Queen Elizabeth II by Brenda & Brian Williams

  • Title: DK Life Series: Queen Elizabeth II
  • Publisher: DK Penguin Random House
  • Estimated Publication Date: October 20, 2020
  • Grade Level: 2-5
  • Reading Level: 7-10 years
  • Lexile: Unknown

Note: I received an early release copy of this title from the publisher on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Any images, quotes, information I share are from an unedited copy.


Let me tell you, I have read a lot of biographies, auto-biographies, and memoirs on royalty. My main focus has been Queen Victoria, her descendants, and historic & current royalty from all over the world. I have not limited my search of information on the topic having read books for kids, teens, and adults books on the subject. Add to the reading, binging every documentary on monarch history. I just find it fascinating. With that in mind, I went into this read expecting to just see how the book was designed for children and review a few facts. Imagine my surprise at actually learning A LOT about Queen Elizabeth that I had never even known! Yes, this book is written for youth, but it still exceptionally comprehensive.

The biography shares a huge period of time, as it covers the story of Queen Elizabeth’s life from birth to today. Considering that the Queen is currently 94 years old, readers are getting nearly a full century of history, The book begins with a letter to readers that shares some quick facts about Queen Elizabeth (she is the longest reigning monarch; she was never supposed to be queen; she grew up during World War II; she dedicated her life to service). I especially like that this letter also explains the role of Queen Elizabeth in a government where she does not actually have any power. That is a really confusing concept that most adults do not fully understanding. Especially those of us in the States. Meanwhile, this note is sure to catch reader’s interest and keep them reading.

The art here is gorgeous. It is filled with several photographs combined with adorable cartoon/comic like images in a soft, pastel pallet. Honestly, this book is just so visually appealing. Throughout the book terms and ideas are defined and detailed. For example, on page 11 “Caesarean section” is defined, and on page 13 the event of a General Strike is described. Further, small images of with quick facts abound throughout. There are even pages reminiscent of a comic splash page to highlight or accentuate quotes, etc. Readers will meet many historical figures along with Queen of Elizabeth while reading, as history-makers and leaders are often described and pictured. Other features include: Quiz with answers in the back, index, glossary (which is exhaustive and illustrated), a Who’s Who (which we need when it comes to royalty), beautifully illustrated timeline, and family tree- also illustrated.

To learn more about this title check out this link.

Sources: Table of Contents (p. 2-3), The Grand Wedding (p.54-55) , General Strike “Spalsh-like” page (p.13)


I would recommend this book to students working on research, it would be a remarkable source for reports! I also recommend this book to any young people interested in history, fairy tales and princesses. Finally, with the popularity of the Netflix series, The Crown, I believe the would be an awesome family read! Parents who enjoyed the Netflix series would love reading this with their children.

Further Resources

The Queen’s Own YouTube Channel
  • Find the Queen on Facebook here
  • Find the Queen on Twitter here
  • Find the Queen on Instagram here


DK Life Series: Queen Elizabeth II is on order at the Frankfort Community Library and will be available for check out soon! In the meantime check out these books about other important historical figures:

  • DK Life Series: Martin Luther King Jr– From Goodreads, “IN this biography, discover the amazing story of Martin Luther King Jr, whose powerful words and dreams for the future inspired the world.
  • DK Life Series: Alexander Hamilton– From Goodreads, “In this kids’ biography, discover the amazing life story of Alexander Hamilton, Found Father of the United States who work as an American statesman and strong personality made him an icon of history and popular culture.”

Let’s Make Ramen by Hugh Amano and Sarah Becan

A Comic Book Cookbook

  • Title: Let’s Make Ramen: A Comic Book Cookbook
  • Author: Hugh Amano
  • Illustrator: Sarah Becan
  • Publisher: Ten Speed Press
  • Copyright Date: 2019
  • Age ranges: 12- up

Creating in the kitchen is a popular hobby for all ages and the opportunity to learn how to make unique and international dishes is even better! This hybrid, comic book cookbook is a delightful opportunity to learn about a different culture, the history of a Ramen- which is growing in popularity in the United States, and try some new recipes. The book begins with an introduction of the author, also a chef, Hugh Amano and the comic illustrator, Sarah Beacon.

