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Karen's Book Reviews

| Home | Picture Books | Traditional Literature | Poetry | Nonfiction | Historical Fiction/Biography | Fiction, Fantasy, and Young Adult Literature | Author Study - S. E. Hinton | Censorship Project


Simon, Seymour. 1987. Icebergs and Glaciers. New York: William Morris and Co., Inc. ISBN: 06880618696.


Icebergs and glaciers are alluring subjects to study. Some places on earth remain cold all year long and are covered by deep layers of ice and snow. Greenland, Canada, Alaska, and Iceland are such places. During summer, ice and snow cover 1/10 of Earth’s land surface.


Upper slopes and peaks of high mountains are covered by ice and snow. These are above the snow line. Summertime snow fields are found in the Rockies, Himalayas, the Alps, the Andes, and Mt. Kilimanjaro. Above the snow line, glaciers begin.


Simon explains about snowflakes and ice, how they make up ice fields, and how these huge masses move. When they move, they become glaciers. Ice sheets, called icebergs, break away and float. Seven-eighths of the icebergs are under the sea. The part of the iceberg that is not seen is the most dangerous. For example, the Titanic found this to be true in 1912.  The International Ice Patrol was established within the next year of the disastrous sinking of the Titanic.  


Scientists hope to use icebergs for fresh water in dry lands and ways are being devised to transport layers of the icebergs by tugboats and helicopters.


Magnificent photographs adorn the pages of this book. Some included are of Canada and Alaska and definitely enhance the author’s subject. The organization of the book is chronological because it covers from the point of snow fall, glaciers, and then icebergs. Simon’s book is very appealing to a child. The actual photographs of glaciers and icebergs alone are very stunning to the eye and captivating. Simon’s writing style is to the point and clear. The author also leaves the reader with a question, “ Will the ice age return?” to stimulate the imagination.



Gibbons, Gail. 1992. Stargazers. New York: Holiday House. ISBN: 082340983x


Gibbons explains about the stars, constellations, and telescopes in this book. Stars give off heat and light because of hot gases which make them shine. Stargazers, often called astronomers, watch the night sky.  The sun, of course, is the largest star. It is a million times larger than the Earth. Stars look tiny because they are so far away. Cool stars are red, the warmer ones are yellow, and the hot ones are bluish white. The North Star has guided people for hundreds of years.


The eighty-eight constellations can be seen at different times of the year. This book includes information on how stars were named, and the different types of telescopes, and how they work. There is also a timeline showing the important dates in history of stargazing. Some interesting facts include that during the early times people believed the stars were gods, Isaac Newton built the first reflecting telescope, and in 1970, the biggest telescope in the world was in place in Puerto Rico. It was a radio telescope.


Gibbon's book about stars, telescopes, and stargazing is more appealing to the younger child. The cartoon-like characters and illustrations would be more motivating to the younger child. The information in the book is very informative and could be used for both pleasure reading and research. This author has written many other titles for children. The author’s style is  shown through the use of the vocabulary which is targeted for younger children.  The topic is not written in depth. Actual photographs would target an older audience had they been used for this topic. There is no bibliography included in the book for source information.



Fritz, Jean. 1989. The Great Little Madison. New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons. ISBN:0399217681.


James Madison became the fourth President of the United States. Madison was born to a large family.  He was a sickly child with a weak voice. He read everything he could find. He learned Latin, Greek and French so he could read in those languages also. He studied geometry and algebra and the history of other nations. He chose to attend The College of New Jersey which later became Princeton.


Madison was concerned about the welfare of the country and became interested in politics. He bought some of his father’s land so that he could vote or hold office in the future. Madison was later involved in politics with many of the historical figures such as, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson,  and John Adams. Thomas Jefferson became one of his closest friends.  He became a delegate to Congress in 1780, shortly after his twenty-ninth birthday.  Even though his voice was not easily heard in a large crowd, after the constitution was written, Madison proposed adding a bill of rights because he was very much an advocate of equal rights for everyone. Although a few men did oppose him, such as Patrick Henry, many listened to Madison when he spoke.


He did not marry until he was in his forties. James Madison later became the fourth President of the United States. Even his wife’s name is a relic to America, Dolley Madison. She was well known for the parties she threw as the first lady.  Madison died in 1836, having served his country well because of the great impact he brought to the nation, and was buried on his family’s plot.


Jean Fritz’s book was full of American history as well as James Madison’s life. The book has an index, a bibliography and notes.  This book could be used for pleasure reading or for research. The depth of the information is quite detailed in nature, showing various aspects of Madison’s life. The author’s focus was mainly on the impact that Madison brought to the government with the issues he strongly supported, such as the bill of rights.  The author’s style is evident when read that the intended audience was for young adult children. The Great Little Madison was the Orbis Pictus Award winner for 1999.


Freedman, Russell. 1996. The Life and Death of Crazy Horse. New York: Holiday House. ISBN: 0823412199.


Crazy Horse was a Teton Sioux in the 1800s. He grew up under the times when whites were invading and the Sioux fought to save their hunting grounds. He was a quiet Indian and was often called “Our Strange One,” by his own tribe.  He was noted for wearing no war paint and taking no scalps as other Indians often did in their victories, and he did not boast about his war deeds.  


Crazy Horse once tried to plead with the other Sioux not to visit Fort Laramie, but the others wanted to see what the white men had to say. The argument was that they were living well where they were.  Some of the Sioux met with them anyway and were in the process of signing a treaty to protect their hunting grounds. While there, an infantry regiment marched into the Fort and told them that there were orders to build forts along the very same trail the Indians wanted to protect.  Angered by the news,  the Indians declared they would fight as long as they live.


One of the noted achievements of Crazy Horse was when he led the Sioux to battle against General Custer in the Battle of Little Bighorn.  Several hundred soldiers were killed during this battle.  Crazy Horse was eventually killed with a bayonet wound in a violent battle in 1877.  


Freedman’s book  has maps of the region the Sioux Indians inhabited and many black and white pencil drawings throughout the book. The Life and Death of Crazy Horse could be for pleasure reading by someone fascinated with the background of Indian history, but would mainly be read for research. Freedman won a Newbery Medal and has had a Newbery Honor Book for other work. He also has written three other books on Native Americans.


Freedman visited the Black Hills in South Dakota and the site of the Battle of Little Bighorn in Montana to gather information and insight into the background of Crazy Horse. The book was intended for an audience of older children because of its length and vocabulary. The book has a part of American history and a story of a remarkable brave Indian. The photographs are taken from the Oglala Sioux’s historian, which were buried with his sister. They are not what most children are used to seeing in books, but the photographs reveal the life of Crazy Horse in a different manner. The author includes a chronology, a bibliography, and an index in the back of the book.