Last year, we were introduced to Carole P. Roman's historical book series and quite liked it. So, we jumped at the chance to review another book in this series - If You Were Me and Lived in...the Ancient Mali Empire: An Introduction to Civilizations Throughout Time (Volume 5) - and were happy to receive two bonus books from Carole's other series - The Crew Goes Coconuts!: A Captain No Beard Story (Volume 6)
and Oh Susannah: It's in the Bag: An Oh Susannah Story
Who is Carole P. Roman?
Carole P. Roman's "If You Were Me and Lived in..." series encourages children ages 8-15 or so to explore what life would have been like for people that lived in different places around the globe during various time periods. Each book in the series focuses on a specific historical location and time, introducing readers to the clothing, food, education, games, religion, etc. that were common to day-to-day life .
Carole P. Roman also has authored the following books and series:
- If You Were Me and Lived in… Cultural (for ages 4-9+), which takes readers into geography and culture
Captain No Beard (for ages 3-8), which offer male and female characters (modeled after Carole's grandchildren) who get up to fun and adventure as they use their imaginations and teach tender lessons about sharing, stranger dangers, asking for help, bullying, and more.
- Bedtime Series, One to Ten (for ages 4-8), which teaches readers to evaluate a problem by giving it a number and to put it into the right perspective.
- Rocket-Bye (for ages 2-8), which was Carole's love letter to my grandsons in the form of a trip to the stars
- Can a Princess be a Firefighter? (for ages 2- forever), which was Carole's love letter to her granddaughters, encouraging you to reach for your dreams and not let people put you down because of gender
- Oh Susannah (for ages 7-12), which is Carole's newest series which presents life lessons in short chapter books.
Carole also offers bonus materials on her website in the form of free worksheets, etc to go along with some of her books.
What We Thought of the Books
My three children do not agree on much these days, but, when I took their dictations for this review, I discovered they do agree on their opinions about the Carole P. Roman books we reviewed - and I do, too.
In short, we all enjoyed the If You Were Me and Lived in... series. Like the books in this series we previously reviewed, the Mali book was packed with interesting information and engaging illustrations, which helped us each of us learn new things. We found the Oh Susannah chapter book pleasing enough. Short chapters and a decent storyline kept us reading. However, even though we typically love picture books, we were not enamored with the Captain No Beard Story. While its premise was cute and message against teasing sound, the book fell short for us overall.
In further detail, here is what each of the children had to say about the different books:
My youngest, at seven said:
I did not like (The Crew Goes Coconuts!) so much. The illustrations are too cartoony. The monkey looks nothing like a monkey, and I don't like the pictures or the storyline.
I liked (Oh Susannah: It's in the Bag). It was good. It had a better storyline.
A girl named Susannah woke up, put her schoolwork in a bag, didn't like oatmeal and had to eat it. Then, she put her banana in the bag. Then, she put books in the bag and more until the zipper broke. Every time she didn't want to deal with something she put it in the bag. Then, her parents found out and helped her find out things weren't so hard. It was good! I liked the illustrations. They were not too cartoony.And, I liked learning about the Mali Empire. In ( If You Were Me and Lived in...the Ancient Mali Empire) I liked hearing about the prince that fought. Also, it is weird that they used nuts to bargain over marriage. And, I thought it was cool how the pants gets bigger and bigger... more baggie. Of the three books, Oh Susannah and the Mali book are my favorites. I would not recommend the Crew Goes Coconuts to other people, but I would the other two.
My daughter, at ten, said:
The Crew Goes Coconuts! is about a frog, a goat, two children, one baby, a lion, a monkey, and a parrot. Some of the animals - the parrot, the monkey, and the lion - begin to tease the goat. Then, the baby and one o the children defend the goat. So, they get the Captain comes down and asks everyone to say something good about themselves and something bad... Then, at the end of the book, we learn it's all imagination.
