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American History Books

by Jean Fritz

Page 1 of 2

What's the Big Idea, Ben Franklin? Penguin Group

INTRODUCTION

It's easier than ever to spot the best children's literature for your classroom. Just look for PaperStar™, the brightest light in children's paperbacks. Here are some ideas for using these acclaimed books with your students.

THEMES

Cruising the Web
Can't You Make Them Behave, King George? ISBN 0698114027
And Then What Happened, Paul Revere? ISBN 0698113519

The character-revealing incidents and humorous anecdotes in Jean Fritz's six Revolutionary War biographies depict historical figures who are more true to life than the heroic or villainous stereotypes often found in textbooks. Your students may begin to explore and appreciate the human complexities of these famed personalities through the development of character webs, which visually represent their foibles and quirks as well as their documented strengths. Patrick Henry will emerge as an expert at bird calls and a father of four in addition to being a great orator. King George will be seen as an amateur astronomer and the father of fifteen as well as a ruler. The construction of character webs also may be used to highlight significant similarities and differences among these Revolutionary personalities. Your students may then compare Fritz's character depictions with those found in other writings. For example, you may share Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem "Paul Revere's Ride" with your students and have them compare and/or contrast the poet's romanticized view of Revere and his famous ride with that provided by Fritz.

Time and Time Again
What's the Big Idea, Ben Franklin? ISBN 0698113721

And what a time it was! Each of Jean Fritz's humorous biographical narratives is well informed by important facts and small vivid details shedding light on historical personalities as well as on the shared context of their Revolutionary Period. Your students may develop time lines to help them organize and perceive important events as they pertained to the lives and beliefs of each of these individuals. Then, all of the individual time lines can be incorporated into a multi-strand representation, which will enable students to synthesize the events chronicled in each of these books and "see" when and where these six men crossed paths, joined hands, or opposed each other. You may have your students work in small groups on the individual chronologies, each contributing one strand to the class's development of the multi-strand time line. It is important to have children agree on a scale so that events may be shown clearly by year or by decade. If you have your students make their time lines on long rolls of paper, entries may be written on cards or Post-it notes, allowing for temporary placement along each line and ease in correction or realignment. Once all information is properly placed, you may have your students embellish selected events with drawings and pictures.

ART STUDY

A Picture's Worth a Thousand Words
Why Don't You Get a Horse, Sam Adams? ISBN 0698114167

Jean Fritz's biographical series is complemented by the artwork of three prominent children's illustrators: Margot Tomes, Trina Schart Hyman, and Tomie dePaola. You may have your students look carefully at the visual representations provided by these artists to determine how they contribute and add to the textual information provided by the author. Do the illustrators use different media and techniques? How does their style of presentation affect the mood and tone of each book? Do the illustrators incorporate details in their illustrations that add to or enhance the information conveyed through the narrative? How would these stories be different if the illustrations were not included?



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Brought to you by Penguin Young Readers Group.


The Penguin Group is the second-largest English-language trade book publisher in the world. The company possesses perhaps the world's most prestigious list of best-selling authors and a backlist of unparalleled breadth, depth, and quality. Penguin Young Readers Group features books by authors and illustrators including Judy Blume, Brian Jacques, Eric Carle, and beloved characters like Winnie-the-Pooh, Madeline, The Little Engine that Could, and many, many more.


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