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

January 10th, 2016 by

Terrible Typhoid MarySubmitted by Reese, Age 11 from New York

Rating: ★★★★½

This historical fiction book was great! Mary Mallon is the deadliest cook in America, and most of the houses Mary worked for, one or more people in that house caught typhoid fever soon after Mary cooked a meal for them but mostly it happened when she made her famous homemade ice cream with peaches on top. Dr. George Soper became aware of this and accused her of being the cause of these epidemics. If you like historical fiction this book would be a great choice for you!

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

January 4th, 2016 by

Terrible Typhoid MarySubmitted by logan, Age 11 from New York

Rating: ★★★★★

This book is the top health story in my time!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The Vikings (Guts & Glory series): Book Review

August 9th, 2015 by

You know what’s hot right now? The Norse Vikings. They’re everywhere!

Hammering his way to the big screen in the Marvel superhero comic book movies is Thor — or if you prefer to root for the bad guys, Loki:


Have you caught flight with Toothless, Hiccup, and the other Vikings from How to Train Your Dragon?


And of course, there’s also the highly anticipated upcoming Rick Riordan series, Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard.

Magnus Chase Gods of Asgard Sword of the Summer_Rick Riordan

Guts and Glory The Vikings_Ben ThompsonSo, like I said: Vikings are everywhere! But those are fictionalized, reimagined portrayals of Vikings folklore. To get the lowdown on what was really going on in the Viking Age (from the late 8th to 11th centuries), you should check out Guts & Glory: The Vikings by Ben Thompson.

This is the second book in the Guts and Glory series (the first one covers the American Civil War), and it describes the history, daily lifefamous persons, and adventures of the Vikings — which includes a lot of pillaging, plundering, and murdering (henceforth known as PP&M).

I have to admit: I haven’t read nonfiction in a while, so I was worried that I’d be a little bored reading this book. But as it turns out, I wasn’t bored at all because the book is really clever and funny and portrays history as it should always be portrayed: just as fascinating as the present and future. Vikings were way too kick-butt to ever be boring!

Now, back to the whole “Vikings are everywhere” thing I was saying before: While we love us some Norse name dropping here, there, and everywhere, it’s a good that the Vikings are not actually around today. Because they are scary. Not like, “Oh no! A ghost!” scary. But like, “Uh oh, I better flee for my life from my burning village!” scary. And this book has all the juicy details about the PP&M that happened back then. It’s so juicy that the Viking adventures read like fiction, but amazingly (and sometimes horrifyingly), those events literally happened.

While we all love some exciting PP&M, my favorite part of the book was finding out about specific Vikings’ names. Here are some great ones, and the page number in the book to find out more:

Ragnar Hairy-Breeches
“…rescued a princess from the clutches of a giant evil serpent by constructing homemade armor and stuffing horsehair down his pants…” (Page 27)
Magnus Barelegs
“…conquered Scotland, loved kilts, and decided to wear them all the time…” Page 54)
Harald Fairhair (also known as Harald Greathair)
“…the first true king of Norway… a man not only known for a mighty propensity for carving through his enemies like a Thanksgiving turkey but also rocking a head of epically glorious hair…” (Page 121)
Turgeis the Devil
Seriously the worst, a short description can’t even do it justice. (Page 44)

In light of this, I thought it only appropriate to come up with some Kidsmomo-specific Viking-style names:

Karen the Ravenous: While she devoted much of her life to great passions (literature, education, equality), her one true love was food.

Nancy Night-Dweller: Preferring night hours, she was hardly ever alert during the day (but ironically, was super creeped out by vampires).

My only gripe about the book? In the chapter about Norse mythology and religion, it describes the universe as organized as a “World Tree.” The author casually mentions:

“As an excellent side note, there is a big eagle sitting at the top of the World Tree, and a little squirrel named Drill-Tooth spends all day running back and forth to pass insults between the eagle and Nidhogg the dragon.”

Uh, SIDE NOTE, Ben Thompson? How about more information on that tidbit?! MORE DRILL-TOOTH! MORE DRILL-TOOTH!


Drill-Tooth remembers he has to deliver a killer zing.

Okay, I get it. Maybe there wasn’t any research and information about Drill-Tooth. But I bet that squirrel was just nuts.

— Nancy

icon_nancyNancy Night-Dweller finished writing this blog post at 4:19 AM.

More about Nancy »

Saving the Ghost of the Mountain by Sy Montgomery

October 8th, 2014 by

Saving the Ghost of the MountainSubmitted by Rhiannon, Age 10 from New York

Rating: ★★★★½

This is a outstanding book about a field biologist Tom and his trip the save the endangered Snow Leopards. His trip takes him to Gobi, Bayantooroi, and Mongolia. This a amazing book and I hope you read it.

