Change. Who needs it? We do! Mr. John Slack, the keeper of a tavern beside a rutted dirt road in the early 1800s, thought things were just fine the way they were. So did Lucius Stockton, who ran the National Road Stage Company in the mid 1800s. So too, did the owners of the railroads when the first model T appeared in 1908. Yet with each new innovation, Americans were able to move around the country more quickly, efficiently, and comfortably. Connie Wooldridge offers an informative, yet light-hearted look at how the dirt roads of the early 1800s evolved into the present-day U.S. highway system. Richard Walz's gorgeous paintings capture both the broad sweep and the individual impact of change and progress.
Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge received a master's degree in education and library science from the University of Chicago. She has written picture books and non-fiction for children. She lives in Indianapolis, Indiana.
This is a very brief history of how dirt tracks became paved highways.The theme seems to be things are just fine the way they are so why change? and change is inevitable. As to the facts on roadways, I rather doubt I'll remember much of it at all. It was nicely illustrated. We do need more J books on transportation history but this isn't going to do it for a report. Well, it is a beginning.
Mr. John Slack, a tavern keeper in 1805, was not happy when two senators from Ohio and Connecticut had decided to tell the U.S. Congress that the United States needed a National Road so the folks who lived in the East could get to the Ohio RIver. Wagon drivers would stay the night at his tavern while their wagons got stuck in the mud going up a nearby hill. It brought him business, a National Road would cost him money. In his mind, things were just fine the way they were.
But Congress went and built a National Road in 1816. Unlike Mr. John Slack, other people wanted the National Road. It was where ideas and people and things could be sold back and forth across the country. But soon the National Road lost it's newness and another idea came along in the 1830's. People began to be in awe of the steam locomotive. Once people began to see what it could do the thirst to be able to move faster to get from place to place took over.
But, of course, you can't please everyone. The people who used the National Road were upset because they felt that it should be better maintained. It now had potholes and weeds in it during the 1850's, and when people began to ride a new invention known as the bicycle, a new wave of complaints came where Congress should build better roads, especially with the invention of Henry Ford's Model T.
Because of the pressure from the nation. Congress agreed in 1912 to spend money for a national highway system that would include the National Road. Things began to evolve quickly combining innovation with the needs of the people. But people didn't expect pollution and other problems. Were things really fine the way they were?
This is a wonderful tool for teachers and parents to use to teach social studies skills. Readers will learn more about how transportation has transformed America and how transportation is essential for expansion. The reader will be able to see how transportation has changed and evolved over the years and how communities are changed by transportation. Just Fine the Way They Are, is a well written account of the history of transportation which includes detailed and realistic illustrations that are appealing to the reader. Readers from 6 and up will delight in how America has changed, yet will also understand some of our current problems as well which involve the environment. People wanted progress, things to become faster and easier, but certain things weren't taken into consideration at the time. Wooldridge tells the history of transportation in a brief, detailed, yet fun way, that will suck in the reader, while the illustrator, Richard Walz, drives the message home. Highly reccomended for use in a classroom and homeschool setting
“Mr. John Slack, the keeper of the tavern beside a rutted dirt road in the early 1800s, thought things were just fine the way they were. So did Lucious Stockyon, who ran the National Road Stage Company in the mid-1800s. So too, the owners of the railroads when the first Model-T appeared in 1908. Yet with each new innovation, Americans were able to move around the country more quickly, efficiently, and comfortably. Connie Wooldridge offers an innovative, yet light-hearted look at how the dirt roads of the early 1800s evolved into the present-day U.S. Highway system. Richard Walz’s richly-rendered paintings capture the broad seep and the individual impact of the change and progress.”
Just Fine the Way They Are, subtitled From Dirt Roads to Rail Roads to Interstates” will have kids (mostly boys), glued to the pages. It is laid-back enough to keep a young kid’s attention while having the information to explain how The United States has developed its transportation system. The theme of travel being “just fine,” meaning ‘no need to change what we are use to for some new fangled thing I won’t like,’ is wonderful. Even today, that attitude prevails, especially if the change is a big one. Yet, when the “new fangled” thing was built, the country was better able to move around, and at a time when the West was expanding. Today, an interstate or highway connects nearly every city and town in America.
