Monday, July 29, 2013

Thanksgiving on Plymouth Plantation

Diane Stanley finishes the Time Traveling Twins series with Thanksgiving on Plymouth Plantation (Time-Traveling Twins)and it is a strong end. I wish she had continued the series as I think a fantasy historical picture book series was a great way to engage younger children in learning about our country's history. I picked up the three titles she published. I will have to keep searching for someone else to fill in the historical blanks.

In this edition, the twins and their grandmother travel to Plymouth where the twins learn many historical details often left out of many textbooks for children on the topic. They learn what colony Plymouth was originally part of until they got their own charter. As the twins travel through the Plymouth settlement, the reader is introduced to historically accurate information about the lives of the Pilgrims. For instance, one of the children remarks about what a bad way it would have been to spend Christmas and his Grandmother informs him that the Pilgrims didn't celebrate Christmas.

I was impressed that a children's book could introduce so much about the lives, religious beliefs, historical figures, culture, food, education, and work habits of the time.

I would recommend this book to teachers, homeschooling parents, and anyone who will have younger children that need to be entertained on Thanksgiving Day. It is a great educational, but also entertaining resource. While I am sending the first two books in the series for an upcoming birthday, I'll be sending this book out at Thanksgiving. I think it will be more appropriate at that time.

Monday, July 22, 2013

A Lion to Guard Us



I don't see many historical fiction or non-fiction books for children regarding Jamestown. When I saw A Lion to Guard Us on a suggested list I thought it would be interesting to check it out of the library and review it myself.

The story begins in 1609 when a young sailor travels to a home to bring a message to a woman regarding her husband. The woman is ill, so the message is given to the eldest daughter Amanda. She discovers that her father is alive and well and has built a home for them in Jamestown. He hopes to be able to send for them in another year. Their visitor cannot stay and the girl is left with thousands of questions.

For those looking for a book on the Jamestown colony, there is little here. This is a story of adventure that requires a little suspension of disbelief. The children's mother was to have worked for their board while their father was away. However, with her illness, Amanda has taken on her chores. Her two younger siblings are restricted to a room or on the stairs while she works. While the owner is portrayed as cruel, it is also rare that the mother would have been allowed to keep the children with her while she lived in at the home. Most children will likely not know of that issue.

After hearing from the sailor, Amanda grows anxious about preparing to leave for America. The owner of the home already has plans to take the younger children on as unpaid servants Amanda does not want this for their future. When her mother dies, she sets off to put a plan in motion that will take them to America.

This is where the story gets a little less believable although portions of the ship's journey are historically documented. While no ship will take unaccompanied children to America, their mother's doctor decides he wants an adventure and offers to take the children with him. It is possible that the doctor would have had a sudden desire to emigrate. However, having the means and the will to take three children with him seemed a bit questionable. During the journey to Jamestown, the doctor is washed overboard, leaving the children alone again.

The title of the story comes from a doorknocker the children bring with them from the home the father sold to pay his passage and to keep the family in funds while he was gone. The money is lost to the homeowner when the mother dies, but the children manage to keep the doorknocker which becomes trouble for them during the story.

As the journey continues, a storm destroys the ship they are traveling on leaving them stranded in Bermuda. While the children’s characters in the story are historical fiction, the ship and the trip are not. This part of the journey is historically documented. Eventually new boats are built and the passengers are able to continue on to Virginia.

I think I was disappointed because the story was all about the journey and really had no time for the family to reunite and discuss their new life in Virginia. When they arrive, their father is gravely ill. There is no way to know if he lives or dies and then what happens to the children.

The author's interest was obviously in the perils of ocean travel for colonists. However, with so little historical fiction on colonial Jamestown, it would have been interesting to read what happened to the children when they arrived, how they settled in, and what became of them.






Monday, July 15, 2013

There's a Wolf at the Door



I am always looking for new alternate fairy tales and I came across There's a Wolf at the Door while searching for another title.

This story includes five chapters of an ongoing graphic novel story. Each story is told from the wolf's perspective about hunting for food and his feelings about the characters he meets. There are no breaks in the stories, each continues where the last left off. The stories begin with The Three Little Pigs, continue with The Boy Who Cried Wolf, move on to Little Red Riding Hood, falls into the Wolf in Sheep's Clothing, and finishes with the Wolf and Seven Little Goslings.

