Panchyk offers a 400-year history of Boston, covering the arrival of European settlers through the Boston Marathon bombing.
The book’s timeline begins in 1614 with Capt. John Smith exploring the Massachusetts coast. Chapter 1, “Roots,” describes the first European settlers and their arrival in Massachusetts, Boston’s geology, and the origins of the city’s name. Native Americans are mentioned only once in passing, until the last page of the chapter, which offers an activity that discusses the origins of the name Massachusetts and encourages readers to search for Native names of places near them and to see “which tribes lived in your area in centuries past.” Chapter 2, “Early Roots,” describes early Colonial government and laws, the 1638 earthquake, the smallpox outbreak, and the witch trials. A small column tells of the banning of Native Americans from Boston in 1675 after King Philip’s War, a ban that was not repealed until 2005, and the mass jailing of Native people on the harbor’s islands. Chapters on the Revolution, the post-Revolution period of development and immigration, and modern Boston detail major events, development of the city, and cultural notes, with almost all of the highlights placing the contributions of white Americans at the center. Suggested activities range in nature from creative writing (write a poem inspired by Emerson, write newspaper headlines) to science (an archaeological dig), architecture, and math (home-run percentage). Some of the activities offer a deeper level of critical thinking suitable for older children, while others are simplistic.
With its generous sampling of primary sources and detailed accounts of historical events, this volume offers much for the young history enthusiast, but it misses an opportunity to incorporate Indigenous people and non-Europeans in a meaningful way. (timeline, resources, index) (Nonfiction. 9-14)