This book was okay. The illustrations are bright, but I am a person who likes more realistic illustrations, so that is one thing I did not like. The storyline was okay. I liked the ending best.Oh Susannah: It's in the Bag is about a girl who did not finish her homework and who comes downstairs to get oatmeal and a banana. She really does not want the banana, so she drops it in the bag with her homework. Then, her mom made her lunch, but her dad was going to work, grabbed her lunch, and left. So, her mom made her a new lunch, and she went to school. At school, she puts more and more things in her bag and, then, the banana explodes in her bag and gets all yucky. Then, when she goes home and goes to bed, she has nightmares and her parents find out what she has done and help her.
This story was good. I liked it. I would recommend it to people who don't want and extremely long book, but want a bit longer than a picture book and people who don't mind not having illustrations.
If You Were Me and Lived in...the Ancient Mali Empire was my favorite. It is a very informative book. It says what the Mali empire is like today and, then, it says what it was like back in the day.
It's about a girl whose mother is richer, but she has many mothers, but is only born to one, because the men were married more than once. (That's extremely weird, but I understand that maybe many women and children died back then and they needed sons to carry on their stuff.)
The girls were not meant to go to meetings, but the girl's brother took her to one where she hid and observed. The ruler had to giant tusks on his throne.
Then, it is about her grandfather telling stories of famines and the Mali empire. There are lots of details.
I think is strange that a man would come with nuts and put down three and he and you father would argue and then he would get your hand in marriage.
It was crazy how badly people were punished, too.People that like history would like this book.
The illustrations in The Crew Goes Coconuts! are okay, but I prefer realistic illustrations. The storyline was easy to follow, but was way to simple and basic. It would only be good for little, little kids. I totally missed the message about not teasing. It was not delivered well.
Oh Susannah: It's in the Bag is okay. The storyline was not my favorite, but it was not my least favorite. I did not like that we never knew if the girl went to the sleepover or not. That might be because the author wants people to read the next book.
It's about a girl who keeps getting mad and anxious and throws things in her bag. Then, her bag explodes. She tries to hide it. Her parents find it in her room - a mess under her bed. Then, they try to help her. The parents learned not to ignore her and she learned not to throw all your stuff in a bag.
I liked If You Were Me and Lived in...the Ancient Mali Empire the most. It is about history - which is probably why I like it, because I like history and did not know about the Mali empire before.
I learned a lot about the Mali empire, but sort of wish the book was told from a boy's perspective, so I could learn more about the things that boys did.
I liked to learn about how salt was worth as much as gold, that farmers were above artisans, that two generals commanded about 100,000 men, and more.
We have read other books from this series, and I like them all. I would recommend any of this series and the chapter books, but not necessarily the author's picture books.
family chose to read each of the books we reviewed for enjoyment. However, since The Crew Goes Coconuts!: A Captain No Beard Story (Volume 6) and Oh Susannah: It's in the Bag: An Oh Susannah Story, however, since both books contain clear life lessons (on not teasing in the first book and handling anxiety in the second), they could be used as resources for virtue studies or emotional intelligence and time management for young children, respectively. They also would work for helping elementary-aged children get from character and plot to theme when studying literature.
If You Were Me and Lived in...the Ancient Mali Empire: An Introduction to Civilizations Throughout Time (Volume 5) could also be extended beyond mere enjoyable, informative reading since:
- Illustrations of famous people at the ends of the book could be models for timeline drawings.
- Glossary words could be used for vocabulary exercises, copy work, and other writing/word study endeavors.
- Children could key into one or two of the topics covered in a book to study in further depth, making the book a catalyst for personal research projects or unit studies.
- Maps and globes used in conjunction with the books would tie geography and history together well.
- The wide variety of topics covered - from food, to clothing, to religion, to... you name it could open doors for a cultural fair.
One-hundred Schoolhouse Review Crew families reviewed different Carole P. Roman selections. Click through the banner above to read all of our reviews!
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