I have a new-to-me author/illustrator to share today, which is something I haven’t done in a while. I discovered Rosalyn Schanzer quite by accident as I was window shopping on Amazon for some books for my girls’ U.S. History studies. Buying picture books and novels about U.S. History has become a minor hobby of mine, so I thought as I put her book George vs. George: The American Revolution As Seen from Both Sides in my shopping cart, “What’s one more?” 😉 I was really intrigued by the premise of a book that shows the American Revolution from the perspectives of the two Georges: King George III of England and George Washington. This is a picture book, but don’t let the genre fool you: this is good stuff! In fact, I daresay that it would make an excellent addition to even high school level studies! This book compares and contrasts everything from the two Georges’ physical attributes (they were both tall and red-headed) to English versus American colonial government to the British versus the “Rebel” forces during the war. It also follows the timeline and narrative of the American Revolution while noting the similarities and distinctions. The illustrations are beautifully colorful and intricately detailed. They are almost comic-book like in that each page features speech ballons which contain actual quotations. However, this is not a book of caricature; the illustrations are, as far as I can tell, carefully rendered and as accurate as possible. I am really intrigued by this book and think it’s worth a second and third glance for upper elementary students and up. (National Geographic, 2004)
A book I plan to share with my girls next week is Schanzer’s How We Crossed the West: The Adventures of Lewis and Clark. It is somewhat similar in format to George vs. George. It’s not quite as detailed, though it is plenty detailed for elementary and middle school aged children. Schanzer works in lots of actual quotes from the actual journals of Lewis and Clark. The book provides a wonderful overview of their long and exciting journey, with enough detail to whet appetites for further study. I learned a lot about the Voyage of Discovery and am really quite interested in all things Lewis and Clark now after having read this one picture book. (National Geographic, 1997)
The things that stand out to me the most about Schanzer’s are the lovely illustrations and the obvious careful attention to detail. The backmatter of both books includes lots of “after the story” information, and George vs. George includes an extensive bibliography as well as the sources for all of the quotations in the book. Both book includes a list of websites and addresses for more information. The Lewis and Clark book includes several beautifully illustrated maps. I love both of these books and really look forward to reading more of her stuff. I plan to order Gold Fever!: Tales from the California Gold Rush soon.