This is not an apologist story. The wolf is honest about his intent to eat the other characters. However, he does have some interesting stories to tell about the other characters. My favorite is his story about how the vain Red Riding Hood becomes more thoughtful after her encounter with him. One of my favorite moments was the sheep rescuing the boy in The Boy Who Cried Wolf.

This is another great addition to my list of alternate fairy tales.





Monday, July 8, 2013

The Memory Coat



The Memory Coatis the story of a Russian Jewish family's trip from Tsarist Russia through Ellis Island. The story is beautifully told and the illustrations help the reader understand more of the historical context.

I was fortunate to hear one of my Grandmother's tell her story about going through Ellis Island. Her stories have stayed with me all these years because she realized there were no guarantees even when you did make it as far as the island. Many children today don't have access to their family history to hear these stories. This story is a window into that world.

The story begins in Russia as the Tsar is beginning a round of programs against the Jews in Russia. The story focuses on Rachel and her cousin Grisha who has come to live with the family after his family died in an epidemic. The two are close. Rachel tells stories and Grisha illustrates them entertaining each other for hours. A year after his parents death, Grisha still grieves for his family and clings to the coat his mother made him despite their offers of a new one.

When the family decides to relocate to America, they sell their belongings to raise the money for the trip. They are concerned that even with enough money, they could be turned away at Ellis Island during the inspections. Going back to Russia during the pogroms could be a death sentence. Despite their encouragement to improve his looks for the inspectors, Grisha refuses to surrender his coat.

The family survives the journey to America and while waiting for their inspections, Grisha falls and cuts his eye. This could be a devastating blow to the family. Eye disease was one of the reasons people were turned away. The family's challenge and solution to the problem provide an insight to the issues many families faced on Ellis Island.

While this is a picture book, it is also a great book to use with children of all ages to discuss immigration at the time. The story is compelling. Younger children will appreciate the story as written. Older children can probe the themes and issues in the book far deeper than younger children who will not understand all the historical issues presented in the book.





Monday, July 1, 2013

Good Times Travel Agency in Ancient Egypt



While researching a request for interesting books about the Ancient world for a homeschooling family member I ran across the Good Times Travel Agency series. I like to preview before purchasing, so I borrowed a copy of Adventures in Ancient Egypt (Good Times Travel Agency) from my local library.

This series is appealing as it is written in a graphic novel format. Three bored children out walking end up entering an old travel agency that they have always avoided do to its rather scary looking building. The youngest sister runs into the store her fraternal twin siblings chase after her and meet the travel agency's owner. He does not relieve the children of their concerns as he begins mumbling about the lack of visitors. When the brother grabs a book that has fallen off the shelf on Ancient Egypt, he promises them a wonderful journey.

In a flash, the children find themselves in Egypt around 2500 B.C. As they consult they guidebook to find out more about what happened they discover valuable information about Egypt at this time. Emma also realizes that they cannot go home until they read every word in the book.

The children and the reader continue to learn more about Egypt as the guidebook continues. In order to keep the reader engaged a conflict arises when Josh is mistaken for an Egyptian boy who is supposed to report to work for the King. Emma and Libby must of course find Josh before they can return home. The rest of the book consists of Emma and Libby searching for Josh, allowing the writer to share more information as they learn about Egypt as in their efforts to find him.

This book will appeal to younger children who are exploring Ancient Egypt and even older students who might be reluctant readers. While the information is provided in graphic novel format, the guidebook entries are a good introduction for students who are learning about the culture of the time. This series reminds me a little of the Sightseers Guides only done in graphic style and with a story attached to the guidebook.




Monday, June 24, 2013

The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell



In my quest to find new fairy tale versions I discovered The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell a new series, which I didn't realize until I started researching a sequel is written by a Glee star.

The book starts as many time travel or alternate adventure stories for children do, you must take characters from one place and take them to another. In this version those characters are fraternal twins Alex and Connor Bailey. Both children are recovering from the loss of their father and the emotional and financial upheavals that loss has created.

Alex is the stereotypical smart girl with her hand always in the air waiting for the teacher to call on her. Connor struggles more with school and misses the father who helped him make sense of his life with stories and lots of patience. Early in the story, we realize the twins are struggling not only with the loss of their father, but in many ways with the loss of their mother who now works constantly to support them.

