The Book of Presidents

Title: The Book of Presidents
Author: Orville V. Webster
Pages: 128
Reading Level: 9 – 14
Star Rating: ★★★★

Hi there! As of October 2013, I have upgraded to a new site – The Blithering Bookster – where I have posted all of my old reviews and continue to post new ones. Hoist yourself over to join the fun!

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I’ve recently begun to look upon listing all the names of the Presidents as a sort of hobby – an entertainment, a tour de force. However, I was unable to list them in chronological order – until I read The Book of Presidents and memorized their order in one sitting. #yesimproud

Anyway, that was just a side effect. The book itself follows a definite pattern – the name of the president was presented, then the years of his service as President. Next came his nickname (or motto, whichever was more popular), then the dates of his birth and death. Thence followed a two-to-five page biography of the president. His life in a nutshell, so to speak.

Of course, having been published in 1991, The Book of Presidents fell rather short of the description “up-to-date”. The book ends with President “George Bush” (no H. or W. in sight! Shocking.) However, its reports on the other Presidents were not falsified by this lack of foresight. :)

Here are a few interesting facts

  • Abigail Adams is the only woman in U.S. history to be the wife of one President and the mother of another.
  • When he died in 1836, James Madison was the last surviving signer of the Constitution.
  • Of the five Presidents who participated in the American War for Independence, three of them – Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and James Monroe – died on a Fourth of July.
  • Andrew Jackson participated in approximately 100 duels during his lifetime.
  • Martin Van Buren was the first President born after the United States became an independent nation.
  • William Henry Harrison is known for having given the longest inaugural address in U.S. history – it consisted of 8,578 words and lasted for one hour and forty-five minutes – and for having the shortest Presidential term!
  • John Tyler’s second wife was thirty years younger than himself.
  • One of Zachary Taylor’s daughters married Jefferson Davis!
  • Ulysses S. Grant finished his autobiography just four days before his death.
  • Garfield was able to write with both of his hands simultaneously – in different languages!
  • Teddy Roosevelt was the first President to leave U.S. soil while in office. He was also the first President to ride in an automobile, fly in an airplane, and submerge in a submarine.
  • Franklin Roosevelt was related to eleven former U.S. Presidents.
  • Gerald Ford was the first man to become President without having run for the office of either President or Vice-President.

Lincoln haters should be informed that, although practically nothing is said about the War Between the States, Lincoln is referred to as “one of the greatest men in all American history.” [pg. 51]

Conclusion. An excellent resource.

Let’s Play Soldier, George Washington!

Title: Let’s Play Soldier, George Washington!
Author: Peter and Connie Roop
Pages: 57
Recommended Ages: 8-12
Star Rating: ★★★★

Hi there! As of October 2013, I have upgraded to a new site – The Blithering Bookster – where I have posted all of my old reviews and continue to post new ones. Hoist yourself over to join the fun!

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Remember Let’s Drive, Henry Ford? Well, Let’s Play Soldier, George Washington! is written by the same authors!

His Life.

When George Washington was born in 1732, no one knew that he would someday be called the father of his country. No one even knew that a new country would be born – but it was, and he was, indeed, a great part of her birth. But before George could ever attend to matters of state, he had a great many other things to deal with.

For example, when George was eleven, his father died. Both of his older brothers had moved away from home to pursue their own careers, so George was the man of the family. Their farm was large and needed lots of money to keep it running. George had to think of some way to help the family! He began practicing to be a surveyor. What he really wanted was to go to England and receive a formal education there, but he knew that was out of the question. So instead, he worked to learn everything that he could right there in Virginia.

His hard work paid off. One day, he met Lord Fairfax, a man who owned several million acres worth of land. Because George was polite, a good rider, and an excellent surveyor, Lord Fairfax asked him to do a survey of his vast estates. George agreed to go.

The journey was hard, but it was good for George. It made him a better surveyor, but also a better woodsman. When the French and Indian War broke out in the fifties, George was helpful as a messenger and also as a scout for the British. Yes, that’s right, for the British. In his first war, George was a Colonel with the British and Americans against the French and Indians. In his second war, George was a General with the Americans and French against the British. Funny how that works, isn’t it?

Anyway, the short of the story is this – George fought and was a successful soldier. The Americans won the war. Then, George became President – he was successful at that, too. In 1799, when he died, George had been successful at many things, but what we remember most is how well he fought for our country during the war – and after it, too.

Discussion.

Let’s Play Soldier, George Washington! brought forth one fact about George Washington’s life that I had never learned about. And that was his relationship with his mother. Apparently, (or at least according to this book), Mary Washington was a strong-minded woman with a violent temper. When George accidentally killed one of her favorite horses (which she had forbidden him to ride), she never forgave him. Although she often threw obstacles in his path (she did not allow him possession of his father’s farm for years after he legally inherited it), George always treated her with respect.

What I thought was a fascinating fact was included on page thirty-three.

George turned twenty-one on February 22, 1753. George had been born on February 11, 1732. But in 1752, the calendars were changed. This is because the old calendar was off by eleven days. Now, George’s birthday was February 22. Some years, when he wanted to, George celebrated his birthday twice! [pgs. 33-35]

After reporting the number of horses that were shot from under him in one battle, the Roops comment, “George Washington was very lucky.” [pg. 50] No mention is made of George Washington’s great faith in the Christian God.

