Monday, April 25, 2011

Nonfiction Monday: Revolutionary War

2009 saw 3 books about the Revolutionary War nominated for a MG/YA Cybil Award.

For Liberty: The Story of the Boston MassacreFor Liberty: The Story of the Boston Massacre Timothy Decker

Covering the Boston Massacre, this is an illustrated book for older readers. It's picture book format but almost works as a graphic novel. In black-and-white illustrations we see a close up of the first bullet fired, of the anger in protesting faces and in one chaotic crowd scene, small bubbles that show the steps in loading a musket.

Interestingly, this is the story of the Boston Massacre as told from the British perspective. While I think this a valuable balance to the history of the event, it ends up very skewed. It never mentions that people died, but does show 5 coffins. We get no names and it's very easy to walk away from the book thinking that the dead were British soldiers. In the end the text is so slight, relying much on visuals, that it doesn't give enough information. There's also no back matter for further reading or to fill in missing information.

Revolutionary War (Battle Box)Revolutionary War (Battle Box)

This is a rather intriguing concept. The Battle Box is a... box o'stuff. There's a book about the war, and then 13 pieces of war memorabilia-- things such as a replica of Continental Congress Dollar and a copy of the Declaration of Independence. Libraries who worry about circulating such things don't need to worry-- they're all pictured in the back of the book (which is useful even if you get to keep the goodies because it explains what each item is.)

The book itself is in interesting concept. It focuses almost exclusively on the major battles of the war, but it's also just a series of pull-out boxes. Yes, one can have pull-out boxes and no main text to be pulling out from. Very good for browsing and leafing through with TONS of great information--body and prisoner counts on both sides for each battle, timelines, mini-biographies, maps and more.

It'll work best for readers with some background information of the war to put it into context, but it's a very fun and cool concept.

Washington at Valley ForgeWashington at Valley Forge Russell Freedman

OH LOOK! Russell Freedman wrote an awesome book.

This one covers the infamous winter the Continental Army spent at Valley Forge and how (and why) it completely transformed them from a ragtag group of soldiers into a fighting force capable of beating the British.

This was the most informative of the three books and while nothing can beat the kid appeal of Battle Box, this one wins for literary quality. It reads well and gives so much more information than one normally gets about that winter. It also does a great job of showing Washington's military inexperience (while we has a war hero, he had never commanded anything larger than a regiment before) and the political machinations that went on behind his back. Valley Forge not only transformed the army, but was also when Washington showed us how he became the father of our nation.

Plus, lots of great visual aids and more than enough back matter and citations to make me swoon.

Today's Nonfiction Round up is over at Telling Kids the Truth.

Books Provided by... the publishers for CYBILS consideration, except for Battle Box, which was provided by my wallet, for CYBILS consideration.

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