The Thrifty Guide to the American Revolution: A Handbook for Time Travelers

Book review by
Lucinda Dyer, Common Sense Media
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Jokey history offers Yelp-like reviews for time travelers.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

The text has lots of fun facts (France becoming America's ally during the Revolution may have been the result of Thomas Jefferson shipping a dead moose to Paris) and is heavily illustrated with simple maps of major battles, colonial Boston, and Paul Revere's ride. The "People to Have Lunch With" insets introduce readers to several lesser known figures in the Revolution: Phillis Wheatley, America's first African American poet and Salem Poor, an African American militia man who was a hero at the Battle of Bunker Hill.

Positive Messages

Freedom is hard won but worth the sacrifices people make.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The Thrifty Guide to the American Revolution introduces readers to several unsung heroes and heroines of the Revolution: the 8,000 to 12,000 African Americans who fought in the Continental Army and the generals' wives (including Martha Washington) who cooked, mended uniforms, and tended the wounded during the terrible winter at Valley Forge.

Violence & Scariness

Soldiers die in battle and snipers kill civilians. "Punishment in the Continental Army" briefly details what happens to a soldier being lashed. One thing that may concern parents is that violence is sometimes treated in a lighthearted way ("It’s the job of drummers to administer the lashing, so make sure you’re nice to them"), "Scoreboards" for each battle compare the number of killed, wounded and captured and give a star to the winner, and one "Helpful Hint" details "What to Expect When You’re Expecting … to Be Shot by a Cannon" ("If you feel a slight twinge in your side, like your body is being torn in half …").



What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Jonathan W. Stokes' The Thrifty Guide to the American Revolution: A Handbook for Time Travelers is a lively accessible history that lets readers become firsthand observers at some of the most important battles and events in America’s War of Independence. They'll also be introduced to both familiar (Paul Revere, John Hancock, Betsy Ross) names and some that rarely appear in history books. While this "insider" look at the American Revolution is presented in a way sure to captivate young readers, some serious content -- like the tragic consequences of war -- is treated in a lighthearted, joking way: The author gives Yelp-like ratings for Noise Level, Decor, and Accepts Credit Cards to the winter at Valley Forge and a British prison ship and posts "Scoreboards" for each battle that compare the number of soldiers killed, wounded, and captured and awards a star to the winner. This book and The Thrifty Guide to Rome are the first in the Thrifty Guide series. The Thrifty Guide to Ancient Greece comes out in September 2018. 

User Reviews

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Teen, 13 years old Written bylitkarl July 5, 2018

Great Way to Learn History!

This book talks about history (a very boring subject) and makes it very interesting, funny, and actually helps you learn! I recommend it to enyone that's... Continue reading

What's the story?

A THRIFTY GUIDE TO THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION turns readers into time travelers, as they’re transported back to America's fight for independence and offered the chance to become observe firsthand some of the major events of the Revolution (The Boston Tea Party, the battles of Lexington and Concord, Bunker Hill, Brooklyn and Cowpens, as well as the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the Siege of Boston). The text of the book is heavily illustrated with maps, drawings of historical events like the crossing of the Delaware, portraits of people both famous and little known, and fun insets such a "People to Have Lunch Lunch" and "What’s the Deal with Powered Wigs?" 

Is it any good?

This funny take on history uses the time-travel gimmick to engage readers and convey solid information. While A Thrifty Guide to the American Revolution is lively and easy to read, it sometimes applies its lighthearted tone to the very serious business of war. Parents may find themselves explaining what are considered funny comments ("This was wonderful for my diet. I lost fifteen pounds!" says a reviewer about the winter at Valley Forge) or the joking way a punishment in the Continental Army is described ("You're made to 'ride the wooden horse.' Your hands and feet are bound and you are made to sit on a wooden stake. Enjoy!").

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about traveling back in time to one event in The Thrifty Guide to the Americans Revolution. What would it be and what part would you like play in it? What if you had the power to change the outcome of that battle or event — what would you change?

  • Were you surprised to learn about the role African Americans and Native Americans played in the American Revolution? Why do you think they are rarely written about in history textbooks?

  • Of all the interesting characters featured in the "People To Have Lunch With," who would you want to share a sandwich with? What questions would you have for them?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love American history

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