This nonfiction graphic novel by Don Brown- is worthy of independent reading in 5th grade and up. I’d also recommend student-led discussions about Bro...moreThis nonfiction graphic novel by Don Brown- is worthy of independent reading in 5th grade and up. I’d also recommend student-led discussions about Brown’s craft and “how” he puts together this text. This would also be a great read for middle school striving readers and English Learners who are grappling with textbook content on this period. Brown’s illustrations “get at” the gravity of the terrible storms during this period and his prose is straightforward. My only gripe is that he doesn’t make it clear enough that pulverizing the land (out of greed and out of desperation) led to this issue. He describes how tractors made plowing easier but doesn’t really hammer the idea that this tore the grasses from the earth – the grasses with deep roots that had held the soil down. Then when he describes the drought and the beginning of the dust storms – there is one sentence buried in a paragraph that gets at how the plowing was so destructive (actually, this is implied) – “neither grass nor wheat could hold the dry pulverized earth together.” That we destroyed the land and there was nothing to hold the sand down IS A HUGE part of why the DUST BOWL happened. BUT if readers have some background knowledge on this, then the effects, the impact that Brown describes and illustrates will be all the more powerful.(less)
Blumenthal’s writing is always solid and her research is exquisite. Bootleg: Murder, Moonshine, and the Lawless Years of Prohibition (2011) is no exce...moreBlumenthal’s writing is always solid and her research is exquisite. Bootleg: Murder, Moonshine, and the Lawless Years of Prohibition (2011) is no exception. This would be a great read for students who are researching prohibition or this time period and wanting lots of juicy-interesting details. Blumenthal’s purpose is to explain the many, many factors involved in the passage of the Eighteenth Amendment and then in the repeal of this amendment as well. She employs an enumerative/chronological text structure. Some chapters include many anecdotes and others focus on groups or individuals like Carrie Nation who fought for Prohibition (including throwing rocks in saloons and breaking mirrors and windows and all) and Al Capone, who became wealthy selling alcohol to those he ignored Prohibition. So the book is in time order (chronological text structure), but she picks specific aspects, groups, people to highlight in particular chapters (enumerative text structure).
Blumenthal cues the reader to significant shifts in the movements or in this time period. For example, on page 46, she writes, “Though the law passed, it was never officially enforced, and some saw that as a failure. but the Anti-Saloon League saw something much more significant: It had votes.” Students might do a close read of this page and other excerpts as they think through how Blumenthal engages in thematic progression – how she moves the “story of…” forward.
People’s beliefs drive their actions (whether for or against some issue); Tenacity and perseverance are required to change policy/legislation; Some solutions can actually cause unexpected problems.
Prohibition could be considered a “social experiment” (maybe a “failed” one); During this period, groups who were heavily engaged in social movements became aware of the power of the “vote”; Prohibition was a complex issue – not as easy as “for or against.”
At the end of the book, Blumenthal shares a bit about her research and then lists tons of resources (categorized by sub-topic) that students can consult for more information on a particular aspect. It’s clear that she had to synthesize a massive amount of material to write this book.
