Sunday, December 30, 2012

Nonfiction Monday: Did It All Start with a Snowball Fight?

Did It All Start with a Snowball Fight?
written by Mary Kay Carson; illustrated by Robert Hunt
2012 (Sterling Publishing)
Source: Orange County Public Library

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The Good Question! series of books use a question and answer format to cover a particular piece of history. The title question starts the journey for this study of The American Revolution. The snowball fight is a reference to the Boston Massacre of 1770. Mary Kay Carson highlights all three sides (Loyalist, Patriot, neither) of opinion and explains why the colonists would choose to engage in a war with a much better funded enemy. It will be informative for students to learn that the choice to fight the British was not an immediate one for the colonists, but the result of long standing frustrations with the crown. When the battle begins, Carson explains the struggles of both armies. I particularly like pages 14 and 15 which contrast the British and Continental Army soldiers. This reminds me of the "Tale of the Tape" that you used to see before a big boxing match. Detailed descriptions of the weaponry and battle tactics are also very interesting. The contrast between the traditional marches of the British army and the guerrilla tactics of the colonists helps explain one way the Patriots had a leg up on their competition. To use another sports analogy, the Patriots also had the home field. They knew the terrain and used that knowledge to their advantage. The book finishes with an overview of how the Patriots overcame significant disadvantages to win and the influence of the Revolution on later events in America and in France.

If you are looking for a primer on The American Revolution, this book will serve you well. The questions in the book are excellent and would serve as a great springboard to further research. I would consider having students generate questions of their own and writing answers in a similar two or three paragraph format. This exercise could be used for the study of other wars as well. I would also ask students if they would start their study of The American Revolution with the Boston Massacre or pick a different event.

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