Ten illustrations were included in Let’s Play Soldier, George Washington!, nine of which I thought were exceptionally goofy.

Conclusion. I believe that Let’s Play Soldier, George Washington! is worthwhile despite the foolish illustrations. Its content was serious but easy to understand.

Meet George Washington

Title: Meet George Washington
Author: Joan Heilbroner
Pages: 66
Reading Level: 8 & up
Star Rating: ★★★★★

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This will be a tiny review because I do not have the time to provide a thorough biography of George Washington. Meet George Washington seemed to me to be entirely accurate in its details and portrayed George Washington in a favourable, though not adoring manner. It provided information from Washington’s boyhood to his death in 1799, and even addresses the popular cherry tree myth.

Conclusion. Perfectly suited for its age group.

…If You Lived At the Time of the American Revolution

Title: …If You Lived At the Time of the American Revolution
Author: Kay Moore
Pages: 80
Recommended Ages: 8 & up
Star Rating: ★★★★

Hi there! As of October 2013, I have upgraded to a new site – The Blithering Bookster – where I have posted all of my old reviews and continue to post new ones. Hoist yourself over to join the fun!

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The more books I read from the …If You Lived series, the more I like it. Because of the simple device this series employs (posing questions and then providing the answers), more thought-provoking issues are addressed than in the typical children’s history book.

Here are a few of the most interesting Q&As.

Questions and Answers.

Did everyone in the colonies take sides?

No. Many people tried to stay neutral (not choose a side) during the war. Some changed sides depending on what was happening.

Many families split because of different views abot the war. Some changed sides depending on what was happening.

Many families split because of different views about the war. Benjamin Franklin was a well-known Patriot. His son, William, was the Royal Governor of New Jersey and warned the people in that colony not to act against the king. William became the head of the Board of American Loyalists.

George Washington was the leader of the Continental Army. His older half brother, Lawrence, was a Loyalist. [pg. 29]

How could you tell who was a Patriot?

…the number 13 was important to the Patriots because there were thirteen colonies. It was often used as a signal. Some women wore their hair in thirteen curls as a sign of support for the Patriots. [pg. 38]

What useful things were invented during the war?

David Bushnell made the Turtle, an early submarine. Looking like a large oak barrel, it moved when a propeller was turned by hand. Bushnell presented it to the Patriots as a way to put bombs on British warships. Ezra Lee made the first try, but he couldn’t get the bomb to stick to the ship. Lee had to work fast – there was only enough air for thirty minutes underwater. The Turtle never worked like Bushnell hoped, but he built underwater mines that made the British navy very nervous. [pg. 72]

Did you know?

“A Declaration of Dependence was written late in 1776 and signed by seven hundred Loyalists. This only made the Patriots more angry.” [pg. 36]

The word “cowboy” was first used to name pro-British outlaws. They used cowbells to attract people and then robbed them or stole animals from farmers and sold them to the British army. [pg. 73]

Cautions.

In two pictures, due to Colonial necklines, women’s cleavage is shown. However, it is very hazy (basically just a line).

Ms. Moore gives none of the religious reasons behind the war, mentioning only taxation without representation as its cause.

Conclusion. An excellent resource for young children. Purchase your copy here.

The Cabin Faced West

Title: The Cabin Faced West
Author: Jean Fritz
Pages: 124
Recommended Ages: 8-12
Star Rating: ★★★★★

Hi there! As of October 2013, I have upgraded to a new site – The Blithering Bookster – where I have posted all of my old reviews and continue to post new ones. Hoist yourself over to join the fun!

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I just love the front cover of this book. It pops with color. And best of all, I can feel the cool breeze which is whisking the leaves and tugging at Ann’s braids…

The Story.

Everything west. Western rules, western manners, western goals, western food… Even the cabin faces west! Ann is unsure how long she will be able to keep her older brothers’ rule about not criticizing the west. For David and Daniel, two strapping boys, everything is wonderful out here. But Ann misses her friends and cousins from Gettysburg. She bears her work bravely, but sometimes she just wants to go home!

Slowly, surely, she becomes more invested in their farm. Slowly, surely, she comes to love their neighbors. Slowly, surely, she thinks that perhaps moving out west wasn’t such a bad idea after all. But as trial and storm burst over the Hamilton homestead, will Ann ‘s determination hold out? Or will she be crushed as well?

Discussion.

Ann and her two brothers have fun, teasing relationships. On one occasion, when Ann is already feeling hurt, David nettles her. She responds angrily. After this, David tries especially hard to be nice and Ann forgives him. I appreciated how Ms. Fritz portrayed the family relationships realistically, but without much turmoil.

Once, on a sad day, Ann decides to use two expensive plates which she knows are to be used only on special occasions. Her mother finds out and instead of responding in anger, handles the situation tenderly.

On a few occasions, Ann thinks that her role as a young girl on the frontier is unimportant. However, by the end of the story she understands that whatever her work is she should be faithful with it.

Ann says that the road in front of their cabin has a sort of magic. She does not mean real magic, just that the road makes her imagination soar. Still I question the use of the word.

Conclusion. A wonderful story of family and frontier-life; definitely a worthwhile read. Purchase your copy here.