My worry – students will not pick this book up for independent reading. I’ve been grappling with how much I love books like this one, but how little interest students have. For this book, I think there would have to be engagement in a intellectually stimulating unit of study for students to pick this up. Hopefully, though, they’d find the details gripping (or at least of interest) and want to finish it.(less)
I liked this one better than Macaulay's Toilet: How It Works (see my review on that one). Still some gripes, though…
LABELS ARE PRETTY GOOD, BUT on pa...moreI liked this one better than Macaulay's Toilet: How It Works (see my review on that one). Still some gripes, though…
LABELS ARE PRETTY GOOD, BUT on page 7, the eye “socket” is not labeled and this is Macaulay’s intro to how the body protects the eye – “good thing each eye is protected by its own socket. “Fat” in the next sentence and “sclera” and “muscles” in the following sentences are labeled. LAYOUT AND DESIGN MIGHT BE CONFUSING. On page 10, the text refers to the image on the right hand side of the two-page spread (p. 11) and then the image on the left hand side of the two page spread (on page 10). Minor issue. “LET’S GO OVER THE GAME SO FAR” on page 18 – Macaulay starts to review what he has discussed about the parts of the eye and how the eyes process light, BUT in the middle of the “let’s go over the game so far,” he introduces completely new information. In his review, he doesn’t review the terms “cones and rods.” (less)
I’m always looking for non-animal focused, non-narrative texts for students to read. Having always been a fan of his adult “how it works” books, I’ve...moreI’m always looking for non-animal focused, non-narrative texts for students to read. Having always been a fan of his adult “how it works” books, I’ve been curious about Macaulay’s “how it works” series of books for children. Alas, I am disappointed. See my notes below – these might be helpful when you are considering nonfiction for your own classroom or library…
Toilet: How It Works (My Readers Series – Level 4, Macaulay, 2013)
NOT ENOUGH INFO-READER MIGHT BE CONFUSED. On page 5, Macaulay mentions “bacteria” as being in the waste our bodies make and then he makes reference to bacteria multiple other times in the book. His intro to bacteria is in this sentence on page 5 – “Bacteria produce useful nutrients. But if they get on our hands or back inside our bodies, they can make us sick.” This is the first time he discusses bacteria and it’s confusing – the student has to infer that when bacteria is IN your body, it’s okay. (Nutrients is a vague term- what are they? why are they a good thing?) Later he mentions bacteria in the aeration tank and there the “water is checked to make sure there is enough bacteria” – but there’s no explanation why bacteria are helpful. UGH. I just think if “bacteria” is going to be a thread, it needs more explanation. SEQUENCE STRUCTURE HAS GAPS. On page 10, Macaulay begins explaining what happens when you flush the toilet. The last line is “And keep your eye on that plastic float in the tank,” but when you turn the page, he doesn’t mention it again. On page 14, he returns to the float when he writes “As the float pulls down on the lever, fresh water enters the tank.” This is hard, folks. A student has to know that the “float” sinks as the water in the tank sinks. And then he writes, “Slowly the water rises, and so does the float. When the float stops pulling on the lever, the water shuts off.” It’s very hard to figure out from the image how the float is pulling the lever. NOT ENOUGH INFO – READER HAS TO INFER TOO MUCH FOR THIS DEVELOPMENTAL LEVEL. On p. 19, Macaulay writes about how when water from the septic tank seeps into the surrounding soil, it has nutrients that produce “hungry bacteria” (what does that mean?) and then he says “See the happy, green grass?” There’s just not enough info. Plus – aren’t septic tanks a bad thing? My town is subsidizing the cost of people getting rid of septic tanks because they actually poison the ground water??? (I need to do some research.) I could go on. MOSTLY – I think there’s some missing information and for the audience this is intended for, the gaps in info might leave the reader confused. (less)
Review of Flight of the Honey Bee by Huber (2013). I’m always a little leery of informational texts that humanize or anthropomorphize animals or non-h...moreReview of Flight of the Honey Bee by Huber (2013). I’m always a little leery of informational texts that humanize or anthropomorphize animals or non-human animals/things, but Huber’s narrative of a honey bee named Scout out hunting for nectar is conservative on this aspect. Huber doesn’t attribute feelings or thoughts to Scout in a human-like way, but instead has clearly used research to describe Scout’s actions as she searches for nectar, seeks refuge from a hail storm, and communicates to her sister bees through dance-like movements. The captions for the illustrations are non-narrative stating related facts about the honey bees. Primary grade students would enjoy listening to Scout’s adventure. Huber’s text could also be a mentor for intermediate grade students. He has clearly used research to create this narrative – and this could make for an important discussion with students who are “applying” the research they have done to a creative, but still informational piece of writing.
There is one aspect of this book that bothered me. On the very first page of the text – just inside the book cover and before the title page, there is a note about how the honey bee “may be one of the most important (creatures) for life on earth” and then another about “a honey bee can’t live alone” – it’s part of a family and has many jobs in its lifetime. As I read this – I developed an expectation about what this book would be about, BUT that’s not at all what this book is about. The book is simply about Scout’s journey to find nectar and return to the hive. The only mention of pollen is the pollen that sticks to her body when she visits a flower and she spreads the pollen as she “zigs and zags from flower to flower,” but there is no explanation of why this is vital. Perhaps this is why these notes were on the first page of the text – even before the title page. But then at the end of the text, there is a “save the bees” note focused on the critical role bee pollination plays in the world with tips for helping bees. In addition, the author’s info includes a note about how he wanted to write this book when he “realized how humans and bees are partners.” The main text does not explain pollination (adequately), colony collapse disorder, or the partnership between humans and bees. As a result, I think these points may be lost on the reader.
