History for Kids – California Gold Rush

Not long ago we were in San Francisco listening to a presentation on local history. Even though I am a native Californian, I must have slept through the history lessons in class. The discussion prompted me to check out a few books from the library, all of them children’s books. I confess I don’t usually enjoy the history books written for grown ups, and I usually don’t finish them. But kids books? Easy peasy.

Here’s a couple I read recently:

By Jean Blashfield

My GoodReads Review

This children’s book is a potpourri of facts about the Gold Rush. There are some social commentaries thrown in as if they were facts, but not enough to taint the book completely.

Interesting photos and timelines are included. The book is not very colorful, as it is done in sepia and lighter yellow tones.

If giving this to a kid to read, the kid will either need to be writing a report for school, or be extremely interested in facts related to that era. 

I gave the book a three star review.

By Caroline Attia

Here’s my brief GoodReads Review

Good art and an interesting story. When my 10 year old read it, she told me she wanted to know what happened next.

I gave the book a four star review, mainly because it was interesting. I don’t know that I had read anything that also included the Chinese immigrant perspective.

These two books are the lightest of the five books we got from the library. A good starting point, perhaps, for someone interested in expanding their knowledge on this era.

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Al Capone Does My Shirts – Book Review

This book, at one point, Al Capone Does My Shirts, made me angry. I love the premise of following a 12-year-old boy, Moose, as he and his family move into staff housing on Alcatraz. The set up is interesting, and the scenes with the warden and other details were also good.

What bugged me most was the kid’s mother. And the “love interest” (I assume she’ll become a love interest). Mainly because both were infuriating. Perhaps this is a sign of a good book? When you care for the main character enough to dislike those people who are mistreating him, I suppose you could make an argument that the author has succeeded in her mission.

Eventually the tension resolved and I was able to finish the book. But for awhile there, I absolutely hated some of the things I was reading.

Book cover
The back cover of Al Capone Does My Shirts

This is book one of a series. It ends on an interesting note. Looks like there will be more shenanigans on Alcatraz and in the City. I’m not sure I liked the book enough to pick up book number two. Although I do like stories that have Alcatraz in them.

The book is by Gennifer Choldenko and you can view a Kindle preview on Amazon by clicking here. Book One in the Tales from Alcatraz series. For young people and young at heart people.

I gave the book three stars. I liked it (by the end), but I wasn’t thrilled or inspired by it.

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