Monday, 14 November 2011

Book Review: Just Fine the Way They Are by Connie Wooldridge

Mr. John Slack, keeper of a tavern beside a rutted road in the early 1800s, thought things were fine the way they were.  So did Lucius Stockton, who ran the National Road Stage Company in the mid-1800s.  So did the owners of the railroads when the first Model T appeared in 1908.

The need to move around the United States more quickly, more comfortable, and, now, more "greenly" means things will never be just fine the way they are.

I was really interested in reading a children's book that explains how the transportation systems evolved in the US.  A book for children 8 and up, I thought it would be full of facts and tidbits of information for young minds.  But this book ended up being something that the author uses to try to indoctrinate children into thinking a certain way.

The first page is about Mr. John Slack, which is described above.  The author made this tavern man of 1805 sound ignorant and greedy for wanting to keep the road the way it was because it brought him more business. But the road was built, and we travel through the book reading about the first roads, trains, bicycles, and cars.  We see the desires for improved ways of travel, and anyone that disagrees with the idea tend to be country folk who think of only themselves and not the collective whole.

The BIGGEST issue I have with this book is towards the end:
Soon everybody who was crying out for better roads banded together into a highway lobby that could talk to Congress with one great, big voice.  The automobile makers joined the lobby.  The folks in the oil industry did, too . . . 
This woman is praising LOBBYISTS!  Woolridge went on to write about how all of these wonderful people from these industries banded together to convince Congress to spend $$ on making a national highway system.  (They did in 1912.)  Talk about greed!  What the author fails to tell us is lobbyists are not interested in making the world a better place for you and me.  The lobbyists are interested in lining their pockets by manipulating politicians!  And Mr. Slack was the bad guy?

The last few pages were eco-friendly, giving us a rundown on how we're polluting the air with our current modes of transportation and green way is the way to go.  I guess maybe things were fine just the way they were!  I mean, the horse and buggy isn't going to be releasing as many greenhouse gasses now, are they?

This is not an interesting book about how the transportation system changed through the ages.  This is a political agenda, through and through.  SHAME!

By the way, I did enjoy the illustration.

Title: Just Fine the Way They Are
Author: Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge
Publication Year: 2011
Publisher: Calkins Creek
Source: Received from author in return for honest review.
ISBN: 9781590787106
Rating: 1/5
Recommend? No, but if this is sound like something you'd want to teach your kids, then go for it.


  1. Sounds like an interesting book, I love children's stories. Thanks for sharing.

    Megan @ Storybook Love Affair

  2. Megan, I enjoy children's stories, too. Now that I have my own children, I'm even more interested. I was looking forward to this one because of the history, but found it had to do more with an agenda than teaching children history. This makes me nervous that educators (which the author is) feel that they should be teaching social values--no matter what their view. This should be taught by the parents and should not have a place in the educational system.