That said – the gist (main idea at the text level) of the primary text is that a honey bee plays a vital role to the survival of the hive as she journeys alone to find nectar, spreading pollen, averting danger, and returning to the hive to communicate to the other bees about the location of the nectar. Like I wrote earlier – a good read aloud and mentor text for writing.(less)
Parrots Over Puerto Rico (Roth & Trombone, 2013) is a well-written chronology of the demise of the Puerto Rican parrots until the 1970′s when a co...moreParrots Over Puerto Rico (Roth & Trombone, 2013) is a well-written chronology of the demise of the Puerto Rican parrots until the 1970′s when a concerted effort sponsored by multiple institutions began to attempt to save the parrots. The beginning of the text is very much a chronology, a larger narrative of time moving from the co-existence of the parrots with peoples who came to the island around 5000 BCE and moving towards the establishment of Puerto Rico as a U.S. territory. Through this chronology, Roth and Trombone develop the main idea (gist) that over time, the parrots existence was put in jeopardy.
Then in the latter third of the book, while still recounting the events that occurred, the authors shift to a problem-solution structure. They’ve established the problem – the near decimation of the parrot population. What occurs after this is continuous attempts and unexpected obstacles to save the parrots. So in other words, the authors don’t just say – there were 13 parrots left (problem implied) and a group established an aviary (solution) and they all lived happily ever after. The “solution” is an endeavor, a series of actions taken focused on an outcome – increasing the number of parrots. Does this make sense?
This is where I’m going – teaching the problem-solution text structure is more complicated than a box for the problem with an arrow to another box for a solution.
This book could be read aloud in the primary grades (mid-1st grade and up). In the intermediate grades, it could be read aloud and then reread aloud with shared writing of the structure that evolves. Then students could read additional books like The Case of the Vanishing Golden Frogs: A Scientific Mystery (Markle, 2011).(less)
Recommended read aloud for PreK-1st Grade – Lifetime: The Amazing Numbers in Animals Lives - reveals the power of numbers to make us go “oooh” and “aa...moreRecommended read aloud for PreK-1st Grade – Lifetime: The Amazing Numbers in Animals Lives - reveals the power of numbers to make us go “oooh” and “aaah.” This book was named an Outstanding Science Trade Books for Students K–12: 2014 by the National Science Teachers Association. The author focuses on “how many times one particular animal performs one behavior or grows one feature in a lifetime” (Schaefer, 2013). Love the first page where she explains how she came up with the numbers through research and estimation – while this might not be easy to read aloud to the youngest students, it’s important because Schaefer establishes authority and credibility.
Each two-page spread focuses on one animal and one number. For example – “In one lifetime, this spider will spin 1 papery egg sac” and “In one lifetime, this female red kangaroo will birth 50 joeys.” The one egg sac and the 50 joeys are part of their respective two-page illustrations – students can revel in the difference between 1 and 50, flipping back and forth between pages. (She counts 1, 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 100, 200 and then jumps forward inconsistently with larger numbers from there.) Important move – the numbers are written as numerals and stand out in bold print. What I didn’t like was that on some of the spreads, there was a little almost “attached” sentence – like on the spider page, “Fragile! Don’t touch!” and on the kangaroo page, “So many hoppy birthdays!” And there’s not an extra sentence on some of the pages. I couldn’t make heads or tails of how Schaefer decided what to write for those extra sentences. It’s almost a distraction – wandering away from the focus of the book. I’d be tempted to skip those sentences when reading aloud – unless you can figure out what she’s after and make sense of it for the students.
At the end of the book, Schaefer includes extra details about each of the animals featured – specifically naming the animal as “red kangaroo” or “eastern diamondback rattlesnake.” Read these aloud, too! I was disappointed that she didn’t use these names consistently in the main text. So, for example, she names the red kangaroo on the two-page spread that says, “In one lifetime, this female red kangaroo will birth 50 joeys” but she only refers to the eastern diamondback rattlesnake as “rattlesnake” on its two-page spread. The spider is just “spider” and not “cross spider” (as noted in back of book) which actually might lead to some misconception about spiders – because “most” web-building spiders create multiple egg sacs. I hope this wasn’t because she was considering the audience – because little kids can handle specific names of animals like this.
