Book Review: Railroad Fever

Reading Level

Ages 9-12

Also in This Series

Cultures Collide
New Beginnings
Independence Now
Freedom Struggle
Railroad Fever
Bright Ideas
Created Equal

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This is just a great book! Part of National Geographic's new Crossroads America series, Railroad Fever is as concise yet informative and entertaining as can be, with enough words and pictures to tell the whole story of the building of the transcontinental railroad.

From the beginning, you know you're in for a context-setter, as the opening pages include a map detailing the settlement of the United States. The reader is then treated to a narrative that is by no means unexciting or drab; rather, the pages come alive with compelling prose and astonishing illustrations. Every page contains at least one "extra"—a quote from a famous person, or a map tracing the building of various rail lines. And the facts and figures are all in there but are surrounded by exciting writing.

Excellent examples of such nontraditional fare are a full-page treatment of A Day in the Life of a Railroad Worker, a short section title Meet the Pullman Porters, and a postlude on Train Robbers.

A glossary is included, to sort out the various railroad-specific terms introduced in the book. About the only missing from this book is a chronology, although the book does a good enough job of setting the scenes and hammering home the details that the chronology is hardly missed.

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