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Leo, Dog of the Sea Blog Tour Review & Giveaway

Written by Alison Hart
Illustrated by Michael G. Montgomery
(Peachtree Publishers; $12.95, Ages 7-10)


Leo Dog of the Sea cover image



We’re delighted to be included in Peachtree Publishers’ Blog Tour for Alison Hart’s Leo, Dog of the Sea, the fourth installment in this action-packed series available April l. The Dog Chronicles series introduces young readers to the important yet often overlooked roles our canine companions played in major historical events. Please read on for more info about the book and giveaway. 


Leo Dog of the Sea interior artwork by Michael G. Montgomery
Interior illustrations from LEO, DOG OF THE SEA by Alison Hart copyright © 2017 by Michael G. Montgomery. Used with permission from Peachtree Publishers.

After reading the first few pages of Leo, Dog of the Sea, prepare to be instantly swept aboard the Trinidad, one of five ships in the Spanish armada under the command of Captain General, Ferdinand Magellan. The date: August 1519. In 14 fast-paced, engaging chapters, readers will join the ship’s rat-catching canine, Leo, who narrates the treacherous voyage around the globe as Magellan navigates the seas looking for a route to the Spice Islands. They’ll also meet a motley crew and a colorful cast of characters and can decide for themselves who is worthy of friendship and loyalty and who is not to be trusted. While Leo certainly becomes the most endearing of the lot, Pigafetta, Magellan’s Italian scribe, and Marco, a young stowaway are sure to be favorites, too.

Hart has once again created an observant and compelling character, this time in Leo, a dog reluctant to get close to any human. Now embarking on his fourth voyage to foreign lands, Leo has a wealth of seafaring experience making his detailed descriptions of all things sailing related both realistic and believable. And while five vessels set out in search of a westward route, only one will complete the entire three year journey intact. 

Interior artwork by Michael G. Montgomery from Leo Dog of the Sea
Interior illustrations from LEO, DOG OF THE SEA by Alison Hart copyright © 2017 by Michael G. Montgomery. Used with permission from Peachtree Publishers.

When the armada sets off, readers learn that reporting directing to Magellan is master-at-arms, Gonzalo Gomez de Espinosa who will, according to Magellan, “… carry out my orders and assure that the laws of Spain and navigation are obeyed.” This man is the epitome of cruel and Leo and Marco must steer clear of him to save their skins. Keeping notes on everything that occurs, good and bad, is Pigafetta who takes to the boy and dog early on, helping them survive during the perilous trip. It doesn’t hurt that Leo displays bravery in the face of adversary on numerous occasions. And Marco, stoic and astute, proves to be an invaluable companion and page. The story revolves around all the various ports of call visited, the inhabitants encountered and the obstacles faced by Magellan and his crew along the way. Those include every type of weather condition imaginable including violent storms or lack thereof, thievery, hunger, deadly disease, mutiny and murder. 

I knew little about Magellan before beginning the book and found myself eager to find out more as I approached the story’s end. Fortunately there are 19 pages of information Hart has included to fill interested readers in on the rest of what happens after her story finishes as well as other fascinating facts about seafaring in the 16th century. From ship dogs to conditions onboard, the back matter in Leo, Dog of the Sea is as riveting and educational as the rest of the book. Illustrator Michael G. Montgomery’s artwork adds to the book’s appeal. His pencil illustrations provide just enough detail to give readers a real taste of the clothing and equipment of the time period, while zeroing in on the key action of a chapter. I guess in closing I have to say that, unlike days out a sea for Magellan’s armada, with no wind blowing for weeks on end, this middle grade historical fiction chapter book is never, ever boring. Get a copy today at your local independent bookseller or enter our great giveaway below. Thanks for stopping by the blog tour. Here are more blog posts to check out, too! 
3/27: Kid Lit Reviews
3/28: Librarian’s Quest
3/30: Boys to Books
3/31: Ms. Yingling Reads

Interior artwork by Michael G. Montgomery from Leo Dog of the Sea
Interior illustrations from LEO, DOG OF THE SEA by Alison Hart copyright © 2017 by Michael G. Montgomery. Used with permission from Peachtree Publishers.


