Mary Bowser and the Civil War Spy Ring
Series: Spy on History #2
Author: Enigma Alberti
Illustrator: Tony Cliff
Published: April 2, 2019
Reviewed By: Cristina
Your Mission: Find Mary’s secret diary using spycraft stools to uncover hidden codes!
It’s a true story of bravery: Mary Bowser was an African American spy for the Union who worked as a maid in the mansion of Confederate Jefferson Davis. From hair-raising close calls when she almost gets caught to how she uses her photographic memory to “steal” top secret documents. Mary’s story reads like a gripping novel.
It’s a mystery to solve: There are clues embedded in the story’s text and illustrations, and Spycraft materials—including a replica Civil War cipher wheel—come in an envelope at the beginning of the book. Use both to discover what happened to Mary Bowser’s secret diary.
What would you do if you had the opportunity to be a spy where it would really matter? Your skills: a photographic memory, ability to read, and blending into the background. If you succeed, your people have a chance at freedom. If you fail, you’ll be hung. Are you in?
This book is a historical fiction with a fun interactive spy riddle to solve as well. A reader can just enjoy the story, or they can try to solve the case that’s embedded in the real story. Mary Bowser was a real person. She was a free African-American, but went undercover as a maid in Jefferson Davis’s mansion to spy for the Union. Because no person of color was expected to be able to read at that time in the South, Mary was able to read many valuable documents in Davis’s office while she dusted or polished lamps. She had to pretend to be illiterate and a little slow to avoid suspicion. It was a job filled with danger, but Mary proved to be invaluable to the Union. She was able to get critical information to the Union army and it helped save lives and win battles.
This book is written in a very engaging style. Lots of action, a few narrow misses that have you holding your breath, and insights into what the Civil War was like for the non-soldiers who still wanted to help fight for freedom and the Union. The interactive riddle–a search for Mary’s secret diary–is engaging as well. There is help at the back of the book if the reader gets too frustrated, but it’s fun to try and find the diary without any assistance. Spy on History is a series, so if historical fiction sounds appealing, come to the library to choose your spy adventure!
It’s Brave to Be Kind: A Kindness Story and Activity Book for Children
Author: Natasha Daniels
Illustrator: Ela Smietanka
Published: July 7, 2020
Reviewed By: Jessica
Date Read: August 9, 2020
Jessica’s Rating: 4 stars
Discover the value of kindness—a story and activity book for kids
Show kids that being kind is awesome! It’s Brave to Be Kind goes beyond other kindness books for children, combining the effectiveness of a storybook with the fun of play to teach kids ages 5 to 7 how to be amazingly kind people.
All kindness books for children should be this inspiring! Not only will kids learn how important niceness is through an engaging—and adorably illustrated—story, but they’ll also be able to practice being kinder every day with simple and fun activities you won’t find in other kindness books for children. Whether it’s taking care of themselves when they’re sad or helping out around the house, help young readers find out how fun being kind can be.
This standout among kindness books for children includes:
- A story of kindness for kids—Give kids a supportive role model in Alex—a young girl who meets someone different and finds out how she can be kind, even when others aren’t.
- Practice being nice—This top choice among kindness books for children encourages them to try out fun challenges that provide ways to grow their kindness and share it with the people around them.
- Advice for parents and caregivers—Get tips for using both the story and activities to effectively teach kindness and empathy to kids.
When it comes to kindness books for children, you won’t find a more complete package than It’s Brave to Be Kind.
This children’s book is aimed for ages 5-7 and it delivers spot on with that age group. The illustrations are colorful and help to completely convey the story presented. The illustrations also show diversity among the children.
Alex is our main character and she loves being a different sort of kid ( all the way to the way she styles her hair!), but she is also kind which includes being accepting of others, being caring and brave. When new student Jon joins that class, he is also different: He is from another country and does not speak English. The other kids treat him differently. Alex feels bad about the way jon is being treated and she befriends him. Over the course of the story, she shows the others kids that despite their differences that they can all become friends.
This book is also meant to be an activity book. There is an introduction to parents/caregivers and teachers telling that this short book is meant to be the start of deeper conversations with your young child. This is more than a ‘read to your kid’ book. There are also ‘kindness challenges’ at the end for kids to put what they learn into practice. Examples of different type of kindness are given. There are also websites given to help parents/ caregivers/ educators have more resources for help with teaching children all about kindness.
I received a copy from the publisher via Amazon Vine.[Top]