Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims

It is pretty hard to imagine what those before us went through. Imagine: crossing the ocean on a small boat, in filthy conditions, with people who hate you. In Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims by Rush Limbaugh, history comes to life as you experience what it was like in the New World alongside William Bradford and Myles Standish, including their trip across the Atlantic aboard the Mayflower.

Rush Revere isn't your ordinary, boring substitute history teacher. With his talking horse, Liberty, he has the ability to actually show his pupils history. Liberty has some special powers, namely the ability to time travel anywhere in American history. And, when Rush Revere jumps on his back and Liberty calls out the special words, they can jump through time and walk and talk with anyone in American history.

For this lesson, Rush wants to teach the kids in Manchester Middle School's honors history class about the Puritans. Using Liberty's abilities and the help of his one-of-a-kind iPhone adapter, Rush jumps back to the time of the launching of the Mayflower from Holland, and broadcasts his experiences with William Bradford back to his class. But one pupil, Freedom, is suspicious, and sees Rush and Liberty make the jump. When they return, Freedom confronts her teacher, along with Tommy, who is the class troublemaker.

Rush Revere comes clean with Tommy and Freedom about Liberty's abilities, and asks the two middle schoolers if they'd like to experience history for themselves. They agree, and soon, they're taking part in the Puritans journey to the first Thanksgiving.

What I Like: I really love EVERYTHING about this book! I will admit: I have been a listener of Limbaugh's radio show for 20 years, and when he announced he was releasing this book, I was excited, but a little trepidatious. Could he write fiction? Other than a few minor fumbles in craft, I found the writing wonderful, and the story engaging. But, with a horse named Liberty, it has to be good!

The book is a treasure in and of itself. The cover is beautiful and the pages are works of art. Inside are multiple illustrations and photographs, some for the purposes of story-telling by Chris Hiers (website published December 2013), but others which come from sources like Getty Images or the Library of Congress to show the lives of the Puritans who landed at Plimouth (as they spelled it.)

Tommy and Freedom are both enjoyable characters to get to know through the story, and are believable kids of an indeterminate middle school age. When they go back to 1620-1621, it's very authentic, especially when they make faux pas, referencing present day things like salsa and county fairs (which the Puritans wouldn't have been able to experience.)

And, while Mr. Limbaugh is no theologian, it is evident throughout the pages he wanted to make sure God was included in the story of Thanksgiving. William Bradford frequently references God and their desires to escape religious persecution, as well as God's hand on their journey. Even facing great difficulties, his belief that God's blessing would be on their journey strengthened not only the Puritans but the others who traveled with him aboard the Mayflower to the New World.

Also, at the end, there's a quiz from Liberty the horse. Answers are found at the TwoIfByTea.com website. 

What I Dislike: All of the very minor issues I have are with craft, as well as one issue towards the end of the book with a layout problem. William Bradford "writes" a letter to Rush Revere to invite him, Tommy, and Freedom to what would be the first Thanksgiving, and the placement of said letter is a couple of pages later than it's referenced, so you have to jump a couple pages up, then back, after reading it or the story doesn't make much sense. However, and it does not detract from the overall quality of the book.

Overall Rating: Excellent

Age Appeal: Marketed for 10 - 15, but kids younger and older would also enjoy this.

Publisher Info: Simon & Schuster, 2013; ISBN: 978-1-4767-5586-1; Hardback, 212 pgs., $19.99

Special Info:  While not foul-mouthed, Liberty the talking/time-travelling horse is a bit of a smart-mouth and can be a trouble-maker. Depending on the age of your children, you may want to discuss the fact that speaking to adults in the way Liberty does is not appropriate.

Also, Freedom is a Native American/Indian girl who "has the ability to communicate with animals." This does not play a major role in the story, although there is a scene where she communicates with a deer.

Buy it as a hardback at Amazon.com for $11.99. Also available in a Kindle format for $5.99, Unabridged audiobook on CD for $11.69, or an Audible.com download for $11.95.

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