Tag Archives: Historical fiction

June Book Reviews: Sarah Whitcher’s Story

I’m almost done with history books, and then I’m not sure what I’ll write about!¬†ūüôā

Anyways, Sarah Whitcher’s Story by Elizabeth Yates is based on a true story of a little girl who got lost in the forest for days. ¬†It’s a sweet, fairly-short book; with a Christian message. ¬†It is dedicated:

To all–especially children–who believe in miracles.

Awesome, easy reading.  We found it at our library.

This is still pretty short, but I don’t want to give away too much, so I’ll leave it at this!

Happy Thursday!

P.S. Elizabeth Yates did also write Amos Fortune: Free Man, which is great!

May Book Reviews: Fair Wind to Virginia

This is technically my first week of summer break, but I am still finishing up history. ¬†When I get done with it, we will take a break from 18th century historical fiction. ūüôā

Anyway, I do not think I had ever heard read or even heard of Fair Wind to Virginia by Cornelia Meigs before I read it for school last week.  I was not sure how much I would like it, but I really enjoyed it!

It is about two children (Eleven and thirteen) who are sent to Virginia simply to get out of England because their father made the mistake of speaking his mind about King George.  In America though, they are rejected by the governor whom they were supposed to go to for help, and are begin looking for a way to live on their own until their parents can join them.  Thomas Jefferson plays a big part in the story, but I believe most of the main characters are fictional.

And for anyone who starts it and begins to wonder how things are going to work out (spoiler alert) it has a wonderful ending–a practically picture-perfect, satisfying, Cinderella-like ending. ¬†So don’t give up. ūüôā

To Peggy and Hal it seemed, for the first time, to represent what men dreamed of when they spoke of the New World. (142)

May Book Reviews: Mr. Revere and I

I had listened to¬†Mr. Revere and I by Robert Lawson when I was little*, but when Mama asked me if I wanted to read it for history this year, I didn’t even have to think about it; and it was sooo fun to hear again!

“She’ll be a horse to be proud of. ¬†She got the lines and build. ¬†Can’t fool me on horses. ¬†She’d better have two-three weeks’ rest though.” ¬†“She’ll have to,” Paul Revere laughed. ¬†“You see, I’ve never yet been on a horse.” (46)

For one thing, I had forgotten how funny it was! ūüôā ¬†It is about a horse named Scheherazade (or Sherry) who belonged to a red coat, and went to Boston with him. ¬†After her master, Sir Cedric Barnstable gambled her off to the owner of a glue factory, she was rescued from a life of drudgery by the Sons of Liberty and given to Paul Revere–and then, of course, carried him on his famous midnight ride.

Mr. Revere and I¬†is a really good book–not only entertaining, but also informative; most of the story taking place before the famous ride. ¬†I am not sure how much of it is strictly accurate, but it was sure fun to read again; and the story from the point of view of a brainwashed British horse is quite amusing!

It all started with the imbecile, practically sacrilegious, determination of these stubborn Colonists to defy the sacred authority of our Royal and Sovereign Majesty King George III. (4)

Sherry’s¬†perspective is quite skewed at first, but it doesn’t come across anti-patriot-ish at all; so no worries.

But like I said, I’m not sure how much of it is accurate; and Mr. Lawson didn’t just paint Sam Adams and John Hancock to be geniuses, which might bother some; but you just have to read it for what it is. ¬†And I definitely recommend it!

Of course this rude bumpkin was no horseman; I could have tossed him off as easily as a sack of grain. ¬†But naturally, for a horse of my breeding, this would never do. ¬†For one must never, never allow one’s personal feelings to interfere in the perfect performance of one’s horsely duties. (34)

Happy Thursday! ūüôā

 

 

* ¬†Can you tell that this is my second year studying American history? ūüôā

April Book Reviews: Johnny Tremain

When we were really little Becca, Spencer, and I studied the Revolution, and Mama read Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes out-loud to us.  I am studying the Revolution by myself this year, and I just re-read Johnny Tremain on my own.  I did not remember much about it, so it was still very suspenseful!

This book is about a fourteen-year-old boy (well, he is fourteen at the beginning, but I think he is sixteen by the end) named Johnny who is the apprentice of a silversmith.  Mr. Lapham has two other apprentices, but Johnny is the strongest, the smartest, and the most skilled.

Although two years younger than the swinish Dove, inches shorter, pounds lighter, he knew, and old Mr. Lapham knew, busy Mrs. Lapham and her four daughters and Dove and Dusty also knew, that Johnny Tremain was boss of the attic, and almost of the house. (8)

His smith work bringing in most of the money that supported the Lapham household Johnny spent most of his days in the shop, bullying and criticizing the other apprentices, helping Mr. Lapham keep orders straight, and listening to his mistress’ daughters insulting compliments.

Until he burned his hand in an accident in the shop, and was rendered unable to practice his craft. ¬†Once the ‘boss’ of the house, Johnny was then looked upon as a nuisance and begins to look for another job he can do.

