Foreword Review — Nov / Dec 2001
Massachusetts is a small state. In fact 70 states the size of Massachusetts could fit inside Alaska, the country’s largest state. But Massachusetts makes up for its size with a great variety of landscapes and natural attractions.
The history of Massachusetts is as varied as the landscape of the state, as this easygoing, colorfully illustrated book demonstrates. The Algonquian Indians were the first to inhabit Massachusetts. In the early 1600s, European sea captains began exploring the coast; in 1620 the Pilgrims arrived. The first Thanksgiving was celebrated here as the Pilgrims thanked the Indians for showing them how to grow food in their new land. In 1692, the quiet village of Salem was the scene of the now famous witch trials. Warner tells the stories of such famous events as the Boston Massacre and the dumping of a shipment of tea in Boston Harbor, which sparked the American Revolution.
Readers will learn that the wonderful poem by Longfellow about Paul Revere and his midnight ride was actually written about the wrong man! Another literary tidbit tells of Thoreau’s book about his house on Walden Pond, which he built because “modern, fast-paced society made people unhappy, even desperate.” This book first appeared in 1854!
Thousands of immigrants from Europe came to Massachusetts looking for a better life. More than 1,000 Irish came to Boston each month between 1846 and 1856. Industries like publishing, textile mills, and weapons factories prospered during the 1800s and early 1900s. Historical landmarks all around the state have been preserved and are open for tourists. Massachusetts is home to many universities, including Harvard and MIT. Basketball and volleyball were invented here and the town of Whitman is the birthplace of the chocolate chip cookie (the history and recipe are included at the end of the book).
Warner has made this book factual yet interesting. The color photographs on every page are themselves an overview of Massachusetts. Additional resources such as websites, an historical timeline, and much more are provided.
This book offers a thorough and captivating account of the little state that played a big role in the development of this country. It would be an excellent addition to a junior high school library for its wealth of knowledge and easy reading style.