Book Review: First Mothers the Women Who Shaped the Presidents

This title was chosen ahead of time for me, by me, on my annual reading list.  I deemed it appropriate for May, because of Mother's Day.  What better inspiration for a mother than to read about other mother's whose sons reached the highest office in our country?

First Mothers was written by Bonnie Angelo, a reporter with Time, who had covered stories at the White House through eight administrations.  She uses this knowledge as well as interviews with past presidents and their families to write this impressive biography.

Mothers

First Mothers is a wonderful biography full of wisdom, quotes and history made by the work of these mothers.  This book sheds new light on the line: "The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world."  The chapters are dedicated to the mothers of Presidents: FDR, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, LBJ, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush, and Clinton. 

What I found fascinating is that not one of the eleven mothers sought to have her son become president; many had no political aspirations for their family.
The common thread of each mother whether born wealthy or dirt poor, was that her son be a good man- strong in character and to be able to do what needs to be done. 
It was interesting that each son that would become president, held a special place in his mothers heart, not quite a favorite, but for lack o f a better word, a favorite none the less. Each mother would champion her son; always believing the best in him and encouraging him to do his best. The binding tie was that each mother who would have a president son, had an especially close relationship with her father.  She would hold him in high esteem and find her strength in this relationship that would then influence her and her sons futures. 

First Mothers is a book that sheds new light on powerful men who changed and made history.  A book that will charm and inspire you.

Book Review of A Thousand Years Over a Hot Stove

 A Thousand Years Over a Hot Stove is a history of American women told through food, recipes and remembrances. I had actually never flipped through the book to see the layout and writing style before bringing it home to read.  That is the only gamble when ordering with Amazon, really- sometimes there is the Click to See Inside feature which thrills me.  But, I did not do that with this title and I wish I had.

In my mind I had built up a book that read as a diary.  In which women left behind recipes and snippets of stories of how they endured the Civil War or the Great Depression with ration cards. I imagined "grocery lists" from different times. Lists of what the women going west would have considered essential to have to cook for their hungry men and children.
I wanted an easy read in a conversational tone that made history come alive.

Booktitle

There is a smattering of these things in this book. There are numerous photographs and historical prints. There are recipes and well researched facts.
However, I never found myself drawn into the world of these women whose stories are chronicled here. I wanted to, very much. I found myself skimming the book looking for snip-its that drew me in.

I did enjoy sections about the pioneer women and their long and difficult day on the journey westward. I wish there had been real diary entries here. I enjoyed portions about women during WWII and the Great Depression and how they helped turn the tide. There is a long quote by Eleanor Roosevelt that I loved. 
Here is the last line of it: "And I hold it equally true that in this present crisis it is going to be the women who will tip the scales and bring us safely out of it."

 A Thousand Years Over a Hot Stove is a well written book. I neither loved it nor disliked it. The book was not what I had in mind when I saw the title and added it to my annual book list.  But I would recommend it to someone doing a report on the kitchen and its role in history.

You Choose History Series

Have you ever read a choose your own adventure book? The kind where at the end of a chapter you had to decide- do you go into the haunted mansion or run away scared?

That same plot line has been given a new and educational twist- in the You Choose: History book series!

Titles

Teaching history to kids sometimes gets the groan of shame because some books are way too text-booky and filled with boring information. Or the book has one obscure fact lost in pages of make believe.

Not the case with these history story books set in different time periods. 

Lets say you choose The Revolutionary War  book. 

The book begins with a short introduction and informative chapter on the history of that time period.  At the end of the chapter, you must choose which side to be on in the American Revolution. 
That choice sends you to a certain page and you will see the outcome of that decision for your character. 

Choice

What a fun way to learn about history!

In this book  ( The Revolutionary War ) there are 3 different story paths to choose from, 65 choices the reader can make and 16 different endings!

Frontcover

My kids and I have enjoyed reading as many of these You Choose: History books as we can put our hands on!
I would say the reading level is around 4th-6th grade.
The authors strive to be historically accurate throughout the books and there are numerous historical photos and other illustrations.   

The ability to choose how the story ends, could be an incentive for a reluctant reader. Or these books may interest a child in a historical period by placing them inside the story.

Small print moment…..for the sensitive child or the mamma that likes to know these kind of things…….there are paths in the book where the character will die or every member of the family will perish except that character.  Use your discretion on what is appropriate for your family and child.

Theend

 A very enjoyable series!  Below are links to our favorite You Choose History books so far!

The Titanic: An Interactive History Adventure (You Choose: History)

The Civil War: An Interactive History Adventure (You Choose: History)

Westward Expansion (You Choose: History)

The California Gold Rush: An Interactive History Adventure (You Choose: History)

 

   ****Companion Book Series **

For the young reader craving more adventure and a little less history the Can You Survive series will be just the thing!


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These books follow the same format as the history based ones. 
The first chapter sets the stage with facts and information.  At the end, the reader must choose which path to take.  Their survival will be determined by the decisions they make.

Maybe it was the idea of impending doom or the thrill of adventure but my son read by flashlight to finish these interactive stories!

The reading level is roughly 4th-6th grade.  The books have great photographs and illustrations. This book series is a winner in our house!

The small print—-use your discretion on what your child can handle emotionally.  There are paths where the character does not survive or those around the character do not survive. You know best when it comes to what your child should read.

Happy Reading!