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The Old Schoolhouse Magazine
The Civil War

By Douglas Rife and Gina Capaldi
innovativeKids ®

50 Washington Street
Norwalk, CT 06854

The Civil War is a history text like no other. Essentially a museum in a book, it offers black and white, sepia, and color illustrations, drawings, photographs, and maps from page one. It is a long-lasting hardback with sturdy pages and a glossary in the back. Interaction is encouraged by providing a real spinning cipher for the reader to use as well as many "lift the flaps" with tidbits of interesting material underneath like the Emancipation Proclamation, the Thirteenth Amendment of the United States, and how hot air balloons were used in the war. There are a few photographs on flaps that open up at the edges of the pages to extend the material covered. There are envelopes to open with removable letters to read, such as a letter from a Yankee soldier, one from Abraham Lincoln, and from General Lee. There is even a page where you pull the tab to show the before and after at a railroad depot that Sherman destroyed.

The content inside begins with images of life in the North and the South before the war and leads the reader through the growing conflicts of slavery, taxes, and states' rights, and to the first violence in the 1850s in the Border Wars and at Harpers Ferry. The battles, the armies, the African American experience, unsung heroes, spies, and inventions are described, among others. It continues through to the end of the war and the rebuilding of our country. The stories are written almost like a newspaper, in small, readable segments.

This "hands-on history book" is aimed at learners of ages eight and up. The Civil War is not a full curriculum, but is a terrific supplement or review. Because the readers are engaged in a tactile activity on nearly every page, they will likely remember more details later on.

Just picking up the book makes me excited! We are going to be studying the Civil War next semester and I can hardly wait to read this book with my boys as a way to kick it off. My teenage daughter is excited about reading it, too. We will keep this book for many years to come, to use in school and to review from time to time. It's a real treasure!

Product Review by Krystin Corneilson, The Old Schoolhouse ® Magazine, LLC, November, 2011

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