Review: Spy on History: Victor Dowd and the WWII Ghost Army

I’ve been reading a lot of middle grade fiction lately, maybe I’m just way too excited for my big 7 year-old to be reading with me.  When asked to look at this middle grade non-fiction book I was way too curious to pass it up.

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Spy on History: Victor Dowd and the WWII Ghost Army, Enigma Alberti

Published January 23rd 2018 by Workman Publishing Company
Hardcover, 96 pages
Source: Finished copy received from publisher

Your mission: Find Victor Dowd’s missing sketchbook. And discover one of the most unusual stories of World War II.

Meet the 603rd Camouflage Engineers, better known as the Ghost Army. This group of artists and sound engineers were trained to deceive the Germans in World War II with everything from fake tanks to loudspeakers broadcasting the sound of marching troops. And meet Victor Dowd, a real-life sergeant who with his fellow Ghost Army troops fought his way from Normandy, through France, and eventually across the Rhine.

First of all, why have I not heard of the Ghost Army?  A whole unit devoted to fooling Hitler and the Nazis with artwork, sound effects and clever camouflage – what an amazing story!  I read this almost entirely in a train ride, so less than an hour, a fast read but I was completely engrossed.  Yes, this was written for kids but my interest is piqued and I will be finding some more titles on this unit to read soon.
This book didn’t talk down to the young reader but made the Ghost Army’s story engaging by talking about Victor Dowd and his experiences as an artist being used to paint planes and trucks to trick the Nazis about the soldiers and units in place.  I haven’t looked at kids’ nonfiction since I was a kid and I wasn’t sure how it would come together.  Victor’s individual story made it compelling on an individual level I think and then makes the branching out into the rest of the Ghost Army easier for a young reader who might not be used to nonfiction.  
And then there are the spy tools.  Spy tools!  My daughter wasn’t interested in the topic – she is too young and this isn’t her thing – but even she was ready to break out the spy tools to solve the mystery of the missing sketchbook.  These were awesome!
I loved this book! I will definitely be gifting copies to some young readers in my life and sending it to my daughter’s school.  I can’t wait to pick up Enigma Alberti’s first Spy on History book, Mary Bowser and the Civil War Spy Ring -that is a topic we’ve talked about at home so I hope the kid is ready. 
Thank you so much Workman Publishing for this copy in exchange for an honest opinion!

Review: P. Zonka Lays An Egg

Review: P. Zonka Lays an Egg, Julie Paschkis

Amanda & Babycakes

Published March 1st 2015 by Peachtree Publishers

Hardcover, 32 pages

Source: ALA Midwinter meeting

23116074Description from Goodreads:

Extraordinary hen P. Zonka spends her time taking in the beauty around her: shiny green grass, buttery yellow dandelions, deep blue sky. The other hens can’t understand why she never lays eggs like they do. Finally, P. Zonka gives in and lays an egg. To everyone’s delight, she produces a wondrous egg containing all the colors and designs that she stores in her imagination.

This will be a short and sweet review for this sweet and beautiful children’s book.  If you’re filling an Easter basket make sure P. Zonka is in it!  This book bright and cheerful and the eggs that P. Zonka lays are seriously gorgeous!  Babycakes and I loved that P. Zonka is happy just doing her own thing every day. She’s not worried about how many eggs one needs to lay.

Added bonus, I loved the end notes about the Ukrainian origins of the eggs and P. Zonka’s name.  You need to read this happy little book!

5 stars!

Thank you Peachtree Publishers for this galley copy!