The Red Bandanna


The Red Bandanna (Adapted for Young Readers)

By Tom Rinaldi

New York: Viking, 2017.

This is a compelling read for September—as the 16th anniversary of 9/11 is tomorrow. This is the story of a young man named Welles Crowther who became a hero on a day when there were many heroes. Only his heroic story was written months after the Twin Towers had fallen.  Crowther was a quiet leader in school, a good athlete and a good student who became a Junior Volunteer Firefighter in his spare time.  He went to Boston College majored in finance and landed a job with a prestigious financial agency on the 104th floor of the South Tower. After a year and a half on the job Crowther got restless and talked with one his dad’s firefighter friends about quitting his job and becoming a firefighter fulltime—he felt that was his true calling—that was August of 2001.

But Welles Crowther life was remarkable because he lived each day as a hero–he was an upstander.  As a young child his dad gave him a white handkerchief and a red bandana—“the first for show and the second for blow.” Crowther was proud of his father and carried both to honor him—that red bandana later came Welles trademark. It marked him a hero on 9/11.

Join me today in honoring this hero of 9/11 Welles Crowther.


You Can Fly: The Tuskegee Airman

You Can Fly: The Tuskegee Airman

By Carole Boston Weatherford

New York:  Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2016.

Grades 6 and Up   80 Pages.

The Tuskegee Airman is a group of courageous group of African-American young men who dreamed about flying and being WWII bomber pilots and fighting the Nazi’s in Germany.  Little did they know their biggest fight would be overcoming the discrimination on becoming pilots and then serving during WWII.

This book written in verse is a quick read but packed with great information about the courage, struggles and overcoming obstacles not by just the Tuskegee airman but by other great African-Americans:

Booker T. Washington

George Washington Carver

Della “Maw” Raney–nurseyou-can-fly-9781481449380_lg

Lena Horne–entertainer

Herbert Jeffries–entertainer

Dorie Miller—at Pearl Harbor—not trained manned an

.50-caliber antiaircraft gun—awarded Navy Cross

Joe Louis—boxer, won Golden Glove as amateur

William Henry Hastie—lawyer then first on the federal


And others!

This book has an authors note, timeline and additional resources in the back of the book!

Loved, loved this book!


We might even ask ourselves has our world changed?  Is discrimination a current issue—cite some examples.

Alia Muhammad Baker: Saving a Library from War

Alia Muhammad Baker: Saving a Library From War

By Lindsay Bacher

Mankato:  The Child’s World, 2016.

Pages 24  Grades 3-4 and Up

I think I like this book a little more today than I did about a month ago when I read it.  It is a short book best suited for grades 3-4 and up but I was looking for interesting biographies and this one—about saving a library caught my eye.  The author makes an attempt at being politically correct but I think that she falls short.  I felt that she was placing blame somewhat to the United States for what was happening in Iraq—placing emphasis on “thought that Hussein was hiding weapons of mass destruction” rather than on crimes against humanity—the author eludes to this when she states, “many of the people in Basra did not like President Hussein…”

The story of how one selfless women was able to remove almost all the books by encouraging others to help her remove and hide the books.  Some of these manuscripts were hundreds of years old—some as old as 1300 A.D. l_9781634074711_fc Muhammad Baker was able to save 30,000 books that helped to save and preserve Iraq’s history and culture.  The author does a good job describing the conditions under which Iraqi’s lived during this time of turmoil in history.

I like this book more since I have been reading, It Ain’t So Awful, Falafel  by Firoozeh Dumas who goes in-depth in her realistic fiction book on the power that surround oil rich countries and how human rights can suffer at the hands of leaders who are more interested in advancing an oil agenda than on being a just leader.

This book would stir up some great conversations about libraries and the power of books.

