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If You Were Me and Lived in the American West Review by Brittney Rutherford

Carole P. Roman

My children have enjoyed several books about countries and cultures around the world by Carole P. Roman, so when given the opportunity to review a book from her newer Civilizations throughout Times series, we were excited. If You Were Me and Lived in  . . . the American West takes children on a journey west as they travel the Oregon Trail as part of “The Great Migration of 1843.” This historical series immerses children in the history and culture of different time periods. The American West is something of folklore for many children, full of cowboys and cattle drives, but Roman does a good job of putting things into context for children. Using a conversational narrative, she approaches history through the life of an average child. Today's child is able to see themselves placed right into history as they learn about the Oregon Trail and why families traveled west by the masses. They learn about family life, period clothing, foods, names, chores, interactions with others, and so much more.  

Each page spread has a black background with white text on the left and a full page illustration on the right. Illustrated by Paula Tabor, the pictures are cartoonish, but interesting. At the end of the book is a section on famous people, with each person's picture or photograph and a short description. It includes both men and women, such as Annie Oakley, Geronimo, Lewis and Clark, Sacajawea, and Wyatt Earp, to name a few. The book concludes with a glossary.

The author does touch on sensitive topics such as the deaths caused by illness and other issues along the way. She does address Native Americans respectfully, though only briefly without any detail. This book is targeted at elementary to middle school aged students, with a recommended age range of 7-14 years old. I think the content covered, the amount of text on each page, and the overall length of the book make it ideal for middle to upper level elementary aged students. Younger students can certainly follow along, but will probably need the book read to them over a few sessions. Older students need more detail, but it's certainly appropriate as a supplementary book. As a homeschooler, I think this is a very suitable book for a multi-age study. It is certainly a great addition to our American History study.

-Product review by Brittney Rutherford, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, November, 2016