Hugh Amano is an executive chef at Sterling Bay and was educated at the New England Culinary Institute (LinkedIn). He is also the author of Adventures of Fat Rice. According to Sarah Becan‘s website she is an “illustrator, designer and comic artist” and “she likes to draw food”. She was also involved in the Adventures of Fat Rice project. Other work from Beacon include I Think Your Saucemone, The Complete Ouija Interviews,and Shuteye: Six Tales of Dreams and Dreamers. I encourage you to check out each of these titles as they sound intriguing. Links to more information on each are embedded in the text.

There is just so much good to say about this unique book! It is a cookbook, it is a history, it is an introduction to a different culture, it is shares the perfectionism and artistry that is Ramen, and it is filled with over 40 different recipes! Let’s Make Ramen includes a brief introduction, history of the unique dishes and culture, an about the author, and a complete index of recipes. Each page is FILLED with gorgeous illustrations. Most important, this duo make the possibility of making Ramen seem doable, as each recipe is shared with step-by-step instructions and the explanative images.

Slideshow images include: “A Brief History of Ramen” (p. 2), an example of the gorgeous chapter intro splash pages (p.1), instructions on how to make seafood broth (p. 69), a Japanese Raman-YA (p. 15), the story of the Onsen Eggs (p. 106), introduction on how to enjoy Ramen (p. 7), like many other cookbooks this comic cookbook shares pages on necessary pantry ingredients for Ramen making (p.16),

Curious to learn about little more about America’s recent and growing interest in Ramen? Check this New Yorker article, “America’s Ramen Obsession, from Maruchan to Momofuku” (link in embedded in text). Or take a little virtual trip to Japan and learn about the a day in the life of a Ramen Chef.

Let’s Make Ramen is an excellent edition to a collection for so many reasons. It represents a unique example of a hybrid book that combines history, facts, comics, and recipes. The book instructs on how to prepare Ramen in simple, yet detailed, instructions making the process a possibility for teenage readers. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in Japanese culture, travel, or those teens who love to scroll Pinterest looking for recipes to try. Just imagine how amazing your Instagram feed will look with a picture of a perfect bowl of Ramen that made by you!

Awards and nominations

  • Long listed for the Best Art of Eating Prize
  • Named One of the Best Cookbooks of the Year by the Chicago Tribune
  • One of YALSA’s Great Comic Books for Teens
  • Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Food & Cookbooks

Sources: Amazon & Goodreads


The Smart Girl’s Guide to Going Vegetarian by Rachel Meltzer Warren MS. RDN. Curious about what it takes to become a vegetarian or a vegan? Warren, a “nutrition writer, educator, and counselor”, shares a healthy and safe path in taking on the new lifestyle. The book contains an introduction from Warren, who became a vegetarian at 12 years old, and everything from what to do while eating out, to recipes, to how to ensure you are receiving enough nutrients.

Hack Your Cupboard by Alyssa Wiegand and Carla Carreon shares elegant recipes that require simple pantry ingredients. This cookbook shares tips for family recipes, dorm room dishes, and cooking in your first apartment. This is a great title to check out of the library or purchase for use through young adult life stages.

All of the books area available at FCPL so stop by to check on out today!


Amano, H., Becan, S. (2019). Let’s make Ramen: A comic book cookbook. Ten Speed Press.

“Hugh Amano”. (LinkedIN). Retrieved from: https://www.linkedin.com/in/hughamano/

“Let’s make Ramen: A comic book cookbook”. Amazon.

“Let’s make Ramen: A comic book cookbook”. Goodreads.

Rosner, H. (2018). “Americans Ramen obsession, from Maruchan to Momofuko”. The New Yorker.

“Sarah Beacon” (2018). Retrieved from: https://sarahbecan.com

Warren Meltzer, R. (2014). The smart girl’s guid to going vegetarian. Sourcebooks Fire.