The 13th Gift

The 13th Gift

By Joanne Huist Smith


Every year I buy at least one Christmas book to read over the holidays and this year I choose the 13th Gift. It is a book about a family’s sorrow over the unexpected loss of their husband and father and their inability to regroup as a family. With the upcoming Christmas holiday no one can muster any Christmas spirit until mysterious gifts starting showing up on their doorstep—nothing elaborate but each tied with a note. The gifts correspond to the song—Twelve Days of Christmas, starting off with One Poinsettia and always ending with Your True Friends give to you. As the book unfolds each gift truly becomes a Christmas miracle for this family.13th

I always love sappy Christmas books and movies and although this one fit that bill—the 13th Gift is a true story written by a woman from Bellbrook, Ohio—near Dayton. That made this year’s book even more special! It is a great addition to my holiday book collection—I will read it again and pass it to others!

The Year of Goodbyes

The Year of Goodbyes

By Debbie Levy

New York: Hyperion Books, 2010.

Pages 136.  Grades 6 and up.

This is the true story of Jutta Salzberg, a twelve year old Jewish girl living in Nazi Germany in 1938. This is unlike other Holocaust memoirs or narratives as Jutta’s story is told through original writings in a poesiealbum. A poesiealbum was liGoodbyeske an autograph book where young girls would draw, write poems and wish them well—it was much more serious than signing a yearbook. Debbie Levy, author, collected these pages from her mother’s last album in 1938. 

These writings by Jutta’s friends are in their original state, with their English translations that open every free verse chapter. Each chapter tells the story of many goodbyes as Nazi Germans started a campaign to annihilate the Jewish people.  The author does a great job, with her mother, telling the story of her escape from Germany to her final destination in America. At the back of the book is a photo album of Jutta’s family/friends, a timeline of events and concludes with the fate of the signers of the poesiealbum.  A primary resource that can be used when teaching the Holocaust.

Author Website

Bomb: The Race to Build-and Steal-The World’s Most Dangerous Weapon

Bomb: The Race to Build–and Steal-the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon

By Steve Sheinkin

New York: Roaring Book Press, 2012.

266 Pages

Grades 6 and Up

This award winning book lived up to all the accolades it has received. It is a Newbery Honor Book, National Book Award Finalist, and Sibert Medal Winner to name a few! I found this book interesting, engaging and totally enjoyable non-fiction novel!  It reads like fiction but Steve Sheinkin, the author, does a masterful job of making this book come alive.  This is a story of how the atom bomb was made in the U.S., who all the players were, how badly other countries wanted this same technology, the roles that spies and sympathizers played, and the greater meaning of what the bomb meant once it was unleashed against Japan.Bomb


I spent time reading through the source notes and the quotation notes to see how Sheinkin constructed such a gripping piece of non-fiction. It is rich in content and gives excellent facts but the most important piece for me was how thought provoking it was.  The means of how far a country might go to steal, destroy or deceive in order to have the “upper hand” or the remorse that some had in creating a device that can wipe out humankind.  It is a story that is so very relevant to today—perhaps it should be a required read for schools.


Lincoln’s Grave Robbers

lincolns-grave-robbersLincoln’s Grave Robbers

By Steve Sheinkin

New York:  Scholastic, 2012

Pages 214

Grades 5 and up.


Bad guys who like to make counterfeit money, bribe everyone, steal dead corpses and the good guy crime fighters sounds like the perfect mix for a thrilling fiction novel set back in the late 1800’s to the early 1900’s.  It is thrilling but this story, is true crime!  Sheinkin has taken many little known facts about crime in this era and has written this engaging story of the men who conspired to steal President Abraham Lincoln’s body in exchange for cash and a prisoner—Benjamin Boyd.  Boyd almost single handedly brought down the United States economy with his skillful counterfeit bills.  “By 1864 an astounding 50 percent of the money in circulation was fake”(28). What makes this even more exciting Ben Boyd hails from Cincinnati, Ohio as well William Cunningham who was a notorious body snatcher.  Ghouls, as they were affectionately called might have held a couple of bodies for ransom but the real money was to be made by medical schools needing fresh bodies for students to practice on. Short chapters and some interesting pictures make this a great read!