February 17, 2018

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Chapter Books: How To Survive the U.S. Revolution and Addled Adults | September 2017 Xpress Reviews

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Tarshis, Lauren. I Survived the American Revolution, 1776. 144p. (I Survived). Scholastic. Aug. 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780545919746; pap. $4.99. ISBN 9780545919739.

Gr 3-5 –As with other historical events covered in the series, Tarshis focuses on one specific character and a limited time frame in order to make the story manageable for readers who may lack background knowledge. Orphaned Nathaniel Fox, 11, is living with his uncle in Connecticut in 1776. Uncle Storch is a Tory and a Northern slave owner. In an author’s note, Tarshis explains that 40 percent of people in Connecticut in 1776 owned slaves. When Uncle Storch threatens to beat a young enslaved boy named Theo, Nate diverts his uncle’s anger to himself, then runs away. He stows away on a merchant vessel with the idea of getting to New York City and becoming a ship’s cabin boy. Instead, he ends up in a military camp, with American soldiers preparing to do battle with British forces. While Nate knows that a war is occurring, like many people, he is not highly interested or informed until it touches him personally. Reunited with a former employee of his father’s, Nate fights in the Battle of Brooklyn in August 1776. After his adventures with the Continental Army, Nate learns that his uncle died, leaving Nate as his sole heir. The boy eventually returns home to free Theo and his mother. Tarshis successfully blends historical fact with an involving narrative. VERDICT Purchase where the series is popular. This would also be useful as a supplementary resource for studies of the American Revolution.–Lucinda Snyder Whitehurst, St. Christopher’s School, Richmond

Villalba, Eva Moreno. El dia que el mundo amaneció al revés. illus. by Eva Moreno Villalba. 111p. Ediciones B. Mar. 2017. pap. $15.95. ISBN 9788416712236.

Gr 2-4 –Berto’s parents are usually responsible and punctual adults. But one morning Berto wakes up to find his parents have begun to behave like, well, children. They refuse to get up early, and fight over toys that belong to Berto’s sister, Minerva. All around town, adults have started to exhibit similar behaviors, and everyone, from the police to the emergency workers to the teachers, is affected. Berto, Minerva, Berto’s friend and neighbor Alejandra, and Alejandra’s brother search for answers. Digging deeper into the mystery, they discover a strange and sweet-smelling pink smoke drifting in from the outskirts of town. As they investigate, they realize that the smoke is what’s affecting the town’s adults, and it may be tied to a nefarious plot having to do with toys and Christmas—and may be connected to the recent disappearance of several children. Berto and Alejandra’s witty banter will have young readers laughing out loud, and the fantastical plot, greedy villain, and accompanying black-and-white illustrations are sure to be a hit with fans of Roald Dahl. VERDICT Highly recommended for Spanish-language children’s chapter book collections and where translations of Roald Dahl’s works are popular.–Selenia Paz, Helen Hall Library, League City, TX

This article was published in School Library Journal's September 2017 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

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