November 18, 2017

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Building a Nation: American History | Series Made Simple Spring 2013

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The fall of 2012 was a strong season for new series in American history and geography. In comparison, the spring of 2013 has a small turnout. However, that does not mean that these books are also-rans. Quite the contrary is true. All of these sets are justifiable purchases: one provides a panoramic view, two discuss formative events, and the final one gives readers all the geographical and cultural insights of a long-time local by focusing on important waterways. The authors present their subjects with authority, enthusiasm, and an understanding of their target audiences. Librarians looking to beef up their 900 sections will do well to start here.

Preschool-Grade 4

BRITTON , Arthur K. Life in the Wild West . chron. maps. photos. ISBN 978-1-4339-8439-6; ISBN 978-1-4339-8442-6. LC 2012022059.
LEVY , Janey. Life During the Gold Rush. diags. photos. ISBN 978-1-4339-8429-7; ISBN 978-1-4339-8432-7. LC 2012020742.
RAJCZAK , Kristen. Life as a Pioneer . ISBN 978-1-4339-8419-8; ISBN 978-1-4339-8422-8. LC 2012018553.
––––. Life During the American Revolution. diags. ISBN 978-1-4339-8424-2; ISBN 978-1-4339-8427-3. LC 2012019735.
––––. Life in the American Colonies. maps. photos. ISBN 978-1-4339-8434-1; ISBN 978-1-4339-8437-2. LC 2012022216.
––––. Life on a Wagon Train. photos. ISBN 978-1-4339-8444-0; ISBN 978-1-4339-8447-1. LC 2012031288.
ea vol: 24p. (What You Didn’t Know About History Series). further reading. glossary. index. reprods. websites. Gareth Stevens. 2013. PLB $22.60; ebook $22.60.
Gr 2-3 More earnest than the “You Wouldn’t Want To…” series (Scholastic), and for a slightly younger audience, this set provides compelling details about day-to-day life in various American epochs. The simple design makes the books appealing to young readers. The accessible writing is straightforward and succinct. Paragraphs are short, and the fonts are large and plain. The main body of text appears on the verso while the captioned illustrations appear on the recto. The large, colorful images consist of archival and modern-day photographs, period reproductions, and maps. Most spreads feature a “Did You Know?” text box that contains an intriguing fact or anecdote. For instance, “One woman on her way to the goldfields was offered $5 for a biscuit she had made. When she didn’t reply at once, the man raised his offer to $10!” All in all, a first-rate series for budding historians.

MARSICO , Katie. The Chesapeake Bay. ISBN 978-1-62431-013-3; ISBN 978-1-62431-037-9; ISBN 978-1-62431-061-4. LC 2012034740.
––––. The Colorado River. ISBN 978-1-62431-014-0; ISBN 978-1-62431-038-6; ISBN 978-1-62431-062-1. LC 2012036043.
––––. The Everglades. ISBN 978-1-62431-017-1; ISBN 978-1-62431-041-6; ISBN 978-1-62431-065-2. LC 2012034738.
––––. The Gulf of Mexico. ISBN 978-1-62431-016-4; ISBN 978-1-62431-040-9; ISBN 978-1-62431-064-5. LC 2012034739.
––––. The Mississippi River. ISBN 978-1-62431-011-9; ISBN 978-1-62431-035-5; ISBN 978-1-62431-059-1. LC 2012037581.
––––. The Missouri River. ISBN 978-1-62431-010-2; ISBN 978-1-62431-034-8; ISBN 978-1-62431-058-4. LC 2012036821.
––––. Puget Sound . ISBN 978-1-62431-015-7; ISBN 978-1-62431-039-3; ISBN 978-1-62431-063-8. LC 2012034741.
––––. The Rio Grande. ISBN 978-1-62431-012-6; ISBN 978-1-62431-036-2; ISBN 978-1-62431-060-7. LC 2012035444.
ea vol: 32p. (Social Studies Explorer: It’s Cool to Learn About America’s Waterways Series). charts. further reading. glossary. illus. index. maps. photos. websites. Cherry Lake. 2013. PLB $28.50; pap. $14.21; ebook $28.50.
Gr 3-5 Chatty and informal in tone, these volumes provide a wealth of information regarding each waterway’s history, geographical characteristics, wildlife, and influence on the development of nearby towns and cities. Conservation is emphasized in all the titles. The importance of each waterway commercially and recreationally is also discussed. Vocabulary words are set apart in bold font and defined in the glossary. Activities are scattered throughout each text, including recipes inspired by local cuisine, instructions for making a field guide, and directions on how to write an eco-conscious letter to politicians. Quizzes encourage further interactivity. Images are prolific and colorful. There are photos, maps, reproductions, and illustrations. The attractive postage stamp motif adds visual cohesiveness to the set.

