My Easter Basket Plans

Surprising absolutely no one, my kids are getting books. They’re also getting items for our trip to Florida in May that they’ll need anyway.

I thought briefly about getting them sticker books for the drive but realized that giving them now means they’d probably have them used up before we leave.

For G (age 7 1/2)

The Usborne Outdoor BookThe Usborne Outdoor Book. He is all about Cub Scouts lately, and headed into summer I think he’ll have a lot of fun with the ideas in this one.

I’m also getting him light-weight pjs, and flip-flops or crocs or some sort of shoe that will work well for the pool on our upcoming vacation. I’m also looking at a Cardinals t-shirt for him, because he doesn’t know it but he’s going to a baseball game in April. Not to see the Cardinals, but I know he’ll still want to represent his team. 🙂

For H (age 5 1/2)

Fingerprint Activities BackyardFingerprint Activities Book
She loves anything arts & crafts related, and I love when she can entertain herself. We both win with this one!

She’s getting new pjs as well, plus a new bathing suit as well as pool-friendly shoes. And a dress for Easter, because I can’t resist.

For M (age 2 1/2)

Little Bear Needs GlassesLittle Bear Needs Glasses
She LOVES All Better, and this is a related title. Reusable glasses! I’m sure she’ll love it.

She doesn’t need pjs, or a bathing suit (or a dress, really), but assuming the sale hasn’t ended before I can put my order in, I’ll be getting her a new dress for Easter too. I don’t want ALL of her clothes to always be hand-me-downs. She does need pool-friendly shoes though because her sister’s old ones broke.

All of their baskets will have some candy as well, but my intent is to not have too much of that. I feel somewhat sneaky using items we’d be buying anyway (like for vacation) as basket-filler, but I don’t think they’ll complain.


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The Port Chicago 50 by Steve Sheinkin

The Port Chicago 50The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil RightsThe Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights by Steve Sheinkin by Steve Sheinkin

Juvenile nonfiction is tough: I often find myself wanting more depth, and so perhaps giving lower ratings than is fair because a book skims the surface (as may be appropriate for the target audience).

I think this is probably one of those times – I’m not super enthusiastic about this book, mostly because I wanted *more* from it. It felt superficial, and like it’s the skeleton of an AMAZING book.

So, if you like juvenile nonfiction, or are looking for something to round out history for your children, this may be a great choice. It touches on World War II, military history, African American history, segregation (both in the military and in the US in general), civil rights, and life on the homefront. I’m fairly well-read in World War II history, but had never heard of this incident, and found myself getting enraged at the offensively bad treatment these sailors received.

Recommended, with the caveat that there isn’t much depth to it all and it left me wanting more. If you don’t mind it being aimed at middle grade readers, then it is interesting, if infuriating. And if the topic sounds appealing but you don’t want a juvenile title, there is Robert Allen’s The Port Chicago MutinyThe Port Chicago Mutiny by Robert Allen. I haven’t read it but am thinking about it, on the assumption that it will give me the depth I was missing in Sheinkin’s book.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Audible | Goodreads

Publisher’s Description:
An astonishing civil rights story from Newbery Honor winner and National Book Award finalist Steve Sheinkin.

On July 17, 1944, a massive explosion rocked the segregated Navy base at Port Chicago, California, killing more than 300 sailors who were at the docks, critically injuring off-duty men in their bunks, and shattering windows up to a mile away. On August 9th, 244 men refused to go back to work until unsafe and unfair conditions at the docks were addressed. When the dust settled, fifty were charged with mutiny, facing decades in jail and even execution. This is a fascinating story of the prejudice that faced black men and women in America’s armed forces during World War II, and a nuanced look at those who gave their lives in service of a country where they lacked the most basic rights.

Book Details

Title: The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil RightsThe Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights by Steve Sheinkin
Author: Steve Sheinkin
Category: Juvenile Nonfiction / History
My Rating: 3 Stars

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!


Previously on The Deliberate Reader

One year ago: Cover Love: Parnassus on Wheels

The Boy Who Became Buffalo Bill by Andrea Warren

The Boy Who Became Buffalo BillThe Boy Who Became Buffalo Bill: Growing Up Billy Cody in Bleeding KansasThe Boy Who Became Buffalo Bill: Growing Up Billy Cody in Bleeding Kansas by Andrea Warren by Andrea Warren

An excellent biography for children and younger teens. It doesn’t have the depth I’d want to recommend it as a full biography for adults, but for the target audience it’s well-written and engaging. Warren does an impressive job of sifting through the embellishments of Cody’s life, and of detailing some of the tragedies of his childhood in a way that still keeps it readable by younger children.

