Grade 4-7-American history comes alive in this witty, yet informative account. Kenneth Davis (HarperCollins, 2003) explains complex issues like the controversy over slavery that led to the Civil War, the reasons for the Great Depression, and why terrorists would want to attack the United States on 9/11 in language that is easy for young people to understand. The narration by actor Oliver Wyman is broken up by the voices of three other actors who ask questions like: "How did Theodore Roosevelt get rid of 7,400 miles?" and "Were the Little Rock Nine a rock-and-roll band?" The narrative is also broken up by "American Voices," which include first-person accounts; American Portraits-brief biographies of noteworthy people, ranging from Harriet Tubman to Harry Houdini; Great American Pastimes, ranging from baseball to jazz; and American English, discussing how words became part of our language. Davis doesn't gloss over controversial parts of history, such as why not all Americans consider Columbus Day a holiday. and why the U.S. didn't do more to help prevent the Holocaust. He also addresses what our founding fathers meant when they said, "All men are created equal." As lively as this history book is, though, it's unlikely that young people will want to listen to it just for fun.
David Bilmes, Schaghticoke Middle School, New Milford, CT
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“[Davis] steers an intelligent, non-partisan course through the thorny issues of the past.” (USA Today)
“Put the zest back in history” (Washington Post Book World)