Grades 5 & Up

HAMEN , Susan E. The Thirteen Colonies. maps. photos. ISBN 978-1-61783-709-8; ISBN 978-1-61480-800-8; ISBN 978-1-61783-759-3. LC 2012946492.
HIGGINS , Melissa. The Jamestown Colony. maps. photos. ISBN 978-1-61783-710-4; ISBN 978-1-61480-801-5; ISBN 978-1-61783-760-9. LC 2012946532.
KALLIO , Jamie. The Mayflower Compact. maps. photos. ISBN 978-1-61783-711-1; ISBN 978-1-61480-802-2; ISBN 978-1-61783-761-6. LC 2012946531.
KJELLE , Marylou Morano. The Boston Massacre. ISBN 978-1-61783-706-7; ISBN 978-1-61480-797-1; ISBN 978-1-61783-756-2. LC 2012946535.
MALASPINA , Ann. The Boston Tea Party. photos. ISBN 978-1-61783-707-4; ISBN 978-1-61480-798-8; ISBN 978-1-61783-757-9. LC 2012914475.
RISSMAN , Rebecca. The Declaration of Independence. maps. photos. ISBN 978-1-61783-708-1; ISBN 978-1-61480-799-5; ISBN 978-1-61783-758-6. LC 2012946538.
SCHMIDT , Maegan. The US Constitution and Bill of Rights. diags. maps. photos. ISBN 978-1-61783-713-5; ISBN 978-1-61480-804-6; ISBN 978-1-61783-763-0. LC 2012946539.
ea vol: 48p. (Foundations of Our Nation Series). chron. further reading. glossary. index. reprods. websites. ABDO/Core Library. 2013. PLB $32.79; ebook $32.79; pap. $15.64.
Gr 3-6 This series focuses on the building blocks of the United States. Five chapters in each book describe causes, pivotal moments, and turning points of important events. Viewpoints from opposing sides are offered as well. Information is presented in a succinct, age-appropriate style. “Straight to the Source” sections highlight primary-source documents: an excerpt from the Declaration of Independence, an excerpt from Benjamin Franklin’s speech to the Constitutional Convention, and so on. “Explore Online” text boxes challenge readers to think critically about what they’re learning. Illustrations consist of maps, period reproductions, and full-color stock photographs. Because the books cover a relatively small span of years, some content overlaps. The links listed in the back of each volume provide access to “routinely monitored” websites and a website where teachers and students can find supplemental information and ideas for activities. These titles are CCSS and report-writer friendly.

HAMILTON , John. The American Revolution: The Road to War . maps. ISBN 978-1-61783-678-7; ISBN 978-1-61480-626-4.
––––. Early Battles of the American Revolution. maps. ISBN 978-1-61783-679-4; ISBN 978-1-61480-627-1. LC 2012945991.
––––. Final Years of the American Revolution. maps. ISBN 978-1-61783-680-0; ISBN 978-1-61480-628-8. LC 2012945997.
––––. Leaders & Generals of the American Revolution. ISBN 978-1-61783-681-7; ISBN 978-1-61480-629-5. LC 2012945972.
––––. Turning Points of the American Revolution. maps. ISBN 978-1-61783-682-4; ISBN 978-1-61480-630-1. LC 2012945984.
––––. Weapons of the American Revolution. ISBN 978-1-61783-683-1; ISBN 978-1-61480-631-8. LC 2012945985.
ea vol: 32p. (American Revolution Series). chron. glossary. index. photos. reprods. ABDO. 2013. PLB $27.07; ebook $27.07.
Gr 6-8–Events are presented in a straightforward style that still manages to convey the author’s enthusiasm for the subject. Readers are immersed in the time period; facts and figures abound. Details include battle-by-battle statistics (the number of soldiers deployed, casualties, etc.) for both the Patriots and the British. Military strategy is also discussed. Leaders and Weapons are the strongest titles. Leaders is a showcase of movers and shakers from both sides of the war, highlighting figures such as “Mad Anthony” Wayne, who while influential, receives little coverage in books for youth. Weapons covers a topic that is of great appeal to many readers. Period painting reproductions, maps, and clear photographs (many of modern-day re-enactors) make this series appealing. Given the abundance of facts, it’s disappointing that sources are not cited.


All of these series dovetail with core curriculum standards. Cherry Lake’s “Social Studies Explorer: It’s Cool to Learn About American Waterways” delivers a solid introduction to American rivers, bays, etc., and encourages young people to care for their natural heritage. Furthermore, it gives them a lens through which to view the politics, social mores, and economics that shaped the early years of the American story. The integration of primary-source documents in ABDO’s “Foundations of Our Nation” encourages children to immerse themselves in first-hand accounts that reflect period values and linguistic styles. The riveting details about the harshness of daily life in Gareth Stevens’s “What You Didn’t Know About History” provides readers with revelatory perspective. The logical progression of cause and event in ABDO’s “American Revolution” encourages students to think critically about the roots of modern-day American society and the consequences of collective decision making.

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