Book Review: History Smashers Series by Kate Messner

I am beyond excited about this new historical nonfiction series published by Penguin Random House! I will update this book review as I read and review the books in this series.

You may know Kate Messner from MANY of her well-known titles, like the Ranger in Time series, All the Answers (2015), The Seventh Wish (2016), Breakout (2018), and Chirp (2020). She is an incredible writer and I cannot wait to see what historical events she will smash next in this series. Enjoy!

Releases: TODAY, July 7, 2020


In 1620, the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock and made friends with Wampanoag people who gave them corn. RIGHT? WRONG!

It was months before the Pilgrims met any Wampanoag people, and nobody gave anybody corn that day. Did you know that the pilgrims didn’t go straight from England to Plymouth? No, they made a stop along the way–and almost stayed forever Did you know there was a second ship, called the Speedwell, that was too leaky to make the trip? No joke. And just wait until you learn the truth about Plymouth Rock.

Through illustrations, graphic panels, photographs, sidebars, and more, acclaimed author Kate Messner smashes history by exploring the little-known details behind the legends of the Mayflower and the first Thanksgiving.

My Thoughts:

This series is going to be a HUGE hit! I just love that this book compares the myths to the truth, and debunks past paintings, speeches, and other documents that just don’t line up with what really happened. Kate Messner is so relatable and made me laugh many times. I know that kids will enjoy this because each time she would say something along the lines of, “So you’re thinking that this is when xx happened, right? Well, you’re wrong”, it makes the reader want to read more and find out the REAL truth.

I am all for finding nonfiction books that do more than just share rote facts. I am hoping to read and review the next several books in this series because it will definitely circulate a lot in my classroom and school!

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.


In 1920, Susan B. Anthony passed a law that gave voting rights to women in the United States. RIGHT? WRONG!

Susan B. Anthony wasn’t even alive when the Nineteenth Amendment was ratified. Plus, it takes a lot more than one person to amend the constitution.

Did you know that when women’s rights activists picketed President Wilson to get his support for voting rights, some men beat them up, tore down their banners, and stole from them? And then it was the women who got arrested! No joke.

Releases: TODAY, July 7, 2020

Through illustrations, graphic panels, photographs, sidebars, and more, acclaimed author Kate Messner smashes history by exploring the little-known details behind the fight for women’s suffrage.

My Thoughts:

Another fantastic installment in the History Smashers series! What I thoroughly enjoy is that this series teaches our students/children that everything we read in history books is not always as it seems, or necessarily true. History isn’t just easy facts to remember. I mean, think about reality. You don’t just accomplish a goal in a single day. There are ups-and-downs, times where we need to revise/rework/redo… sometimes from scratch. This book teaches kids that Susan B. Anthony wasn’t the only one to help amend the constitution in favor of women’s rights. In fact, there were MANY women, and even men, who helped do so. It took a lot longer than one may think, too.

Other than the fact that this book debunks many of the half-truths we come to know nowadays, it shows the truth about racism, intersectionality, and clearly the differences of views many people had during this era. This is not what you read in textbooks now, so I appreciate that this is depicted in the History Smasher series.

Again, there are wonderful illustrations, comics, side panels, artifacts, and more embedded throughout this book that makes it even more engaging for young readers. I cannot wait to share this with my students and our school.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Coming Soon…

Releases: October 27, 2020
Releases: January 12, 2021

Let me just drop this little hint right here for you too…

**update as of 7/17: Book #5 is American Revolution!

About the Author

Kate Messner is passionately curious and writes books that encourage kids to wonder, too. Her titles include award-winning picture books like Over and Under the Pond, Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt, Over and Under the PondThe Brilliant Deep, and How to

Read a Story; novels that tackle real-world issues like BreakoutAll the Answers, and The Seventh Wish; mysteries and thrillers like Capture the Flag, Eye of the Storm, and Wake Up Missing; the Fergus and Zeke easy reader series; and the popular Ranger in Time chapter book series about a time-traveling search and rescue dog.

Kate’s titles are frequently selected for One School, One Book and One School/One Author programs and other community-wide reads – especially The Seventh Wish, which deals with a family affected by heroin addiction, and Breakout, a novel inspired by a real-world prison break, which takes a look at privilege and perspective. Kate’s books have been New York Times Notable, Junior Library Guild, IndieBound, and Bank Street College of Education Best Books selections. Her novel The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z. won the E.B. White Read Aloud Medal, and her science picture books have been finalists for the American Academy for the Advancement of Sciences/Subaru SB&F prize for excellence in science writing.

Before becoming a full-time writer, Kate was a TV news reporter as well as an educator who spent fifteen years teaching middle school English. She lives on Lake Champlain with her family and is trying to summit all 46 Adirondack High Peaks in between book deadlines. You can learn more at

Who else is a history fanatic? What are some of your favorite historical nonfiction middle grade books, or historical fiction? Share with me below!

Xo, Sierra

7 thoughts on “Book Review: History Smashers Series by Kate Messner

Add yours

  1. This sounds like such a fun way to learn about history! Also, how neat that there will be 6 books in the series! Thanks for the great review!


  2. This sounds like a fantastic series. And one I should read because I think I believe some of the untrue myths. Glad you’re so excited about the series.


  3. What a fantastic series for readers that will make history more interesting. I love Kate Messner and was not aware of these books. They certainly will be great for classroom discussions. Will definitely check out this series. Thanks for sharing!


  4. My son really enjoyed her Ranger in Time series. This sounds like another fun way to teach about history! I teach social studies, so I’m all for more engaging books about history that it seem so boring.
    I’ll keep an eye out for these!


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