A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Who Was Alexander Hamilton? is a fact-filled overview of the life and times of one of the towering figures of the American Revolution and the early United States government. Written in simple, straightforward, kid-friendly language, the biography actually has a ton of great information and explanations of important concepts like the Articles of Confederation, the Triangle Trade between Europe, Africa, and the colonies, and the war of words between Federalists and Anti-Federalists. This is part of the popular multi-book Who Was series.
What's the story?
This entry in the wildly popular Who Was...? series of short biographies traces the famous financial wizard's journey from his humble childhood in Nevis, a small island in the Caribbean, to the battlefields of the American Revolution, to the highest reaches of New York society, to George Washington's cabinet and the founding of the United States Treasury, and finally to his early death at the hands of his rival Aaron Burr. WHO WAS ALEXANDER HAMILTON? roughly parallels the plot of the Broadway musical, and authors Pam Pollack and Meg Belviso describe the major events and debates surrounding Hamilton's life and brief career in government, highlighting the impact he had on the Constitution and the development of commerce and banking. Though his personal life was filled with tragedy and loss, Hamilton's rags-to-riches immigrant story continues to inspire and influence students of American history and government.
Is it any good?
Educational but exciting, the book is perfect as an accompaniment to the Broadway show or as a supplement to colonial or Revolutionary history. The writing is clear and concise, making a complicated story accessible and understandable for readers of all ages. Fantastic hand-drawn illustrations by Dede Putra set the scene and make the text come alive, transporting readers back to the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The biography sticks to a pretty familiar story about the Founding Fathers and their historical importance, which does leave some of the larger questions unaddressed (liberty and justice for whom?), but as an introduction to the era and its larger-than-life characters, Who Was Alexander Hamilton? excels.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why people are so interested in finding out Who Was Alexander Hamilton? There's been a surge of interest in Hamilton, fueled by the success of the Broadway show that bears his name. Why do you think his story is connecting so strongly with audiences right now? How does Hamilton's story relate to the present day?
Why did men risk their lives in duels to defend their "honor"? How could Hamilton and Aaron Burr have settled their argument without resorting to violence?
Does focusing on America's Founding Fathers distract us from how ordinary people helped forge the new United States? Who's being left out of this national origin story?
- Authors: Pam Pollack, Meg Belviso
- Illustrator: Dede Putra
- Genre: Biography
- Topics: Great Boy Role Models, History
- Book type: Non-Fiction
- Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
- Publication date: August 22, 2017
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 12
- Number of pages: 112
- Available on: Paperback, Audiobook (unabridged), iBooks, Kindle
Themes & Topics
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For kids who love early American history
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.