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Tag: paul b. janeckzo

Picture Books: Not Just for Kids

November is Picture Book Month. You might be surprised at how many aren’t just for children. In fact I think many are really for us older folks who may be reading them with children. For any of you who might not have read one in years, except maybe to younger kids, check out some of these books that have a lot of appeal for anyone 12 and older.


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What YA Lit Would George Washington Read?

photoWhen you think of George Washington, you might think of his false teeth, or the quote attributed to him about never telling a lie, or chopping down that cherry tree. As improbable as those last two things are, it is true that he was a man of integrity who avoided scandal. So, it might surprise some of you to know that he was a Spymaster during the Revolutionary War. The American spy network in operation during the war was called the Culper Spy Ring and they provided Washington with information on the movements of the British troops. The spies in this network were protected by having pseudonyms, and were identified by numbers (Washington’s was 711) rather than names. They even used invisible ink to conceal their messages.

In honor of Presidents’ Day, originally held on the anniversary of George Washington’s birthday (February 22) but in 1971 moved to the third Monday in February, I thought I would highlight some YA books that I think George would have really enjoyed reading.

To assist him in his role as Spymaster, Washington might have found this book useful:

  • Top Secret: A Handbook of Codes, Ciphers and Secret Writing by Paul B. Janeczko (Editor), Jenna Lareau9780763629724 (Illustrator) (2004) Janeczko gives middle grade aspiring codemakers and codebreakers everything they need for staging their own information exchanges–terminology; instructions for making simple devices; concrete advice (assemble a “spy toolkit,” using film-canister “vials” to store homemade invisible ink); and plenty of practice activities with answers at the back of the book accompanied by fascinating historical anecdotes and nice illustrations by LaReau.
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Veterans Day booklist

Every November 11th, the United States celebrates Veterans Day. The holiday honors living veterans as well as those who gave their lives in service to their country. According to Wikipedia, there are almost 25 million veterans living in the US today. In honor of Veterans Day, I’ve compiled a list of great young adult reads that depict life as a soldier or the consequences of war. These novels cover a huge range of American conflicts, from the Revolutionary War to the current conflict in Iraq. They portray battles and life as a soldier well as the after effects of war. This is just small sample of the great books out there!

The Things A Brother Knows by Dana Reinhardt

This book, one of YALSA’s 2011 Top Ten Best Fiction for Young Adults, is a contemporary novel that tells the story of two brothers. The older borther, Boaz, has just returned home after a long tour of duty in the Middle East. He’s a hero to people in his hometown, but his younger brother Levi can see that Boaz has changed. He’s not the same cheerful, charming guy he was when he enlisted three years ago. When Boaz disappears, Levi goes after him, vowing to bring him home for good this time.