Wednesday, March 24, 2010
A Revolutionary Children's Book on the Revolution
Pirates...a petticoat loaned to a boyfriend so he can complete a dangerous mission...a young man who gets caught up in a spy ring and then helps two lovers betray their country...a sneaky guy who pretends to be a peddler so he can case the joint...doing acts in the name of Jehovah...a general who is more loyal to his country than to his own plantation. Sound like intriguing historical fiction for adults right? Well, it's not fiction, it's all true, and it's for children. It's all part of the history of our own country in the Revolutionary War. Best of all, it's all told in a history book written for children.
This is the coolest book about the Revolutionary War ever! It's called King George, What Was His Problem? and I give it five stars. (I read about it in the Chinaberry catalog. Go to chinaberry.com and request one. I have been getting that catalog for over ten years now. I read the book reviews in it and then get the books from the library, both for me and for my children. I have read so many great books suggested to me from Chinaberry. If your library doesn't have the book, you can request it through interlibrary loan. This is one book that after reading, I want to buy and have in my permanent collection.)
This is a masterpiece you probably won't find used in a public school classroom. It is just plain too revolutionary and politically incorrect. It was written by Steven Sheinkin. Steve is a reformed textbook writer who now writes books that kids actually can't wait to read. One of the first stories in this book is an example. It's a story that appeals to little boys but would horrify sedate citizens. The story goes something like this (I read it last month and my memory might be a little fuzzy): the Sons of Liberty made an effigy of a tax collector for Britain who lived in New England. After the Stamp Act, these patriots cut off the effigy's head and sent it to the tax collector at his office, while they were having a bonfire outside burning the effigy.
My husband has an uncle who fascinates me. He once made the remark that the Sons of Liberty were terrorists. When I first heard this I thought, "So they threw in a bunch of tea into the Boston Harbor. Big deal." But after reading this book I totally believe the terrorist part. They committed violent acts, more than just the dumping of the tea.
Anyway, I loved this book! I read McCullough's 1776 book a few summers ago. That was hard reading. If I had read this book first my mind would have been in a much better place to understand 1776. I passed the AP American history test in high school, but I was taught history mostly the conveyor belt way, of learning dates and names, regurgitating on a test for credit, then forgetting most of it. Credit, then forget it. From this book, I finally understand the whole "one if land, two if by sea" thing, the geography of Boston and the Boston Harbor, and why the Battles at Trenton and Yorktown were so important. I love the maps included in this book!
This is the way to learn history, by learning the stories of the humans involved. That way we involve emotion, and it's the emotion that cements the dates and events into our brains and hearts. These humans were usually religious, they weren't perfect, and they were liberty loving and clever and petty and heroic. Thanks to Sheinkin, we can hear these stories. He has written a book about the War Between the States (as a Georgian told my mother-in-law who went on an LDS mission there, in her southern drawl, "There was nothing civil about it!") that I can't wait to read, and also one on the wild west. See stevesheinkin.com. He "tells you everything your schoolbooks didn't!"