Posted in Adult Fiction, Book, Book Review, Reading




from Page 91:  “Her father had proven to them all when a beating heart stopped, there was no black or white, only blood-red.”

John Brown, the white abolitionist who led the raid on the federal armory at Harper’s Ferry, Virginia (now West Virginia), is the father of one of the main characters in this book.  John Brown was hung on December 2, 1859, as the raid was a failure and his actions and beliefs were a threat to the pro-slavery South.  This book is an historic novel based on the Brown family and one of his many children, Sarah Brown, a talented artist.

Two tales intertwine, one chapter at a time.  One is set in the 1850-1860s.  The next chapter is set in the current day.  The chapters see-saw between these two periods, between two women, set over 150 years apart.

John Brown harbors runaway slaves in their Plattsburg, New York home as the slaves are heading towards Canada.  Sarah has had a devastating diagnosis that leaves her unable to have children.  In those days, that probably also meant that she would never marry.  She wanted to have a life with meaning despite this huge disappointment.  Sarah Brown was an artist and, at an early age, she discovered her father hiding slaves from plantations in their home.  Her father knew she could draw.  In order to communicate to ones who could not read or who could not decipher directions, Sarah was able to use her talent to serve the Underground Railroad, first through the help of her father.  With the hanging death of her father in 1859, Sarah took her heart’s desire to aid the runaway slaves and the Underground Railroad as her own.  By drawing and painting maps, Sarah Brown helped the slaves to understand where the safe stations were on the UGRR and how to get there.

Eden and Jack move into a house once used by the Underground Railroad.  As the history of the house gradually becomes evident, the lives of Eden and Sarah become interwoven like warp and woof by commonalities, i.e., children (inability to conceive/not having any), desire to be a part of something larger than themselves, loss, disappointments, and love.

Sarah McCoy has done extensive research of the slave code quilts and the use of these on the UGRR, the Underground Railroad itself, the methods of hiding runaway slaves as they made their way north to Canada, the maps used to guide these slaves (drawn within a painting, even on the heads of dolls).  It is a well-crafted novel, filled with history (although the author admits in the Prologue that she took a writers’ privilege to change some things in order to fit her story).

All in all, it was a good story, well worth the reading.  And a satisfying read!


Sarah McCoy was born in Fort Knox, Kentucky, the daughter of an Army officer from Oklahoma and a Puerto Rican elementary school teacher.  She moved often as military families do, but they were stationed in Virginia for fourteen years so Sarah calls Virginia home, and Puerto Rico, where her grandparents and extended family live, her home-home.

She “is the New York Times, USA Today, and international bestselling author of The Mapmaker’s Children; The Baker’s Daughter, a 2012 Goodreads Choice Award Best Historical Fiction nominee; the novella “The Branch of Hazel,” featured in the anthology Grand Central; and The Time It Snowed in Puerto Rico.

“Sarah’s work has been featured in Real Simple, The Millions, Your Health Monthly, Huffington Post and other publications. She has taught English writing at Old Dominion University and at the University of Texas at El Paso.”

Sarah lives with her husband, an Army physician in El Paso, Texas.  Her online presence can be found at


Book Information:

ISBN-13: 9780385348904

Publisher: The Crown Publishing Group (a subsidiary of Random House)

Publication Date: 05/05/2015

Pages: 320

Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.20(d



Posted in Book, Book Review, Children's, Picture Book, Poetry, Reading



Since I just reviewed an Eric Carle book, I thought I would follow it with his latest.  THE NONSENSE SHOW is totally crazy and wacky!  It exudes nonsense and imaginative voice.  The book jacket labels the work “nonsense and surrealism,” sparking “creativity and imagination.”

I looked up the definition of “surrealism” and found that it means “to feature the element of surprise, unexpected juxtapositions and non sequitur.”  Then I looked up non sequitur to make sure I understood what I was about to say in this review: non sequitur means an inference or a conclusion that does not follow from the premises; a statement containing an illogical conclusion.

OH, MY!  I thought I was looking at and reading an Eric Carle book, not a big-words-for-us-little-kids book!  But by those definitions, this colorful, wacky book does just all of those things.  Objects are placed backwards, upside-down, all turned around.  Words say things that are not; they come at the reader with silliness and unpredictability.

A bird is swimming in an aquarium while just across the double page is a fish in a bird cage.


A woman with a tennis racquet gets ready to hit the ball.

She says,

“‘What a funny-looking ball,’

Thought the tennis ace

And wound up

With applesauce

In her face.”   (the ball was an apple)

Every double page is full of silly characters–people or animals acting in reverse of what we would imagine.  Silly things are said that just don’t make much, if any, sense at all.  It is just plain CRAZY!!

Eric Carle’s wonderful art is at its usual best–colorful, bright, bold, and wonderful.

Reading Level:  3 – 7 Years


Eric Carle was born in Syracuse, New York, in 1929.  In 1935, his parents returned to their home of Germany where Mr. Carle was educated.  He attended a prestigious art school in Stuttgart, Germany, Akademie der bilenden Künste.  He dreamed of returning to America and, in 1952, he did.  He worked for the promotion department of The New York Times and then became the art director of an advertising agency.

Bill Martin, Jr. saw an ad done by Eric Carle and called to see if he would illustrate a children’s book he had written.  This collaboration is known to the world today as “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?”  His world changed.  He began writing and illustrating his own children’s books.

“Eric Carle has two grown-up children, a son and a daughter.  He divides his time between the Florida Keys and the hills of North Carolina.”  **

He and his wife, Bobbi, dreamed of and built The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, MA.  They “were interested in developing enthusiasts for the art of picture books and in encouraging the habit of museum going in our younger visitors. Children’s picture book art is the introduction to art for young people, and we wanted to show the highest examples of that art to demonstrate the beauty, the seriousness and the fun of it. We wanted to create a museum that exhibits the work of national and international picture book artists.”  **  PLUS…his museum site has activities and games, resources, and so much more.

You can also find him at his own website and blog here –

If you love to read Eric Carle’s books with your children and want activities to go along with them, I suggest doing a search for “activities Eric Carle” (or a few other similar words).  There is a plethora of creative activities to go with each of his books amassed on the internet for your perusal and use.

Book Information: 

ISBN-13: 9780399176876
Publisher:  Penguin Young Readers Group 
Publication date: 10/13/2015
Pages: 40
Product dimensions: 9.20(w) x 12.30(h) x 0.50(d)



**  information from The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art