Book Review: Classified

I’m switching up the review format on the blog and hope you like it. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.


Title: Classified: The Secret Career of Mary Golda Ross, Cherokee Aerospace Engineer

Author: Traci Sorell
Series: None
Series Order: Standalone

Illustrator: Natasha Donovan
Genre: Picture Book, Nonfiction
Release Date: March 2021


Classified is a non-fiction picture book about Cherokee aerospace engineer Mary Golda Ross, Lockheed’s first female engineer who helped pave the way for others. She worked on several notable project over the course of her career. But this book goes beyond her career and introduces readers to her life and the Cherokee values instilled within her—like humility, working with others, and education.

Charming illustrations offer additional insights and convey a classic time period feel. I loved seeing the different plans and the graphs incorporated into the pictures.

I also loved that Classified offers more than a typical biography written for children. The way the Cherokee values are incorporated into the the story, readers gain sense of how these values influenced and enhanced Mary Golda Ross’s life. There is so much packed into this 32-page picture book—between the story itself and the supplemental information at the end. Classified would be a wonderful addition to any home or classroom library.


Mary Golda Ross designed classified airplanes and spacecraft as Lockheed Aircraft Corporation’s first female engineer. Find out how her passion for math and the Cherokee values she was raised with shaped her life and work.

Cherokee author Traci Sorell and Métis illustrator Natasha Donovan trace Ross’s journey from being the only girl in a high school math class to becoming a teacher to pursuing an engineering degree, joining the top-secret Skunk Works division of Lockheed, and being a mentor for Native Americans and young women interested in engineering. In addition, the narrative highlights Cherokee values including education, working cooperatively, remaining humble, and helping ensure equal opportunity and education for all.

*** View more book reviews here. ***

Thanks to Unleashing Readers and Teach Mentor Text for hosting #IMWAYR. Check out the other It’s Monday! What Are You Reading posts!

Teaching Resources for High School

Looking for resources to supplement your literature curriculum? There are three new (or recently updated) high school resources available on my TpT store. And like all resources in my TpT store, they’re FREE!

A guide for writing book reviews that includes quick-start questions, story analysis word bank, and a visual organizer.

A comprehensive list of literature vocabulary words that includes three activities: defining, analyzing, and applying.

A unit study on short stories. Includes vocabulary, structure, and discussion questions.

Word Choice: Differently Abled or Disabled?

If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you know I rarely depart from posting book reviews, author interviews, and the occasional writer’s life update. And I typically post on Mondays or Fridays.

But today, I have a question for you.

You may remember me mentioning that I am autistic. Because I am, I read and try to stay informed of things that impact or relate to the disability community. One of the reoccurring topics being language (or labels).

I’ve read a few articles on the topic of language in the past, and recently discovered a different view on the use of differently abled vs disabled.

For me, I prefer the term differently abled. I feel like it focuses on what I can do, where as the term disabled focuses on what I can’t do. If that makes sense? (To be clear, this is just a preference. I don’t view either term as offensive or have strong feelings on usage.)

If you don’t mind sharing, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Do you prefer differently abled vs disabled?

*updated for clarity.

Snow Globe Travelers Audiobook Tour & Special Edition Hardback

Snow Globe Traveler: Samuel’s Legacy is now on audio! It’s narrated by Audie and Earphones award-winning narrator Nancy Peterson. She did an amazing job bringing Sarah’s story to life and was such a blessing to work with.

A special edition hardback of Samuel’s Legacy was released along with the audiobook. (Details below.)

To celebrate, a blog tour has been scheduled. Visit the stops below to learn more about Samuel’s Legacy and the audiobook.

Hope to see you there!

Special Edition Hardback

About Snow Globe Travelers: Samuel’s Legacy

Fans of A Wrinkle in Time and Alice in Wonderland will enjoy Snow Globe Travelers.

In the heart of Vienna, 12-year-old Sarah Ann Reisende wanders into a mysterious shop where snow globes double as portals to other worlds. After breaking the globe tethered to Earth, she discovers a cryptic note scribbled on the back of a photograph. The note links her father, who left before her third birthday, to a place called Elohi. Could this be a chance to find her father at last?

Unable to return home, Sarah follows the lead into the world of Elohi. But an army of vicious hybrids led by a genetically engineered warrior named Malvine now rules the once peaceful planet, and she becomes a target as Malvine wants to use the shop’s connections to wage war.

Can Sarah uncover the truth behind her father leaving and find a way home before Malvine gains control of the shop?

Book two, Salvaged Time, is coming soon!

