Book Review: Who Was John F. Kennedy by Yona Zeldis McDonough


Author: Yona Zeldis McDonough Title: Who Was John F. Kennedy Publication Info: New York : Grosset & Dunlap, c2005. Summary/Review: Continuing our way through the “Who Was…?” series with my son.  This book again shows the series’ ability to be age-appropriate, but to also offer honest appraisals of their subjects.  I was particularly impressed by the details of…

Book Review: The Clancys of Queens by Tara Clancy


Author: Tara Clancy Title: The Clancys of Queens Publication Info: New York : Crown Publishers, 2016. Summary/Review: Tara Clancy is one of my favorite storytellers from shows like The Moth, Risk, and Snap Judgment, so I was delighted to receive a free advanced review copy of her memoir through the Library Thing Early Reviewers program. Clancy describes…

Book Reviews: Who was Franklin Roosevelt? by Margaret Frith


Author: Margaret Frith Title: Who was Franklin Roosevelt? Publication Info: New York : Grosset & Dunlap, c2010. Summary/Review: A good introductory biography of one of America’s greatest Presidents.  It’s not warts and all, but like many books in this series it includes some of Roosevelt’s failures as well as his success.  Another great historical read with my…

Book Review: Who is Dolly Parton? byTrue Kelley


Author: True Kelley Title: Who is Dolly Parton? Publication Info: New York, New York, USA : Grosset & Dunlap, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, [2014] Summary/Review: I finished this children’s biography with the sense that Dolly Parton is one of the kindest, most optimistic, and hardest working people in show business.  And that’s all probably true,…

Book Review: Who Was Louis Armstrong by Yona Zeldis McDonough


Author: Yona Zeldis McDonough Title: Who Was Louis Armstrong Publication Info: New York : Grosset & Dunlap, c2004. Summary/Review: The life of musician and icon Louis Armstrong is explored at a kids level, focusing mostly on his early life up to the 1930s.  Armstrong grew up in poverty in New Orleans and spent time in a reform…

Book Review: Who Was Jesse Owens by James Buckley, Jr.


Author: James Buckley, Jr. Title: Who Was Jesse Owens Publication Info: New York, NY : Grosset & Dunlap, 2015. Summary/Review: Jesse Owens is well-known as a legendary track and field star who was a pioneer for black athletes, attending Ohio State University, going to the Olympics, and winning four gold medals.  Much is made of Owens being…

Book Review: Who Was Annie Oakley by Stephanie Spinner


Author: Stephanie Spinner Title: Who Was Annie Oakley Publication Info: New York : Grosset & Dunlap, c2002. Summary/Review: I keep learning things I never knew from my son’s biographies of notable people.  Annie Oakley was a sharpshooter and that was all I knew about her.  Turns out she made an interesting life out of her skill traveling around…

Book Review: Who was Johnny Appleseed? by Joan Holub


Author:  Joan Holub Title: Who was Johnny Appleseed? Publication Info: New York : Grosset & Dunlap, c2005. Summary/Review: Another children’s biography that I read to my son that ended up teaching me about someone I knew little about.  John Chapman, Massachusetts born, moved to the frontier to raise apple orchards and sell seeds and seedlings to the…

Book Review: Who Was Neil Armstrong by Robert Edwards


Author:  Robert Edwards Title:  Who Was Neil Armstrong Publication Info:  New York, New York, USA : Grosset & Dunlap, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 2012. Summary/Review: My son and I enjoyed another “Who Was?” biography about the first person to set foot on the moon.  Armstrong was always a private person so he was harder…

Book Review: Who Is Michelle Obama by Megan Stine


Author: Megan Stine Title:  Who Is Michelle Obama? Publication Info:  New York : Grosset & Dunlap, An Imprint of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., [2013] Summary/Review: My song picked out this children’s biography to read at bedtime from the Who was?/Who is? series and we both noted that despite her prominence, neither of us knew much about Michelle…