Wiegard, A., Carreon, C. (2019). Hack your cupboard. Zest Books.

The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, & the Fall of Imperial Russia

  • Title: The Family Romanov: Murder Rebellion and the Fall of Imperial Russia
  • Author: Candace Fleming
  • Published: 2014 by Schartz and Wade Books
  • Interest Level: High School
  • Lexile Level: 940L
  • Reading Counts Points: 17

Source: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

The Book Trailer


Quite possibly one of the most captivating of history’s mysteries, the story of the last reigning Romanovs is filled with drama, tragedy, and intrigue. In The Family Romanov readers are offered an introduction to Russian history and Romanov rule. This provides a strong context in understanding Tsar Nicholas II’s constant series of fatal choices as a ruler. Raised in a bubble of wealth and educated to believe in the divine right of rulers, Nicholas often misunderstood the plight and starvation of his people. Additionally, he believed his choices and circumstances were directly from God. The need to provide an heir also weighed on the Tsar and Tsarina. They had four daughters before finally being given the little Tsarevich Alexei who was afflicted with hemophilia. Fleming (2014) quotes the Tsar’s diary account, “A hemorrhage began this morning without the slightest cause…It lasted until evening . The child was remarkably quiet and even merry but it was a dreadful thing to to live through such anxiety” (p.54) . With the hopes of the monarchy set on this one, sick, little boy, this family lived in perpetual fear and worry.

In sharing the Romanov’s story, Fleming’s is a family tale. The Tsar and Tsarina were deeply in love and delighted in their children. Each member of this historic family is brought to life as the unique, mischievous, and loving human beings they each were. Of course, the strangeness of Rasputin, who was often behind the Tsar’s poor political decisions, makes the story even more interesting. Only Rasputin was able to stop Alexei’s bleeding, even today historians do not know how he did that.

Slideshow images from The Family Romanov : The Winter Palace, Rasputin with the Romanovs, Olga, Tatiana, and a friend in Crimea, “Some of Moscow’s poorest citizens outside a shared house”, Alexandra at Alexei’s bedside (photo insert between pages 132-133).

There are lots of books on Russian history and this family, but what makes The Family Romanov unique is that the wealthy ruler’s perspective is interspersed with that of the poor, common people trying to survive in the harsh Russian climate and failed economy. Readers are treated to the complicated emotions on each side. While Nicholas was naive to the Russian people’s dire needs, he did care for his people. Meanwhile, there are accounts of Russian citizen’s which illustrate the awe and reverence for the Royal family.

This title is an excellent addition to any collection, especially due to its timeliness. The distribution of wealth at the fall of the Russian, is quite similar to the current U.S economy. Below is an image from the book illustrating the wealth distribution in Russia at that the turn of the twentieth century . Next is a graph describing the wealth distrubution in the U.S. in 2017. Certainly, this book shares one of history’s most cautionary tales and will allow readers a chance to analyze our current climate with that of the past.

Fleming (photo insert between pages 132-133)
Leonhardt (2017)


This book is filled with primary sources, maps, and many pictures of both rich and poor which are sure to capture a reader’s attention. There is are comprehensive Bibliography and Notes, as well as a Family Tree tracing the linage of Nicholas and Alexandra. Reader’s wanting to know more will enjoy the “Romanov’s Online” section, which directs to further resources. The book is told in four parts: “Before the Storm”, “Dark Clouds Gathering”, “The Storm Breaks”, and “Final Days”. The Family Romanov is available at my library as a physical book, an ebook, and an e-audiobook. I especially enjoy the audiobook, which is preformed by many voices and truly brings the story to life.