I understand the attitude of “just fine.” Today, in a pocket or purse, nearly everyone carries a cell phone– except me. Sure, I own one, only after getting a flat tired late at night. Yet, I do not carry it around, because I am “just fine” with my landline. I do not see the need for twenty-four hour phone access. Yet, look what cell phones now do for people. Time saved, important calls not missed, and the Internet, and all that has to offer, is at one’s fingertips. The same occurred with the roads. The guy who owns a business by the dirt road doesn’t think a railroad is needed or the Interstate, yet most people are better off for having those. This book does a great job of explaining the prevailing attitudes and the progress made on the roads in America.
The illustrations are terrific, colorful and accurate. I can see a little boy infatuated with cars and trains drooling over the pictures. Just Fine the Way They Are is a good book for the classroom, a book report, and for story-time. With this book, you are also going to get two stories for the price of one. The first is the important history of the Interstate system. The second, more amusing, is the “just fine” attitude of the old versus the new. What about you? Do you like things Just the Way They Are?
The book opens in 1805 with an old man not being happy about a new road that the politicians felt was needed to get folks from point A to point B. Old man Slack wasn’t happy about it at all you see his tavern was right on this proposed dirt road and much of his business was his because of that road. When wagon drivers got stuck they stayed at John Slack’s tavern until morning and then would start digging their wagons out; the bonus they would stay another night at the tavern after so much digging they grew weary from all the work. If they upgraded the road it would not be good business for John. One of the politicians lived in Ohio, the other in Connecticut. The purpose for the road per the politicians was so people who lived east could get to the Ohio River. It seems to me that John Slack and the politicians have their own agendas in mind. The National road didn’t just stop on the East coast it went all the way to Illinois. By 1830 the idea of locomotives were introduced, and shortly after that bicycles. By 1908 Henry Ford designed his first automobile and with every change some folks hemmed and hawed that “things were just fine the way they were.” As we know when one too many hands start to stir a pot the end results can sometimes boil over. Well in 1912 Congress voted to introduce a National highway system, for the folks who wanted to take exits into another town they could while others just keep on. In the meantime you still had some folks gripping about “things were just fine the way they were.”
Just Fine The Way They Are explores the idea of change, using the advancement of transportation as the analogy of this story. But it also shows how with each change the person putting forward the change at times had a personal interest. While change is good and good for some folks not everyone will be happy. One thing I did notice about these changes that made me smile was how the author paused to remind us that change allows our children to dream, dream about becoming something they didn’t have an opportunity for originally. As you turn the pages the pictures will make you smile. Be careful they might take you back to yours or your parents’ stories from their childhood.
There are so many lessons for children in this story and the way that it is written allows the facilitator to interact with the children as the story progress. Some of our children believe cars were always part of our society this book is a valuable history lesson for children.
A complimentary copy of this book was provided by the author for the purpose of this review
Just Fine the Way They Are By: Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge Illustrated By: Richard Walz ISBN: 9781590787106 Format: Hardcover
My Rating: ★★★★★
Goodreads’ Synopsis: Change. Who needs it? We do! Mr. John Slack, the keeper of a tavern beside a rutted dirt road in the early 1800s, thought things were just fine the way they were. So did Lucius Stockton who ran the National Road Stage Company in the mid 1800s. So too, did the owners of the railroads when the first model T appeared in 1908. Yet with each new innovation, Americans were able to move around the country more quickly, efficiently, and comfortably. Connie Wooldridge offers an informative, yet light-hearted look at how the dirt roads of the early 1800s evolved into the present-day U.S. highway system. Richard Walz's gorgeous paintings capture both the broad sweep and the individual impact of change and progress.
This really is an amazing book. It gives kids a ton of history about the transportation system in the United States, but keeps everything light and fun. It is probably better suited for older elementary age children (My son is six and he started getting distracted about halfway through). His favorite part was the introduction of the steam engine and the race between the engine and the horse drawn cart. It was truly exciting.
While the book does slightly poke fun at both the “old-fashioned” and the new (mostly our persistent resistance to change), it does touch on the subject of pollution and the depletion of our natural resources, largely due to the transportation system. I think it is a great platform to start further discussion with children about innovation as well as how we have changed over the years, in many ways for the worse (in my opinion).
The book itself is large, and the illustrations are big and colorful. I was able to talk with my kids about the illustrations and how they were related to what we were hearing in the story. For instance, when they are building the National Road, we talked about how the road was still dirt (rather than paved), but they were having to dig the big rocks out and smooth it out so the wagons could travel over it safely.
