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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Ten Girls from History

We got the chance to review this book about .....Ten Girls from History, written by Kate Dickinson Sweetser and edited by Amy Puetz.

There is something to be said for truth in advertising, isn't there? 
Winking smile

I am always looking for ways to inspire my girls to be greater than many of the role models that seem available to them today.

Something that you can't seem to find from T.V. shows on The Learning Channel (TLC), like Toddlers and Tiaras or Say Yes To the Dress....or even most children's shows on Nick, Disney and, certainly none can be found on ABC Family (don't get me started on that one).

That is why this book, in theory, was perfect for them...and me. 

It could give them ideas and a sense of "I can do a lot with my life!"

A lot more than pick out a ridiculously expensive wedding dress.......or dress up little kids in very grown up clothes, with lots of make-up and parade them around.....or learn different ways to lie to and smart mouth your parents.

The book is recommended for ages 10 and up.  Perfect! L-girl is 10 and A-girl is 12....and I am "up".

It is published by Golden Prairie Press.

The stories were inspiring and made you think about whether you would have that much fortitude or courage in some of the same situations.

But, the thing that wasn't so great, for us, was the writing style.  We all found it really hard to read.  I don't even know how to describe it, other than  it seemed really formal and many times, separated from the story.

Does that even make sense?

It could be that is was written in the early 1900's. 

Here is a statement about the book, from the author, Kate Dickinson Sweetser from 1917.

My first aim in bringing the lives of these ten girls from history
to the attention of the girls of today has been to inspire them to like

deeds of patriotism and courage. Second only to that purpose is a
desire to make young Americans realize as they read these true
stories of achievement along such widely varying lines of work,
that history is more thrilling than fiction, and that if they will turn
from these short sketches to the longer biographies from which the
facts of these stories have been taken, they will find interesting and
absorbing reading.

May the book accomplish its twofold object, and so justify its
publication at this time of the testing of all true Americans."

Kate Dickinson Sweetser
August 1, 1917

I love that. 

Especially these two statements: 

History is more thrilling than fiction. 

Inspire them to like deeds of patriotism and courage.

That is inspiring in and of itself.  So.....yes, we read the stories and yes, by the time we waded through them, they were interesting and inspiring....just like I had hoped.

But, it was a long process getting there.

I had L-girl and A-girl just randomly pick a story that sounded good to them to start with, rather than just read through the book sequentially.  Then, I asked them to write a summary style page about it.

L-Girl picked Cofachiqui, an Indian Princess that was initially fooled by the explorer Hernandez De Soto, but ended up getting the last laugh.

A-girl initially picked Louisa May Alcott since we had recently watched Little Women.  However, she ended up switching her selection to Clara Morris:  The Girl Who One Fame As An Actress - because she found the story on Louisa May Alcott too confusing and hard to follow.

I chastised her a bit, because she has not turned into the voracious reader that I had been at her age and just assumed she would also be.  I will admit it.  I thought she was just being lazy.  So, I sat down to read it and prove her wrong.


I saw her point.  It was sort of hard to read.  Some of the problem was the first page or two they threw out words like treatise and flourish...but not even in the way I was used to hearing them used. 

There is a glossary at the end of the book that gives definitions for some of the words (which were in boldface in the stories), many taken from Websters Dictionary in 1828. But, in an e-book format, it was hard to get to the right page that you needed to look them up....and then get back to the page you had been reading.  And, honestly, we would have had to look up a lot more words than they had put in boldface.

(Maybe I am doing a horrible job on teaching vocabulary to my kids???  I will have to think about that one later.)

I switched over to her new choice, Clara Morris.  It was a little easier to read, but still felt very formal and used a lot of vocabulary words that I am fairly certain A-girl just breezed past.....whether she understood the words or not.

But it comes down to this,   these stories are great, inspiring stories.  Look at who the ten girls are!

Louisa May Alcott: Author of Little Women
Clara Barton: The Angel of the Battlefield

Molly Pitcher: The Brave Gunner of the Battle of Monmouth
Cofachiqui: An Indian Princess
Madeleine De Vercheres: The Heroine of Castle Dangerous
Dorothy Quincy: A Girl of the American Revolution
Ida Lewis: The Heroine of Lime Rock Lighthouse
Elizabeth Van Lew: The Girl who Risked all for the Union
Virginia Reed: Midnight Heroine of the Plains
Clara Morris: The Girl who Won Fame as an Actress

Great stuff.  It really is.

But, some of them are a harder read than others. 

Think of it this way, if they do get through them, and take the time to look up words they don't understand, they will come away with a fabulous vocabulary and understanding of words. 

We received a PDF version of this book.  I think we would have done a lot better with an actual physical copy to go cuddle up together and read these stories....outloud...with a dictionary handy for the hard words....and be able to flip back to the glossary when words like, "accoutrements" were used.   

See?  Do you know what that means?  Would you if you were a 12 year old girl?

FYI - It means: Dress; equipage; furniture for the body; appropriately, military dress and arms. Equipage for military service.

The stories are really inspiring and I learned a lot of little details that I didn't know about some of these girls.  And, if I am honest, I hadn't heard of most of them I did learn something.  My girls did too.  It just wasn't the easy, breezy book I somehow thought it was going to be, since it was for ages 10 and up.

You can normally get a copy of Ten Girls From History for $20.00.  (For the same price, if you have an auditory learner, or want something different to listen to on your next road trip, you can get it as an Mp3 audio book. )

But, Amy Puetz (the editor) is having a Back To School sale (20% off) until September first, so, go take a look around.

I hope I haven't scared you off.  This is really a good book....just not an easy read for some kids (or grown ups).

There are other titles available in the Heroines of the Past series that look really interesting through Golden Prairie Press.

The Review Crew got to choose from four different e-books for this review.  The other three were; Heroines of the Past Bible Study; Costumes With Character; and, Uncovering Exciting History.  Take a look and see if my opinion matched up with others on the Review Crew.

Disclaimer:  We received a PDF version of the book Ten Girls From History for free, in exchange for an honest review.