More Resources

Author’s website- includes resources and teaching guides


Boston Globe Horn Book Award for Nonfiction
Los Angeles Times
 Book Prize for Young Adult Literature
NCTE Orbis Pictus Award
Robert F. Sibert Nonfiction Honor Book
YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction FinalistALSC Notable Children’s Books, Older Readers, 2015  
 Editor’s Choice 2014
Booklist Editors Top of the List for Youth Nonfiction 2014
Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books Blue Ribbon 2014
Cybils Award in Nonfiction for Young Adults 2014
Horn Book Fanfare 2014
Huffington Post Great Kid Books for Gift-Giving 2014
Junior Library Guild selection
Kirkus Reviews Best Teen Book 2014
Los Angeles Times Literary Book Prize nominee  
New York Public Library Best Books for Teens 2014
Publishers Weekly Best Young Adult Books 2014
SCBWI Gold Kite Award for Nonfiction  
School Library Journal Best Book 2014
Wall Street Journal 2014
Washington Post Best Books for Kids 2014 

Source: candacefleming.com


If you like The Family Romanov you might also like:

Also from Fleming, The Fatal Throne: The Wives of Henry VIII Tell All is the stories of more royal tragedies. The wives of King Henry VIII are given a voice as their stories are explored from their own likely perspective.

To read about other people living through historically hard times check out, Crash: The Great Depression and the Fall and Rise of America in the 1930’s which shares personal stories of people living in the aftermath of the stock market crash.


Danielson, J. (2014). Sneaky peeks videos #21: Candace Fleming discusses The Family Romanov.

“The Family Romanov”. (2020). candaceflelming.com.

Fleming, C. (2014). The family Romanov: Murder, rebellion, and the fall of Imperial Russia. Schwartz & Wade.

“The last days of the Romanovs”. (2018). National Geographic.

Leonhardt, D. (2017). Our broken economy, in one simple chart. The New York Times.

Reading counts quick find. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

“The Haunted” & “The Unleashed” By Dianelle Vega

Sometimes You Need a Read that is just Chills and Thrills

The first book in this series didn’t “wow” me, to say the least. I only gave it two stars on Goodreads. However, I did find it interesting enough that when I heard there was a sequel I ordered the book. Now, The Unleashed scared the life out of me! Just 😳! Just Wow! Dang!

In my insta post I mention it is is like reading a horror movie. You know in a horror movie, there are several scary “night” scenes, broken up with scenes where the sun rises and things are less heart stopping? Then the movie builds to the finally terrifying scene. Well, this book is minus the sunrises. It is just non-stop horrifying moments until the final OMG culmination. Finally, it has an Epilogue that has me thinking there SURE BETTER BE THIRD BOOK!

If you love a good scare, then I recommend this book. Now, the question is should you skip the first one? No, I would read the first book, too. Even though it isn’t as scary, it does set up The Unleashed nicely. Also, to really understand Hendricks’s devotion to Eddie you will need the context of the first book. Think of it as the pilot of a series. Usually not the best episode but the story needs set up.

I recommend these books to fans of shows like Supernatural and Buffy the Vampier Slayer. What is your favorite scary read?



Sharing these because I found it fun to hear scary stories told by the author. I would love to hear her read The Unleashed.

“This is My America” by Kim Johnson

My Book Talk

I could not stop thinking about this book, it just consumed me. It made think about deep rooted issues in our country. It was suspenseful and just a great mystery. It caused me to reflect. I shared a blog post about this book on my library’s website. But on my own personal site, I wanted to share more from Kim Johnson and how she came to write this book. Click here to read my Bookgram review.

Meet Kim Johnson, Author of This is My America

Kim Johnson on NPR

Official Book Trailer



A memoir of a young man who grew up too fast on the streets, without a father, and attempting to mediate his mother’s mental illness. Salimu assumed the role of father-figure for his younger brother and with wisdom beyond his years made decisions that helped him avoid the traps of most homeless youth surrounded by gang violence. The story shines a light on inequality in this country and the violence of Salimu’s experiences will shock the reader.

I recommend experiencing this as an audiobook, the author narrates with beautiful rhythm, tempo, and organic emotions.

I was given an early release copy of this audiobook on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Publication for this audiobook is set for August 31, 2020. If you like Jason Reynolds, I think you will like this book.

Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls by Elena Favilli

This is my first read from this series and I loved it. The vibrant artwork throughout the book is gorgeous. Each story is quick shot, inspirational history on accomplished immigrant women. I especially liked that the occupations of these women varied, which would encourage young readers to follow their own truths.

