I RECEIVED A FREE COPY OF THIS BOOK IN EXCHANGE FOR A HONEST REVIEW.
Title: 4th Grade US History: The Civil War Years
Author: Baby Professor
Year of Publication: 2015
Length: 32 pages
First Line: “The Civil War was fought between the Northern and Southern states from 1861-1865.”
Summary: When the civil war raged in the US, some of your ancestors could have been one of those who got trapped in the battle. Learn about their experiences and understand the reason for the wars. This informative history book will definitely capture 4th grader’s attention with its colorful pictures and the requirement to read fewer texts. Buy a copy today!
Review: Maybe it’s because I have a BA in history behind me, and am a proclaimed history buff, but this book is a pile of crap.
Let’s start with the cover. Perhaps I am nick-picking but all of the cartoon characters on the front look manic. Not sure what sort of signal the publishers are trying to send out. And if you don’t believe me, just look at their eyes. All four characters have crazy eyes. And why the hell is the one Confederate soldier aiming his rifle right at the lone black Union soldier? It’s kind of tasteless and racist (note: I’m not saying it is inaccurate for the time period, I am saying it might be offensive to have this on the cover of a childrens picture book that was published in 2015). The historical inaccuracy of the cover bothers me as well. Yes, to most people when they think of the American Civil War, they conjure up images of uniformed Southern men in dressed in grey and everyone above the Mason Dixon line dressed in blue. Not so. Without going into a huge amount of details, a lot of soldiers went to war wearing the clothes on their back or even their grandparents’ uniforms. Made it slightly difficult to tell who was who. So they did make uniforms (the grey and blue), but there’s something called money and a governments (especially the Confederacy) had a lack thereof, and so their soldiers dressed in whatever they could. Again, I’m not sure if this is something I am being super nick-picky about, especially since like I stated before the majority of people only know grey and blue. It’s something that irritates me nonetheless. However, the cover designer did a decent job getting the flags right. Good job.
The writing and organization bothers me. The first sentence of this book is: “The Civil War was fought between the Northern and Southern states from 1861-1865”. The second one: “The American Civil War was fought between southern and northern states of the United States”. :-O In what world is that okay? You can’t even get away with repeating sentences like that in elementary school. Yet, they published a book. My God, their editor should be fired. (Let me not get into the inconsistency on if Southern and Northern are capitalized or not. Fire your editor damnit!). The book is filled with iconic Matthew Brady photographs. There’s no explanation to any of the photos for the kids (or parents) to what’s happening in the photos, the context, who is in them, that Matthew Brady and his team took them, etc. Speedy Publishing simply uses the photo as a backdrop for their facts. Half of the pictures are just there to look pretty. There’s a photo but no explanation or fact. The facts don’t match the photos. Even some of the facts they list aren’t 100% facts. We don’t know if Lincoln actually dreamed of his own death before he died. One guy who was Lincoln’s bodyguard claimed this after the President had died. No one else said this. Not Mary Todd, not Tad, not any other bodyguard, not Lincoln himself. Only this one guard. Nice story isn’t? The bodyguard might have been telling the truth. But it seems like such a strange tall-tale. It seems inappropriate to list it as a fact in a kids book.
Also, this picture book is directed toward 4th graders, however it is way above an average 4th grader’s level. It’s more on the level of a 5-6 year old.
What could have made this better?
-A simplified timeline of events
-Facts that matched the photos
-A single lone photo of Abe Lincoln (not him in group photo)
-Facts, not tall-tales
-Redirect this toward the proper grade level
This book is a mess. I’m sorry to say that.
Worst part: Was there an editor?
Best part: Hey, got the flags right.
Recommend For: No one. Please don’t bother.
PS, It’s been 154 years since the Battle of Shiloh.