Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Strange But True America: A Book Review

Strange But True, America: Weird Tales from All 50 States is a fascinating book.  It took me a long time to read this book.  I am a real history buff and I am also a former school librarian.  I found myself reading a story and then spending the next half hour on the Internet doing research and trying to find out more information about the story that I just read.

John Hafnor set out to find the 50 strangest American stories - one for each state.  He figured there must be at least one enormously entertaining historical tale from each state.  Mr. Hafnor discovered many historical stories that are truly stranger than fiction. 

Since I live in Texas, I especially enjoyed the story, "True Tale Tops Sleepy Hollow Legend".  It tells how Vidal, a famous horse thief in the 1800s, was captured by the Texas Rangers and beheaded by Ranger "Big Foot" Wallace.  His body, with the head loosely attached, was tied to a wild stallion and was seen by many cowboys roaming the countryside. 

Dale Crawford, the illustrator, did a wonderful job making the stories in this book come to life. 

This book is appropriate for all ages.  I think students in upper elementary grades all the way through college will enjoy reading this book.  This book would be very beneficial to use as a supplement to history curriculums in school.  A teacher could read one story a day and encourage students to do some research on their own to find more information. 

The only criticism that I have of this book is that I noticed a few typos and spelling errors.  These were very minor and do not take away from the quality of the book.

If you are interested in this book, I suggest that you take a look at the Strange But True, America web site.  The site includes a very interesting video where the author tells about some of the stories in the book.

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