Book Reviews

These books are fiction for ages 9–12.
Use the following links for other books.

Fiction 9–12

Adventures in Ancient China
Linda Bailey is at again, teaching kids about life in ancient times through the adventures of the Binkerton kids. This time out, the Binkertons travel to the land of the Great Wall and the Silk Road. The book is Adventures in Ancient China. The plot device in this book is the disappearance of young Libby, which leads to an examination of farming, food, family life, medicine, religion, government, transportation and culture (in separate storylines, of course) that is both entertaining and educational. (Kudos to Bailey for including the invention of paper and kites!)

Adventures in Ancient Greece
Join the Binkerton kids as they learn about ancient Greece by going back in time and visiting! They see ancient Athens and Olympia, site of the Olympic Games, and also learn a thing or two about the status of women and children in the ancient society.

Adventures in the Ice Age
The Binkerton kids travel go way back in time! The setting in this book is France, a vehicle for showing off cave paintings that still inspire and puzzle archaeologists. And for the first time, the Binkertons have to perform tasks in order to return to their own time. (Before they had only to read what was in the Guidebook, a device that the author uses to introduce information about the time and culture being examined.) One of these tasks is to find Art. And although the Binkertons think that Art is a man, Art turns out to be Art, cave paintings!

Adventures with the Vikings
Join the Binkerton kids as they learn about Viking times the hard way (or is that easy way)--by living them! Another fine romp through time by the author of the other Adventures books.

And in the Morning
John Wilson's book And in the Morning is definitely for older readers. The hero is an older teenager who gets involved in World War I. The violence is sometimes personal, and the things young Jim Hay sees are sometimes horrifying. The book is not for younger readers. It is, however, an excellent portrayal of the horrors and dashed dreams that the Great War brought home to hundreds of thousands of Europeans and Americans in the previous century.

Cowboys on the Western Trail
Yet another book in the fantastic National Geographic I Am American series, this book, by Eric Oatman, chronicles a cattle drive as seen through the eyes of teen Josh McNabb and Davy Bartlett. In this installment, the young boys take part in an adventure from Texas to Nebraska, driving cattle through all the perils that await them, including bad weather, stampeding cattle, unfriendly Native Americans, and "dangerous" towns like Dodge City, Kansas. Like other books in this series, this one uses journal entries and letters home to advance the storyline. These devices do such a good job that the actual factual text is minimal.

Crispin: The Cross of Lead
This, the latest book by Newbery Honor winner Avi, is the story of a young boy who loses his family but not his identity in 14th-Century England. Follow young Crispin as he learns more about himself and the world around him in this entertaining, realistic, and rewarding novel. (You can also read an interview of Avi by this site's editor here.)

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