Okay…I had minor disappointments, and I really do recommend reading this aloud to students and leaving it in your classroom library for students to “oooh” and “aaah” over and then engage in counting, counting, counting. It’s beautiful and has so much potential for teaching – introducing ideas, launching units of study and so forth.(less)
Timothy Egan's writing is gripping. Think this would be a good read for not only adults - but high school students studying this time period as well....moreTimothy Egan's writing is gripping. Think this would be a good read for not only adults - but high school students studying this time period as well. Egan reveals the vision for conservation of T. Roosevelt and Gifford Pinchot and their tenacity as they fought a Congress focused on corporate welfare. Egan's description of the disastrous firestorm in the Bitterroot mountains in August 1910 and the courageous efforts of the forest rangers and soldiers and citizens to save their towns and to save each other captures the reader's emotions. Taft and Congress's appalling response to the needs of the injured afterwards remind me of issues we are still facing today with a Congress that is frequently grid-locked and doesn't appear to be focused on meeting the average American's needs. Interesting how a disastrous event was turned into a narrative to move the conservation campaign forward. (less)
In Witches! The Absolutely True Tale of Disaster in Salem (winner of Sibert Honor Award for Nonfiction), Schanzer’s straightforward text and stunning...moreIn Witches! The Absolutely True Tale of Disaster in Salem (winner of Sibert Honor Award for Nonfiction), Schanzer’s straightforward text and stunning illustrations will captivate middle grade readers. The narrative is non-stop craziness – revealing how beliefs can drive a community to foolishness and the devastation of members’ lives.
CAUTION: You may need to help launch students’ reading of this text. The first couple of pages are dense in vocabulary and the content is worthy of close reading and careful discussion. Schanzer describes the beliefs of the Puritans – in two worlds – the natural world of humans and “the Invisible World swarming with shadowy apparitions and unearthly phantoms of the air” p. 14. (BTW – chapter one starts on page 13. I’d do a close reading of pages 13-15.) Students have to “get” this idea in order to understand the rest of the book and deepening their understanding at this point may serve to deepen their understanding of the rest. No doubt, there are students out there who may not need this support especially if they have been in a unit of study on this period in American history. Just something to consider.
Schanzer’s writing is strong – she doesn’t “make up” what happened; her writing is straight forward. For example, when describing how a former minister in Salem village was accused of being a wizard, she writes “Burroughs was examined…” – in other words, she doesn’t turn it into a drama. You can tell she’s relying on primary and authoritative secondary sources and careful not to embellish.
I don’t know enough about art to comment well on her illustrations – but they set the tone for the book and are worthy of close reading/viewing and discussion by students. I appreciated that at the beginning of the book, she included a two-page layout of portraits of the “accused” with their names and who they were and another two-page layout of the “accusers.” This made for easy referencing if I needed clarity for who the players were at certain points in the narrative.
I’d definitely have this in my middle school classroom library and even encourage pairs or small groups of students to read and discuss. There could be some powerful discussion and essays written in response to questions like, “How does a person’s beliefs drive his/her actions? Why is this important to consider?” These are questions that can serve as lenses for reading other informational texts as well.(less)
Once again, Sandler has written a text for our intermediate/middle grade readers that captures the reader in the grip of a devastating experience – th...moreOnce again, Sandler has written a text for our intermediate/middle grade readers that captures the reader in the grip of a devastating experience – the internment of 120,000 Japanese Americans during World War II. What stood out for me in this book is Sandler’s continual revelation of the irony of this situation and the language he uses to make this irony explicit for students. Let me back up. Japanese Americans faced racism when they came to the states – and yet they figured out how to thrive and be successful economically. There was no evidence in general of espionage or lack of loyalty to the U.S. after Pearl Harbor and yet the decision was still made to intern this group of citizens. They could have languished in terrible living conditions and yet they turned these spaces into livable communities and joined the military and received the highest recognition for their contributions to the war effort (combat, nursing, translators, etc.). And all of this in the face of loss of identity, long-term emotional/psychological scarring, loss of wealth or means of making a living – all of which also occurred.
The beauty of this book is how Sandler’s writing helps our student readers access these themes – perseverance, injustice, irony, courage, the effects/impact of displacement, surmounting obstacles, knowledge versus ignorance, determination, ingenuity, etc. The book is crafted in a way that you see how terrible things are and THEN you see what the Japanese Americans do in response (that reveals perseverance, etc.). Next you see how terrible things continue to happen to them and AGAIN you see what the Japanese Americans do in response and WHAT ELSE THEY DO in response AND what else they do in response. Does this make sense? Sandler’s tone, his language, his choices about chronology all contribute to this.