Book Review: Who Was Davy Crockett? by Gail Herman


Author: Gail Herman Title:  Who Was Davy Crockett?  Publication Info:  Grosset & Dunlap (2013) Summary/Review: I read this children’s biography to my son.  I actually knew very little about Davy Crockett (who as we learn in the biography preferred to be called David) so it was interesting to read a book that focused on the…

Movie Review: 42 (2013)


Title: 42 Release Date: 2013 Director:  Brian Helgeland Summary/Review: This straightforward biopic documents Jackie Robinson’s first season with the Brooklyn Dodgers when he became the first black player to break through the color barrier in Major League Baseball.  It suffers from an excess of Hollywood dramatic moments, but mostly it’s true to life in showing…

Book Review: Soccer Star Cristiano Ronaldo by John Albert Torres


Author:  John Albert Torres Title:  Soccer Star Cristiano Ronaldo Publication Info:  Berkeley Heights, NJ : Speeding Star, an imprint of Enslow Publishers, Inc., [2014] Summary/Review: I read this children’s biography of the Real Madrid and Portugal football star aloud to my son.  Ronaldo is not someone I’ve particularly been impressed by as a person, although his…

Book Review: The Secret History of Wonder Woman by Jill Lepore


Author: Jill Lepore Title: The Secret History of Wonder Woman Narrator: Jill Lepore Publication Info: Random House Audio (2014) Previously Read by Same Author: Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin Blindspot The Whites of Their Eyes Summary/Review: The story of Wonder Women begins as a creation of William Moulton Marston, a something of a…

Book Review: H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald


Author: Helen Macdonald Title: H is for Hawk Narrators: Helen Macdonald Publication Info: Blackstone Audio, Inc. (2015) Summary/Review: After the death of her father, Macdonald works through her grief by adopting and training a young goshawk, Mabel whom she calls “Thirty Ounces of Death in a Feathered Jacket.” This lyrical book is part memoir and…

Book Reviews: Lafayette in the Somewhat United States by Sarah Vowell


Author:  Sarah Vowell Title: Lafayette in the Somewhat United States Narrator:  Sarah Vowell, with  John Slattery, Nick Offerman, Fred Armisen, Bobby Cannavale, John Hodgman, Stephanie March, and Alexis Denisof Other Books Read By Same Author: The Partly Cloudy Patriot  The Wordy Shipmates  Publication Info: Simon & Schuster Audio (2015) Summary/Review: This audiobook includes numerous well-known actors performing…

Book Review: Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow


Author: Ron Chernow Title: Alexander Hamilton Narrator: Grover Gardner Publication Info: New York, N.Y. : Penguin Audio, p2004. Summary/Review: A straight-forward biography of General Washington’s right-hand man, Constitutional crusader, and founder of American finance as first secretary of treasury. It does not shy away from Hamilton’s failings such as an ill-tempered tongue and poor decisions, but mostly…

Book Review: The Wright Brothers by David McCullough


Author: David McCullough Title: The Wright Brothers Narrator: David McCullough Publication Info: Simon & Schuster Audio (2015) Summary/Review: The Wright Brothers, Orville and Wilbur, are figures shrouded in the myths and legends of the pioneers of aviation.  David McCullough presents them as two distinct personalities, and introduces the Wright Sister, Katharine, an integral part of their team although…

Book Review: First Family by Joseph Ellis


Author: Joseph J. Ellis Title:  First Family Narrator: Kimberly Farr Publication Info: Random House Audio (2010), Edition: Unabridged Previously Read by Same Author: American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson, Passionate Sage: The Character and Legacy of John Adams, and Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation Summary/Review: Historian Joseph Ellis explores the relationship of Abigail and John…

Book Reviews: In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson


Author: Erik Larson Title: In the Garden of the Beast Narrator: Stephen Hoye Publication Info: New York : Random House Audio : Books on Tape, p2011. Books Read by Same Author: The Devil in the White City and Isaac’s Storm Summary/Review: This history and biography book explores the rise of the Third Reich from the perspective of one American…