Other books in this series include: Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls: 100 Tales of Extraordinary Women, Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls 2, and Rebel Girls Lead: 20 Tales of Extraordinary Women.

Sanctuary by Paola Mendoza & Abby Sher

This one was hard to read. The characters in this novel experience such heartbreaking hardship! 

Sanctuary is set in a dystopian future. This setting is a bit more terrifying than your typical novel of this kind, because it seems all too close to reality.

Vali, her Mami, and Papi escaped the dangers of their homeland and entered the U.S. as illegal immigrants. Prior to the book’s timeline her Papi was arrested, returned to Columbia, and then murdered. Now Mami works very hard to keep food on the table and and their immigration status hidden. In Vali’s world, all U.S. citizens are microchipped, and those chips could be scanned at any time by militant enforcers. When a huge crackdown on illegal immigration is instituted, Vali and her family are forced to run. 

This story will rip your ❤️ out. The authors do not hold back in describing the violence and indignities these people are forced to endure. Reading this caused me to consider how easily Americans might come to justify holocaust-like treatment of humans when politicians define them as an “Other”. It also caused me to put my own problems in context. I worry about things that aren’t important while people around the world are looking for a safe haven, clothing, food, and water. This one will make you think for sure. 

More Resources

Whenever I read about a protagonist with a culture different from my own, I love to research the foods that are mentioned in the story. Food is such an important part of society and family. We all have favorite family recipes that are associated with memories. Finding out more about what the protagonists are cooking is a lot of fun and helps to bring the story to life. Here are some Columbian recipes from Sanctuary:

Hauevos Pericos

This Columbian recipe is scrambled eggs with tomatoes, cheese, and scallions. Since food supplies are limited the family is grateful to be able to cook this comforting meal.


The blog Sweet y Salado explains that ” For us Colombians the arepa is an essential ingredient of every dish in our country. We eat it for breakfast, lunch, dinner, with eggs, butter, meat, bacon, as a side dish for soups, stews, beans, in short, we eat it daily and to many, if their plate does not come with the blessed arepa, they’re not satisfied.” In Sanctuary Ernie, Vali, and Mami eat arepas with ajiaco.


This is a traditional Columbian chicken and potato soup.

“Legacy: Women Poets of the Harlem Renaissance” by Nikki Grimes

I’m in love this this book. I am so excited to be afforded the opportunity to read an arc of “Legacy: Woman Poets of the Harlem Renaissance” from Children’s Legacy Medal Winner, Nikki Grimes

My only regret in reading this beautiful picture book is that it wasn’t created before my daughter grew up. I wish she could have gleaned this inspiration as she matured. I’m glad she will be able to share it with her daughter. 

This gorgeous collection includes poetry from, as the title states, the women poets of Harlem Renaissance. These pieces are shared alongside modernized adaptations from Grimes, who writes with the “The Golden Shovel” poetic method. She creates new poetry with words of the original poem to make an all-new work. Truly a fascinating method that will call for multiple reads! 

This book includes an introduction on Harlem Renaissance history and poetry form. It concludes with bios on the talented and educated women who authored this collection. It is told in 3 parts: “Heritage”, “Earth Mother”, and “Taking Notice”. 

Images in this collection are just breathtaking and add a whole new level to read. 

Publication date for this book is set for January 5, 2021. Add this to your tbr, you won’t regret it. I received an early release copy of this title from the publisher on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The image displayed in this post is from an unedited copy of the collection. 

More from the author

Welcome To My Blog

Welcome to my new blog. I am Rachel, the Teen Services Librarian at the Frankfort Community Public Library. Librarian is my chosen profession because I love to read, it is my greatest passion. I enjoy sharing reads and participating in the online book community. I share reviews and reflections on what I read on my Bookgram.

I believe that reading, especially reading diverse content and protagonists, helps make us better humans. Therefore, my focus is diverse and Project Lit reads. I plan to share extra content along with reviews that will work hand-in-hand with my Bookgram posts.

I hope to start conversations with other readers and the authors of the books I enjoy.