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review 2016-03-13 15:39
"Those rebels, John and Tom" by Barbara Kerley
Those Rebels, John and Tom - Barbara Kerley,Edwin Fotheringham

An informational children's book that compares and contrasts the founding fathers, John Adams and Tomas Jefferson. These two had very different lives, personalities, and childhoods but did have the same love for the american colonies. This could be used as an integrated history and reading lesson. Students can do a study on John Adams and Tomas Jefferson. They could make a venn diagram of the two and list similarities and differences. 


Interest Level

Grades 2 - 6

Reading Level

Grade level Equivalent: 6.3

Lexile® Measure:AD960L

DRA: 40

Guided Reading: R


  • Autobiography and Biography

 This link is to an excellent teaching blog. The picture is of a venn diagram that compares two students in the class. You could also do this and have the students compare two characters from a story! I also like how this incorporates art into language arts. -Maggie Smith 2/18/13:

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review 2016-02-23 19:36
An excerpt from Dr. E.B. Foote's Medical Common Sense

I finished The Trouble With Tom: The Strange Afterlife and Times of Thomas Paine and I want to write a long, quote filled review that will make you want to read it but I also want to get a post up! I might post a better review within the next week...
To keep it short for now, it's a book mostly about the generations directly following Paine's. Each of the people it profiles had their lives forever altered when they read Paine's work and most of them came in contact with his remains at some point, which were taken from his grave by an enemy turned admirer. It's both inspiring and disheartening to read about these men who were feminists, vegetarians, and who encouraged racial mixing at a time when racial marriages were illegal almost everywhere and even in more progressive places whites still didn't see blacks as their equals. Inspiring for obvious reasons and disheartening because this: 


"The very fact that men talk of allowing women this or that liberty is evidence that authority itself has been usurped. As well might a pickpocket talk of giving a port-monnaie to someone from whom he had clandestinely filched it. I tell you, reader, we men have no rights to give women; she possesses naturally the same rights as we do." 


...because THIS, written in 1870 in reference to women's work rights and rights to CHOOSE whether to have a child or use birth control is STILL controversial!!! (When I read that I almost yelled I was so excited. I want to go back and time and give this guy a hug... and then unfortunately disappoint him by telling him that we're still fighting for African American and women's rights.)

So all in all, this book got me riled up and excited and pissed off and hopeful and everything else a book should do. Highly recommended to anyone who likes reading about inspiring figures from the past and anyone who has any interest in Thomas Paine, Walt Whitman, Henry David Thoreau, or other American historical figures of a similar vein. 



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text 2016-02-08 15:43
Reading progress update: I've read 51 out of 288 pages.
The Trouble with Tom: The Strange Afterlife and Times of Thomas Paine - Paul Collins

A journey through all the places that Thomas Paine's remains passed through. So far it's interesting and does a fairly decent job of using the story of what happened after his death to reveal what he was like in life, but a lot of it is focusing more on the people he was friends with. It's also extremely conversational, which sometimes works and sometimes not so much. Still, pretty enjoyable so far. 

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review 2015-10-06 15:41
Detailed and fascinating account of America’s first First Family
The Washingtons: George and Martha, "Join'd by Friendship, Crown'd by Love" - Flora Fraser

While this doesn’t flow with the feeling of a novel, source material is too scant for that, Flora Fraser has still managed to put together a fascinating, often moving, portrait of America’s first First Family, and through them a history of the Revolutionary War and the early years of the United States, including the issue of slavery since the Washingtons had enslaved people in their service. Unfortunately, very little correspondence between George and Martha Washington survives, Martha burned all that was in her possession when George died, but Fraser fleshes out their life and relationship using what there is, including diary entries, letters written to and from other people, and precise requests for clothing, cloth and other goods that the couple made to merchants.


The book’s meticulous details are the basis of its strength, and Fraser includes all her sources in the Notes section. I was especially interested in the opening chapters featuring George Washington as a pragmatic young man and the early days of his courtship of and then marriage to Martha. I knew least about those times, and I enjoyed encountering Martha as attractive, wealthy young widow, managing her first husband’s estates and raising their children on her own. This interlude of independence served her well when George left their home in Mount Vernon to lead the Continental Army.


In spite, or maybe because, of the many difficulties in their lives, including the premature death of all of Martha’s children, the relationship between the Washingtons was charmingly close, and George’s military colleagues were glad when Martha joined him at army encampments because his mood always improved when she was around. The book goes on to cover the politically tumultuous years after the Revolution, George’s two presidential terms, and the brief time the Washingtons were able to enjoy retirement from public life. The last chapter concludes with Martha’s death in 1802, three years after George passed away.


Source: jaylia3.wordpress.com/2015/10/06/detailed-and-fascinating-of-americas-first-first-family
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review 2014-01-25 20:10
The Second Revolution by Gary Hansen
The Second Revolution - Gary Hansen

Synopsis: (Amazon)


What if a Rogue President took Control of America? Jake McKinley moved to Pittsburgh after his divorce. After being attacked in his home, he buys a handgun for protection. Meanwhile, things are going crazy in Washington DC. The president dies and is replaced by his vice president. Opponents of the new president are assassinated. Liberty is threatened. The situation escalates until Americans must decide whether to fight for freedom, or forfeit it. Jake decides to fight, along with millions of others, in The Second Revolution.


Author's Site: Gary Hansen

Publisher: Hole Shot Press

Purchase: The Second Revolution

Reviewed For: NetGalley- a copy of this book was provided for an honest review.


Misanthrope's Assessment:

I wish that people writing in this genre, and the people who actually buy into the politics this genre sometimes expresses would stop taking the words of our Founding Fathers out of context.  That is the major problem I have with this book.  I wish they would read the letter from which that often misused quote about 'the blood of tyrants refreshing the tree of liberty' was taken from.  If they did, if they sat down and studied the history and read that letter, they would realize that Jefferson was MOCKING the likes of them.  It is rather amusing, but incredibly aggravating.


That aside... I enjoyed the book.  The characters were developed and although I hated the misuse of Jefferson's words, it set the stage for the protagonist and those around him.  I did not like how women were handled in this book, but here again, it does paint a vividly correct picture about how folks who espouse the beliefs of Jake, Clive, and even Monica, are.


I mean, come on, Jake hadn't held a gun since he was a kid at the start of the novel, compared to Monica who was raised around guns and was proficient at firing and the care of a various number of weapons, but he gets to go into the fray while little ole female Monica stays home?  Stays out of the action while the man gets to be the hero?  Again... it was irritating to me, but was true to form for people of that political and religious persuasion.


I thought the action was kind of dry too.  In the heat of battle, as a reader, I was bored.  I wasn't concerned or worried about the protagonist, or any of his friends.  I should have been.

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