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By age 17, only about 1 in 17 seventeen year olds can read and gain information from specialized text, for example the... More

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Author: Charlie Samuels

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Publisher: Little, Brown and Company,

Material: board book

Summary: Charles Samuels narrates this discovery of America. He explains that he found a journal and some amazing contents in an old suitcase in his attic, and he shares them with us. His props (from sheet music to postcards to election stickers and a $2 bill) take us along on a journey of how the United States of America came to be and our culture. This is an interactive book that explores US history.

Type of Reading: independent reading, reluctant reader, interactive reading

Recommended Age: read together: 10 and up; read yourself: 12 and up

Interest Level: 11 and up

Reading Level: 4.2

Age of Child: Read by and with an 8-year-old girl.

Young Reader Reaction: Our daughter spent hours exploring this book. She loved lifting flaps, pulling out notes, and reading about how they fit into the "story." She was awed by the Declaration of Independence and just how big it was. She was also quite proud of how many things she recognized, like the White House, the Statue of Liberty, and Mount Rushmore.

Adult Reader Reaction: What a great way to engage kids in history! This was a fun book to share with our daughter. I particularly liked how it integrated many aspects of what makes our nation unique. It has plenty of colonial history, but you'll also learn about the Slinky and other inventions, symbolism, like the Bald Eagle and Uncle Sam, and music, too. More than likely, it is the long sentences that push the reading level to 8.2. However, because of the picture book style (short paragraphs, lots of images), this would be a comfortable read for a third or fourth grader.

Pros: Kids can play with history and see that history is more than just a bunch of dates strung together.

Cons: This would be an excellent resource for school, but there is a great risk in losing some of the items tucked inside or the flaps ripping.

Borrow or Buy: Buy. This is a special book and would be a great resource for your kids during those second to fourth-grade years when they are really building their knowledge of US history.

If You Liked This Book, Try: REVOLUTIONARY WAR (BATTLE BOX Series)   JACKSON AND BUD’S BUMPY RIDE; America's First Cross-Country Automobile Trip   GIVE ME LIBERTY

Educational Themes: This is a book for exploring. It is loaded with material and would be hard to read in one sitting. You can explore everything from social studies to music to science.

Notes: Flesch Kincaid reading level 8.2

Literary Categories: Nonfiction - picture book, US history, interactive learning

Date(s) Reviewed: November 2009, June 2014

Other Reviews: See Critics' Reviews and reader feedback at and


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