Social studies teachers aren’t likely to assign these for homework, but some could easily be made in class to finish off...



After encouraging kids to eat their math and science homework (2011 and 2014), McCallum and Hernandez this time pair six recipes to the history of America from 1620 to 1789.

The historical highlights include the Mayflower, the Pilgrims, Plymouth, and the first Thanksgiving (Thanksgiving Succotash); life in the original 13 Colonies (Colonial Cherry-Berry Grunt); the French and Indian War (Lost Bread); slavery (Southern Plantation Hoe Cakes); the Boston Tea Party and the increasing enmity toward England (Revolutionary Honey-Jumble Cookies); and the Declaration of Independence and the Revolutionary War (Independence Ice Cream). Each period is summarized in a single page of general background. The recipe follows on a double-page spread, and then a further double-page spread gives more (and more specific) information. An introduction includes a timeline of the entire period and some cooking tips (“Please ask an adult to assist you, especially when things are sharp or hot”), which include pointing out that the recipes have been modernized. The book ends with a brief review of each period, glossary, and index. The cutesy cartoon artwork visually represents some aspect(s) of the learning and goes nicely with some of the corny puns the author adds in. The recipes themselves include pretty basic ingredients, and the steps are easy to follow…provided readers know what to do when it says to “beat,” “whip,” etc.

Social studies teachers aren’t likely to assign these for homework, but some could easily be made in class to finish off Colonial studies. (Nonfiction 7-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-57091-923-7

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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A crisp historical vignette.



A boy experiences the Boston Tea Party, the response to the Intolerable Acts, and the battle at Breed’s Hill in Charlestown.

Philbrick has taken his Bunker Hill (2013), pulled from its 400 pages the pivotal moments, added a 12-year-old white boy—Benjamin Russell—as the pivot, and crafted a tale of what might have happened to him during those days of unrest in Boston from 1773 to 1775 (Russell was a real person). Philbrick explains, in plainspoken but gradually accelerating language, the tea tax, the Boston Tea Party, the Intolerable Acts, and the quartering of troops in Boston as well as the institution of a military government. Into this ferment, he introduces Benjamin Russell, where he went to school, his part-time apprenticeship at Isaiah Thomas’ newspaper, sledding down Beacon Hill, and the British officer who cleaned the cinders from the snow so the boys could sled farther and farther. It is these humanizing touches that make war its own intolerable act. Readers see Benjamin, courtesy of Minor’s misty gouache-and-watercolor tableaux, as he becomes stranded outside Boston Neck and becomes a clerk for the patriots. Significant characters are introduced, as is the geography of pre-landfilled Boston, to gain a good sense of why certain actions took place where they did. The final encounter at Breed’s Hill demonstrates how a battle can be won by retreating.

A crisp historical vignette. (maps, author’s note, illustrator’s note) (Historical fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: May 23, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-399-16674-7

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 14, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2017

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A well-crafted, feline-centric Franklin tale for young readers.


In this children’s novel, Benjamin Franklin’s cat tells the real stories behind the man’s greatest accomplishments.

No one knows a man like his cat. That’s the premise behind this portrait of America’s most colorful Founding Father, as related by his black-and-white cat, Missy Hooper. “Dr. Franklin and I worked together for a great many years,” demures Missy in the book’s foreword. “I taught him many things he didn’t know. He taught me many things, some of which I didn’t know and some of which I forgot I knew. Together we changed the course of history.” Missy meets Ben when he is just a 23-year-old printer’s assistant. He’s never met a cat who could speak before, and she immediately becomes a source of inspiration for his signature aphorisms. With Missy’s help, Ben soon starts founding institutions—a library, a hospital, a fire department—and developing inventions. Missy even witnesses Ben discover electricity. But their greatest collaborations begin decades later (Missy’s breed of cat can live for nearly a century) when Ben takes up the cause of American liberty. In fact, to hear Missy tell it, if it wasn’t for her (and Ben), the United States of America never would have existed. Written in Missy’s voice, the prose is sassy and humorous, building up the cat at the expense of her owner: “Too many buttery sauces and too much caviar and goose liver paste. Both Ben and I had put on a lot of weight. I carried it well. With all my fur you could barely tell I’d put on any weight at all.” The enjoyable tale is accompanied by stylish, uncredited black-and-white illustrations as well as a glossary of words in Cattish (the language in which the book claims to have been originally written). The jokes largely fit in with the humor one associates with cat owners (for example, felines are adorable divas with an inflated sense of their own importance), but Greenburg manages to blend this perspective effectively with Franklin’s unusual life story. Young readers who come for the cat material will learn a lot about this famous figure, and if what Missy has to say about the Feline Historical Society is true, there may be more cat-authored biographies in the future.

A well-crafted, feline-centric Franklin tale for young readers.

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-63411-010-5

Page Count: 198

Publisher: Thunderstone Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 6, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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