Titanic: Voices from the Disaster – Book Review

April 14th, 2012 by

titanic-voices-from-the-disasterTomorrow, April 15th, 2012, marks the 100-year anniversary of the sinking of the great ship Titanic. Almost everyone has heard of the Titanic — but if you’re a history buff like me, you’ll want to pick up Deborah Hopkinson’s new book, Titanic: Voices from the Disaster.

The book is, of course, nonfiction — but as I was reading it, I found myself sucked into 1912. I kept hoping it was a tragic made-up story — only to remember that this actually happened. Warning: this book will probably make you cry. So many people perished, but many people were really brave, too — like the husbands who insisted their wives and children get into the limited lifeboats, knowing that they themselves would drown in the icy waters.

It’s not all sad, though — at the beginning of the book, I found out a lot about the luxurious cabins and accommodations, along with how a 882.5-foot hunk of steel travels so quickly in the water. Did you know that most photos of the Titanic are actually photos of its sister ship, the Olympic? Or that there was a swimming pool and gymnasium on the ship, which is pretty normal on cruise ships these days, but was quite an advancement in 1912? I especially liked the photo of a man riding a “camel machine.”

Confession: I’m kind of scared of boats and sea travel (and this book did not help!), so I don’t actually know much about ships. Well, the glossary at the end came to my rescue — I learned just exactly what a collapsible, a davit, and a bulkhead are.

At the end of the book was a nice section on actual people mentioned in the book, and what happened to them after they were rescued by the Carpathia. For the uber-nerds out there, *cough* like me *cough* the charts and statistics about the Titanic were pretty interesting too.

So, like mentioned earlier — if you’re a history buff, pick up this book and sail away to 1912… But if you cry at the drop of a hat, this book might not be for you!

— Nancy

Nancy just realized she’s lived on islands for about 1/3 of her life. Thank goodness for bridges and air travel.

The Big Book of How: Guest Book Review

June 9th, 2011 by

Today, we have another guest book review from our friend, Brent Lazo whom we might as well start calling the nonfiction guru. After his awesometastic reviews of The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Gross Junior Edition and Sports Illustrated Kids All Access, we asked Brent for his take on a fact-packed book that just hit the shelves last week. Here’s his review:

Have you ever seen something so cool or so interesting that you couldn’t help but wonder: “How?” How is that possible? How does that work? How did they do that?

Or maybe there are everyday things that you never really considered, but now that you think of it… how do they work? Making some microwave popcorn before settling in for a movie? Well, have you ever thought about how your microwave heats up food? And the popcorn itself — how is it that it pops? And how does your stomach digest the popcorn after you’ve eaten it?

TIME for Kids: The Big Book of How puts answers to these and many other questions right at your fingertips, and it’s full of great pictures and illustrations that help bring everything to life. What impressed me most about this book was not just the content itself (more on that in a moment), but the sheer amount of topics covered (501 facts in total, according to the cover!). The Big Book of How lives up to its name and will leave you with a whole slew of knowledge to impress (or annoy) your friends with.

The book is divided into 11 topic-specific chapters that make it easy to navigate through all of the interesting info. You’ll get answers on subjects like Animals, Sports, Transportation, the Human Body, and Science. [Note: If you’re currently rocking out and blasting your favorite tunes through your headphones, might I suggest you read the “How Does Loud Music Hurt Your Hearing” section?]

The Big Book of How also pairs each chapter with fun and relevant activities (read about how ice cream is made, and then go make it yourself!), plus additional “factoids” that give some more interesting details about the topics at hand.

So if you’ve got some questions and you want some answers, then The Big Book of How is for you.

— Brent

Brent enjoys music, sports, the Charlotte Bobcats, and reading nonfiction; and he used to carry a 204 bowling average. These days, he can often be found training for his next half-marathon.



Review copy provided by the publisher.

Kidsmomo Podcast #49: “Nothing But the Truth”

May 31st, 2011 by

How was the microwave invented? Why would someone create glasses for chickens? And where on Earth can you visit Mars? Answers to these questions — and more — in our latest podcast, all about wacky, weird, gross, and real nonfiction books! PLUS, Karen gives just about the worst dating advice ever. AND she keeps saying the word “zedonk.” Yep, this podcast really is a winner!

