Reviews Are In
What a delightful way to learn about an ancient culture!
Principal, El Carmelo School, Palo Alto, CA
I thought this book was awesome! I read the whole thing in one day. I couldn't put it down, and before I knew it, it was over.
Student, age 10
A terrific book for kids who like adventure, and for parents who'd love their kids to learn a bit about history. Well-written, a lively main character who struggles with his failures and searches for hope. Here is a hero who is flawed but resourceful, and who can lead readers on an adventure involving bad guys, jewels, new friends, and making choices. A real winner!
A home-schooling mom
"This is an homage to all Polish teenagers who fought the German evil so bravely during WWII. A must read."
Author of The Color of Courage, and a Polish Scout during WWII, son of the Polish may of Warsaw
"With a unique set of characters, Sontag's book transfers readers into the atmosphere and situation in Poland during 1939-1945. It is written with passion for the events and reveals the author's respect and compassion for the people and the disastrous events that transpired."
Author of Kaia, Heroine of the 1944 Warsaw Rising
"Polish and Polish American themes in English-language fiction for young readers are rare indeed.... Rising Hope informs her young readers about the tragic realities of life in Warsaw during the German occupation and extols the bravery of Polish resistance fighters, especially the very young, presenting their deep patriotism and their willingness to sacrifice their lives for the freedom of Poland. At the same time, Sontag finds effective techniques to introduce her readers to Polish music and literature and the more distant past.... Marie Sontag's novel is an important addition to young adult literature in English." The Polish Review
The Polish Review
Underground Scouts "gives young readers a picture of Poland during the Nazi occupation and the everyday tragedies people endured trying to protect their homeland. The ugliness of war, brutality and violence is not minimized, nor is the bravery of the young fighters and their passion for Polish freedom."
San Jose Mercury News
"Rising Hope is a thrilling young adult novel that tells the story of the Polish Scouts' involvement in the Warsaw Rising against the Nazi occupation of Poland in 1944. I recommend Rising Hope to all readers who enjoy a tale of stirring heroism in the face of overwhelming odds, where the lines between good and evil are clearly demarcated.
"Sontag successfully balances action-packed sequences with quiet and thoughtful moments." - Polish American Journal
Polish American Journal
Everyone knows WW2 is a rough part of history. We 6 know about the casualties, the destruction, and the ho rors. Marie Sontag brings this hard-to-swallow pill to light as seen through the eyes of a youth living in Poland during those times. We see him growing up and witness the changes in his emotional build up—a brilliantly captured process of reaching maturity. An accelerated maturity. Underground Scouts teaches about life without the sugarcoating—a much better experience for readers than Hollywood productions. Although fiction, the book is so very real as it brings this history to life.
Resident and native of Warsaw, Poland
Underground Scouts is a book that will be enjoyed by lovers of YA historical fiction. The characters are well-drawn. I feel like I would recognize them on the street if I saw them! As a parent and a bookseller, I appreciate that I can recommend this book to teens without hesitation or concern for objectionable content.
Co-owner Story Finders Books - www.storyfinders.com
Marie Sontag’s gifted ability to portray Scouts who experienced the pathos of Poland during the German invasion and occupation immerses readers in a world remote only to ours by the passing of time. Being part of Scouting for over 31 years, I have witnessed the same truths Underground Scouts brings to life. Caught canoeing once in a windstorm on a wilderness river with young Scouts led by my thirteen-year-old son, I discovered that character and obedience trumps physical ability and experience. Given extreme tribulations, most youthful hearts will faint, but call on a true Scout and there you will find bravery espoused in their oath, and loyalty that will vanquish any foe. Marie’s assiduous zeal for history discovers ordinary Scouts who indeed became extraordinary heroes.
Scoutmaster Troop 514, Southlake, Texas
Adventurous and historical, this delightful story is a page turner and engaging, providing a vivid reminder of the challenges of the Gold Rush era as the miners and settlers clashed with the Native Americans over resources. Daniel’s character was particularly enjoyable. He is human, kindhearted, and imperfect in a wonderful way. 11 He is introspective as he works through an internal struggle with past misdeeds and life decisions.
Middle School Teacher, California
Yosemite Trail Discovered reveals much about the Gold Rush era, westward expansion, slavery, U.S. treatment of Native Americans, growth of California towns, and more. Best of all, it provides a gripping story. This YA historical novel will be an entertaining goldmine for young people, especially those learning about the origins of California as a state. Teachers will find it a useful tool.
Colleen Peterson, PhD
Author of Lucia’s Renaissance
Marie breathes new life, intrigue, and hope into the familiar story of the Donner Party and the Western Movement. As Daniel’s story is masterfully intertwined with history, he becomes a character I quickly begin rooting for. This story is a wonderful addition to the classroom collection of historical fiction. Teachers will love the STEM activities and recommended extensions. California Trail Discovered has universal appeal!
Mary Pat Vargas
, Elementary STEAM teacher, CA
This book contains History, Literature, Geography, and STEAM all in one! As a homeschool teacher, I appreciated how all of these subjects were woven together in one place, and as an avid reader, I loved that the lessons did not make the storyline feel awkward or forced. Pacing in this story was excellent, and the character development was not sacrificed on behalf of action, as there was an abundance of both. I loved reading Daniel's story; I highly recommend it!
Rachel Summey, Homeschooling Mom, Richardson, TX
Homeschooling Mom, Richardson, TX
Marie Sontag once again displays her brilliant talent for storytelling in this book. The hardships, the endurance, the conflicts, plus the emotional depth of the characters all come to life in this wonderful tale of resilience and tenacity! This historical fiction is filled with rich detail and perfectly tuned for the middle-grade reader. It left me craving for more!
Reading Intervention Specialist – Pampa, TX
Sontag's Mediterranean world is a vivid one, and the story makes clear that even thousands of years ago, residents of the region were well traveled and knowledgeable about their realm . . . individuals looking for curriculum-based fiction may find the book a valuable tool.
Sontag's final book of her Ancient Elements trilogy was an exhilarating conclusion to this Indiana Jones-like journey through the civilizations of the ancient middle eastern kingdoms. Students reading her books will effortlessly be educated, richly enhancing the core curriculum they are learning in their middle school classes.
Library Media Clerk, Cupertino, CA
The Silver Coin is so visual throughout, using conversation to move the characters forward in this third book of Dr. Sontag’s trilogy. My sixth grade students love to read her books!
Social Studies Teacher, San Jose, CA
The Alabaster Jar is filled with adventure, intrigue, and mystery. Marie develops her characters with such depth and meaning.