• The Red Baron [Homeschool Book Review]

    This book review is part of an ongoing effort to help the homeschool community find fun, informative, and valuable books to add to their curriculum. I obtained this a copy of this book from one of the homeschooling mother’s we work with and was charged with both evaluating it and coming up with questions to ask her children.

    I read the book with this in mind, but the rating is true to how I personally feel about the book. Without much ado, I present you with:

    The Red Baron: The Graphic History of Richthofen's Flying Circus and the Air War in WWIThe Red Baron: The Graphic History of Richthofen’s Flying Circus and the Air War in WWI by Wayne Vansant
    My rating: 3 of 5 stars

    I read this book to do a Q&A with the homeschoolers as part of our World History series. Plus, when you work with boys, comic books win the day. Vansant is a hero in this regard because he turns the bits of history into fun for the students.

    That being said, like Vansant’s other books I did not really enjoy the book. It was a narrative with lots of pictures, an easy read, and fairly interesting. Despite of this, I found it not quite what I expected for a comic book, and not in depth enough for a history book. As a biography of the Red Baron, it fell short in my eyes for I learnt practically nothing about the man and legend.

    But that does not effect it’s level of educational value if you focus on technology and WWI. If I was to grade on that, I would say it’s a 5 star book for students with a little bit of WWI history under their belt. There are notes of pilot culture, technological advances, important battles, and even a handful of important people. And, it’s written in a way that is easy to follow without being overwhelming for those that don’t have a mind for names and dates. It’s not really in-depth on the causes of WWI or politics of the time, though.

    As I did with the other Vansant books, I took the time to check the info against a military historian, Travis Beiersdorfer, and it seems to be very accurate for what it had in it’s pages, especially regarding the planes. Beiersdorfer noted that Vansant ignored the “spoilt dandy” side of The Red Baron or the wider impacts of the man’s life and legend for being a book centred around him.

    It is a very easy read to me, and I think most middle school students will find it easy to read as well. All of it is written with the comic book fonts, that means it is a short paragraph over or next to a picture. Rarely are there more than 3 sentences at a time, which makes it fun and easy for the kids to read and absorb. Often times Vansant used “technical terms” that are the names and models of the planes, but he also notes the importance of them in the text in a story way.

    What this book does not go into are the ground troops or any other aspect of the war. It does not talk about the politics or details of why WWI happened. It’s not an all inclusive book on WWI, but it is a fun supplement for the kids that love planes and technology. It is also probably a fun book for kids who think they are a dare devil.

    All in all, I think this is a good book to add as a supplement to the homeschool curriculum for WWI, especially to tie in advancements of science and technology. It is factual, easy to read in an afternoon, and the kids will probably like its fun format.It also opens up a great deal of discussion about how advances in science and technology can advance a culture.

    Our guided reading questions walk the reader through the book while asking questions about the history of science and technology, the politics and culture surrounding the decisions, and points out causes and effects from both sides of the war. Grab the guided reading and more when you join our inner circle with the form below.

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