Friday, January 12, 2018

Guy Friday- History

   Rarely do I come across a book that leaves me vaguely baffled. This new title from Steve Sheinkin did.

3447529434475293Abraham Lincoln: Pro Wrestler
Abigail Adams: Pirate of the Caribbean
January 9th 2018 by Roaring Brook Press
Abigail Adams ARC received for free in exchange for an honest review.

First of all, Sheinkin is a brilliant writer and an even more brilliant researcher. His The Notorious Benedict Arnold just blew me away. He's been a National Book Award finalist three times for good reason. He takes interesting, somewhat unusual topics and writes about them with passion and intensity.

Do we need to put our foot down on ALL history time travel books? But then there are the Magic Treehouse books, which are okay because they introduce very young readers to history in a fun way. Scieszka' s Time Warp Trio is fun. I'm almost willing to give Dan Gutman a pass, since I enjoyed his Qwerty Stephens books and Baseball Card Adventures, and he had some fun twists with his Flashback Four. Meehl's Blowback books are for much older readers, and include sports in a much needed way.

But then there's the Rush Limbaugh Rush Revere books, Potter's Left Behinds, and Mansbach's Ben Franklin: A Huge Pain in My A** for which I didn't care on a number of levels. The Sheinkin books fall somewhere between these two groups.

On the plus side, there's a nice twist. Instead of fixing history, the main historical figures decide to do something different. But that's also why I didn't care for them as much.

Yes, it can be hard to get children to read historical fiction. I try daily and meet with little success. I love historical fiction. But Abigail Adams (which I got in an ARC box from Follett; I haven't seen the first book) even confused ME a bit. She's tired of hanging out in the new White House and hanging up laundry, so she jumps into the laundry basket and is transported to the Caribbean so she can hang out with famous women pirates? But then she wants to start a school on the ship? This was so goofy that it was hard to determine the accuracy of the details, especially since the language and situations were so unusual.

I understand why this was done, but it just wasn't successful for me. It might have been the illustrations by Neil Swaab; he wrote and illustrated The Secrets to Ruling School (Without Even Trying) which was more mean spirited than I had hoped, so perhaps the inllustrations got my back up.

I think I will pass on this series, and concentrate on finding what Michael Spradlin calls "historical thrillers" like Northrop's new Polaris. If notebook novels and "twisted history" books work for your students, definitely take a look.

Now I'm off to watch the DVD of Voyagers! while questioning my place in the universe.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds weird. Disappointing. BUT I LOVED VOYAGERS.