I especially enjoyed it because of having recently read Eiffel’s Tower, which included a little bit about Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West show as it appeared at the Paris World’s Fair. After reading in that book about what a showman he was, and how much his shows delighted Paris (and much of the rest of Europe, before and after the World’s Fair), it was enlightening to read about how he became that man.

While I don’t think it’s a must-read as an adult, it was still one that adults can appreciate. I’d be careful before handing it over to younger elementary students but upper elementary and older should be fine with it (although, as always, know your readers and their sensitivity levels. There are some harsh moments in the book.)

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Goodreads

Publisher’s Description:
The greatest entertainer of his era, Buffalo Bill was the founder and star of the legendary show that featured cowboys, Indians, trick riding, and sharpshooters.

But long before stardom, Buffalo Bill—born Billy Cody—had to grow up fast. While homesteading in Kansas just before the Civil War, his family was caught up in the conflict with neighboring Missouri over whether Kansas would enter the Union as a free or slave state.

To support his family after a pro-slaver killed his father, Billy—then eleven—herded cattle, worked on wagon trains, and rode the Pony Express. As the violence in Bleeding Kansas escalated, he joined the infamous Jayhawkers, seeking revenge on Missouri­ans, and then became a soldier, scout, and spy in the Civil War—all by age seventeen.

Award-winning author Andrea Warren brings to life the compelling childhood of an adventurous, determined boy who transformed himself into a true American icon.

Book Details

Title: The Boy Who Became Buffalo Bill: Growing Up Billy Cody in Bleeding KansasThe Boy Who Became Buffalo Bill: Growing Up Billy Cody in Bleeding Kansas by Andrea Warren
Author: Andrea Warren
Category: Juvenile Nonfiction / Biography
My Rating: 4 Stars

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!


Previously on The Deliberate Reader

One year ago: Books Read in 2014 – the Compiled List

Passenger on the Pearl by Winifred Conkling

Passenger on the PearlPassenger on the Pearl: The True Story of Emily Edmonson’s Flight from SlaveryPassenger on the Pearl: The True Story of Emily Edmonson's Flight from Slavery by Winifred Conkling by Winifred Conkling

An extremely overdue review, but don’t take that as a reflection on my feelings towards the book.

This is an excellent resource for students wanting a look at slavery in the US, and how it impacted an individual family.

Despite touching on horrific aspects of American history, the way the story is told makes it readable by younger children – I would probably not hesitate to use it for middle grade or even upper elementary readers. Know your reader of course, but I would think if you’re willing to let your child read about slavery in general, nothing in this story should be a problem. One possible exception/caution is because of some references to the threat of sexual slavery and abuse Emily and her sister faced. Nothing is graphical described, and oblivious readers may not even catch it, but be aware it’s in there.

The straightforward writing style, while having the advantage of keeping it from being too graphic for more sensitive or younger readers, does end up making it a drier read. It’s an incredible story, with connections to significant events in American history, but the writing makes it not as compelling to keep reading.

It’s a very educational read, and one of the strongest points of the book is in the resource list – it ends up working well as a starting point, to then find more information about particular aspects of slavery in the US. Emily’s story is fascinating, and I appreciated the follow-up provided on her family (when it was available).

Recommended for children or younger teens looking for material on the topic. It doesn’t have enough depth to be one I’d recommend for older teens or adults, but for the target audience it’s a worthwhile resource.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Goodreads

Publisher’s Description:
The page-turning, heart-wrenching true story of one young woman willing to risk her safety and even her life for a chance at freedom in the largest slave escape attempt in American history.

In 1848, thirteen-year-old Emily Edmonson, five of her siblings, and seventy other enslaved people boarded the Pearl under cover of night in Washington, D.C., hoping to sail north to freedom. Within a day, the schooner was captured, and the Edmonsons were sent to New Orleans to be sold into even crueler conditions. Through Emily Edmonson’s journey from enslaved person to teacher at a school for African American young women, Conkling illuminates the daily lives of enslaved people, the often changing laws affecting them, and the high cost of a failed escape.

Book Details

Title: Passenger on the Pearl: The True Story of Emily Edmonson’s Flight from SlaveryPassenger on the Pearl: The True Story of Emily Edmonson's Flight from Slavery by Winifred Conkling
Author: Winifred Conkling
Category: Juvenile Nonfiction
My Rating: 3.5 Stars

Disclosure: I received a review copy of the book from NetGalley, but I actually read it as a library book (the advanced copy I received wasn’t cooperating with my ereader). I was not required to write a positive review, and all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!


Previously on The Deliberate Reader

One year ago: New on My Bookcase (vol. 27)