t work. His parents hate it and scold him for serving it. Finally, Mo fesses up. He may be a zombie but he’s different. Because his parents love him, they agree to eat veggies along with their brain stew and finger food. The illustrations are delightfully gross. The language does seem a bit old for the target age range, but the story does get its point across. And what youngster doesn’t love zombies?

BIBLIO: 2019, Children’s Book Press/Lee & Low Books, Inc., Ages 7 to 9, $18.95.

REVIEWER: Sarah Maury Swan

FORMAT: Picture Book

ISBN: 9781620147948

Happy Fourth of July

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