Tuesday, June 16, 2015

A Fife and Drum Corps Story for Kids

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I've had a few medical treatments in the last month, so the recuperation time of the aches and pains incurred in the procedures has given me lots of reading time! I dug into my huge pile of books and just for fun I thought I'd lighten some things up and pull out some children's books to transport me to another time in history!

This is a book I bought for my son a few years ago at the Colonial Williamsburg Visitor Center Bookstore.  We've even met the author, Phyllis Hall Haislip, when she was doing a  book signing for another book, which I shall share in a bit. For a prelude to that book, read the previous link.

There are three things about this book that stood out for me. One, this book had me gripped with emotion.  Not many children's books can do that for me. I know I'm a grown up now, but I was a bookworm while growing up.  I confess that as much as I rave about the Classics now, my favorite books continue to be well written children's books.  A huge part of my life is all about balance. One thing I like to balance in my life, is with books.  If I'm going to simplify, I don't really want to do that with a grown up book. I'd rather do that with a well written children's book! =)  The plot line gripped me and  moved me from sorrow to joy to tears to _____________, well, you need to read the book yourself! I don't want to give it all away.

Second, this book is, as the author claims, well researched! I've been frustrated with a few children's historical fiction books I've read recently that have historical mistakes in them. It is a dream of mine to write children's historical fiction as well...however  my goal is to get the history correct. I realize this is not always easy. No one knows everything about anything. However I do know that some authors purposely fictionalize historical events. For me, the history should remain true while weaving the tale of fiction.  This book delivers on the author's promise of historical accuracy. We've  made so many trips to Colonial Williamsburg and sat at the feet at so many interpreters while being immersed in the 18th century, in particular with the fife and drum corps, that we do catch mistakes once in a while. Everything the author wrote correlated with the history we have learned at Colonial Williamsburg. Huzzah!

Third, Mrs. Haislip knows her fife and drum corps history for a good reason. Not only is she a historian, but her son played for the Colonial Williamsburg Fife and Drum Corps.   That brought a huge depth of reality to the book...which is appropriate in that it was set in the Age of Enlightenment and Realism. 

As a teacher by trade it's important to me to get well written books into the hands of kids. The greatest test of creativity is to stick to the historical facts while weaving a fictional tale.  I hope I can do as well as Mrs. Haislip!

Stay tuned for her other book!

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