Showing posts with label Jennifer Armstrong. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jennifer Armstrong. Show all posts

Monday, February 16, 2015

Dear Mr. President

Winslow Press started the creation of a series called “Dear Mr. President” – I think a wonderful introduction.  I love the five books that were made.  I wish there was more.  I don’t know why it was discontinued – or so it seems.  Winslow Press doesn’t seem to offer publication later than 2002 (that I could see) and it doesn’t appear the site has been updated since May 2009.    Perhaps Winslow Press is one of many businesses that has had to file bankruptcy in the last decade and a half.

The three books I will focus on most are:

Though the Letters are fictionalized, information provided in the correspondence is based upon meticulous research.  I like how Winslow press refers reader to “learn more” though I personally did not find the useful, I like the concept of getting readers interest and encouraging research.

Presidents may have opened their mail at one time, but somewhere along the way the mail was handled by the secretary and now an entire team, I would imagine.  I don’t imagine the correspondence would have existed any other way but through our minds.

The poor coal miner wouldn’t have been able to send as many letters to Roosevelt as he did, as he would not have had the means for postage.  Nor would a slave have been able to correspond as they had even less means than did the coal miner.

All letters are start out with the twelve-year-old’s point of view.  Lettie has been taught by her mistress how to read and write.  Her mistress is the only child of a widower who most likely teaches Lettie out of boredom.  She encourages Lettie to write to Abraham Lincoln who responds. 

Knowing that the correspondence will put her in harms way should others learn that a slave has been taught to read and write. The letters are addressed to her mistress.  Correspondence allows the reader to understand the purpose of the Civil War and President Lincoln’s position and a thin view of what some slaves had to go through.

I think I found the miner story the most interesting.  To be certain that he received all of the young miner’s letters and weren’t open by his secretary, Pres. “Teddy” Roosevelt had the young miner address the letters to his son.  I do think I read a small error when Teddy expressed that Kermit was 13 in one letter and then 12 in the next. 

Besides reading about the conditions that the miners had to face, I enjoyed discovering trivial things that took place during Theodore Roosevelt’s reign.  He spoke with affection about all of the animals that belonged to his children – and baby-sitting the guinea pigs – which he really did do. 

And then there was Franklin D. Roosevelt who had some good ideas.  Some did not work out to his expectations.  His correspondence is with a girl of Italian decent.  She talks about different family members having to go on strike and about the hobos jumping freight lines.  That was interesting.

I also like how each of them use big words (which are capped and bolded) to describe things and use of contractions (which are underlined) to peak reader's interest not only in history, but grammar and vocabulary as well.

Winslow Press made it a point to caption each page with the words: “To learn more about specific mines, go to”, “to learn more about unions, go to”,  “to learn more abut Christmas during the civil war, go to”, “to learn more about the Dredge Scott Act, go to”

As previously mentioned, I actually didn’t find the winslowpress site at all useful, but I do like the idea of suggesting to readers to research mentioned subjects.  Wikipedia is always helpful for me, personally. 

Once the correspondence ends, there is a time line and brief history about said president.  A snapshot of a letter in his actual handwriting and then a letter the way it may have appeared by said 12 year- old.

Another interesting thing after the letters and time line is a synopsis of how the mail was delivered at that time and how much postage costs.  For more information on the post office it gives the Winslow site.  But there are so many sources that one can go to for more information.

The “Dear Mr. President” series is beautiful.  I think it needs to be continued. 

Friday, January 16, 2015

Finding Another Piece of History

I read a book a while ago and started a post about author Jennifer Armstrong.  There is such amazing passion in her writing.  Well, I’ve only read three books thus far.  But I feel the need to post something – and yet haven’t felt inspired to write.  So here is a short post that was started eight months ago, but never really finished.

The first Jennifer Armstrong book that I read was The American Story which gives a brief summery to so many who contributed to American history.  I love her passion towards history and for accuracy.

Currently, most of the books I read are geared to children.  Every once in a while I will try one geared to the adults, but always come back to books that are geared to the youth.  There were two Armstrong books geared to adults that I checked out from the library.  One about the Mickey Mouse Club and one about the Mary Tyler Moore television show. 

Though I had not been raised with the Mickey Mouse club or had much interest in it, I did fine “Why? Because we still like you : an oral history of the Mickey Mouse Club” by Jennifer Armstrong very informative and well written.

I have always LOVED the Mary Tyler Moore Show (still do) but was hugely disappointed with “Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted : and all the brilliant minds who made The Mary Tyler Moore show a classic” – for me it read like a text book.  I had a hard time becoming a part of that text.  Needless to say, I did not finish that book. But I don't imagine it would be a subject geared to children for lack of interest.

The book that I had read in May last year is titled In My Hands which I briefly mention in this post 

Irena Gutowna is a citizen of Poland before World War II.  She has a desire to become a nun but is advised to try looking into nursing first. 

She leaves her family in a free part of Poland to study nursing in a German-controlled part of Poland.  She was seventeen and had a hands on experience as she learned.

The story takes us from being captured by Russians and interegated to escape to hiding Jewish people in the house of the major she works for in the German army.

Her story fascinates me along with the several pictures displayed half-way through the book.  The fact that they were taken and survived and were retrieved.  It’s not a historical fiction as I’m used to reading.  It’s biographical.  

 I consider this biography to be an awesome treasure!
Jennifer Armstrong writes, “If I have done justice to this story, I am grateful.  If I have not, it is because I have never had to face what Irene faced.” 

I think she did tremendous justice.  I look forward to reading more books.