One Came Home by Amy Timberlake

 

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The Plot in 5 Sentences or Less:  Georgie Burkhardt is a 13 year old girl living with her mom and grandfather in Placid, Wisconsin in the 1870’s.  When the book opens, Georgie is mourning the death of her older sister Agatha whose body has turned up miles away near Dog Hollow.  The body is too decomposed to be recognized, but it is wearing Agatha’s distinctive dress.  Georgie refuses to accept that her sister is dead and slips away one night with Agatha’s former beau Billy McCabe on a journey to Dog Hollow.   But seeking answers will put them in great danger and test Georgie’s bonds of sisterhood.

My Take:  This is an excellent YA mystery set in the mid west in the 19th century.  The characters are well developed and I did not find them artificial as I so often do in YA fiction.  Timberlake does an excellent job of expressing that Georgie is a strong female without making her into some over the top Katniss Everdeen.  I did think that the ending could be more mournful and therefore more poignant and open ended, but people love happy endings.   One Came Home makes me want to read more by Timberlake.  Ages 12+

One Interesting Note About the Author:  Passenger pigeons play a large role in this book.  Timberlake’s inspiration to write One Came Home  derived from her discovery of the rich history of this extinct bird.  In 1871, the largest nesting of pigeons ever recorded occurred in south-central Wisconsin.  The entire length of it was 125 miles long!

 

 

Father Groppi: Marching for Civil Rights by Stuart Stotts

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The Plot (in 5 sentences or less):  Father Groppi was a leader in the civil rights movement in the 1960’s in Wisconsin.  While he attended seminary as a young man, James Groppi worked in youth centers in underprivileged areas in segregated  Milwaukee where he learned about the travails of the African American population.  After becoming ordained, he traveled the south during the 1950’s and early 60’s where he witnessed first hand the violent racism of the south.  Deciding to bring the civil rights movement to Milwaukee, Father Groppi began organizing marches demanding treatment in equal housing and public education.  His most famous moments came when he marched a group of blacks over the Sixteenth Street Viaduct into the working class white enclaves.

 

My Take:  This is a straightforward book that will not only introduce young readers to Father Groppi’s struggles in Milwaukee, but also to the broader struggle of civil rights. Throughout the book, the author defines and explains terms and concepts such as “boycotts” and “civil disobedience” that may seem unfamiliar to younger minds.  If you are looking for a biography on a lesser known civil rights advocate, this would be an excellent choice. ages 10+

 

One Interesting Note About the Author:  Stuart Stotts is not only an author, but also a dynamic speaker, performer, and early childhood educator trainer!  Check out more about him at his website:  stuartstotts.com