The children's teacher at school is doing a unit on traditional fairy tales. I was curious about the teacher and thought she might have a larger role in the story. While many schools do teach units on traditional tales at this age, this teacher seemed to be very focused on having the Bailey children understand the meaning behind the stories. After reading the book, I'm left wondering if this was a false lead or if this will come up later.

As with many of these travel books, the mode of travel always seems awkward to me. This one is a common tool used in fantasy travel. However, I am not sure there is a believable way to travel to another dimension. Therefore, I think the awkwardness is rather expected.

For an audience exposed to the TV show Once Upon a Time this provides some interesting alternate back stories and alternate answers to the questions about the fairy tale realm. What happens after happily ever after? Who are the princes in the stories? What happened to Snow Whites stepmother to make her so mean?

There are some interesting political and romantic issues to resolve, too. In this land, the Happy Ever After Assembly is created from of stories Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Rapunzel, and Snow White. Red Riding Hood is also a member as the only elected Queen. There are other areas not ruled by fairy tale Queens, the Dwarf Forest, The Elf Empire, and The Troll and Goblin Territory. However, even here readers will discover familiar names. We discover that Goldilocks has been set up and her boyfriend is a hero from another fairy tale. Her betrayer is not the typical evil suspect you might expect. As their teacher was trying to explain, fairy tales teach a great deal about the human condition.

The children discover there is a magic spell that will grant any wish. It can only be used twice and it has already been used once. A good portion of the story revolves around the journey they take to find the items they need to cast the spell, allowing them to interact with a variety of fairy tale characters and story lines. The children have a journal from the first person to follow the quest and it was this that led me to guess the outcome of the story.

The end of the quest was a bit different than I expected. Like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, the children do find a way home, but there is a twist. I rather expected this answer when the children started reading the journal.

This was a good start to the series. I heard that the next one will be out in August. If the second one is as good, the books will be headed off to a couple of Christmas trees this year.





Monday, June 17, 2013

Guns for General Washington



It seems that there are many children's books that seem to cluster around certain events in the American Revolution. These books seem to leave other events barely mentioned or forgotten. I love finding interesting books that cover those left out time periods in interesting ways. I have always found it disappointing that few books cover Washington's defeat of the British troops in Boston. Even the few I've reviewed and listed seem to have the munitions magically appear as if the trip from New York to Boston in winter was nothing. Guns for General Washington: A Story of the American Revolutiontells the story of how Colonel Henry Knox first has to convince Washington to let him attempt the journey and then how he and his brother William manage the trip.

Growing up in this area with all the references to the Knox Trail I thought I was familiar with the history. However, I did learn a few things. One of the most interesting was how they thickened the ice to provide them with a better chance of getting their heavy sleds over the water.

The author does a great job at making this journey accessible for children. In a day with trucks and trains that can move equipment with the assistance of machines to load and unload them it is hard to imagine the challenge of moving Knox's artillery from Fort Ticonderoga to Boston. The physical and financial challenges of the terrain, weather, and war conditions can be hard for children to understand. The author does a great job of painting the scene and stressing the importance of the mission. It is only with Colonel Knox’s successful mission that the Colonial troops were able to take Dorchester Heights and force the British to leave Boston.

This is one of the author’s greatest strengths. He is able to write about military strategy in a way children can understand. Other books I have reviewed clearly indicate the strategic advantage of Washington moving artillery to Dorchester Heights. Some even write of the challenges and hardships that the British faced in leaving Boston as quickly as they did. This book presents Washington's military strategy and why it worked in terms children can easily understand. That is a topic I have not previously seen adequately addressed.

This is a historical account, not historical fiction as many of the previous novels I have reviewed. The adventure is an amazing accomplishment, but it may require more encouragement to get reluctant readers into the story without the time travel, added spies, interesting personal connections, and other devices historical fiction and historical fantasy use to engage readers. However, it is a short book only about 140 pages. It should not prove too daunting a task considering the amount of information provided. I think it is a worthy journey for parents or teachers who are willing to take it with their children or students.




Monday, June 10, 2013

The Orphan of Ellis Island



The Orphan Of Ellis Island (Time Travel Adventures)Review hereis part of Elvira Woodruff's Time Travel Adventure series.

This is a departure from the time traveling characters introduced in her previous novel George Washington's Socks (Time Travel Adventures) that spent two books visiting the American Revolution. She also takes a different approach to visiting the past in this book.

