Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Abraham’s Journey: A Celebration of the American Dream (Book Review)

I had high hopes for this next review, which is a unique product~ a print book that incorporates the use of a digital device into its time-travel story-line.  Abraham’s Journey: A Celebration of the American Dream , written by Robert and Kathleen Basmadjian, is produced by Inspiring the American Dream.

In order to flesh out the idea of "The American Dream" beyond the definition given in the book, I turned to that wonderful resource of cyberspace, Wikipedia for the following: The definition of the American Dream by James Truslow Adams in 1931, "life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement" regardless of social class or circumstances of birth.[1]
The idea of the American Dream is rooted in the United States Declaration of Independence which proclaims that "all men are created equal" and that they are "endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights" including "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." [2]

Throughout this slim volume (32 pages) the main character, a young boy named Abraham, is taken on a journey through time and cyberspace by none other than Abraham Lincoln. Along the way they meet a number of present and historical American figures who encourage young Abraham to find and develop his special talent in order to make some money and "save Christmas" for his family, as they have been hit financially by "The Great Recession," which is apparently what they are calling our present time(???). 

What we liked about the book~
  • Creative and unique story line with the techno-time-travel.
  • Some lesser known names in American history are introduced.
  • Virtuous ideals are promoted~ so that concept is good.
  • Lessons in History, Social Studies, Career Exploration, Charity, Innovation can all be pulled from this story.  
However, there were some things that definitely hit me the wrong way~
Beyond the cyber-travel experience, I felt that we had to suspend belief in reality a little bit.
  • The American Dream appears to have been distilled down  from "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness" to being "Successful" from a financial viewpoint. I can't think how many times we have discussed with our children that money does not equal happiness.
  • The concept that a family whose child owns a smart-phone would not be able to "afford" Christmas is a little bit of a stretch for this one-income-nobody-here-owns-a-smart-phone-family. I do realize that the smart-phone is integral to the story, I just think the plot could have been a little stronger, and that Abraham's "Conflict" could have followed a more realistic theme, greater than the materialistic lack of presents... some major need for money (I could go for a storyline that promotes needing funds to adopt children, helping to provide clean water in 3rd world countries, etc... something bigger than presents at Christmas).
  • To continue that thought~ the idea that Christmas is all about the presents and is in need of being "Saved" if presents aren't an option bothered me. I don't want my children thinking that Christmas isn't Christmas if there aren't presents under the tree... that is not *my* personal view of Christmas~ We don't save Christmas, Christmas (Or at least the baby whose birth we celebrate at Christmas) saves us. 
  • Seemed a little choppy or confusing when people from different time periods show up in the same vignette.  
  • Inclusion of people like Bill Gates (child of a Prominent Lawyer) and Mark Zuckerberg (Attended an exclusive prep school~ typically the haunt of the "upper class" and the "elite") ~ It seems to me that they started out living "The American Dream" as a children.
I wish the that plot was different, had been fleshed out a bit more, and that different people (Those who had overcome some difficulty in order to achieve some version of "The American Dream") had been used as examples. Then everyone could appreciate the messages of creativity, hard work, innovation, perseverance, and compassion and generosity that are loosely woven throughout the book.

Not So Nutty Nitty Gritty 

Please click the banner below to visit the TOS Review Crew and see what others had to say, because I'm sure there are other opinions.  As always, I hope that this review was useful to you as you choose where best to spend your homeschool budget.
Disclaimer: I received this/these item(s)/service for free as part of the TOS Review Crew Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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