October 2, 2014

Top Secret Files: World War II by Stephanie Bearce

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , at 1:02 am by suebe2

Top Secret Files: World War II 
by Stephanie Bearce
Profrock Press

From Josephine Baker to explosive balloons and baseball player Moe Berg.  All this and more is in the pages of this book.  Bearce has defintely created a series that will hook young readers and make them want to know more about hstory.  She’s done it by telling them about the things that aren’t generally covered in history books or lessons.

Each book in this series has five sections:  Secrets, Spies, Special Missions, Secret Weapons and Secret Forces.  Since I live in St. Louis, I especially enjoyed reading about Baker who is from just across the river.  As a female entertainer, she could move about more freely than other people and soldiers, even officers, often spoke freely in front of her.  She became a valuable spy for the French.

Bearce has also written about the secret codes, covering both the Nazi’s Enigma machine and the Bletchley Park code breakers who worked so hard to set up a similar device working with a stolen machine.  She has also written about a variety of men and women who worked as spies.  Many of the successful spies were women simply because soldiers didn’t automatically suspect a house wife or cute girl of being an enemy agent.

Another part that I really enjoyed was reading about two secret cities.  One was real and located in Tennessee.  The other was a fake, used to hide the facilities where air craft were built.

As with other books in this series, Bearce avoids overwhelming her readers by delivering the information in easy digestible chunks.  A reluctant reader can stop after reading about Josephine Baker while a more eager reader can devour the entire section on spies.

Readers who are especially intrigued by the topic will find a list of resources in the back of the book.

Bearce presents a wide variety of information, describing the world of Americans, Candadians, British, French, Germans and Russians. She has even included a princess from India.  Bearce is a former teacher and she knows both how to hook her readers and how to deliver the facts.

Pick this one up for history buffs, those who aren’t sure and even adult enthusiasts.  Each will find something new in this book.

–SueBE

September 29, 2014

Top Secret Files: The Civil War by Stephanie Bearce

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , at 1:33 am by suebe2

Top Secret Files: The Civil War
by Stephanie Bearce
Profrock Press

Getting kids interested in history can be tough if they think it is about nothing more than dates and names and lists of tedious facts.  Bearce, on the other hand, has written a book about history that kids will want to read.  After all, who doesn’t want to get in on a good secret?

Bearce’s series is all about spies, their missions and the tools they used to get the job done.  She writes about plots against Lincoln, slaves acting as spies, women disguised as men, submarines, secret codes and attempts to steal locomotives.  Each book in this series has five sections:  Secrets, Spies, Special Missions, Secret Weapons and Secret Forces.

Young readers will learn about the part played by the Pinkerton detectives, a woman who used laundry as a code to send messages to Union forces, spy balloons, and the importance of maps.  Bright lights were even used as a weapon.  That said, not everything Bearce discusses was successful which is fortunate since the Confederacy tried to use germ warfare against the Union.

My favorite section was the one on Ft. Davidson.  The fort isn’t far from my home and I’ve seen for myself just how small it is.  It is featured in Bearce’s book because the Union Forces stationed there won a decisive victory by sneaking away and blowing the place up.

I also liked the how-to pieces.  Readers learn the Confederate Signal Corp alphabet, how to create a scytale and even how to make a working model of a hot air balloon.

With so much information in one place, it might be overwhelming but Bearce has broken each section into easily-digestible chunks.  A reluctant reader can easy conquer a section of 2 or 4 pages while more eager readers cna devour much more.

Readers who are especially intrigued by the topic will find a list of resources in the back of the book.

This is a very well balanced look at the Civil War.  Bearce shows that the Union and the Confederacy both had successes and failures.  She also includes information about men, women and children, slave and free.  It isn’t a comprehensive look at the Civil War but it does give young readers information that they aren’t going to find in other books on the topic.  Bearce is a former teacher and she knows both how to hook her readers and how to deliver the facts.

Pick this one up for history buffs, those who aren’t sure and even adult enthusiasts.  Each will find something knew in this book.

–SueBE

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