AMERICAN REVOLUTION, 1700-1800 by Joy Masoff


Age Range: 10 - 12
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This title in the “Chronicles of America” series (Colonial Times, 1600–1700, see below), provides an introduction to everyday life in the 18th century, and then describes the events leading up to, during, and after the Revolutionary War. It’s a lot to tackle in 48 pages, half taken up with photographs from “America's Living History Museums.” The title has browser appeal, but too little substance and overgeneralization may mislead young readers. For example: “Most people in America gathered together to pray at least once a week.” Or: “Even if folks had come from Germany or Holland, they quickly became English citizens of the Americas.” The tone sometimes trivializes the topic, for example: Pirates are described as “the naughtiest men.” And under the heading “Ouch!” the author states: “Some unlucky prisoners even had their ears nailed to the planks.” Most topics are treated in a two-page layout, with four to six full-color photographs and a very brief text. A typical spread entitled “There’s No Place Like Home” describes homes in the Northern and Southern colonies and provides a photograph of Mount Vernon, an interior of a bedroom from Colonial Williamsburg, a brick row house, a Hudson Valley stone farm house, and a man mixing clay for bricks with his feet. The text states: “In the early 1700s, most houses were simply one big room.” None of the dwellings shown are one room. The dwellings in the photographs span the century, but since the reader is not given dates, the text is at odds with the visual images. Other text labeled “surprising facts,” explains: “The plaster at Mount Vernon includes both hog and cattle hair.” That's neither surprising nor important. A blue box called “Brickmaking Made Easy” explains how bricks are made. With so little space the author should focus on more important topics. Many of the issues leading up to the Revolutionary War are introduced, for example the Sugar Act, Stamp Act, and Townsend Acts. Loyalists get very brief treatment, and battles are narrated with the fervor and flavor of a hockey sportscast. There are no maps or time lines to aid the reader. The author concludes with information on historic restorations to visit, books for further reading, Web sites of interest, photo credits, and an index. Too slight and problematic for purchase. (Nonfiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 2000
ISBN: 0-439-05109-6
Page count: 48pp
Publisher: Scholastic
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 2000


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