Boston History for Kids: From Red Coats to Red Sox, with 21 Activities by Richard Panchyk
Published by Chicago Review Press, 129 pages, $17
Appealing to adults as much as its target audience, Boston History for Kids excites with interesting facts about our city, originally named Botolphston. The children’s dimension of the book involves making time capsules, a cardboard Big Dig-style tunnel or calculating home run percentages. Condensed, story-packed sections track Boston’s inspiring rise with black-and-white illustrations of ships and battles, including the famous Boston Massacre in which half-black, half-Native American Crispus Attucks was killed by a soldier’s musket—something that feels all too contemporary.
Former Gov. Michael Dukakis provides the book’s foreword, challenging readers to think “about what you can do to make [the city] even better.” Author Richard Panchyk then recounts many tales of folks who did just that. One Tea Party participant—splitting the tea chests with tomahawks—described the vivacious rebellion: “Let every man do his duty” and “keep his own secret and risk the consequences for himself.” Paul Revere’s famous ride warned residents of the ominous arrival of British troops; he also commemorated it in a delicate engraving. A legal battle with a wealthy captain over Mrs. Sherman’s pig led, amazingly, to the modern form of our Congress with a House of Representatives and Senate.
Before the fire of 1872 burned 700 buildings, the very shape of Boston involved leveling Beacon Hill in 1760 to make wharves, while fill was used for much of the current city. The book also flows forward to Ted Williams, colorful Mayor Curley and the Kennedys, as Panchyk thrillingly captures our city’s torments and heroism. Our ancestors certainly gave us a great deal.
From Page 29: “Anyone who engaged in a duel, even if nobody was actually injured, would upon conviction be ‘carried publicly in a cart to the gallows, with a rope around his neck, and set on the gallows an hour, then to be imprisoned twelve months without bail.’ ” ◆