100 True Tales from American History
by Jennifer Armstrong
Illustrated by Roger Roth
From School Library Journal: Starred Review. Grade 4-7 — This collection of lively tales demonstrates the broad base of individuals who make up our country and the slow accretion of incidents that create a heritage. Starting with the colony of Saint Caroline, founded by French Huguenots near what is today Jacksonville, FL, in 1565, the short tales proceed chronologically to the election of 2000. Along the way, readers move through sections entitled Settlement and Colonies (1565-1778), A New Republic (1791-1863), Expansion and Invention (1867-1899), Becoming Modern (1900-1945), and Brave New World (1946-2000). The tales are pulled from politics and government, social and religious life, recreation and science. Students will hear about personalities as various as John Chapman, Carrie Nation, Typhoid Mary, Babe Ruth, and Maya Lin. An excellent classroom resource, the stories are a perfect way to fill the odd three or four minutes, and the book’s organizational structure ties in well with more comprehensive titles, such as Robert D. Johnston’s The Making of America (National Geographic, 2002). The selections are cross-referenced into Story Arcs so that readers can follow historical threads, such as immigration or science and technology. The lively prose is matched by numerous soft color illustrations. A grand way to introduce children to the history of their country.–Ann Welton, Grant Elementary School, Tacoma, WA
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From Booklist: Gr. 4-7. This large, fully illustrated compendium features 100 stories, familiar and lesser known, drawn from America’s past and arranged in chronological order. Armstrong occasionally stretches the meaning of the subtitle—asserting, for example, in the section on John Henry that “sometimes legends tell truth as well as facts.” But a majority of the narratives fall comfortably within history as most middle-school teachers would define it. With 26 of the first 55 stories set in the northeastern states, readers may begin to suspect a certain regional bias; however, Armstrong restores the balance to some extent in the latter part of the book. Thanks to writing that is consistently good and sometimes excellent, the tales will certainly hold readers’ attention, and brightening nearly every page are lively drawings enhanced by watercolor washes. Entertaining for reading aloud but also great as independent reading for young history buffs. — Carolyn Phelan
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