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SHAKER CHILDREN by Kathleen Thorne-Thomsen


True Stories and Crafts

by Kathleen Thorne-Thomsen

Pub Date: April 1st, 1996
ISBN: 1-55652-250-9
Publisher: Chicago Review Press

Most young readers know so little about this nearly moribund Utopian community that any new book on the subject should be welcome—but not this one. The first half tells the true stories of two children who lived in Shaker communities. Of curiosity to contemporary readers is that the children don't seem very upset at being separated from their families. They adapt to Shaker ways, in an account that is little more than a superficial overview of a complex and often demanding way of life. Many terms are introduced and never really explained (e.g., needle emeries), neither in context nor in the brief glossary. The second half of the book—devoted to activities—is really problematic. Even experienced adult cooks are leery of making jam/jelly (the author uses the terms interchangeably), an activity that is downright dangerous for children. Many of the recipes are beyond the abilities of preteens, and the other activities can be quite ambitious, e.g., planting a ten-foot-square garden, often without clear instructions. Included is a bibliography of adult books; it fails to include the half-dozen titles—in print and still being read- -available for young readers, any of which provide far more solid information than this title does. (b&w photos and illustrations, bibliography) (Nonfiction. 10-12)