Saturday, November 7, 2015

TOS Review: Ann McCallum Books Eat Your U.S. History Homework

We recently received a neat 48-page hardcover children's book to review titled Eat Your U.S. History Homework written by Ann McCallum Books and illustrated by Leeza Hernandez. This is one of three books in this series published by Charlesbridge Publishing. The book's title immediately caught my attention. When I found out it was a unique cookbook I jumped on the chance to review it. My daughter and I love being in the kitchen together! This book contains six recipes for children to create with their parent's supervision. The book teaches history topics in a hands-on, fun, and exciting way.  

Ann McCallum wanted children to learn American History by making tasty edible connections. I couldn't agree more with the author when she says that learning with food is always more fun than reading a dusty, boring history textbook. She covers topics from the Pilgrims to the Revolutionary War in this book. Throughout the book, several words are seen in bold print. Children can look those words up in the Glossary beginning on page 44.

The book begins with a table of contents. The glossy pages are thick for smaller hands to handle and easily turn. The introduction describes the purpose of the book and provides children with a timeline of events from between 1607 and 1789. Kitchen tips such as "read everything before you begin" and "wash your hands thoroughly" are added to the book to help beginner cooks. The author tells the reader that the recipes have been modernized using ingredients and tools from today's culture and lifestyle while sharing interesting facts about the past.

Each topic contains engaging and educational information for a parent to read aloud followed by an illustrated original recipe to prepare which spreads across two pages. The illustrations support the text and make it more reader-friendly. It kind of reminds me of rebus recipes. The recipes are organized into four main sections: Before You Begin, Equipment, Ingredients, and Methods. Bold print is used in the Before You Begin section indicating prep time, cooking time, total time, oven temperatures, and more. The equipment needed is listed. The numbered method section contains the illustrated recipe. The bulleted ingredients are indicated in U.S. measurements.  I think we will substitute beef sausage for the hot dogs when we make the Thanksgiving Succotash.

A short factoid paragraph is offered following the recipe. We learned interesting facts. For example, we learned that the Honey-Jumble cookies we made had several name variations such as biscuits, koekje, sugar cookies, and the ever so popular snickerdoodles. I really liked the play on words when reading the factoid for the Independence Ice Cream which was titled "Something to Sink His Teeth Into." The section was about George Washington's false teeth. Alyssa learned the names of the 13 colonies before cooking the Colonial Cherry-Berry Grunt. The book listed the name of the colonies and when each one was founded. Additionally, a 13 colonies map was given on the same page. I gave her a blank map to label after learning about them.
Colonial Cherry-Berry Grunt

A side dish filled with fascinating facts are provided at the end of each section. The author usually encourages the reader to discover more about a particular topic through the use of thought-provoking questions that inspire children to research content further. For example, after preparing the Revolutionary Honey-Jumble Cookies the author asks the children "What foods were popular during the American Revolution?" or "Can you name popular foods today from different regions of the United States?" Here are a few pictures of us making the tasty Honey-Jumble Cookies. We LOVED this recipe and only added a little more honey. 

Recipes Included
  • Thanksgiving Succotash
  • Colonial Cherry-Berry Grunt
  • Lost Bread
  • Southern Plantation Hoe Cakes
  • Revolutionary Honey-Jumble Cookies
  • Independence Ice Cream
The book ends with a History Review covering all major topics discussed. You'll find a short blurb about each topic within a specific range or time period. The author sums up the main idea and key details for each topic in 2-3 sentences. You can cover a vast amount of history in a short amount of time using this book.

There is a 2-page glossary which defines important history terms scattered throughout the book. The word is shown in bold print with relevant historical dates in parentheses.

The 2-page topical index at the back of the book is in alphabetical order. The letters of the alphabet are capitalized and in bold print which makes it easy to locate topics of interest mentioned in the book. You can also quickly glance through the list to see whether or not a topic you a re studying is covered in the book. 

How We Used It
I used the Eat Your U.S. History Homework: Recipes for Revolutionary Minds with my almost 8-year-old daughter as a supplement to her U.S. history studies. We also used the recipes as a mother-daughter bonding activity. We didn't cover the topics in chronological order. We choose the topics based on the recipe titles, ingredient list, and of course the pictures swayed our final decisions. We let our appetites do the talking. We decided to make the Southern Plantation Hoe Cakes as a side to our Taco Soup instead of our usual cornbread recipe. These delicious hoe cakes were perfect for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It made a large batch that we snacked on over several days. 
Southern Plantation Hoe Cakes
Alyssa and I decided to read all of the historical information first in addition to completing several online worksheets I found related to the topic before making the recipe. If we were studying a particular topic, then I would use the book's content to tie into the study. Some recipes were skipped until closer to the particular holidays such as Thanksgiving and Independence Day to add more meaning to the topic when studied. The stories were usually read after dinner while Alyssa finished eating. She was more focused and paid attention better to the articles and even answered questions I asked about the topic.

Our favorite recipes were Colonial Cherry-Berry Grunt and the Revolutionary Honey-Jumble Cookies. We are huge dessert fans and our sweet cravings were begging us to taste these recipes. My daughter liked the cookies so much she didn't really want to share them with anyone including me. We usually ate them after dinner with milk as a special treat.
Revolutionary Honey-Jumble Cookies
Vendor Suggestions
  1. I suggest creating a separate U.S. History series. I would also add more recipes to the book to increase its value. I am not sure how many people would pay almost $16 for only 6 recipes. However, there is a lot of history jam-packed in the pages. It'll just really depend on what they buyer is looking for in the book and what is considered most important to them.
  2. Some recipes were missing relevant details such as amounts and temperatures which could be added for more clarity. I wasn't sure how much bread to use in the Lost Bread recipe. I used a plug-in skillet for the corn cakes but I wasn't sure what temperature to use so I heated it to 325-375 degrees. I also wasn't sure whether the Cherry-Berry Grunt was supposed to be cooked on the stove at a low, medium, or a high temperature. I burnt my pan when making the Cherry-Berry Grunt recipe. I have been cooking for many, many years so I should have known better. I knew as soon as I read that the sugary cherry filling would be cooking at the bottom of the pan that there was a chance it would burn. The recipe never indicated a stove temperature. I cooked it on low, but it took forever to cook (longer than the recipe indicated) and it still burned. On the other hand, it tasted GREAT! Alyssa told everyone she talked to about it and how good it tasted. We just moved the burnt pieces aside. It took forever to scrub my pan and it is still not 100% cleaned off. 
I recommend this book to beginner cooks or those who are history buff lovers. If you are looking for a way to make learning history more hands-on, then I suggest Ann McCallum's fun book, Eat Your U.S. History Homework, is the way to go. I believe this book would be great for children ages 4-13 that enjoy cooking in the kitchen with supervision. 

Social Media
Ann McCallum's Website
Twitter @McCallumBooks


Note: Prices are subject to change without notice. 

Please visit The Schoolhouse Review Crew blog to read about other Ann McCallum Books

Ann McCallum Books Review
Crew Disclaimer

No comments:

Post a Comment