Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Terrible Typhoid Mary: A True Story of the Deadliest Cook in America by Susan Campbell Bartoletti

"This is a story of a cook-- a quiet, diligent cook who kept to herself. Her specialty was homemade ice cream topped with fresh peaches, which she served on hot summer days. She worked for some of the wealthiest families in New York, who spoke highly of her skills.

But when six members of one household nearly died, the cook mysteriously disappeared-- and the hunt for Typhoid Mary began." (inside cover)

Terrible Typhoid Mary: A True Story of the Deadliest Cook in America by Susan  Campbell Bartoletti is considered to be a biography on Mary Mallon, the woman who would become Typhoid Mary. I disagree. I think this book would be much better suited for the 616s or in a section dedicated to medical mysteries. Very little of what is in this book is actually about Mary Mallon as a person.

There are 15 chapters in this book and maybe collectively, 1 chapter could be considered a bio on Mary. The rest is about George Soper's investigation to find Mary, and the information on how infectious diseases are spread, and the insane civil rights/liberties of the working class poor that were frequently squashed.

Terrible Typhoid Mary is a fascinating book, though. Bartoletti's portrayal of George Soper makes him seem like a dirty detective-- a man who had absolutely no issue with stomping on someone's rights to get the results he wanted.   I couldn't help but feel bad for Mary Mallon with the horrible witch hunt to get her. All of her rights were stripped away when she was essentially kidnapped by the Health Department.

I know this post seems like I hated the book, however, I really liked the book. I found the facts to be fascinating and learned a few new vocab words as I read it. I just don't think it should be classified as a biography.

Terrible Typhoid Mary: A True Story of the Deadliest Cook in America
by Susan  Campbell Bartoletti
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
240 pages (after addition materials)
Ages 10-14

Friday, September 4, 2015

George by Alex Gino

" BE WHO YOU ARE. When people look at George, they think they see a boy. But she knows she's not a boy. She knows she's a girl." (inside cover)

Alex Gino's George is a book that makes you think. Gender Identity is an issue that has been brought to the forefront of our society these past couple of years. From actresses like Laverne Cox, celebrities, like Caitlyn Jenner and Chaz Bono,  and children like Jazz Jennings have put real face to the transgender community. With people coming forward and sharing their journey, I believe more children will be willing to talk about the journey they are on and Alex Gino's George is a great book for them to read.

One thing I found amazing with this book is from the very first pages, George is always referred to by the pronouns "she" or "her" when not being talked to by another character in the book. From the first pages George knows her identity, and you the reader know it as well. From the very beginning of the book, you know George and you go through her struggle to let others know who she is.

I don't understand the struggle of not being able to identify as who you are based on gender ( I fully understand the struggle of not being able to convince everyone of who I am racially-- joys of being bi-racial), but I appreciate Alex Gino's novel. I appreciate the look at what a child who is transgendered or trying to figure out their gender identity may be going through.
George is a great book to hand kids who may come looking for someone to sympathize with. Excellent job, Alex Gino.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Ever After High: The Storybook of Legends by Shannon Hale

"On Legacy Day each year, the students at the Ever After High boarding school sign the Storybook of Legends and pledge to fulfill their destinies as the next generation of Snow Whites, Prince Charmings, and Evil Queens. Everyone believes that refusing to sign their names means both you and your story will vanish forever after. Poof!
   Raven Queen, however, is having doubts. As the daughter of the Evil Queen, it is her destiny to give the poisoned apple to Snow White's daughter. But Raven has a spark of rebellion in her heart, and she knows one thing for sure: Evil is so not her style.
   On the other hand, the royal Apple White, daughter of the Fairest of Them All, cannot wait for Legacy Day! It will be the day she shuts the book on getting her Happily Ever After. But her destiny is intertwined with Raven's, and if rebel Raven doesn't sign the Storybook of Legends, it could mean a Happily Never After for them both.

(back cover of book)

I absolutely love fairy tale retellings. I love twists on fairy tales. I LOVED reading The Storybook of Legends. I found the book to be absolutely hilarious and really felt drawn to Raven Queen and rooting for her. I will say that Apple White annoyed me to no end in the very beginning of the book. Apple just seemed to be a whiny little princess who wanted everything her own way-- determined to do whatever she good to ensure her Happily Ever After without caring that it would make Raven be a villain.
My absolute favorite character has to be Madeline Hatter, the daughter of the Mad Hatter of Wonderland. Maddie is quirky, loves a good cup of tea and is fiercely loyal to her friends. Raven Queen is a very close second to favorite characters, with her desire to not become evil like her Mother, the ultimate Evil Queen.

The Storybook of Legends is a fantastic way to start a series of fairy tale retellings and I can't image a better start to the series. LOVE LOVE LOVE.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Sheep Go On Strike by Jean-Francois Dumont

" 'Why are we always the ones who get sheared? Why don't they make cat-hair sweaters, duck down socks, or donkey-hair britches?'  'Let's refuse to be sheared! Everyone who agrees, raise your hoof!' They all raised their hooves, down to the last sheep. And that's how the strike began.'

The sheep are tired of losing their wool, so they decide to go on strike. The dogs, however, are determined to keep the sheep in line. When the other animals on the farm choose sides, things soon turn into a furry, feathery scuffle. But eventually all the animals sit down together and manage to find a creative solution in this hilarious book about the importance of compromise." (Book jacket)


This book is an interesting way to introduce the inequality in this world. While I am sure this book was in the works way before the most recent bouts of protesting and violence we have been experiencing here in the U.S., there are themes in this small picture book that I am finding to be a mirror of what we are seeing now. I think that Dumont's book is a great teaching tool to talk to your kids about the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 60s, and a well timed resource to talk about the violence we are seeing from the protests in Ferguson, Missouri and other places in this nation.

