Monday, January 17, 2011

Nonfiction Monday: The Civil War: Profiles (One Event, Six People), by Aaron Rosenberg (Scholastic, 2011) ISBN 978-0545237567

Recommended for ages 8-12.

The first in a new history series from Scholastic, this slim volume focuses on biographical sketches of six key players during the Civil War: Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass, Clara Barton, George McClellan, Robert E. Lee, and Matthew Brady, and how their lives intertwined.  Suitable for elementary school-aged readers, the book is abundantly illustrated in full color, with photographs, maps, and paintings selected to bring these famous individuals to life.

Each person is profiled in a separate chapter, about 20 pages long, telling about his or her childhood, early years, their families, and their accomplishments, in an easy-to-read format.  The biographical format also allows the author to compare and contrast the different individuals, explaining how Lincoln and Frederick Douglass had many things in common, for example, both having started their lives poor and having become famous speakers and leaders, and how Matthew Brady's photography helped make Lincoln president.

This is a good choice for students interested in learning more about famous individuals from the Civil War, but it is not a book chronicling the war itself.  While the information provided is not in-depth, it provides a useful introduction to the various figures profiled, and may spur students' interest in exploring their lives in more depth in other biographies or Internet resources.    Enough details are provided on each of the six figures to be used in an elementary school biographical report as well; the book could also be a good selection for older middle school or even high school students with lower reading skills, since the small size and low page count (150 pages) make it less intimidating for reluctant readers than some other nonfiction choices.  Included in the text is a bibliography of relevant books, articles, and websites, as well as an index.

Disclosure:  Review copy provided by publisher.

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