Book Review: “My City Speaks” by Darren Lebeuf

My City Speaks is a delightful picture book written by Darren Lebeuf and illustrated by Ashley Barron. The story follows a young girl who is visually impaired as she navigates the city with her father. It’s a celebration of sounds, scents, and textures set to the rhythm of a large city.

There’s much to love about this book and the way the words and illustrations tell the story together. The writing is simple and rhythmic—not rhyming, but poetic with the lyrical feel of a beating drum. While the colorful, scrapbook-esque illustrations are detailed, adding texture and visually enhancing the story’s sensory adventure.

It’s also great for beginning readers: simple sentences, easier verbs, an abundance of sight words, and some repetition of non-sight words.

My City Speaks offers kids a glimpse into the life of a differently abled person. Which it does well. But I wish there would have been more to the story. (To be honest, I may have had higher expectations for this book since its primary purpose is sharing the experiences of a differently abled person.)

Overall, young readers will enjoy the sensory adventure My City Speaks offers. It would be a great addition to any classroom, for independent reading practice or as an opener for a larger discussion about what it means to be differently abled and that being different doesn’t mean less.

I received this book as an ARC from Netgalley in exchange for my honest opinion.

My City Speaks releases on September 7th and is available for pre-order on Amazon and other retailers.

About My City Speaks

A young girl, who is visually impaired, finds much to celebrate as she explores the city she loves.A young girl and her father spend a day in the city, her city, traveling to the places they go together: the playground, the community garden, the market, an outdoor concert. As they do, the girl describes what she senses in delightfully precise, poetic detail. Her city, she says, “rushes and stops, and waits and goes.” It “pitters and patters, and drips and drains.” It “echoes” and “trills,” and is both “smelly” and “sweet.” Her city also speaks, as it “dings and dongs, and rattles and roars.” And sometimes, maybe even some of the best times, it just listens.

Darren Lebeuf uses his keen observational skills as an award-winning photographer to poetically capture sensory experiences in this charming ode to city life. The rhythmic, lyrical text makes for an appealing read-aloud.

Ashley Barron’s vividly hued cut-paper collage illustrations add compelling visual interest to the text’s descriptions. Though the main character is visually impaired, she travels around the city and enthusiastically enjoys its many offerings, and actively contributes to the lyrical bustle of city life by putting on a violin performance in the park.

The author’s use of limited but evocative language can help children develop an aesthetic awareness and can serve as a perfect jumping-off point for children to use their senses to specifically describe, and appreciate, their own surroundings. The story and illustrations were reviewed by a blind sensitivity reader.

About Darren Lebeuf (Author)

Darren Lebeuf grew up on a humble acreage outside of Edmonton, Alberta, where he spent his days drawing, painting and exploring the outdoors. After studying art and design at Grant McEwan University, Darren started his creative career as an exhibit designer at the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller, Alberta.

In 2006 he set off on a world adventure. He lived in Asia for nine years, and became an internationally acclaimed family and wedding photographer. During that time, he began to pursue his long-lost passion for illustrating, and eventually created The Land of Le Beef, an online home for his collection of witty cartoons, yearly advent calendars and other illustration projects. He has written and/or illustrated a number of self-published picture books.

He now lives with his wife and two kids in Vancouver, the city that inspired his first published book, My Forest is Green.

Instagram: @land_of_le_beef
Facebook: @landoflebeef

About Ashley Barron (Illustrator)

Ashley Barron is a multimedia artist who is best known for her paper collage work. She is the illustrator of several children’s books, including Kids Can Press’s Birthdays Around the World and My Forest is Green.

Ashley grew up in the Oshawa/Whitby region of southern Ontario with her parents, younger sister and their many pet dogs and rabbits. Ashley’s love for books was ignited at an early age thanks to her mother, a preschool teacher, who kept an extensive collection of children’s literature in their spare bedroom. Although Ashley was very much an outdoorsy kid, she savored rainy indoor days, which allowed her the freedom to daydream, read and draw pictures to her heart’s content.

Ashley’s love for art and literature followed her into adulthood. She graduated from the illustration program at Ontario Collage of Art & Design in 2007 and has been working as a freelance illustrator ever since.

Ashley lives in Toronto with her cinematographer partner, Kevin. Together they share a bright, plant-filled studio with their three cats.

Instagram: @_ashleybarron

***View more book reviews here.***

Thanks to Unleashing Readers and Teach Mentor Text for hosting #IMWAYR. Check out the other It’s Monday! What Are You Reading posts!