I don't think this book would work well in a story time group setting, but it will work for a one on one reading time.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014


Welcome to Stories in Their Hearts!

I started this blog back in 2009 as two separate blogs (Amber's Tween Reads and Story Time Smiles) but last year I decided to combine the two blogs intoto be helpful to people with children for birth until they hit the teen years. I will have book reviews, craft ideas, story time plans and music recommendations. My new vision for the blog is to be one stop shopping with anything you may need for story times or just an afternoon with the kids. 

Who am I? I am Amberdenise. 

When I am not at work, I like to relax with my friends, curl up in a chair reading a great book, blog or go to the beach.

I am super blessed to live near the Atlantic Ocean so I get to see it when I want to. I may not go as often as the next Florida girl, but I love knowing that I can.
As for the books I read, I typically read Contemporary fiction. I love a story where something can happen in real life. I will read other genres, but not nearly as often and they aren't usually as enjoyable for me.

If  you would like to know more about me and my journey through life, please take a look at my other blog Who is ADP?, a blog specifically designed to help me figure out just who I am and what my purpose on this planet is.

Feel free to contact me at storiesintheirhearts@gmail.com or gabidenise@gmail.com
Love and Happy reading!

El Deafo by CeCe Bell

"Going to school and making new friends can be tough. But going to school and making new friends while wearing a bulky hearing aid strapped to your chest? That requires superpowers! In this funny, poignant graphic novel memoir, author/illustrator Cece Bell chronicles her hearing loss at a young age and her subsequent experiences with the Phonic Ear, a very powerful—and very awkward—hearing aid.
The Phonic Ear gives Cece the ability to hear—sometimes things she shouldn’t—but also isolates her from her classmates. She really just wants to fit in and find a true friend, someone who appreciates her as she is. After some trouble, she is finally able to harness the power of the Phonic Ear and become “El Deafo, Listener for All.” And more importantly, declare a place for herself in the world and find the friend she’s longed for." (Barnes and Nobel)
I will be the first person to tell you I am NOT a Graphic Novel fan. I've never been a big fan of the comics in the newspaper. Graphic Novels are just not my style. However, I have been trying to branch out lately and expand my comfort zone of reading. 

That being said, I really liked reading El Deafo by CeCe Bell. I found myself surprised by the size of the Phonic Ear that CeCe had to wear during the 1970's. All of the hearing aids/ devices I've ever seen have been MUCH smaller and easier to hide. I thought the idea of using rabbits as people was really cute and a great way to tell her story. 

El Deafo ©2014 by Amulet Books

Monday, September 22, 2014

American Girl History Club: Julie Albright (1970s)

So, I have been a fan of the American Girls Series since I was 11 years old. (I know, a little old to start the series, but that's when I found them.) With finding the 2 newest historical figures, I decided I wanted to start a year long (10 month) series using the girls.
Since I've been floating around Library land and different branches this past year (my home branch is under renovations, but I'm going back in about 3 weeks!) I decided to try my American Girl History Club again. This time, it was a HUGE success. This time I had about 28 girls attend (with a sign up of 35) and each girl made 3 crafts.

Craft one: Flower/Daisy crown. I cut several flowers out of pink, blue, yellow and light green cardstock and green bands to go around each girl's head. The girls then picked the colors they wanted for their crowns and glued them on.

Craft 2: CD Wall flowers
I found the idea for this craft in Cool Crafts with Old CDs by Carol Sirrine. The book called for 8 Cds, a permanent marker, glue gun/hot glue, 4-foot long ribbon, small gems and adhesive wall hooks. What I actually used was: 8 Cd's, permanent marker, long ribbon and GLUE STICKS. (I wasn't about to have 7 year olds use a glue gun and there weren't enough adults to help out, so GLUE STICKS worked very well.)
The permanent marker is used to mark where each cd goes before you glue them together. The girls LOVED making cd wallflowers and it got rid of a lot of old cd- roms, so this was a win-win proect!

Craft 3 was probably my favorite: Make Your Own Daisy Barretts.
For this project, the materials needed were: artificial daisies, medium size barrette, Ailene's Craft Clue or a hot glue gun, and glitter, I used glitter glue that I found for $1 a bottle.

I went to Michael's (our local craft store) and bought a huge daisy chain (which was on sale!), and 2 packages of medium size hair barrettes. I took each daisy off the daisy chain and plucked several leaves off as well. Then I glued a leaf and daisy to the barrette, held it until it adhered to each other and then decorated it with glitter.
I think this was the favorite craft of the program.
 Another craft idea is one I used from the first time I did an American Girl: Julie program.
I grabbed some old c.d's (most of them from AOL) and started breaking them apart with a pair of kitchen shears. I cut different shapes and sizes and set them aside in a plastic baggie. Then I cut a sheet of  foam board in half and cut a hole in the center that was big enough to frame a 5 x 6 photograph. (roughly 7 x 8 for the boarder). I then glued the side with a hole to the other half of the sheet of foam board, leaving the top unglued so a picture could slide through. This particular craft really gives a disco ball feel to a 70's celebration.

On the day of the program, I grabbed several books that were published in the '70's and books that won Caldecott's and Newbery's and also a few books about the 1970's and major ecological events ( Love Canal and Three Mile Island) since Julie loves nature.
To incorporate the 1970's I wrote out some of the major events of the decade on poster boards and posted them in the room. I also got a map of Pennsylvania and charted the route Julie may have taken on the Freedom Wagon Trail during the Bicentennial Celebrations. (Remember Julie went to visit her cousin and rode in the Pennsylvania wagon train) I also charted the route we would take if we were going from Philadelphia to Valley Forge like Julie.

I made a cd of hits from the 1970's to play in the background of the program. It was totally groovy!