Masoff, Joy. Chronicle Of America: Colonial Times, 1600-1700. Scholastic, 2000. ISBN 978-0439051071 48 pp. $
Rich in little known facts, Colonial Times offers a taste of each part of life in the New World from the journey there to the fight to keep it. Details on the necessities of food, shelter and clothing are provided, along with the basics of medicine, worship, education, work, war, and play. A lot of information is jam-packed into the book, and the layout feels spacious in spite of all the columns, boxes and graphics. The writing is often overenthusiastic, and the use of exclamation points excessive. Occasionally the tone dips to condescending, and the whole “imagine you were there” premise is a bit forced. The author is sometimes redundant, i.e., maggoty food is mentioned on at least three separate pages.
The book redeems itself with primary sources that lend authenticity, it’s stress on America as a melting pot, and its sections on slavery, religion, and the Native Americans that reveal the truth behind many misconceptions and offer a view that is not just Eurocentric.
The red, white, and lettering sprinkled with stars is all American. The book is illustrated solely with bright clear photographs, and the living history museums where photos were obviously taken are highlighted at the end as places one can experience simulations of life in the colonial period. Only four sources are cited. Granted it is, as the author points out, “impossible to fit one hundred years into the pages of one book,” but a few more sources would have been appropriate, especially given that there are an equal number of websites recommended. Index included.