Friday, May 12, 2017

In the Room Where It Happens: Alexander Hamilton, From Orphan to Founding Father by Monica Kulling

"All hands on deck!" A ship's crew rushed to put out a fire.

Days later the burned ship docked at Boston Harbor.

Alexander Hamilton had been at sea for three weeks.

It was a dramatic, if inauspicious, arrival for a fourteen-year-old lad from a tiny island in the Caribbean, but in his way young Alexander Hamilton had already made a name for himself. Left an penniless orphan, the boy Alex had already worked as an bookkeeper and indeed managed the owner's business on his own while his master was away, and he had written a much-published account of weathering a hurricane which earned him a college scholarship to Kings' College, New York.

The young immigrant Alexander Hamilton declared himself a Patriot early on, at the time of the battle of Lexington and Concord, and after college he joined the Continental Army just in time for the Battle of Bayard Mount and the reading of the Declaration of Independence to the troops.

Thirteen shots rang out! One for each colony!

Captain Hamilton was proud.

In time General George Washington asked Hamilton to become his personal secretary, and although Hamilton wanted to get into the fight, Washington kept him by his side until the final confrontation, the Battle of Yorktown in 1782, where Hamilton distinguished himself as a commanding officer.

From that time on, Alexander Hamilton was sure to be "in the room where it happened" throughout the early days of the Republic, serving as America's first Secretary of the Treasury under President George Washington, and notably the only Founding Father who died in a duel.

Alexander Hamilton shot to miss.

Aaron Burr shot to kill.

In Monica Kulling's informative easy reader biography, Alexander Hamilton: From Orphan to Founding Father (Step into Reading) (Random House, 2017) gives early readers a look at why the recently re-discovered Founder, Alexander Hamilton, a forceful and colorful character on his own, was a pivotal force in early American history and earned his place on the ten-dollar bill.

Famous for their beginner reader series over the past half-century or so, Random House Publishers has a worthy title in their Step-Into-Reading series that gives primary readers an idea about what all the fuss is about in this newly refurbished Founding Father, with emphasis upon his hardscrabble childhood years as well as his significant role in American history. The graphic-style comic illustrations by Valerio Fabbretti keep the action moving along briskly, supporting and extending the text to keep young readers involved at every dramatic turn in this story.

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