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Colonial Voices: Hear Them Speak / by Kay Winters, illustrated by Larry Day


Title:  Colonial Voices: Hear Them Speak
Author:  Kay Winters
Illustrator:  Larry Day
Publisher:  Dutton Children's Books
ISBN:  978-0-525-47872-0
Year: 2008
Flesch-Kinkaid Grade Level: 5.0

Concepts:  jobs, human resources, economic role of government, monopoly

Review:
 Shoemakers who pull teeth for customers with toothaches, and barbers who apply leaches to bruises and let blood drain to cure a fever.  These are but two of the many interesting tidbits about occupations during the Colonial period that make this book an enjoyable read for children and adults alike.  As the central premise of the book, young Ethan, a printer’s errand boy, makes his way around a number of local businesses in Boston on that fateful day in December 1773 leading up to the Boston Tea Party.  He is charged with delivering news about the tea tax, Governor Hutchinson’s decisions, and the protest meeting that evening in the Old South Meeting House. At each of Ethan’s stops, the reader hears about the political views and job responsibilities of the colonial merchants through their own voices.

The stunning watercolor-and-ink illustrations, the themed typeset and layout, and the map of Colonial Boston inside the book’s covers reinforce the book’s historical theme.  A concerted effort to add vocabulary from the Colonial era and detailed occupational descriptions in the historical notes further contribute to the book’s high marks on substantive content. Although Colonial Voices: Hear Them Speak mostly covers the economics concept of jobs, its focus on the Boston Tea Party also make it a useful vehicle for teaching about monopolies and taxes.  Most readers will finish the book more informed about this pivotal event in Colonial history, and relieved that we do not need to visit the shoemaker and barber for our healthcare needs.

Review by: Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children

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