Thursday, October 6, 2016

"If You Were Me and Lived In...The Middle Ages, Renaissance Italy, Colonial America, The American West" (Review)



This review is brought to you by Carole P. Roman and Awaywegomedia.com.

My little history buff was quite excited when a package arrived last month with four historical books for his use and perusal:

If you remember my review of previous Carole P. Roman books, her geography series for a slightly younger age group, If You Were Me and Lived in...France, Mexico, South Korea, Norway. This latest series introduces time periods instead of specific cultures, and includes much more information than the geography/culture series. In fact, these historical time period books are recommended for a variety of ages (Depending on the book) from 1st through 9th grade. At the end of each of the books you will find a section of  "Famous People ..." from the time period with a paragraph to introduce them, as well as a glossary for unfamiliar words.

The first book we read was If You Were Me and Lived in...the Middle Ages. This was a perfect go-along for our Five In A Row Unit on The Duchess Bakes a Cake. Youngest read this independently, as part of his social studies/history lesson and came up with a number of interesting questions and comments. He was particularly struck by the difference in the clothing that was worn during that time including scratchy woolens).
The book also gave a very good, if gentle introduction to Feudal society, typical foods, housing, and the general way of life for nobility and peasants. The illustrations by Bulgarian children's illustrator Mateya Arkova are very similar to the cover illustration, with somewhat cartoonish pictures in bright pastel colors. I appreciate that Carole chose to use a European artist for a book whose history is largely based in Europe. This is the longest books of the four that I received for review at 97 pages.


We have not done anything formal just yet with Renaissance Italy, but with a Leonardo Da Vinci exhibit coming up at our local science museum at the end of the month, you can bet that this book will be on his reading list! :) It covers the same themes in a conversational manner~ what the towns were like, what people wore, what a wealthy merchant's home might be like, how those who weren't rich might live, what foods were eaten, etc...
In addition to the famous people and glossary at the end of the book, Carole touches on some of the reasons why the Renaissance was so important in art. Again, Carole chose a very appropriate comic illustrator, Silvia Brunetti from Rome to illustrate her book on Renaissance Italy. Most of the pictures are in comic form, but there are a couple with photos as background, with a drawn overlay, which is seen more in some of the other books.


The next book is another that we didn't delve into, but is perfect for reading near Thanksgiving, as it features a colonial family that arrived in America on the Mayflower, which is always a topic of discussion in November in our home.
Because we live in Massachusetts, it is always interesting to me to have books on hand that discuss the local (as well as national) history that is so prevalent in our state. While the cover of this book gives you an idea of the comic overlay on a photo, the rest of the book is strictly drawn, in a distinctive sharper comic style by Canadian illustrator Sarah Wright.


The final book (chronologically) that we were sent centers on the American West. This was of particular interest to me, and fairly timely as we had been on a cross-country road trip to my home state of Montana this summer. We visited the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman, MT, home of the Tinsley homestead, which my great grandmother grew up in, and which my great-great grandfather built in the late 1800's.

Each of the books includes common names for the era, and I found it highly appropriate that the names Clarence and Lucy were included, as Lucy was was my Great Grandmother's name (Her mother was Lucinda), and there is at least one Clarence in my family history in Montana as well.
This was a great book to help my son imagine what life was like for his Great-Great-Great grandparents as they traveled west from Missouri and settled in Paradise, Montana. My only constructive criticism comes at the very end where the Famous People from the American West are mentioned, as Daniel Boone was included when he was more of a Kentucky/Missouri historical figure, vs a Western figure. I would have considered including a mountain man like Jim Bridger or Kit Carson instead (can you tell I'm invested in this geographical time period? ;) ).
The illustrator for this book, Paula Tabor from Texas appears to have merged photography with her comic overlays (Seamlessly in most cases), for a very interesting effect.

Not So Nutty Nitty Gritty 

Readable historical books for elementary to middle grade student which engage their interest through illustrations and details that are pertinent to them, as children, are a rare find and a great resource to have on hand. I think these fill that bill quite nicely.
You can Visit Carole P. Roman on her social media pages:
Facebook, Pinterest, Good Reads, and Twitter as well as her blog where she has included some resources and questions that can be copied and pasted into printable worksheet format or simply used as discussion questions.

Please click the banner below to visit the TOS Review Crew and see what others had to say about these books as  well as others in the series ... Ancient Greece, ...Ancient China, ...Viking Europe, and ...Elizabethan England. As always, I hope that this review was useful to you as you choose where best to spend your homeschool budget.

Blessings~
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