Everything Your Schoolbooks Didn't Tell You About the American Revolution is the subtitle of this book. It recently arrived at Oakalyn Branch, and it has all sorts of stories about things in the American Revolution that I hadn't heard before. Steve Sheinkin has written King George: What Was His Problem? in such a conversational tone that it feels like he's telling us about people that he knows today.
Here's what he says about Ethan Allen, leader of the Green Mountain Boys: "Standing six foot six, with a furious temper, Allen was not the kind of guy you would want to have as an enemy. He was known to beat up two men at once by lifting them off the ground and banging them together." (p. 58) Everything he writes isn't so violent, but it does get my attention. When Ethan Allen demanded surrender of Fort Ticonderoga in the middle of the night, he woke up an officer by beating on the commander's door and shouting things like "Come out of there, you old rat!" Lieutenant Feltham had run out of his room undressed, but ran back to "grab some clothes, and stepped out into the hall . . . he tried to appear calm and in control (which is hard to do when you have your pants in your hand)." (p.59)
It turns out that if you read the introduction, called Confessions of a Textbook Writer, you find out that Steve Sheinkin has written history textbooks. While doing research for them, he found lots of stories that he thought wouldn't fit into those textbooks, so now he's written this book to tell some things about the American Revolution that most of us haven't heard before. Did you know that John Hancock thought he would be chosen to lead the American forces, instead of George Washington? Or that the man who hung the lanterns in Old North Church the night of Paul Revere's ride had British soldiers living in his house? He had to sneak out of his window and climb over rooftops to get to the church and back. Or that John Adams and Benjamin Franklin sometimes had a hard time getting along together? Especially if they had to share the same bedroom while they were traveling -- Adams got cold easily and wanted the window closed, but Franklin thought they needed the window open and proceeded to give Adams a long lecture on his viewpoint of fresh air and the real causes of colds -- it put Adams right to sleep.
But this book won't put you to sleep. I think you'll enjoy the black -and-white drawings by Tim Robinson, too.