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Callista Gingrich and Susan Arciero have provided us with a fun and informative book for young children to teach them about our founding and the original thirteen colonies. I love its positive tone and cheerful atmosphere. Even so, the book is honest about difficult subjects like slavery and condemns the practice when discussing South Carolina, for example.

The language of the story is simple but not pandering. It is told in a rhyming style that will help children comprehend, enjoy, and remember the information they hear and read. My nine year old grand daughter picked the book up and enjoyed reading it and smiled and laughed as she went through the story. She likes Ellis the Elephant who stands in as the child in learning and travelling through the events and facts of the story.

Illustrations matter a great deal in books for children because they invite the child into the story and supplement the words with images that tie the words into their memory. This book has terrific illustrations. Yes, I noticed that EVERYONE and EVERY CREATURE in the book is smiling. (Do cows really smile?) But children's stories are not about verisimilitude. They are about learning and thinking and happiness and joy is much more inviting that pain and misery. For me, the images are an opportunity to sit with the child and talk about what they can see and learn from the pictures. And in this book they provide a great deal of material for conversation and learning that will supplement and highlight the text.

After the story, there is a resource section that provides the date each colony was founded, a paragraph about the colony, and some places you can visit in person or online to explore and learn more about each colony.

This book can be a great resource and opportunity for you to connect with your children or grandchildren and see that they are taught true and positive history about our nation. They will need this as they grow and learn and have to rely on a solid foundation as they are bombarded with negative images and criticism of our nation and its founding and history. This fine book can be a good place to put a positive image and understanding in their minds and hearts early in life.

Reviewed by Craig Matteson, Saline, MI
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on October 1, 2012
Just bought this book for my nieces! They loved Ellis and his adventures in the first book, Sweet Land of Liberty, and I know they'll enjoy this one just as much. Great way to introduce American history to young children!
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on October 1, 2012
What a great way to share the story of Colonial America and its 13 original colonies with children. Ellis is adorable, the illustrations are great and the writing is superb. I especially loved the rhyming verse. It was so easy to read aloud. I am planning on buying copies for all of my grandchildren to use as the grow.
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on October 3, 2012
Callista does it again with such an entertaining children's book which reads smoothly and has great pictures and color! My six year old son was so excited when it came in the mail and couldn't wait to read it. He loves it! He loves reading about Ellis' adventures and learning. I will be buying more as Christmas gifts for every child I know. It is so important for these little ones to understand America's true history and I believe in starting them on it young!
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on October 10, 2012
Although I do not agree with the Gingrich's politics, I did not hestitate to buy this book for my niece and nephew, 3 years and 18 months old respectively. Ellis is such a cute character (seriously, is he not as cute if not cuter than Little Bear or Arthur) and this book is a great example of that. This book is great for reading as a bedtime or naptime story, as it is not too terrible long and wordy, but has enough words to keep the children's attention. I am always looking for books that are subtley educational for my niece and nephew and this one is perfect- not just a list of facts, but the historical anecdotes are there and proud.

The illustrations are adorable and I can tell my elephant-crazed niece loves them. At three, she is very into learning facts right now (just the other day she asked me if I knew that Georgia is the Peach state) to share with her friends at preschool. So I am sure we will be hearing all sorts of facts she has picked from this book in the coming weeks. My nephew, although still only 18 months old, loves for someone to read to him (never to early to start reading) and this book has eye-catching illustration that is sure to keep his attention.

I can't say enough good things about Ellis, and my only complaint right now is that there aren't more books in the series.

PS- Who wants to see an Ellis movie or television show? I bet it would rank right up there with "Olivia" as my nieces favorite tv indulgence.
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on October 10, 2012
This is great way to introduce children to the founding of our country. Callista makes it very readable and appealing to youngsters. Kids really seem to be fascinated with Ellis' adventures! This book makes for a great Christmas present for nieces, nephews, children, and grandchildren. The illustrations are visual and imaginative and it reads smoothly! Great Work
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on October 13, 2012
I read this book to my 7 year old nephew and was blown away at the wonderful questions he was asking and the ensuing discussion. This book opened our discussion on God, prayer, patriotism and the founding of our country. I highly recommend this book for any parents or others who are looking to introduce important ideas to children.
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on October 9, 2012
This was a fun and interesting book to read with my four-year-old granddaughter who was very engaged by it and attentive while we read it together.
It is extremely well structured, clear and easy to read and teaches history in a way a young child can understand and enjoy while also looking at the colorful illustrations.
It was educational at both the child and adult level. It is always good to be reminded of the facts of our nation's history and help a young child to begin to understand how the early settlers lived after coming to America so long ago. I liked this book very much and know we will read it again and again. Maybe one day soon she will read it to me!
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on October 15, 2012
This is a very high quality book in content, style, binding and over all quality.
The little elephant experiences our history and by proxy so do our children.
In our public school system in general, it is no longer PC to teach American History.
This nice book is a great simple story book to introduce our great nation and our hsitory to our children. Well worth the money! Enjoy reading it together!
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on October 1, 2012
My children were in love with Sweet Land of Liberty and Ellis the Elephant!

This book did not disappoint and I look forward to future books by Mrs. Gingrich.

These books are truly a great way to teach are children about the early days of our great nation!
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