"Outside a dog a book is man's best friend, inside a dog it is too dark to read!" -Groucho Marx

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Book Review: The Notorious Benedict Arnold by Steve Sheinkin

As Americans we all know that Benedict Arnold is one of our more famous traitors from the Revolutionary War period of our history.  But how much do you actually know about the man and his treachery?  After reading The Notorious Benedict Arnold: a True Story of Adventure, Heroism, and Treachery by Steve Sheinkin I came to realize that I knew basically nothing except that he was a traitor.  I didn't even know that before he was a turn-coat he was considered an American hero. I love it when I read a book that is not too textbookish and learn something along the way.

The Notorious Benedict Arnold: a True Story of Adventure, Heroism, and Treachery just won the 2012 YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults. I read it as part of my own challenge to read all the 2012 ALA YA Award books. Without that challenge it is doubtful that I would have read this excellent biography because YA/Middle Grade biographies aren't my go-to books to read for enjoyment. But I am awfully glad I did. I learned a lot about, not only about Benedict Arnold and his motivations, but also about the beginning years of our nation. I was amazed to learn that it really was a series of near-misses that led to Arnold's downfall and this possibly led to a renewed vigor among American's to fight for their freedom. It read like an action/adventure novel not a stuffy biography. Holy cow, fascinating stuff.

This said, I won't be purchasing this book for my high school library.  Why? I think this book is more geared toward the bottom end of YA students or what I consider Middle Grade students (Grades 5-8) and our US History classes start right after the Civil War. But I will definitely hold it in mind as an excellent biography of a notorious/infamous American.


Join me in reading the 2012 ALA Award Winners Challenge
(Read books highlighted in yellow.)
 YA Titles
1. Michael L. Printz Award
  • Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley
2. Schneider Family Book Award (Living with disability)
  • The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen
3. Alex Awards for the 10 best adult books that appeal to teen audiences (Pick one of ten, see full list here:)
  • The Lover's Dictionary, by David Levithan (1/8/11)
4. Margaret A. Edwards Award (Read one by winning author:)
  •  Susan Cooper
5. Mildred L. Batchelder Award (Translation)
  •  Soldier Bear by Bibi Dumon Tak, translated from Dutch
6. Stonewall Children’s and Young Adult Literature Award (GLBT)
  •  Putting Makeup on the Fat Boy by Bil Wright
7. William C. Morris Award
  • Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley  
8. YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults
  •  The Notorious Benedict Arnold: A True Story of Adventure, Heroism, and Treachery, by Steve Sheinkin  (2/4/12)
9. Odyssey Award (audiobook)
  • Rotters by Daniel Kraus, read by Kirby Heyborne
10. Pura Belpre Author Award (Latino author)
  • Under the Mesquite, by Guadalupe Garcia McCall

2 comments:

  1. I am so glad that you liked this book since I am going to read it for your challenge as well. I just made the list for myself and am going to the bookstore tonight!

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  2. I actually really enjoy biographies, although I rarely read them. There's just so much great fiction, it's hard to remember that other books exist :) As a middle school teacher/librarian, I love hearing that this one might be a little bit better for the middle grades. Thanks for the tip!

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