Our instruction or our coaching of students might highlight this. For example, we could do a close reading of pages 76-78 (no text on page 77), where Sandler describes how the internees turned the unfathomable living conditions into culturally relevant spaces. The first paragraph starts with “In the opinion of many of the internees who had become unofficial leaders in their camps, there was only one way to combat the sadness and depression that had come with imprisonment…” He’s clearly setting the reader up here – for a contrast, for a shift, for a defining moment. Students should continue by noticing language like “ambitious projects” and “remarkable achievement.” Phrases that reveal that “and they also did this” theme – like “In addition to improving their surroundings…” You might then engage students in a close reading of the paragraph at the top of 87 that starts with “But despite this type of demonstration and the continual pronouncements of allegiance to the United States by internees of all ages, the question of how loyal they really were would not go away.” Here Sandler proceeds to introduce another obstacle.
By doing a close reading – helping readers think through just these few paragraphs – students can begin to see what Sandler does throughout the book to reveal the Japanese Americans’ determination in the face of obstacles as well as the irony involved. My copy of this text is riddled with sticky notes – all marking where I see him using language and structure to help the reader access these ideas. This should have a ripple effect when they read other texts about the mistreatment of groups like Courage Has No Color: The True Story of the Triple Nickels, America’s First Black Paratroopers by Tanya Lee Stone and Beyond Courage: The Untold Story of Jewish Resistance During the Holocaust by Doreen Rappaport and shorter texts like “Yellow Journalism” by Small Planet Communications.(less)
Neal Bascomb has written a gripping account of an international effort to capture Adolf Eichmann – the SS official who basically visualized, organized...moreNeal Bascomb has written a gripping account of an international effort to capture Adolf Eichmann – the SS official who basically visualized, organized, and ran the Holocaust. Eichman disappeared for over a decade and, while Europe and the U.S. got caught up in the Cold War, a tenacious few kept hunting for ex-Nazi officials who were responsible for the murder of millions of Jews and others. In a spy-like, action packed text, the author tells the story of how Eichman was discovered in Argentina, kept under surveillance and then captured through an elaborate plan by an international team led by the Israelis.
What struck me were some of the thematic threads that ran through the book -
Everyone involved (and there were dozens) had lost a relative in the Holocaust and was still suffering the loss (why wouldn’t they be?) – this served as motivation, but also as an energy that sometimes had to be suppressed in order to pull off the mission successfully; Even when world powers like the U.S., Europe, and even Germany lost focus on pursuing these criminals, a tenacious few – a lawyer in Germany, leaders in Israel, every day people in Argentina including a teenage girl – continued this pursuit. To pull off this mission, meticulous care had to be taken as well as innovation – disguise, caution, use of new technology, etc. As well, collective thinking and collaboration and trust played an important role in the mission.
Beautiful. Well written and thoroughly researched. Actually, I found this in a bookstore and had not heard of Neal Bascomb. I immediately turned to the author’s note to check out his research and was impressed enough to pay. While the notes and research were extensive, Bascomb writes the following note: “Now, despite my best efforts, my reconstruction of these events is no doubt imperfect” and then he goes on to explain. Great example for your middle school students to consider in thinking critically about the informational texts they are reading.(less)
Miller & Moss review recent research on independent reading and make a compelling case for bringing independent reading back to our daily practice...moreMiller & Moss review recent research on independent reading and make a compelling case for bringing independent reading back to our daily practice – a LOT of independent reading (IR) with the teacher present as an “active participant” (p. 39) offering multiple types of support through mini-lessons and conferring – a structured approach to independent reading. The idea that the teacher has to be fully present to learning about and moving her readers forward is a BIG part of the research on effective IR. In addition, students need to develop a reading diet that includes a variety of genres – including informational text. Yes – I’m smiling :)
This is a short book – 72 pages plus references and could easily be read by a professional learning group looking for research to support IR and seeking more ways to engage students in IR experiences. (As the authors point out – and less time on calendar, worksheets, transitions, announcements and so forth.) Instructional recommendations include tips for finding more time in the day and building robust classroom libraries.