Our hero in this novel is a foster child, Dominic Cantori. Dominic has just left another foster placement and arrived at a new home and school in time for a trip to Ellis Island. Feeling left out and uncomfortable he tells a lie about knowing something about his family history and fears being mocked by his new classmates. In order to avoid their rath, he ducks out of the tour and hides out falling asleep in his hiding place, awaking after the museum has closed for the night.

While exploring, he returns to an exhibit he visited earlier in the day, which has telephones one can pick up and hear the voices of immigrants who tell of their experiences coming through Ellis Island. Frustrated and alone, he hopes one will answer him back and finally one does, leading us to his time travel adventure. This is where the story is less convincing than the previous novels she wrote. The other two are based on old themes of time travel portals in the mist. This one leaves the reader wondering if the boy time traveled or had a psychic experience connecting to the people who went before him. At the end, even he wonders if he has had a dream. That was one of harder parts of the book to accept as real.

The story itself was better. Dominic finds himself in Italy and most readers will likely understand who he is with long before the author tells you at the end. He meets up with a group of orphan boys who the local priest has found homes for in American. Their need to travel is heightened when the boys run into some legal trouble. Tragedy strikes and Dominic finds himself taking one of the boy's places on the trip to America.

For someone looking for information on Ellis Island, this book covers more of the immigration experience than the experience at Ellis Island. The detailed descriptions of the challenges the children faced in Italy, their reasons for leaving, and the conditions of their journey are great background information. However, for a book that has a title of The Orphan of Ellis Island, one would expect more information about the actual experience of getting through Ellis Island. This was almost an afterthought. The information is minimal. I also would have liked more resolution to Dominic's story after he leaves Ellis Island. While I did not expect a fairy tale ending, it would have been nice to know what happened to him in his new foster situation.

Over the years, I have read a few novels geared for children about Irish immigration. This is one of the first I have read about the journey for Italian immigrants. Parents and teachers who are looking to provide children with information about that experience may want to read this before using it with their children, but I would recommend it for that purpose.





Monday, June 3, 2013

A Spy in the King's Colony



A Spy in the King's Colony (Mysteries in Time (Silver Moon Press))is a short historical fiction novel from the Mysteries in Time series. This book is set during the occupation of Boston.

When I first read the name of the series, I thought it might be another time travel series, but it is not. The mystery in time refers to a mystery story set in a historical time. Not a time travel mystery, like the two previous books I reviewed.

This is a short easily read chapter book. It takes place during the time the British troops occupied Boston during the Revolutionary War. One of the strengths of this book is that it helps to illustrate the divisions that occurred among families and friends over loyalties. This is often emphasized when children study the Civil War, but less so when they read about the Revolutionary War. This story is told from the point of view of eleven-year-old Emily Parker. She and her family are loyal Patriots. Her father has taken great risks for the cause. However, she has doubts about a lifelong friend of the family and fears his loyalties may be in question.

Her adventure of discovery provides children with some understanding of how confusing it must have been for children who moved among friends who might also be foes. A misplaced word or confidence for a child on either side could have dangerous consequences for the child's family or friends.

The book provides some interesting historical details regarding the use of spies during the war. It also provides more details about how the colonists prevented the British from discovering Knox's movement of munitions to Boston. The details are not great, but the rhyme in this book is one of the few mentions in a children's book I've seen of Framingham. In all I have not discovered too many children's books that focus on how Washington forced the British to leave Boston. The main story seems to be Lexington and Concord. While those events are important, the British troops leaving should not be ignored.

I also like this book because there is a strong girl as the main character. While woman's positions in the Revolution were limited do to women's situations in society, it does help modern girls to connect to the material when you bring female characters to the story who are strong interesting females engaged in telling the story. I have had complaints from younger female relatives that all I ever find are "boys" stories when I find adventure historical fiction. They want the girls to have adventure, too. This story fills that requirement.

It appears this book is currently out of print. However, I found my copy at the local library. I suspect there are several used book sites that also may have it if your local library does not have a copy.


Monday, May 27, 2013

George Washington's Spy



George Washington's Spy (Time Travel Adventures)is the time traveling sequel to George Washington's Socks (Time Travel Adventures)
which I reviewed earlier.

