Thursday, May 12, 2011

Let it Begin Here! Lexington and Concord First Battles of the American Revolution

Let It Begin Here!: Lexington & Concord: First Battles of the American Revolution is a picture book account of the Battle of Lexington and Concord written by Dennis Brindell Fradin and illustrated by Larry Day.

I came across this book title while trying to find a copy of Day of Glory: The Guns at Lexington and Concord from the library. I put a reserve request in only to discover there are actually two books with similar titles. I have Let It Begin Here!: April 19, 1775: The Day the American Revolution Began by Don Brown on reserve now and will review that when I get my copy from the library.

One of the greatest strengths of this books was Larry Day's illustrations. The book opens with a battle map that outlines the trip from Boston to Concord. The watercolor pictures bring the story alive and this makes the book a resource for both younger children and older students. The pictures are not cartoonish or juvenile. It is a good chance to bring art into a discussion of history.

Dennis Brindell Fradin chose an interesting format for his picture book. He starts with a Who's Who dividing characters on the American side and the British side. The next page is an Introduction that outlines the history leading up to the events of Lexington and Concord. The book continues in a less detailed hour-by-hour format than found in Day of Glory. This is expected because of the picture book versus chapter book format. However, I do think some of the details of the events could have been more detailed and some of the less important information left out.

For instance, there is speculation about whom the colonists got their information from regarding Gage's movements. Gage's wife has always been suspect because of her American heritage, but there is no proof that she leaked the information. While this author acknowledges there is no proof, twice in the book he strongly hints that she is responsible for betraying her husband without ever providing compelling evidence.

The book ends with a quick summary of the war and a page I found interesting called What Happened to the People. This page gives a few details of the lives of some of the figures on the American and British side of the Battle. My only issue was Mrs. Gage being listed as side unknown. That seemed unnecessary and inappropriate. The book would have been stronger without the attacks on Mrs. Gage and more of Spenser's focus on the people and the towns that came together to fight the Regulars.

I would recommend this book as a resource for parents and teachers looking for children's books on the topic. The detailed hourly accounts provide a good format for examining the battle. Children can make their own outline and add details as they learn more from other resources.

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