First Flag of New Hampshire by Stephanie Burkhart

High schooler Alyssa Rydel is taking American Studies for her college prep course. She knows it’s a tough class, and she hopes she can juggle her schoolwork, a part-time job, and track meets. Paired with new student, Miguel DeSoto, the two are assigned to find the first flag of New Hampshire. The flag has only flown four times in New Hampshire’s past. Can they track the flag through history before time is up?

Stephanie Burkhart makes history fun in this engaging middle school/young adult story. First Flag of New Hampshire brings together a small cast of characters in a school setting, along with other points of interest in New Hampshire. With Miguel being new to the area, details can be shared with readers without weighing down the story with too much information. The back to school season also allows Miguel to witness the glory of living in New England, which is different from his previous home in Miami. I also like that Burkhart manages to provide a fair amount of background for her characters even though the book is under 40 pages.

The artwork is crafted by Ginger Nielson, who is a children’s book illustrator and author. I was already familiar with Nielson’s work prior to this book. She does a lovely job for First Flag of New Hampshire. In addition to the beautiful cover art–which clearly depicts fall in New England–her interior black and white illustrations include just the right amount of detail to complement the story.

Readers who like solving mysteries or learning about the past will enjoy First Flag of New Hampshire. This would also make a great addition to a school library. I look forward to more from this author.

Rating:  🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

  • Paperback:36 pages
  • Publisher:4RV Publishing LLC (February 21, 2012)
  • Language:English
  • ISBN-10:0983801835
  • ISBN-13: 978-0983801832
  • SRP: $15.99

I received a free copy of this book from the author. This review includes my honest opinions, for which I was not compensated in any way.

Just Breeze by Beverly Stowe McClure

For every tween/teen girl who has felt like nothing good is ever going to happen, here comes Just Breeze, the latest release from Beverly Stowe McClure.

Breeze Brannigan quickly finds that eighth grade is destined to start out like every other school year: she still towers over her classmates, her shoes are big enough to belong to a clown, the reflection off her braces could start a small fire, and her hair is still uncontrollable and very red.

In walks Cam, the new boy in school who is different from all the other boys Breeze knows.  He must be from another planet.  As time moves on, Breeze discovers Cam might be an earthling, but he is definitely hiding something; and when Cam trusts Breeze with his secret, a secret that could put Cam and his mother in danger, Breeze is determined to help Cam keep that secret, no matter what!

As much as I enjoyed McClure’s Rebel in Blue Jeans, Just Breeze is one hundred times better. With this book, McClure’s writing has evolved into something that movies are made of.  The mystery behind Cam’s sudden appearance and how he works his way slowly into Breeze’s life when she expected this year to be just as nondescript as the others, is well done and keeps readers turning the pages.

Breeze could have been you or me (several years ago) or many of the other young girls who struggle to find their place in a family and a peer set where fitting in isn’t easy or siblings seem to be much more talented than you.

But even girls who don’t seem to fit in have friends, and Breeze’s friend Amy is perfect for her. The reader will enjoy their banter and their adventures.  What I thought was a unique twist in Just Breeze is that it isn’t Breeze who has a nemesis, but Amy. Allison is the new girl at school and she does a lot of cruddy stuff to Breeze and Amy, and she seems to like Amy’s boyfriend Tony, which puts the girls immediately at odds with Breeze somewhere in the middle.

McClure starts off with an excellent set of characters, tosses in a superb plot, and comes up with a major winner.  I think this is her first book with 4RV Publishing, and I have to say I am impressed with the quality product they put out.  Attractive font, fabulous cover illustrations from Aidana WillowRaven, and thorough editing.

Not only will Just Breeze make the perfect gift for your tween/teen reader, it will be a book that is read time and again because it is just that good!  I hope to see more collaborations between Beverly Stowe McClure and 4RV Publishing.

Rating:  🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

  • Publisher: 4RV Publishing LLC
  • ISBN-10: 0984070826
  • ISBN-13: 978-0984070824
  • SRP: $15.99

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