Judy Dodge Cummings is a writer and former history teacher from Reedsburg, Wisconsin. She has a MFA in Creative Writing for Children and Teens from Hamline University and is the author of numerous nonfiction books on historical topics. Her other books in the Mayhem and Mystery series are Great Escapes: Real Tales of Harrowing Getaways and Rebels & Revolutions: Real Tales of Radical Change in America.
BOOKLIST Examining natural and man-made disasters, these entries in the Mystery and Mayhem series open an engaging window into history that will attract reluctant readers. Readers will find a solid mix of familiar and little-known incidents. The text is careful to acknowledge the sociopolitical climate of each time period, pointing out the many instances of racism. Even for non-history buffs, interest is bound to be piqued.-- (06/20/2018) School Library Connection: The Underground Railroad The third title in Cumming's Build It Yourself series leads students in an exploration of the tens of thousands of African-American men, women, and children who escaped slavery on the Underground Railroad with the help of those who risked their lives in the years before the Civil War. The book is filled with maps, timelines, graphs, charts, and primary sources of information. QR codes in each chapter lead students to further information sources. Each of the eight chapters is organized around an essential question, and thought-provoking sidebars are imbedded throughout. Twenty-five activity projects, easily identified by their colorful borders, allow students to explore even further and get real hands-on experience. In addition to the glossary, vocabulary is defined on each double-page spread. This book is an excellent resource for helping students understand the troubling times prior to the Civil War and could serve as a resource for an entire unit of study. Highly Recommended. Kirkus Reviews: Pirates and Shipwrecks Five true tales of pirates and shipwrecks spare none of the intriguing and grisly details. Employing a casual, conversational tone that reads easily, McCarthy spins five yarns of bloodthirsty pirates and harrowing shipwrecks. The first offering portrays the terrifying experience of sailors who survive a shipwreck only to land on a beach of decapitated, sun-bleached skeletons. The next, another account of nautical distress, tells of a lost ship, reports of possible cannibalism, and the expedition that set out to learn the truth. The third recounts the tales of two fierce female pirates who were just as ruthless and bloodthirsty as their male counterparts. The fourth and fifth deliver more tales of maritime mayhem and cutthroat (quite literally) pirates, keeping up the lively pace already established. McCarthy shows a good sense for the interesting and gory detail, offering up plenty of blood-soaked action while keeping it appropriate for a young readership. Included after each vignette are other notable facts of the time period, and at the end of the offering is a glossary and resources. Releasing simultaneously is Survival, a volume that follows the same format and offers accounts of events such as the Donner Party disaster. Recommend this to fans of the I Survived... series who might be seeking a bit more fact and a little less fiction. A breezy offering just right for fans of survival tales. (Nonfiction. 7-12) Booklist Survival Warning: these feats aren't for the faint of heart. From icy depths and scorching valleys to the rumored consumption of human flesh, this entry in the Mystery & Mayhem series examines notorious survival stories. In five succinct chapters, each bookended by annotated expedition maps and a brief bill of historical context, McCarthy covers Ernest Shackleton's voyage from Plymouth, England, to Antarctica; William Bligh's trek to Timor; William Lewis Manly's slog through Death Valley; Charlotte Picard's course to Senegal; and the Donner Party's infamous tussle with an early winter. Although speculative musings ("Imagine how the remaining crew . . . felt") at times offset hard facts and direct quotations, the conversational tone, hair-raising anecdotes, and fairly comprehensive glossary make this a handy primer for any budding thrill seeker.