John Mulloy is a high school teacher and college history professor, and he recently reviewed The Jericho River. We’re very grateful to Professor Mulloy for his time and care. His review is below.
The Jericho River, by David W. Tollen, Winifred Press, 978-0985451721, $ 12.95, 2015, 338 pages
As a High School History Teacher and College Professor of History I enjoy finding new, fun, and innovative ways to spark the love of history with my students. I have used historical novels, and counterfactuals, as a way to teach history finding those resources a helpful tool. So, when asked to review David Tollen’s historical novel about a magical trip through the timeline of “The Jericho River” I was excited to give the book a read.
The main character, Jason Gallo, is the son of a noted historian who volunteers to go into a comma with the help of a Doctor Valencia in an attempt a rescue his father William Gallo who is trapped in the mystical dream world. William Gallo had fallen into a mysterious coma entering into the timeline of ancient civilizations of Sumer, Babylonia along with others in the Middle East called “The Jericho River”.
David W. Tollen’s, “The Jericho River” interested me on a professional level because of the way Tollen added tools for teachers to use in the classroom. I also like the way this work is cross curricular and can be used in both Social Studies and English Language Arts classroom. “The Jericho River” is not only historical novel it is a work that wraps actual history into the story. Tollen has provided an assortment of teaching aids including, sample questions for each chapter and a sample lesson plan. As a teacher I found this part of Tollen’s work to be a one of the best parts of this work for potential use in the classroom. These pieces allow the student to use critical thinking skills to examine historical events.
After reading “The Jericho River” and before making a final judgment on Tollen’s work I reached out to many of my students to see what they felt about the book. The students that read a section of the book came from a wide range of social economic, ethnic, and academic backgrounds. From Public Schools, Charter Schools, and a private Catholic School. These student ranges from “At Risk” to highly advanced students. What I found with my past students is the students across the board enjoyed Tollen’s work. Some of the less advance student did not hate the book, but said they are not sure they would enjoy reading it. This non–scientific study indicated to me that this book should keep student interest.
Although, I found the book to be a bit simplistic and sometimes the construction is clunky. Still, “The Jericho River” can be a very helpful tool in the classroom. “The Jericho River” can be used for students as young as the sixth grade through high school. In conclusion, “The Jericho River” is a magical adventure story that will keep student interest. Tollen’s work is multi-curricular piece that can used by the creative teacher in the Social Studies or English Language Arts setting. It is also a book that a teenage read could read for just the enjoyment of an Jason Gallo’s adventure.
Reviewed by John Mulloy, history teacher, Saginaw High School, MI
Adjunct college professor