This sequel has the children returning to the Revolutionary War, but to a time before their previous visit. This time the boys have been assigned to read about Washington's fortifications at Dorchester Heights, but before they can complete the assignment, the boat arrives allowing them to live the assignment.

Perhaps the author realized the book needed more girls, because in this story while the boys are camping out, Katie is staying with a group of girls next door and when they don't believe her about having met George Washington, she becomes determined to show them where the boat is stored and the adventure begins.

The author wants to provide the reader with a chance to see life in Boston from a Tory or loyalist perspective and that of a Patriot or rebel one. To do this she splits up the boys and the girls. Katie's foot is hurt in the journey. While the boys head off to find help, Patriots capture them and the girls are taken in and cared for by a Tory family who mistakes them for the children of British aristocracy. This split allows the author to provide more insight and perhaps some balance in telling the story of the evacuation of Boston.

As I mentioned in my review of Woodruff's previous book, her novels provide great background knowledge for children with the added draw of fantasy. However, they can be graphic. In this novel, we see how the tensions between the Tories and the Patriots play out and it can be harsh. While many students may have heard of tar and feathering, the author personalizes it when the Tory father of the girls that rescue Matt's friends is tarred and feathered and dies in Matt's arms. As in the first book, Matt is led to question his belief that one side is good and the other evil in this conflict. In a similar situation, the same father is afraid to have his Patriot brother-in-law in his house for fear of what the British soldiers would do to his family, even though his personal loyalties are clear. He ultimately is killed for them. Through the character's eyes, we see that the situation is complicated.

I thought this was an important topic that is not often addressed, especially in children's literature. While the Sons of Liberty is given credit for getting the movement started, there was also a fear that without controls the mob could turn the Revolution into a mob action. Surviving Tories and Patriots would live to see what unchecked mob violence would accomplish during the French Revolution. The fears were not realized here, but many Tories and Patriots both had reasons to fear that the potential existed. While Hancock and other Boston merchants backed the cause of freedom, they also knew they had to restore order or chaos would destroy them, too.

Living in New England, I've always been aware of the story of Dorchester Heights and the evacuation of Boston. In fact while most people get confused, Boston does not have a city holiday for St. Patrick's Day, it is technically Evacuation Day in Boston. The city celebrates the day the troops left. What this book addresses that I never thought much about is who left. I knew the troops boarded ships and left, but they didn't just abandon Tory families to their fate, they helped them leave, too. I knew many families immigrated to Canada and some back to England after the Revolution. However, I never thought about it in relation to the evacuation of Boston. While some stayed, it was quite dangerous for those that did. Many Tories already facing mob attacks with British protection, feared death without any military protection. They left under British naval protection. Some settled in Canada, others moved to colonies still under British protection, and others who had the resources returned to England. To illustrate the rush to evacuate our characters almost end up immigrating to Halifax. They manage to get off the boat and once again, Katie saves the day when she spies the boat.

As always, I suggest parents or teachers review the book before using. However, I think this is a great resource for providing children with the historical background on the evacuation of Boston and a historical perspective on life for the Tories during this time.









Monday, May 20, 2013

George Washington's Sock's



I am always looking for titles that will engage children in learning more about history and I find titles that can combine fantasy or science fiction with history have a good chance at engaging reluctant readers to at least try reading them. George Washington's Socks (Time Travel Adventures)fills that need.

One challenge with this model is making the story believable. Fantasy requires the reader to suspend disbelief, but some children's fantasy requires children to ignore main parts of the story, to get to the parts of the story that they want to enjoy. In time travel stories, this is often the worst challenge. In this case, the author employs a very old oral tradition of boats disappearing into the mist and travelers being lost in the mists of time. Not only does it attach to a long oral tradition of stories, but the author also ties it the children discovering that there is a history of people disappearing in their town. They discover the answer to the mystery as part of their own time travel adventure. I was impressed with the smoothness of the time travel in this book.

In the author notes, a comment is made that one of the motivations for writing this book is that the author is a pacifist who had a son enamored with GI Joe. She wanted him to understand the realities of war. It states with her research she came away with an understanding of the strength and courage of those who fought. While this book looks like a slightly longer version of a Magic Tree House time travel book, it is a bit more realistic. Two soldiers, one American and one Hessian are killed and the author is graphic in describing some of the issues of dying most students likely don't encounter when thinking of death. If the author notes are accurate, this may have been done to help her son understand the realities of war.

