Daily Archives: May 18, 2014

Double Review: American Revolution Easy Readers

I live and work in Massachusetts, where Patriot’s Day (and all things American Revolution) is alive and well. Over the past year, I’ve heard my colleagues recommend two particular books on a number of occasions, and I decided it was finally time to read them.

Sam the Minuteman by Nathaniel Benchley, illustrated by Arnold Lobel (of Frog and Toad fame)

Overall: 4 out of 5 stars

Sam lives in Lexington, Massachusetts, and gets swept up in the Battle of Lexington. The text is copyright 1969 and refers to the war being “about 200 years ago.” It explains the origin of the term Minuteman (being ready at a minute’s notice to fight the British), a brief glimpse at everyday colonial life, and how drastically outnumbered the rebel colonists were. I had to ask my colleagues, who were mostly locals, to fill in some of the gaps since it is billed as fiction, but all the facts were the same (only Sam did not exist). There is a reenactment every year in Lexington that I was trying to reconcile with the description of the battle in the book, but they’re both pretty close to truth. It’s an I Can Read book, level 3, and includes long words like awakened and frightened, plus a few contractions.

George the Drummer Boy, also by Nathaniel Benchley, illustrated by Don Bolognese

Overall: 4 out of 5 stars

Same deal, only the story of the battles of Lexington and Concord are told by a British boy, who also reminds us that “one of by land, two if by sea” turned out to be two lanterns in the church tower, so the soldiers went by boat. It presents facts like the people of Concord had hidden their battle supplies elsewhere, and the British set fire to some buildings. George seems more clueless than Sam, though his story doesn’t involve as much waiting around. Each boy has a friend his own age who gets hit, so the danger is there but not the blood and pain. This is also an I Can Read book, level 3.