  • Reviewed by Ronna Mandel

Other books in this series: Darling, Mercy Dog of World War I; Murphy, Gold Rush Dog; Finder, Coal Mine Dog.
Please read our review of Darling, Mercy Dog of World War I, Book One in the Dog Chronicles series by clicking here.

Click here for a Teacher’s Guide.
Click here to read a Q & A with author, Alison Hart.


Please leave a comment on this blog post for your chance to win one (1) copy of Leo, Dog of the Sea, courtesy of Peachtree Publishers, MSRP value $12.95. One or two words for comment will not be considered valid entries. Giveaway ends 11:59p.m. on April 18. The winner will be chosen via on April 19th. For an extra chance to win, follow Good Reads With Ronna on Facebook here and let us know you did. Want to increase your chances? Get an additional entry into the giveaway by following this blog on Twitter or tweeting about the giveaway. Must be U.S. resident to enter. The winner will be notified via email. Good luck!



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A Most Beloved Queen

With today’s review, Debbie Glade takes us back to Tudor times.

A while back I reviewed author Kerrie Logan Hollihan’s great book, Theodore Roosevelt for Kids: His Life and Times. She has written another wonderful Chicago Review Press biography for kids – Elizabeth I: The People’s Queen ($16.95, Chicago Review Press, ages 9 and up), and what a fascinating read it is!

Elizabeth I was born in 1533 into the royal Tudor family. Her father was the notorious King Henry VIII and her mother, the ill-fated Queen Anne Boleyn. When Elizabeth was only 2-years-old, her father had Anne executed for treason. He quickly remarried just 2 weeks later to Jane Seymour, and Elizabeth was soon declared illegitimate and no longer considered royalty. After King Henry VIII passed away, Elizabeth’s young half brother, Edward became King Edward VI and Elizabeth was reinstated to the King’s Court. But Edward lived to be only 6-years-old, leaving Elizabeth’s half sister, Mary Tudor, next in line to become Queen. Mary believed Elizabeth was plotting against her and sentenced her to be imprisoned in the Tower of London. Queen Mary reinstated Catholicism as England’s church during her reign and earned the nickname, “Bloody Mary,” after executing 280 dissenters. Following Mary’s death from natural causes, Elizabeth I was next in line to become Queen of England.

Elizabeth I was fortunate enough as a young child to receive an excellent education by working with tutors hired to teach her brother and later with her own private tutors.  She eventually learned to speak many different languages including Greek, French, Latin and Italian and was skilled at riding horses and loved to hunt.

Readers of this book will discover why Elizabeth was so well loved and so commonly referred to as “The People’s Queen.” She was smart, strong-willed and refused to get married; because she feared her powers may be threatened by taking a husband. She ruled with authority and loved and honored the people of her country, and in return, the people of England loved and honored her. Her legacy includes reinstating Protestantism to her country, defeating the Spanish Armada and creating a defensive foreign policy. She remains one of England’s most celebrated Queens.

Like all of the Chicago Review Press books I’ve read, this one too offers 21 activities for readers. Among my favorites in this book are: creating your family’s coat of arms; making an Elizabethan cloak; carving a turnip and building a knight’s helmet (out of a milk jug.) There is also a Tudor family tree on page 23 of the book to help you sort out all the confusion of who’s who. There are also resources and a reading list for further study in the back of the book.

The Chicago Review Press kids series is ideal for the classroom as well as for curious readers who enjoy learning about fascinating famous world figures. The books are so well researched and written that parents and teachers will enjoy them as well. What I’ve said before about Chicago Press books for children is that they encourage you to think, inspire you to do great things and leave you yearning to research more about the subject.

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