Another strength of the book is it allows children to see a glimpse of life for soldiers on both sides of the war. At one point, the main character Matthew realizes that there is good and bad on both sides. There are no clean wars. As a modern child, he is the eyes for the reader showing them how the soldiers survived and died. As with all time travel stories, there are some stretches of the imagination, but for the most part they are handled well. In places the author does well simplifying complicated political and military situations and in other places, she over simplifies and complicates the story. However, it is the strongest book of this genre I have read. As always I suggest parents preview the book if they have any concerns.

I liked the book. It starts with a realistic premise, boys starting a club and camping out. While not every child has a fascination with American history, I am sure there are lots of kids who do have non-traditional interests who would love to have a group of friends to hang out with and discuss their interests. I like the idea that the book doesn't assume it is weird to have academic interests. I think that aspect could be a draw for some students.

Girls will be less than thrilled that the only female character is a nagging little sister. However, she does end up a hero. Without her help, they might never have made it home. That might excuse her earlier weaker role.






Monday, May 13, 2013

If You Lived When Women Won Their Rights



I had a request from a family member who was looking for titles on Suffragists that were written at an age appropriate level when I came across If You Lived When Women Won Their Rights while researching some other books.

I have been a big fan of this series and had not realized they had published a book on the history of the movement to give women the right to vote. This was actually published in 2006. Most of the titles in this series start with If You Lived, If You Traveled, If You Were, etc. The format for the books is question and answered based. They are a great introduction to just about any historical topic a child might be studying.

This book starts out by discussing the rights woman had in colonial times and during the Revolutionary War. Along with discussing the impact of their lack of rights, it also addresses the responsibilities women had, even though they lacked the rights to control the situations that impacted those responsibilities. The book addresses the issues of marriage laws, access to education, and the challenges of employment for women during the 1800's. From there the book moves to discuss how and why some women got involved in the abolition and prohibition movements during the 1800's. The author explains that from their challenges and restrictions of working in the abolitionist movement, women came together to form a women's movement to have more rights and freedoms.

The author then introduces the reader to the 1848 Seneca Women's Rights Convention. While the Convention did not succeed, immediately in getting women the right to vote, it planted seeds and the author does an age appropriate job of explaining the progress and the challenges women faced on the road to getting the right to vote in 1920.

I thought the author did a particularly good job of sticking to age appropriate explanations as she explained how the women's rights movement was stalled during the Civil War and why women were frustrated that they did not receive equal treatment when male slaves were freed and granted the right to vote. These can be sensitive subjects and I was impressed with how the author approached the topic for children. It got a little harsher as she described the treatment of the women during the 1900's, but I am not sure there is an age appropriate way to discuss the treatment the women received when they were marching and assembling.

As with all books, I always suggest screening before using. As I mentioned, I picked this up for a family member who is looking for age appropriate materials for her daughter on the topic. I think it is one of the better books I have found on the topic.






Monday, May 6, 2013

Joining the Boston Tea Party



Joining the Boston Tea Party (The Time-Traveling Twins)is part of the Time Traveling Twins series.

I liked the book because it provides picture book readers with a fantasy connection to history that the Magic Treehouse series provide to chapter book readers. The concept is much simpler, but the readers are younger. Grandma has a magic hat that allows the children and Grandma to travel to historic time periods. In this book, the children arrive in Boston and actually participate in the Boston Tea Party.

Two criticisms I have read of the book are that the brother calls his sister a dummy and that the children don't tell their grandmother they are going to the Tea Party with a relative because they believe their Grandmother would not let them go. I certainly don't approve of children calling each other names. However, having four brothers this struck me as fairly realistic behavior between brothers and sisters. I must say sometimes that the relationships between book brothers and sisters seem overly pleasant to be believable. As with all things, parents can choose how to address this issue. Some will choose to censor the book; others may use it as a teachable moment, asking their children if it is OK for him to say that to his sister. I think the second is likely to be more effective.

The second criticism is the children defying Grandmother. Again, this struck me as realistic. Given a chance to head off with a historical figure and experience the Boston Tea Party as a child, I too would not have told my Grandmother and risked her anger later. As a child, I would not have processed or thought through the dangers involved in this activity. Ultimately, experience and my parents’ interventions got through to me and I learned about cause and effect, dangerous choices, and consequences. That is what makes this moment in the book a teachable one. What a great time to discuss the risks and dangers that the children did not think about and why talking with their Grandmother would have been the right choice. I think it is important to try to put a little reality into children's books. If we only ever write a cleansed version where children are all well behaved, do the right thing, and never defy authority, it is hard to teach kids the reasons why we want them to behave.

