Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Parents' Choice Awards : Books : Non-Fiction
The American Story: 100 True Tales from American History

The American Story: 100 True Tales from American History

Fall 2006 Non-Fiction
Ages: 6 & Up
Author: Jennifer Armstrong
Illustrator: Roger Roth
ISBN: 0-375-81256-3
Hardcover Price: $34.95
This big, 360-page book tells stories drawn from the archives of American historical events, large and small. Its 100 short tales—each typically one to 5 pages—recount in cogent and chronological order stories of courage, struggle, discovery and freedom that shaped the American experience, from the 1565 founding of America's first city to the confounding 2000 presidential election. In between, Armstrong adeptly and gracefully brings to life true scenes from the American historical landscape such as the Salem Witch Trials, Ben Franklin's electrified kite flights, Sojourner Truth's wake-up calls to racism and sexism, The Wright Brothers' first flight, the polio vaccine and the Watergate break-in. The author also delves into lesser-known history that add insight and humanity to U.S. history, among them Mark Twain's first touching meeting with Helen Keller, the wanderings of the evangelical Johnny Appleseed, and a fantastic molasses flood in Boston.

While some of the tales seem a bit tall by factual standards, such as the story of railroading John Henry, overall these mini-lessons of the past are just right for young readers hungry for history as well as those who aren't. Smart and written in a lively fashion featuring clever watercolor illustrations, this book makes history digestible in appetizing bite-size pieces.

Don Oldenburg   ©2006 Parents' Choice
A former feature writer and consumer columnist at The Washington Post for 22 years, Don Oldenburg is the Director of Publications and Editor of the National Italian American Foundation, in Washington, D.C. He regularly reviews books for USA Today and is the coauthor of "The Washington DC-Baltimore Dog Lovers Companion" (Avalon Travel). The proud father of three sons, he lives with his journalist-author wife, Ann Oldenburg, in McLean, VA.

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