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BOOK REVIEW: Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims by Rush Limbaugh

rushrevere2/5 Stars

Suggested Audience: Upper elementary

Up front note, it pains me to have to do what I am about to do to this book. I want books like this to be a huge success, and I don’t have a problem with Limbaugh putting it out there. But…a good book is a good book and a not-so-good book is a not-so-good book.

Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims has been on the New York Times Middle Grade Best Sellers list for eight weeks as of the January 5, 2014 Best Sellers list. I had high hopes for the book, but unfortunately I was not impressed.

The book is a strange mixture of science fiction and American history. The basic premise is that Rush Revere, a substitute teacher at Manchester Middle School (he also works at the Two if By Tea factory), and his time-traveling, talking horse, Liberty, takes students back in time to the Pilgrim’s trans-Atlantic voyage and subsequent landing in America.

I’m a big fan of historical fiction. And I’m a big fan of narrative non-fiction. Those two genres work and make sense. They are outstanding ways of exposing young kids to history as story. A sarcastic time traveling talking horse and his owner are not the best way to expose kids to history.

The time traveling elements of this book do not work. The constant appearing and disappearing of Liberty, Revere, and the two students into the timeline of the Pilgrims is odd. They are not passive observers of history. Revere befriends William Bradford, and throughout the story Bradford seems to have a respect for Revere. So much so, that one would expect Rush Revere to end up in the historical record. This creates problems because they are becoming active participants in recorded history, and as science fiction fans know, this is a big no-no. This may seem nit-picky, but science fiction has rules and when you bend those rules you create problems.

Another major problem with this book is the prose is not very good. I genuinely believe Limbaugh wrote this himself based upon the author’s note at the end of the book. He seriously should have considered a ghost writer for this book. The word choice is limited, and Limbaugh overuses dialogue tags to the point of pain. I hate to admit this, but I fell asleep twice reading the book and couldn’t count the amount of times I lost track of what was happening.

I listened to Limbaugh as a teenager quite a bit, and I still turn him on from time to time. As Limbaugh has often said, you can’t just turn his show on once, you have to listen to a little bit to get him and his voice. This rule seems to apply to this book because the first person narrative and Liberty the horse both remind me of Limbaugh’s sarcasm and typical rhetorical flair. I really thought it didn’t belong in this book. Limbaugh tries to hard to be funny with his characters, and by the end of the book I was literally scoffing at some of the annoying, sarcastic quips in the dialogue.

The book is short on history and long on other components of the story. The body of the text is only about 200 pages. If I had to put a percentage on it, I would say that at most the book was 60 percent historical story. Every time I got interested in the historical elements, it was time to teleport back to the present.

I found nothing wrong with the historical aspects of the book. I just wish Limbaugh had sourced where he was pulling historical fact from. There should be some kind of source notes in the back of the book. Critics of the book, and especially critics of Limbaugh, have footing to stand on because he omitted this part. This is something that has to be corrected in later books in this series.

There were a couple of positives about the book. First, it is an attractive book, and I did enjoy some of the photos that were included with the book. Second, I also appreciated that Limbaugh included how the Pilgrims struggled when their community was set up as a collective with community property. Collectivization has always failed throughout human history, and it is an important part of the Pilgrims story. This is an idea that today’s youth need to be taught.

Realize that I am an adult reader of what is intended to be a middle school book. In fairness, I may be a little too critical of some components, but on the other hand, some middle school readers are quite astute. I believe that many seventh and eighth grade readers would easily find similar faults with the book. Part of me wonders if the target audience for the book is too high. It may be more appropriate for upper elementary readers instead of the intended middle grade audience. I fear that the book does not find much of an audience outside of conservative households that listen to Rush Limbaugh. The goal of literature like this should be outside of our conservative echo chamber.

Have you read this book? Did your child read this book? What do you think? Have a book that you think ought to be reviewed? Comment below, I would love to hear your thoughts even if you completely disagree with me.

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Conservative Youth and Parents, It’s Time to Ask More of Ourselves!

by Andrew Palmer

I maintain two search terms on Twitter, and I check them constantly. One of them is “conservative teacher,” and the other is “liberal teacher.” I have noticed some trends on them, and I would thought it would  be interesting to share them with you.

First, conservative students (both high school and college) and parents often lack courage in defending their values. I see this on a regular basis. It usually goes something like “my teacher is such a liberal I almost…” Well, that’s real tough, isn’t it? Once in a while I will engage the young person with some form of positive encouragement asking them to respectfully challenge the teacher. The responses are sometimes even more discouraging. They often rationalize their actions as not wanting to affect their grade, or it’s just too much trouble to worry about.

I dealt with the same problems in college, but I never once backed down from a liberal teacher or professor. I still remember the battles in my freshman civics class and many of my classes with liberal college professors. I survived, and I passed everyone of their classes.

If you think grades really matter that much, you know little about the job market. Any employer worth their salt cares little about a high school or college GPA. I do understand the concern about failing. The reality is if you are meeting the expectations of the course, and you can prove you were given a failing grade because of political ideology, I think you might have some  legitimate grounds for legal action.

Anytime a conservative student is in a classroom with a liberal teacher that threatens or insults their values, that teacher has to be challenged. The challenge must be respectful. Parents should be involved in their child’s education and encourage this challenge.

Throwing a fit about liberal indoctrination, then acting without courage when provided the opportunity to actually do something about it, makes you part of the problem. Remember, all educators are supposed to operate inside of a professional code of conduct. If they violate that code of conduct, they all have supervisors who should be immediately contacted. These teachers should be made to fear for their financial livelihood. Either act professionally, or get out of the classroom. At the K-12 level all teachers and principals answer to a school board, and that school board answers to a voter. It is time for us on the right side of the political spectrum to stand up and expect more out of teachers.

Second, conservative youth must start acting with more respect. I am often surprised at how disrespectful some on the right can be. I figured when I first set up these searches that I would see more vile tweets from the left. Don’t get me wrong, they are there, but the reality is it is about equal. Name calling is not necessary, and it makes you look foolish. I get the frustration, but this doesn’t solve the problem. Knock it off!

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Filed under Liberal educators out of control in the classroom, Parents standing up, Speaking Out, Teachers Going Too Far