The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch is an inspiring, well-written, and well-illustrated biography of the accomplishments of an African-American man who was a slave until his teenage years, but later became a Justice of the Peace, a member of the Mississippi House of Representatives, and ultimately a member of the United States House of Representatives. This is a clearly told story of big, bold accomplishment, and it is accompanied by illustrations that give young readers a sense of historical context. Readers not only “see” what it looked like during the Civil War and the Reconstruction period, they get a look at the emotions people felt. This would be enough for me to recommend this book.
However there is more. The back matter is excellent. It consists of the following elements that are all worthy of careful attention. Anyone teaching CCSS standard of Craft and Structure will find these items useful and informative:
· Historical Note: The author explains what happened during the “Reconstruction” period that followed the Civil War.
· Timeline: Taking a “life-and-times” approach, events in John Roy Lynch’s life appear in black, while state and national events appear in red. This is an easily understandable format.
· Author’s Note: Among other things, the author invites us to think about the significance of John Roy’s life: “His is a personal tale so unlikely that it calls on us to linger, to ask questions, to seek to understand the context, and to delve into the details of the overlooked time in which he lived. “ I can’t think of a better invitation to delve into history.
· Illustrator’s Note: Not only does the illustrator admit that before illustrating this book he “wasn’t very knowledgeable about Reconstruction,” he also describes his necessary research and his artistic choices.
· Suggestions for Further Reading: A list of recommended books is a fine starting place for learning more about Reconstruction.
· Map Showing Reconstruction States and Important Places in John Roy Lynch’s Life. A very clear graphic that is useful for discussion of how maps present information.
Books like this one provide content and help readers understanding the process of learning about the past. This is essential for understanding history.