    Listen now: 

    Download the MP3 (5 MB)

  • From monarch butterfly life cycles to temperature-related nightmares — some of our favorite factoids!
  • Our “crazy-but-true” nonfiction book picks (100 Most Awesome Things On the Planet and Ripley’s Believe It or Not: Special Edition 2011)
  • A nonfiction book review from YOU (Chew On This)
  • First dog poop, then koala poop — we take turns grossing each other out… Enjoy!

UPDATE 6/14/11: Wanna know the book? Listen for the answer in our “Animal House” Podcast, all about multi-animal adventure books.

— Karen and Nancy

Worst-Case Scenario Handbook – Gross Edition: Guest Book Review

May 29th, 2011 by

Today, we have a guest book review from our friend, Brent Lazo. He’s big into nonfiction and he has terrible hygiene, so we thought he’d be a perfect fit to review this book about how to deal with all the disgusting facts of life. JUST KIDDING! (Brent, you know we’re joking, right?) Seriously, though, check out his take on the book a recommended read for our Wacky, Gross, Weird, and Real theme:

We’ve all been there before. Your day is going great when suddenly, without warning, you find yourself thrown right into the middle of a situation so gross you aren’t even sure what year it is any more. Like that time when your best friend ran over to tell you about the Justin Bieber concert and began bombarding you with an unstoppable fury of terrible breath stench. Or when you had lunch with that kid who spits so much when he talks that all you could think about was saying, “Hey bro, give me the news, not the weather!”

Well, don’t panic. The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Gross Junior Edition has got you covered. With just a little bit of knowledge and preparation, many of these less-than-enjoyable situations can easily be tamed. In this book, you’ll find helpful tips that will get you through such grossness as an untimely bout of gas, a gnarly wart, the school bathroom, and even a skunk attack.

Sample pages from The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Gross Junior Edition -- Click to enlarge!

The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Gross Junior Edition is presented with a healthy dose of humor that fits perfectly — given that the topics include boogers, farts, and even several types of poop! And it’s loaded with additional fun facts that supplement each chapter very nicely. I’m not sure that I needed to know 15 different synonyms for “barf”… but, hey, no complaints here. And if you want to play a joke on your friends (disclaimer: at your own risk, of course!), be sure to take a look at the fake poop “recipe” in the Appendix.

If you can stomach reading about some pretty disgusting things, then you should check out The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Gross Junior Edition. Potentially disastrous situations can strike when you least expect them, and it pays to be prepared. I’ll admit that before discovering this book, I wasn’t too familiar with the Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook series, but they sure would have come in handy back when I was in school!

So grab this book and keep it nearby. You never know when your day might take a turn for the gross. Wouldn’t you rather be prepared the next time you find yourself in a close encounter with the “spit-talker”?

— Brent

Brent enjoys music, sports, the Charlotte Bobcats, and reading nonfiction; and he used to carry a 204 bowling average. These days, he can often be found training for his next half-marathon.

Review copy provided by the publisher.

Video Time: Trivia Challenge!

May 25th, 2011 by

Our current theme is Wacky, Gross, Weird — and Real, meaning books packed with crazy but true facts about this amazing world we live in. In fact, some of the facts are so crazy, they sound more like fiction to us, and we got to thinking… could YOU tell what’s real and what’s not?

Watch our Kidsmomo Trivia Challenge video and play along! Can YOU distinguish the facts from the lies?

Wacky, Gross, Weird, and Real: Nonfiction Books

May 17th, 2011 by

Did you know that a slinky can stretch from a sixth-floor window to the ground? Or that a “zedonk” is a cross between a female donkey and a male zebra? Or that the government used to operate a top-secret military base underground in Colorado — and it included an on-site dentist’s office?! These are just a few of the totally crazy but completely real factoids you’ll discover in these “strange but true” nonfiction books (in no particular order):

  1. 100 Most Awesome Things On The Planet (Karen’s pick)
  2. Ripley’s Believe It or Not: Special Edition 2011 (Nancy’s pick)
  3. The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook Gross Junior Edition
  4. TIME for Kids BIG Book of Why: 1,001 Facts Kids Want to Know
  5. A Really Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson
  6. Weird But True: 300 Outrageous Facts
  7. Scholastic Book Of World Records 2011
  8. Pick Me Up by Jeremy Leslie, David Roberts, Roger Bridgman, Philip Wilkinson
  9. Scholastic Book of Lists
  10. Do Not Open by John Farndon

(Also, here’s a printable version of our “Wacky, Gross, Weird — and Real” booklist, for you to take to the library or bookstore — or memorize so you can win big on game shows.)

If you’ve read any of these, send in your book review. Or send in a review of your favorite nonfiction book.

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