Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Calvert the Raven in The Battle of Baltimore-book review

Quote of the Day:

A home without books is like a tree without birds.

Title:  Calvert the Raven in the Battle of Baltimore
Author:  J. Scott Fuqua
(Flying Through History Series)

It is sad, but true, most modern day kids lack the desire to learn anything about historical events from the past.  It's not always their fault as a lot of history taught is taught in an antiquated way.  History is presented to them through lists of boring facts, dates and teachers who "pile it on" by referencing out-of-date and boring textbooks that are twenty or thirty years old.  Who wouldn't want to go home and play video games, listen to your iPod or text on your cell?

Then along comes J. Scott Fuqua and sees the dilemma that we are in.  He ingeniously invents a tuned-out, boy character named Daniel, who lives in Baltimore, a disgraced history paper that the teacher had scrawled, "Terrible" on, and a talking, wise-cracking raven, named Calvert to save the day.  Calvert had been watching Daniel's antics; his lack of caring and lack of effort towards his history assignment and the raven decides it is time to fly in and change that indifferent attitude.  He makes contact with the boy, shrinks him down to size to fit on his back, and time-warps him back right into the midst of 1814 and the Battle of Baltimore where the British Army and Navy are attacking Fort McHenry.  Daniel becomes an eye witness to the battle and sees first hand the emotions of the men involved and the stark reality of war plus the possibility that perhaps the United States may not come out the winner.  He observes the grimy, gritty lifestyle of the battle and understands better the fears and risks that the soldiers took to save their fragile young republic.  The survival of the fort and its flag become a turning point in the war and was the inspiration of the United States national anthem, "The Star Spangled Banner."  The seriousness of the situation is balanced beautifully with the humour and wit of Calvert.  The illustrations are detailed and magnificent.  The watercolours are dramatic and enrich the storyline greatly.

 I personally love the idea of bringing history into the 21st century so our kids will be motivated and inspired to find out about the past. Fuqua is planning more rich tales as the Flying Through History Series unfolds.

About the Author:

J. Scott Fuqua is the author of four award-winning young adult novels.  He has also written three highly acclaimed literary novels and the award-winning graphic novel  In The Shadow of Edgar Allan Poe. Fall 2012 will see the publication of the multimedia project Medusa's Daughter, which is coming out as a novel, graphic novel, and graphic novella, and in all ebook formats.  He's penned and illustrated two books on the history of architecture and a children's book on the history of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad.  For elementary students he wrote the graphic chapter book Catie and Josephine. He has also written, illustrated, and created The Adventures of MT Pitt and The Synagogue Speaks.  Currently, he is writing and illustrating new books for kids; his sixth novel, The Mystery of the Greaser Hotel; and living history plays for the Maryland Historical Society and the Jewish Museum of Maryland.

Calvert the Raven in the Battle of Baltimore is the first of what he hopes to be many installations of the Flying Through History Series.

He has received three Maryland State Arts Council writing awards and teaches writing and illustration at the Maryland Institute College of Art.

Book Review Rating:   8  (Fantastic)

Read on and read always!

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