There is a big emphasis on “choice” or “self-selected reading” (research presented and instruction recommended) – but there’s an underlying message that we should support students in choosing different genres including informational texts (a genre wheel, reading aloud different genres, making different genres accessible). There were two spots in the book when thematic text sets were mentioned (p. 32 and 56), but no discussion of how “choice” works in these instances. I’m playing around with that in my new manuscript – we really need to see more students reading informational texts (history and science vs. pop culture) – independently, for growing amounts of time, with teacher support. I know that if we are reading these books aloud and if we book talk these books, students will want to read them during independent reading. But I’m also thinking through and reviewing literature on how to keep the interest going, the wanting to select from and so forth with a text set. Again – I think reading aloud, book talking and having high quality books makes the difference.
In the end, this book gets a big thumbs up from me. While the recommendations for teaching in this book are light (almost skim-able), the research presented is substantial and thorough and that’s what I found most energizing.(less)
I’ve heard Georgia Heard speak and read many of her books – she ALWAYS inspires me. This is her newest book and it addresses teaching students how to...moreI’ve heard Georgia Heard speak and read many of her books – she ALWAYS inspires me. This is her newest book and it addresses teaching students how to read like and be authors of nonfiction. I would say this professional text is geared towards teachers who have experience teaching nonfiction writing and use a writer’s workshop model for teaching. It doesn’t give you a day-by-day “this is how to,” but, like all of Heard’s books, immerses you in thinking about the craft of high quality authors. It assumes that you have some grasp of how to help students do research and gather content they can draw from while writing – in other words, this is not addressed.
If you know how to help your intermediate/middle grade students gather facts/data on a topic and are looking for specific leads, endings, types of details and ways to turn facts into scenes, Heard provides guidance. She gives examples of excerpts from trade books by authors you’ll recognize (Nic Bishop, Sally M. Walker, Kadir Nelson, etc.) and provides discussion points for instruction. I would say her primary focus is on informative/explanatory and literary nonfiction. She does not address argument.
Easy read aloud for beginning of preK-kindergarten year. Invites children to slow down, look and listen - skills that can be used in many places, in m...moreEasy read aloud for beginning of preK-kindergarten year. Invites children to slow down, look and listen - skills that can be used in many places, in many ways. The text is lyrical and the photographs - up close and vivid. Students will want to look at this book again and again.(less)
Two stars or less because this should not be categorized as nonfiction. While there might be value in reading this book to get a "feel" for Tubman's l...moreTwo stars or less because this should not be categorized as nonfiction. While there might be value in reading this book to get a "feel" for Tubman's life, it should be considered historical fiction. It was written in 1955 and Petry's purpose was to provide readers with a viewpoint of slavery that was not being represented in textbooks of the time. What writers in the field have agreed on since then is that to be accurate, you cannot make up what was said during an event or in a person's life. You can use quotes from primary sources or from people you've interviewed during your research, but you cannot just make it up. Petry narrates a discussion that took place in Harriet's parents' cabin the night Harriet was born and continues to do so from there. There is no documentation of what was said specifically at events like the night Harriet was born. Petry is conjecturing. This is not be acceptable in 2013 informational texts - despite this book's continued publication.
Petry does end each chapter with clear facts about other events that were occurring during a particular period and at some points late in the book, she includes quotes by Harriet and a few others in the narrative, BUT the majority of the book is a narrative that includes what was happening, being said, and so forth.
I'm sure Petry did some research. She passed away in the 1990's and I haven't found any kind of description of her research on-line so it's hard to know what she did. I want to read Scenes in the Life of Harriet Tubman by Susan Bradford - who knew Harriet and interviewed her extensively for the book (to raise money to support Harriet). I'd also like to read two more authoritative books - Harriet Tubman: The Road to Freedom by Clinton and Bound for the Promised Land: Harriet Tubman, Portrait of a Hero. While the first book by Bradford was criticized for accuracy - it is based on the perceptions of Tubman (who did not know how to read and write). This might serve as a primary source - similar to Frederick Douglass' autobiography Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass.
If students do read Petry's book - there's room for teaching about an author's interpretation of historical events and documents and how that influences what is written.(less)
Overall - I thought this was well written - cohesive with clear central ideas running throughout the book. That said - the authors assume a lot of background knowledge on the reader's part. For example, the first page is a map of England, France, and Holland. Holland is no longer it's own country - so you have to infer that this is a map from the 1800's. There's no title or scaffold to help the reader do this. I detail more of my analysis at the blog entry above.(less)