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Book: The Cartoon Chronicles of America: Road to Revolution!
Authors: Stan Mack and Susan Champlin
Illustrator: Stan Mack
Publisher: Bloomsbury Children’s Books, 2009
ISBN-13: 978-1-59990-371-2 (paperback)
ISBN-10: 1-59990-371-7 (paperback)
ISBN-13: 978-1-59990-013-1 (hardcover)
ISBN-10: 1-59990-013-0 (hardcover)
Language level: 3 (one instance of taking the Lord’s name in vain)
Reading Level: Ages 10-14 (grades 5-8)
Rating: 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by Wayne Walker
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Mack, Stan, and Champlin, Susan. The Cartoon Chronicles of America: Road to Revolution! (published in 2009 by Bloomsbury Children’s Books). Do you remember even the most important events that took place in 1775 leading up to the beginning of the American War for Independence? If not, after reading this book, you probably will. Personally, I am not a big fan of graphic novels, but among today’s youth, having been raised on television, video games, and computer images, they are extremely popular, and if they can be used for educational purposes, why not? This first book of a new series of graphic novels by authors Stan Mack and Susan Champlin that brings American history to vivid life begins with a Prologue to explain the background. As the action opens, Nick, an orphan, and Penny, the daughter of a tavern owner, both live in Boston, MA, in 1775, and both have a mutual mistrust of the British.
A chance encounter brings them together, and they see a way of helping the Patriots, including Sam Adams, Paul Revere, and Dr. Joseph Warren. Penny becomes a spy for the Committee of Safety among the British in Boston, while Nick helps out during the lighting of Old North Church and Paul Revere’s ride, as well as the battles of Lexington, Concord, and Bunker (Breed’s) Hill. Afterwards, they even get to meet with General George Washington. The Epilogue explains which parts of the story are fact and which are fiction. The early days of the American Revolution are filled with accounts of bravery and heroism, and this story does a good job of capturing this.
Parents might want to know that Nick takes a swig of Madeira wine, but the Epilogue notes, “It was very common for everyone–including kids–to drink alcohol because the water supply in town was not safe, and even milk was potentially contaminated.” Also, the exclamation “My God” is used once. My advance review copy was in black and white, but the finished book will be in full color. Also, a teacher’s guide is available with discussion questions and suggestions for projects in language arts, reading, art, music, and history. The exciting suspense, humorous encounters, and visual attractiveness will make Road to Revolution! a book that many students will find useful in learning more about the Revolutionary War. The authors are already working on a story set in the Civil War.