This is another children’s book that is written with some advanced vocabulary. Having a child that reads at an advanced level, I appreciate having these books that are more challenging for him. He learns so much better this way!
I absolutely recommend this book for both its historical content and entertainment! It made me wish for a simpler time….sigh…
This fun and educational picture book teaches children the history of transportation in America. Beginning with dirt roads and the introduction of the National Road… then ending with a look to the future, Just Fine the Way They Are is an enjoyable way to educate children about how the transportation system connected America. The book takes the reader through the building of the National Road, the creation of railroads, the introduction of automobiles, highways, and interstates. This book ends with a message about the damage these forms of transportation have had on the environment and a hope for cleaner forms of getting around. Just Fine the Way They Are is simply worded with colorful, charming illustrations.
The author introduces humor into history with characters who vehemently state that “things were just fine the way they were.” Luckily, enterprising, inventive Americans thought transportation could be improved. Now, some Americans might not see a need for improvement, but resourceful people are changing transportation again with fuel made from corn and cars powered by batteries. What will come next? Just Fine the Way They Are teaches children to look forward to change and respect the environment. This picture book helps children to imagine a better world and more convenient transportation!
Any grade school age child would like to read this book. Wonderful illustrations show the history of America in an engaging way. Just Fine the Way They Are: From Dirt Roads to Rail Roads to Interstates is a lesson full of history, ingenuity, and optimism.
Sometimes change is hard. Sometimes people believe that things don’t need to change because things are just fine the way they are! Just Fine the Way They Are tells the story of how the dirt roads in the 1800’s became the U.S. highway system of today with beautiful illustrations by Richard Walz. Wooldridge includes a timeline in the back of the book that highlights relevant points such as the construction of the National Road in 1811 and Henry Ford’s first Model T in 1908. Also included is a list of Web Sites which are all currently active and quite relevant to the book as well as a list of Places to Visit (such as national railroad museums).
I really enjoyed this book and would definitely recommend it to parents, teachers and young independent readers. I think it would be an appropriate read-aloud book for younger children who have an interest in trains, automobiles, etc. For independent readers, I believe 7-12 would be the perfect ages for this book. I think it would be a great learning tool in the classroom as well. It is a perfect blend of information and humor mixed with lively illustrations.
JUST FINE THE WAY THEY ARE:FROM DIRT ROADS TO RAIL ROADS TO INTERSTATES by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge,illustrated by Richard Walz is a wonderfully written young adult read with two hundred years of American highway system history and wonderful illustrations. Young and old alike will enjoy this story of read.A great way to help anyone understand our highway system better.A must read for parents,grandparentss,children,teachers,as well as a great learning tool. From 1800's until 2004,sometimes things are "Just Fine the Way They Are". This book was received for review from Bostick Communtications and the author.Details can be found at Calkins Creek ,an imprint of Boyds Mills Press,Inc. and My Book Addiction Reviews.
This book is a good for kids to learn about the history of transportation and the worries about change that come with them. The book spans the early 1800's through now and discusses the history of change and how roads, the railroad and such were created and why. The illustrations are great, the history of transportation is fascinating, but the wording was a bit much for kids. There's a lot mentioned on each page that didn't hold my kid's attention long enough for them to want to sit and listen to the whole book. While the book seems like it's geared towards kids K-2nd grade age, the wording is written for kids whom are older. I'd recommend it for kids in 2nd grade & older.
Although this is a non-fiction book it is extremely entertaining for elementary students. This book is all about embracing change and being ready for it when it comes. It seems there is a prevalent attitude that emerges among each generation that things are fine the way they are and that because it's always been this way (for as long they can remember) it doesn't need to change. This book explores that change can be beneficial and good if embraced and accepted. I found it very interesting to read and my children all really enjoyed it. This is an excellent book - I highly recommend it for teachers (public and home school alike).
I really liked this book. My 5-year-old son picked it out by himself at the library. I liked the recurring theme of resisting change and how it was applied to us today, indicating that we probably will move away from fossil-fueled automobiles without being pushy about it. I liked the history lesson brought into friendly neighborly form.
I was so sad! This book started out great. I loved it. The illustrations are amazing. And then I got to the second to last page where Ms. Wooldridge decides to slip in her political agenda. Boo. Political agendas DO NOT belong in children's literature. You may read my full review at www.the-readathon.blogspot.com