The Book Reviews – Website

September 21, 2008



Author: Jeanette Ingold 

Page Length: 267

Reading Level: 6

Genre: Realistic Fiction   

PLOT SUMMARY: The setting originates in Texas where Moss is a mechanic trying to save money to attend a technical school.  However, after being fired, Moss leaves town to locate his father without saying any goodbyes, particularly to his girlfriend, Beatty. Moss finds his father, a drunk, and decides to join the Civilian Conservation Corps as a way to support his family.  His assignment is in Montana where the remainder of the story takes place.

Although the CCC is not a military branch of the government, it is run like one.  Moss discovers he has a talent for reading blueprints and is soon assigned the title of “junior leader.”  First, the men must build the camp.  They work well together under the direction of Major Garrett.  However, when Major Garrett is reassigned, Moss and his buddies, Nate, Sam, Apple, and Romeo learn that the new Major is out to make himself look good.  In addition, the other junior leader, Compton, is out to make Moss look bad.

The men take on the challenge of helping the farmers save their crops, but the weather, egotistical men, and faulty supplies hinder their progress.

REVIEW: This book was educational to me, as I had never heard of the Civilian Conservation Corps, which was started by President Roosevelt during the Great Depression.  The book is informative of what the CCC actually did, and has a great story line developing the characters and conflicts that occur between them.  I think boys would enjoy this book more than girls, but there is a little bit of romance which would appeal to the female gender also.

AREAS FOR TEACHING: Historical Context, Conflict, Character and Cause/Effect

RELATED BOOKS: The Tree Army: A Pictorial History of the Civilian Conservation Corps, Forgotten Men: The Civilian Conservation Corps, Youth in the CCC, The Soil Soldiers: The Civilian Conservation Corps in the Great Depression, Airfield

MOVIE, MUSIC, ART CONNECTIONS: Ludington Beach House, Ludington State Park, Temperance River State Park, CCC Shelter, Pokagon State Park, Michigan, CCC Museum-Michigan


REVIEWED BY: Shirley Wagner


April 29, 2008

Empire State Building

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Empire State Building

Author: Elizabeth Mann

Illustrator: Alan Witschonke

Page Length: 47

Reading Level: 7

Genre: Non-fiction

REVIEW: I was amazed at how much interesting information this “picture book” about the Empire State Building contained. Picture books now-a-days are under-rated. Many are written at high reading levels and the wealth of information inside them is endless. This book is one such example.

The idea for the Empire State Building construction started with a partnership between two powerful men – one of whom was a former governor of New York. Due to advancements in industrialization, the discovery that taller buildings were more useful, and the need for men to show off their wealth, Alfred Smith and John Raskob envisioned a building that soared above every thing in the NYC skyline. Their vision came to light after 19 months, 1250 feet, 6 worker deaths, and numerous economic hardships during the Great Depression. 

Two little known facts that I read about in this book were that Native Americans in the area assisted in the construction of the sky scraper, and the building was built in such a way that every office had close access to a window-view.

Author Elizabeth Mann describes it eloquently when she states that, “the Empire State Building was a hopeful sight for New Yorkers who watched it climb like a rocket from a hole in the ground during the Great Depression.” Even over 70 years after it’s “ribbon cutting ceremony” the sky scraper remains an architectural gem.

AREAS FOR TEACHING: text features (captions, diagrams, facts, maps, glossary, time-lines), compare/contrast (before and after photos, Empire State Building vs. Chrysler Building)

RELATED BOOKS: Elizabeth Mann has written books over other U.S. landmarks such as The Brooklyn Bridge & Hoover Dam.

MOVIE, MUSIC, ART CONNECTIONS: (King Kong & The Howdy Doody Show, pages 44-45)

RELATED WEBSITES: (Link to a listing of movies in which the Empire State Building has appeared) (official site of the Empire State Building),,2184617,00.html (Interactive Slideshow and Video)

REVIEWED BY: Kevin Stratton

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