Sunday, April 3, 2011

52 Books in 52 Weeks ---- Week 14 ---- Mr. Revere and I

For the 14th week of the 52 Books in 52 Weeks challenge, I'm reading a book aloud to the girls called Mr. Revere and I by Robert Lawson.  The short description on the cover says, "Being an account of certain episodes in the career of Paul Revere, Esq., as revealed by his horse." 

The back of the book describes Mr. Revere and I:  "Paul Revere didn't make his famous midnight ride alone. Meet a patriot unlike any other: Scheherazade, the mare who doesn't mind mentioning she was once the fastest and most admired horse in the King's army. But on arrival in America, 'Sherry' is quickly let down by her British rider and recruited by Sam Adams to join the Sons of Liberty.

"Before long, she finds herself teamed with Raul Revere to play a key-if unnoticed-role in the American Revolution. Full of wit and wisdom, this beloved classic presents an unforgettable view to the birth of a nation-straight from the horse's mouth!"

Mr. Revere and I provides a deeper look at Paul Revere - including his skills and personal life.  He is noted for his work as a silversmith and being a good family man...not for his horsemanship.  He sacrificed many basic physical comforts and much of his homelife to help the Sons of Liberty; and was the courier to other colonies on political missions.

Lawson isn't attempting to be meticulously accurate in Mr. Revere and I.  His aim is to write an entertaining story that will bring a human historical figure to life. Aimed at young readers (though equally enjoyed by adults), Mr. Revere and I is an easy and enjoyable introduction to American studies.

One of the early parts of the book that stood out was the description of the unsanitary long-distance transportation of horses via boat over the ocean which was a surprise to the girls and me.

"We were quartered in the hold of an extremely old and leaky vessel misnamed the Glorious. There was no light and less air. Our hay was moldy, the grain mildewed and weevily, the water unspeakable. Rats were everywhere; they ate the food from under our very noses, they nibbled at our hoofs, they made sleep impossible. Our stalls were never cleaned, and of course currying and brushing were unheard-of.

"Our grooms occupied the deck above us and a worse lot could scarce be imagined. They had been plucked from the gaols and prisons to fill out our ranks and fought and caroused unceasingly. Ajax and I were fortunate, for the thug assigned to us had been in prison for horse stealing, so at least he knew something of horses, and we fared a bit better than our less lucky companions."

This entire section of the book about the ocean transport of animals, was quite informative and certainly an aspect of which very little is written. Mr. Revere and I provides a memorable - and sobering - perspective about how animals were treated and the conditions that they had to endure on their journey to the New World. 

I am in the middle of reading the book to Sophia and Oliva and should have it done by the end of the week.  However, if the beginning of the book is any indication of our interest in it, I may be done reading it in a few days.  It is a book worth reading - even as an adult...particularly if the book isn't one that was required reading during your elementary school years.

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