One of the reasons I like this book for discussing the Boston Tea Party is that it makes the topic approachable for young readers. The issues of the tension in Boston, the tax on tea, and the disguises used by the Sons of Liberty are all addressed in age appropriate terms. The cartoon illustrations and the thought bubbles will grab children’s attention as they read the text that provides most of the factual information about the topic.

I picked up the three titles in this series for a younger relative's birthday. I love finding picture books that are accurate, make American history approachable and fun.




Wednesday, May 1, 2013

History Book List World History

I have been working on an American History book list and recently started getting requests for World History recommendations. I should have been recording these earlier, but it is never too late to start. I know I keep going back to the American History list when I am asked, so this will be my reminder list for world history Ancient and Modern as I find more books to list.

Ancient China:

DK Eyewitness Books: Ancient China

You Wouldn't Want to Work on the Great Wall of China!: Defenses You'd Rather Not Build

Ancient Egypt:

Adventures in Ancient Egypt (Good Times Travel Agency)Review here

DK Eyewitness Books: Ancient Egypt

Cleopatra (Time-Traveling Twins) by Stanley, Diane, Vennema, Peter (1997) Paperback

History News: The Egyptian News

Mummies and Pyramids: A Nonfiction Companion to Magic Tree House 3: Mummies in the Morning

Ancient Egypt: A Guide to Egypt in the Time of the Pharoahs (Sightseers)

You Wouldn't Want to Be an Egyptian Mummy!: Digusting Things You'd Rather Not Know

You Wouldn't Want to Be Cursed by King Tut!: A Mysterious Death You'd Rather Avoid

You Wouldn't Want to Be a Pyramid Builder!: A Hazardous Job You'd Rather Not Have

Ancient Greece:

Adventures in Ancient Greece (Good Times Travel Agency)

DK Eyewitness Books: Ancient Greece

History News: The Greek News

Ancient Greece and the Olympics: A Nonfiction Companion to Magic Tree House (Magic Tree House Fact Tracker)

Ancient Greece: A guide to the Golden Age of Greece (Sightseers)

You Wouldn't Want to Be a Greek Athlete!: Races You'd Rather Not Run

You Wouldn't Want to Be in Alexander the Great's Army!: Miles You'd Rather Not March

You Wouldn't Want to Be a Slave in Ancient Greece! (Revised Edition)

Ancient Rome:

DK Eyewitness Books: Ancient Rome

History News: The Roman News

Magic Tree House Fact Tracker 14 Ancient Rome and Pompeii A Nonfiction Companion to Magic Tree House #13 Vacation Under the Volcano by Osborne, Mary Pope, Boyce, Natalie Pope [Random,2006] (Paperback)

You Wouldn't Want to Be a Roman Gladiator!: Gory Things You'd Rather Not Know

Mesopotamia:

DK Eyewitness Books: Mesopotamia

You Wouldn't Want to Be an Assyrian Soldier!: An Ancient Army You'd Rather Not Join

You Wouldn't Want to Be a Sumerian Slave!: A Life of Hard Labor You'd Rather Avoid

Middle Ages:

Medieval Life (DK Eyewitness Books)

Knights And Castles (Magic Tree House Research Guide, paper)

You Wouldn't Want to Be a Crusader!: A War You'd Rather Not Fight

You Wouldn't Want to Be a Medieval Knight! (Revised Edition)

You Wouldn't Want to Live in a Medieval Castle!: A Home You'd Rather Not Inhabit

You Wouldn't Want to Work on a Medieval Cathedral!: A Difficult Job That Never Ends

Vikings:

Adventures with the Vikings (Good Times Travel Agency)

Viking World: A Guide to 11th Century Scandinavia (Sightseers)

World War II:

Jars of Hope: How One Woman Helped Save 2,500 Children During the Holocaust (Encounter: Narrative Nonfiction Picture Books)Review here

Snow Treasure Review here

The Journey That Saved Curious George: The True Wartime Escape of Margret and H.A. ReyReview here

The Little Ships: The Heroic Rescue at Dunkirk in World War II Review here