Title: Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims I Author: Rush Limbaugh I Publisher: Threshold Editions – Simon and Schuster, Inc.
This book is newly released and has not been rated by the American Library Association at time of this posting.
Plot Summary: Rush Revere takes a substitute teaching position and surprises his new students with his talking horse (Liberty) and his teaching methods which include time traveling adventures into American history. Rush Revere jumps back several times to the year 1620 and instructs the class on some of nuances regarding the Puritan emigration to America. Many of the particulars that Rush Revere reveals wouldn't be found in modern Social Studies books, but he is able to instruct his class via a video feed from his Smart phone so that they can better appreciate what it took to set up a colony in the New World.
After the initial time jump, two of the students then join him on additional adventures as they join the Mayflower passengers in their journey across the ocean to America. They meet many of the people who were instrumental in leading the expedition to Plymouth in the year 1620. The students witness the obstacles and suffering that these early settlers endured and come to appreciate the courage and faith that the Pilgrims exhibited.
They return to modern day America with the promise that their adventures won't end there. The last page of the story provides an illustration of Rush Revere with the caption, "Where do we go next?" The book then offers an interactive website where children can write to Rush Revere and Liberty and answer that question for themselves.
This young adult book has earned an Independent 10+ rating for mildly inappropriate humor, mild fantasy and mildly paranormal descriptions. It also receives four and a half stars for story development:
Review : As you know, the reason that we have been concentrating on reviewing books from the Young Adult genre over these last few months is that there is a tremendous disconnect between parental understanding of appropriate reading standards for children between the ages of 12 to 18 versus what YA books actually are. We have been focused specifically on books that have earned a distinction from American Library Association as being the best works of literature for young adults in the year 2013. The weight of the ALAs recommendations is taken into consideration by municipal and school libraries in the US, so the ALAs "Best of" lists may as well be an inventory guide for the books that will be found on library shelves in your community. Given the appalling subject matter found in the books populating the YA genre right now, citizens should be up in arms over the taxpayer funded ALAs current book recommendations to the taxpayer funded libraries across America.
It is good that we should shine the light of truth on the festering disease that is being shoveled into your children's brains in the name of modern literature. It is also good that we occasionally deviate from the original intent of this review series in order to highlight books that may not be on the YALSA Top 100 List but offer genuine and honorable diversity to the books that your children are currently reading.
Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims (or RRBP) will be the first of many such detours.
The story itself does not require my synopsis if you know your American history. It is almost wholly an account of the Pilgrims' journey to Plymouth in the year 1620. There are fictional characters thrown into the mix to facilitate the storytelling process, but they act more as witnesses to the event than participants with very few exceptions.
The first difference that the reader will notice between Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims and other YA books is the contrast in tone. We have reviewed six books off the YALSA "Best of" list in alphabetical order by author and one thing that the YALSA books all have in common so far is an almost frenetic antagonism laced throughout the stories. Frenetic…like Bugs Bunny with severe anger issues…that maybe forgot to refill his Ritalin...or Zoloft…Haloperidol. Mature readers who read each YALSA book will slowly detect that the authors tend to approach their respective subject matters (and therefore your children) as opportunities for disturbing displays of sadism. The YALSA books are joyless works of storytelling with no other apparent aim than debasement as if the degradation of children in and of itself is a worthy goal that should be championed.
Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims approaches your children differently. The author exhibits a noticeable respect for children and their intelligence – as if they are worthy of respect – as if the author requires that readers respect themselves. There is mild potty humor and a couple of "gross out" moments and we reflect that in the 10+ rating, but the author recounts his tale with calm humor and with deference for the innocence of young adults.
The reader meets the fictional characters, but he will also have an opportunity to meet people of historical significance in a way that history books cannot match. The reader will come to recognize that Myles Standish and William Bradford were real, flesh and blood people with real hopes and dreams of their own. They were not just a meaningless collection of dates and names with no connection to modern day America.
The author is perceptive enough to feature fictional middle school students that actually think like middle school students. They ask questions to Rush Revere and historical figures that are similar to those that a real middle school student would probably ask in the same situation. Simple questions. Curious questions. The fictional students have the same personality quirks that average kids have…no cross dressing, no demonic possession, no sexually explicit dialog, and no horrifically graphic violence.
The reading level is perhaps fifth grade at the very low end and about eighth grade at the very high end, and the intensity of the subject matter matches this age range…so that's a pleasant surprise. If you decide to get this book for your children or grandchildren, I suggest you read it to them because it's almost a spiritual reaffirmation to be able to witness what will make your kids laugh. Liberty accidentally kicking a wooden shoe through the school window, cupcakes inadvertently tossed onto a student, the term "poop deck"…it's the kind of innocent silliness that you maybe thought no longer interested children in the year 2013. It turns out that it does.
And speaking of spiritual reaffirmation, I cannot continue without making this point. In the YALSA books that I have read thus far, I usually begin counting uses of course language, profanities, etc. if I see five or more examples of them in a book. Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims obviously didn't have any hash marks in the profanity column.
I did, however, have to create a "God" column because about 20% of the way through the book, I began to notice that there was nary a page that lacked a reference to God in some way, shape or form. Obviously when you are telling the history of the Pilgrims, there will be a discussion of religious persecution that is the motive for the Puritans leaving England…although, I'm sad to say, children are more frequently being taught that the Puritans left due to their own religious bigotry (but that's a discussion for another day.) Rush Limbaugh's book is different because the discussion of God is personalized. The historical characters within the story look for God in everything they see. They pray to God for everything they need. They believe that everything that happens is to fulfill God's plan.
There are a good many discussions like that mixed throughout the book and it is heartwarming to see religion and God referenced with respect, but there is another important lesson that Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims provides that can't be forgotten. An essential focus of RRBP is the demystification of collectivism in American history. Rush Revere and the children get to witness firsthand the reasons that socialism almost killed the Plymouth Settlement in its first year. More importantly, they watch how equality of opportunity – not outcome – saved the colony and changed the course of American history…
..which is why I will be pleasantly surprised if Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims finds its way ontoYALSA's list of Best Fiction for Young Adults in 2014.
I do recommend this book for the Young Adult category with only two caveats. RRBP will have broad crossover appeal with younger readers. Please make a mental note. In the story, the children leave school grounds with Rush Revere and do not have permission slips. We are, as you know, living in an era where sexual predators working as teachers could exploit this plot element, and I believe it is worth reminding your kids that Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims is fiction. Children should never go anywhere without letting mom or dad know first even if it's with a favorite teacher. Also, there's some self-promotion on the ice tea front that some parents may not like…thus the four and a half stars instead of five.
Sorry. It may seem like I'm nitpicking, but that is what I do best.