Ralph Waldo Emerson, American Poet, is quoted in a list of 10 famous quotes saying, 'This time, like all times, is a very good one if we but know what to do with it'. Michael Class believes he can enlighten today's kids, 'by turning American history into a grand time travel adventure' to be used in schools by young adults in grades 6 to 12.
Frances Syzmanski, has been teaching History in the Chicago Public Schools for 41 years. She has seen many changes during these years. For example, it was taught as time sequenced events for many years. It changed to the teaching of themes not related in time but in ideas. Teachers had input in the selection of textbooks, the degree of selection varying from school to school. Currently, in Chicago, History is to be taught in time sequence. Each state has its own guidelines and standards. Textbooks are often chosen for an entire school but supplemental books can be selected as a classroom library. Frances believes that Anthony and the Magic Picture Frame could be useful for special assignments. The interactive features of the book are appealing and part of today's trend.
Anthony, the time-traveler says, 'Every kid should read this book. My favorite chapter is when I go back in time to meet my great-grandfather at Ellis Island'. Family photographs were used in Anthony's favorite chapter.
The 82 pictures in the book took about one week each to accomplish and the book was four years in the making. Getting quotes from historical figures and, moreover, the permission to use them, made up a bulk of the book's production. The estates of historical figures guard quotes or pictures about them closely, and Michael wanted to make sure they would all approve of a story where they interact with, and in some cases pose with an inquisitive 12-year-old boy.
Additional features in the book include: a website for the final exam, material for moral lessons and critical thinking and a final section that lists hundreds of items for each chapter, i.e.: books, movies, music and places to visit. Each chapter also contains an additional idea, such as the Lindberg Flight chapter focuses on perseverance and the Edison chapter is really about business, etc.
Some intended readers of Anthony and the Magic Picture Frame are sixth grader Adam Gerber and his younger brother, Benjamin Gerber, residents of a Los Angeles suburb, who took time to explore and review the book. Adam did not find the material new because he had learned about these topics in his classroom. However, Benjamin thinks the book makes history more fun. To him, it reads more like a fiction book than a typical history book. Their mother, Alison Gerber, comments, 'It is an interesting idea, and cleverly executed, but it would benefit from a wider application of its format'. She would hope that future books can include a range of contemporary children which would be more compelling to a wider range of students. Adults seem to find Anthony's pictures and the presentations interesting as it brings them back to earlier days.
Anthony and the Magic Picture Frame can be ordered at or by calling 800-247-6553. The official website offers helpful information. From the 600 movies in the book, a sample is offered. Fifteen categories such as: 'Time travel', 'Invention', 'WWI', and 'Sports' list five movies each. 'Character' is the final category and the suggested movies include, 'High Noon' and 'Stand and Deliver'. The winners of the 2005 American Values Award can be found on the website, too.
For the website, more information and photos click here