Exhilarating and revelatory history . . . MUST reading for today's youth as well as their elders.
We Were There, Too! shows young readers how other young people have shaped American history in large and small ways . . .
Hoose's (It's Our World, Too!) impressive survey places young people at the center of every event that shaped America, from 12-year-old Diego Berm#dez who sailed with Christopher Columbus in 1492 to high school junior Claudette Colvin's refusal to give up her seat in 1955 Montgomery, Ala., nine months before Rosa Parks. The diverse contributions of these gutsy children and teens include 16-year-old Deborah Sampson, who masqueraded as Private Robert Shirtliffe and fought in the Revolutionary War, and 15-year-old Joe Nuxhall who, in the absence of many major league players-turned-soldiers, pitched for the Cincinnati Reds during WWII. Readers will appreciate the brief epilogues that explain what happened to each person in adulthood. For instance, Chuka, a nine-year-old Hopi Indian subjected to assimilation in white schools in 1899, "struggled to live in two worlds" throughout his life, and high school junior Peggy Eaton, who rode the rails in 1938, continued to live a life of adventure as a missionary and mountain climber. Informative sidebars provide additional, and sometimes humorous, historical asides to the biographical profiles (e.g., a story problem in a Confederate math book during the Civil War calculates the death toll of Yankees). Pictures, maps and prints help bring these stories to life, but it is the actions of these young people that will inspire readers to realize that they, too, can play a part in making America's history. Ages 10-up. (Aug.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
History is often written in such a way that the stories of the lives of our ancestors are lost in a sea of seemingly endless names, dates and places. Yet what makes history so compelling is that it encompasses the most interesting possible material, namely, the stories of people who have gone before us. In this stellar book we are exposed not only to the tales of ancestors but those of young people who influenced the times they lived in. Meet George Tifton who, as a young teenager, set out to sea in a whaling ship from New Bedford. Understand what the Dust Bowl was like through the eyewitness account of thirteen-year-old Harley Halliday. Relive the Civil War via the words of Elisha Stockwell, a fifteen-year-old Union soldier from Wisconsin. Learn about Jennie Curtis, a young woman who was a leader in the 1893 Pullman Strike and then disappeared from history. These and approximately sixty-five other stories, drawn from the experiences of young people reaching back to the pre-Revolutionary era, make for fascinating reading. Each segment of this book draws heavily on primary source materials and the writings of the individuals in question. Written with great care and compassion, this is one of the finest children's books dealing with American history that this writer has come across in recent years. A five star literary work, We Were There, Too! brings history to life through the lives, words and actions of common young people who accomplished uncommon deeds. 2001, Melanie Kroupa Books, $26.00. Ages 10 up. Reviewer: Greg M. Romaneck
Gr 6 Up-A treasure chest of history come to life, this is an inspired collection. Readers could easily get lost in it by simply dipping into one compelling story after another. The selections are arranged chronologically, beginning with 12-year-old Diego Berm dez sailing to the New World with Columbus and ending (66 stories later) with 9-year-old Kory Johnson, who started Children for a Safe Environment. There are famous figures such as Pocahontas and Sacajawea, and less famous, such as Billy Bates and Dick King, both of whom escaped from Andersonville, and Enrique Esparza, survivor of the Alamo. Each story ends with a brief paragraph describing "What Happened to-" the person after that moment in history. The writing is a bit stiff, but it rarely gets in the way of the stories. Because the book is packed with historical documents, evocatively illustrated (with black-and-white photographs, engravings, drawings, maps, and the like), and full of eyewitness quotations, it should prove valuable to young historians and researchers.-Herman Sutter, Saint Agnes Academy, Houston, TX Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
"We're not taught about younger people who have made a difference. Studying history almost makes you feel like you're not a real person." This remark by a girl Hoose had interviewed for It's Our World Too: Stories of Young People Who Are Making a Difference (1993), inspired him to embark on this major project. He follows the traditional arc of US history, from Columbus and the Colonies to hippies and the computer revolution, by relating the stories of individual young people-both familiar and little known. Each three- to four-page narrative begins with a quote (often-when available-from the person herself), and ends with a few lines describing "what happened" to the person in her adult life. Illustrations (mostly black-and-white print and photo reproductions with ownership credits at the end) on every page and sidebars of interesting historical tidbits or explanations make every spread inviting, and should encourage browsing. Hoose's short entries are accessible and give a good sense of the historical process by using attributed quotes and explanations of how each individual's story survived. However, for the curious, he provides no direct references to his sources. His selected sources at the end-grouped by chapter-will give readers a general indication of where to go next, especially as he marks those most appropriate for young readers with an asterisk. This approach to history will intrigue and delight readers. Frederick Douglass and Sacajawea take their place alongside Caroline Pickersgill (who in 1813 helped her mother and aunt stitch the flag that Francis Scott Key wrote about), and Jessica Govea (whose education as a union organizer started when she was a four-year-oldmigrant worker in California). Hoose brings his narrative firmly and elegantly to the 21st century with contemporary examples. An index of proper names and topics may help kids with reports, but for those wanting a broad but approachable book on US history, this is a thoroughly enjoyable choice. (sources, index, picture credits) (Nonfiction. 9-14)