Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Powder Monkey Blog Tour: Review

Written By: Donna McDine
Illustrated by: K.C. Snider
Publication Date: May 20, 2013
Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc
Formats: Hardcover, Paperback, eBook

Genre: Historical Fiction/Children’s Fiction (Ages 8-12)

Free Educator Guides Available.


Forced into a life at sea by the Royal Navy Press Gangs, 12-year-old Tommy Kitt finds himself in a floating sea of misery. Poor living conditions and beatings occur daily. Despite his small size, Tommy must summon the courage and physical ability to prevail in a situation he cannot escape.


So What Did I Think About The Story?:

I read both Powder Monkey and The Golden Pathway (another book by this author/illustrator pair which I will be reviewing tomorrow) along with my 9 year-old son. At first glance he thought it was going to be an easy read but we were both pleasantly surprised by the depth of the story and the vocabulary used. Finding a book to keep my son's attention can be tricky but Powder Monkey was action-packed from page one and presented a realistic and vibrant account of what a young boy living in Tommy's times and circumstances could have gone through without sugar-coating it. The story had  my son asking many follow up questions as we turned the pages ("Why would someone kidnap these boys and make them work so hard on a boat?", "Was Tommy a real person?") which allowed us to discuss these situations that he had never heard about before. I asked my son if he was happy he didn't live in a time when someone could simply come and take children away from their parents and make them work so hard without having any way getting away and I was presented with a resounding "Um, Yeah!".

While my son wasn't as captivated by the illustrations as he was by the story I thought the pictures were beautiful. Every other page was a full page illustration and helped visually advance the storyline. The pictures of the turbulent and unpredictable open sea were my favorite!

Overall, Powder Monkey was a very exhilarating if sad story that my son seemed to very much enjoy and had him thinking what he would do in the same situation. While the story made him sad (he seemed genuinely upset at the idea that Tommy and the other boys wouldn't be able to see their  parents again) it opened up a discussion on the history behind boys forced into this sort of work and how different our lives are today. We read it in one sitting which, when dealing with my son's short attention span, is always an accomplishment in itself!

So What Did I Think Of The Cover?:  

I love it, as I do with all the illustrations within. It captures the general idea of the story and gives the reader a visual of this young boy forced into a life he doesn't want.

My Rating: 4.0/5.0

Thank you to Amy at Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours for providing me with a free copy of Powder Monkey in exchange for an honest review! Be sure to continue below for more information about the author and the book tour. Please also come back tomorrow for my review of Donna M. McDine's book titled The Golden Pathway!

Praise For Powder Monkey

“Danger. Hardship. Cannon blasts. And whips. Stolen violently into service as a boy who delivers powder to the cannons during a battle, young Tommy never sees his parents again. What adventures await him? Donna M. McDine’s book, Powder Monkey, moves quickly through tense action scenes to portray realistic life during this dangerous era on the high seas.” ~ Nancy I. Sanders, bestselling and award-winning children’s author of Challenge on the Hill of Fire and Frederick Douglass for Kids ~

“The saga of an age gone by, Donna McDine’s Powder Monkey, ably captures the essence of what some young boys endured as impressed sailors. With pathos and honesty, this historically accurate account of Tommy Kitt’s struggle to stay alive at sea, is a testimony to the author’s prowess as a storyteller.” ~ Nancy Stewart, Award-winning and Amazon best-selling children’s author ~

“Powder Monkey by Donna McDine, illustrated by K.C. Snider, is a heart wrenching historical fiction. The story chronicles the lives of two brothers during British naval history. The brothers are taken and forced to run powder to the cannons during battles at sea. K.C. Snider’s artwork transports the reader back to a world where innocent boys endured many hardships. Parents and teachers can certainly use the book to teach many valuable lessons about life and how it should not be taken for granted. ~Reviewed by Nicole Weaver, Award-winning Children’s Author ~

“The richly detailed illustrations, by well known artist and illustrator K.C Snider, drew me back into a time when the theme of this historical novel would have been played out – press gangs kidnapping young boys for service at sea. This tale of 14 year old farm boy Tommy, and his older brother, is well told. It has the right feel. The author’s research shines through on every page. Action scenes, and well crafted tense moments pulled me into the story, and the ending was true to life in those times. This is a book that boys and tomboys will enjoy. Teachers and home schooling parents will appreciate its authentic background and vivid details: an exciting and action packed read. I recommend Powder Monkey as a book that will definitely HOOK Kids on Reading.” ~ Reviewed by Margot Finke, children’s author ~

Buy the Book

Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc.
Amazon (Print)
Autographed Copies
Wholesale Orders

About The Author

Donna McDine is a multiple award-winning children’s author, Honorable Mention in the 77th and
two Honorable Mentions in the 78th Annual Writer’s Digest Writing Competitions, A Sandy Grave ~ Story Monster Approved and Beach Book Festival Honorable Mention 2014, The Golden Pathway ~ Literary Classics Silver Award & Seal of Approval Recipient Picture Book Early Reader, Readers Favorite 2012 International Book Awards Honorable Mention, Global eBook Awards Finalist Children’s Picture Book Fiction, and Preditors & Editors Readers Poll 2010 Top Ten Children’s Books.

Her interest in ocean life resulted in writing and publishing A Sandy Grave (January 2014). Other books by McDine, Powder Monkey (May 2013), Hockey Agony (January 2013) and The Golden Pathway (August 2010). A fifth book is in the publishing pipeline with Guardian Angel Publishing. She writes and moms from her home in the historical hamlet Tappan, NY. McDine is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators.

For more information please visit Donna McDine’s website. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, and Goodreads.

Powder Monkey Blog Tour

Monday, August 25
Spotlight at So Many Precious Books, So Little Time

Wednesday, August 27

Interview & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books

Monday, September 1

Spotlight at What Is That Book About

Tuesday, September 2

Review at Book Nerd

Thursday, September 4

Review at A Leisure Moment

Monday, September 8

Review at Bookish

Wednesday, September 10

Review at Historical Tapestry

Thursday, September 11

Review at Impressions in Ink

Friday, September 12

Review at Just One More Chapter

Friday, September 19

Review & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages


  1. Hi Colleen,

    Thank you for your thought provoking and thorough review of my historical fiction children's book, Powder Monkey. I enjoyed reading your son's take! Thank you for including.

    May I be so bold to ask you to post your review at Amazon and Goodreads. If yes, the links are below...

    Please email you address so I can send you and your son bookmarks. My email:

    Have a terrific day!


    1. Thank you so much for commenting on my review, Donna! That means a lot to me :)! I will definitely go post my review on Goodreads and Amazon today. Thanks!