Friday, November 4, 2011

Just Fine the Way They Are by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge

Learn how the world of transportation has changed from dirt roads to rail roads to interstates.   This was a very fun book to read.  Travel cross country as you see the world open wide before your eyes in this children's book Just Fine the Way They Are by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge.  This book will not only entertain, but educate your child as you read how the stuck-in-the-mud dirt road evolves into a busy lane of interstate across the country.  Can horses, bikes, cars and trains all travel on the same road?  Must they each have their own road?  How can we get there faster?  It's all in this wonderful book by Wooldridge.  The illustrations are just as eye catching as the method of how the road system came into being.

Book blurb~
"But most folks didn't agree with John Slack's bad opinion of the National Road. Most folks thought it was a real fine thing. They thought it was the Main Street of America, where ideas and people and things to sell moved back and forth across the country. Living near the National Road was pure excitement."

This is more than a story about transportation. Just Fine The Way They Are: From Dirt Roads to Rail Roads to Interstates is also a story about change and resistance, progress and protest, innovation and the American entrepreneurial spirit. Author Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge and artist Richard Walz worked closely with experts and firsthand accounts to tell a "just fine and accurate" illustrated story of how dirt roads of the 1800s turned into the U.S. highway system of today. Just Fine The Way They Are is the fifth picture book by Wooldridge who also earned critical acclaim for her young adult biography of Edith Wharton, The Brave Escape of Edith Wharton (Clarion 2010).

A special plus for educators and home school instructors are three sets of lesson plans and teacher resources Wooldridge developed with two elementary school teachers. These are available to download from her website at no cost.

Critics agree on the importance of engaging children in discussing the subject of transportation -"a fine philosophical debate to introduce to budding environmentalists" (Los Angeles Times, July 3, 2011). Roundtable Reviews for Kids writes, "As young readers follow the development of these basic ground transportation systems, they'll discover the importance of those people who not only invent new ways of doing things, but also refuse to give in when obstacles are placed in their way." The author, who lives near the National Road, now I-40, in Richmond, Indiana, provides resources for those readers who want to learn more, including a timeline, bibliography, websites, historic landmarks and places to visit.

The story begins with Mr. John Slack, the keeper of a tavern beside a rutted dirt road in the early 1800s, who thought things were just fine the way they were. Lucius Stockton, who ran the National Road Stage Company in the mid 1800s agreed, and so too did the owners of the railroads when the first Model T appeared in 1908. Yet with each new innovation, driven by Americans need to move around the country more quickly, efficiently, comfortably, and now more "greenly," means things will never be just fine the way they are. Richard Walz, who has illustrated numerous non-fiction titles for children, "provides heroic imagery with a Thomas Hart Benton twang" (Kirkus Reviews, February 11, 2011).

learn more about the book here

Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge's vivid imagination and spirited storytelling are fueled by her love of travel, adventure, and the unconventional way she embraces all life has to offer. She's lived in seven states, Washington, D.C., Athens, Greece and Seoul; was a Latin major, a flight attendant for a major airline, raised four children who are five years apart in age, and worked at a job she'd dreamed of having as a little girl - a librarian in an elementary school. While attending the University of Chicago graduate school, where she received a double Masters degree in library science and education, she was recommended by Zena Sutherland, children's literature professor and editor of The Bulletin for the Center of Children's Books, to serve first on the American Library Association's Newbery-Caldecott Committee and then on the Notable Books Committee. In addition to her five non-fiction picture books for children and a young adult biography The Brave Escape of Edith Wharton (Clarion Books, August 2010), she's written numerous articles and stories for Highlights for Children and Cricket. Her first book, Wicked Jack (Holiday House 1995) won the Irma S. and James H. Black Book Award and North Carolina Children's Book Award, and The Legend of Strap Buckner (Holiday House 2001) earned the Spur Award from the Western Writers of America.

visit the author's web site here.

A copy of this book was provided by the author and Bostick Communications for the purpose of this review.


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