Arrogant, ashamed of his crippled hand, left without work, unaccustomed to being an outcast he struggles in this new life.

Those marketwomen who had counted their pats of butter after he brushed past their stands, Mrs. Lapham with her prophecies that he would end on the gallows, had not been so far wrong. ¬†For a little while it had been touch-and-go with him. ¬†If pushed a little farther, he might have taken to crime–because that was what was expected of him. (109)

When he finally found work he was drawn into a whole new circle of people. ¬†He began to pay attention to politics, and met people like Samuel Adams and Paul Revere–he also begins to discover things about himself and his own life.

After that Johnny began to watch himself. ¬†For the first time he learned to think before he spoke. ¬†He counted ten that day he delivered a paper at Sam Adams’s big shabby house down on Purchase Street and the black girl flung dishwater out of the kitchen door without looking, and soaked him. ¬†If he had not counted ten, he would have told her what he thought of her, black folk in general, and thrown in a few cutting remarks about her master–the most powerful man in Boston. ¬†But counting ten had its rewards. ¬†Sukey apologized handsomely. ¬†In the past he had never given anyone time to apologize. (109)

I am glad that I read this book, but parts of it were very frustrating! ¬†It is very suspenseful–and some of the answer do not get answered… yet another great, good-but-not-perfect-ending book! ūüôā ¬†It was very real. ¬†Not ‘story-bookish’.

There were also some pretty fierce parts (that I think Mama skipped the first time she read it to us), so kids might want to have a parent preview it.

This is a really good book though, and very well written. ¬†I do not really feel qualified to write a review about this one either–hence all the quotes! ūüôā

Hundreds would die, but not the thing they died for. (269)

March book reviews: The Sign of the Beaver

I recently read¬†The Sign of the Beaver, by Elizabeth George Speare, for history. ¬†A long time ago my Mom read¬†The Bronze Bow to Becca, Spencer, and I (for history), which is by the same author. ¬†I know at least one of you–a.k.a. Ellen–has already read this book. ūüôā I do not remember it real well, as I was pretty small, but I remember it well enough to compare the books. ¬†I am also in the middle of reading¬†Calico Captive. ¬†Maybe I will do a review of that when I finish it.

The Sign of the Beaver¬†takes place in the 1700s; and is about a thirteen-year-old boy named Matt. ¬†He and his father go as some of the first pioneers to build a house in the wilderness. ¬†Matt’s father then leaves him alone to defend the cabin while he goes to get his mother and younger siblings.

By the morning after that Matt decided that it was mighty pleasant living alone.  He enjoyed waking to a day stretched before him to fill as he pleased.  He could set himself the necessary chores without having to listen to any advice about how they should be done.  How could he have thought that the time would move slowly?  As the days passed and he cut one notch after another on his stick, Matt discovered that there was never time enough for all that must be done between sunrise and sunset. (7)

But living alone becomes less enjoyable when Matt faces unexpected problems.  Losing the gun his father left and losing most of his stored-up food due to a careless mistake, for instance.   Only after Matt hurts himself in a desperate attempt to get food, do the Indians who have long been watching him show themselves.

The Indian chief offers to bring Matt food if he will teach his grandson how to read in English.

“Attean learn,” he said. ¬†“White man come more and more to Indian land. ¬†White man not make treaty with pipe. ¬†White man make signs on paper, signs Indian not know. ¬†Indian put mark on paper to show him friend of white man. ¬†Then white man take land. ¬†Tell Indian cannot hunt on land. ¬†Attean learn to read white man’s signs. ¬†Attean not give away hunting grounds.” (31)

A task that is easier said than done. ¬†Matt has never taught anyone to read and Attean has no interest in¬†learning. ¬†As the days pass the two boys begin to do more and more things together. ¬†Although forced to admit that the Indian boy is teaching him valuable lessons about life in the forest, Matt finds spending time with him frustrating, due to Attean’s scorn of all white men and their customs and tools–which he goes to no pains to conceal.

Attean had only meant to help him. ¬†If only he didn’t have to be so superior about it… He just wished he could make Attean think a little better of him. ¬†He wanted Attean to look at him without that gleam of amusement in his eyes. ¬†He wished that it were possible for him to win Attean’s respect. (57, 58)

I have to say I was infuriated by Attean arrogance as well, and read the whole book in one day because I could not bear the suspense! ¬†It does have a happy ending though–not a perfect one, but a good one. ¬†I am seeing that as a theme in Miss Speare’s books–at least in¬†The Bronze Bow and¬†The Sign of the Beaver. ¬†I am not sure how¬†Calico Captive ends.

And I am not giving spoilers about the white stranger, Ben.  I read two descriptions of this book, that both gave away his good guy/bad guy identity, leaving me just waiting around for things I knew had to happen.  Like when someone gave me their opinion of Strider before I read The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien, and gave away all the suspense.  Small a part as he plays, I do not want to spoil the questions for you.

Over and over his father had warned Matt that it wasn’t as safe as a stone chimney and that he had to watch out for flying sparks. ¬†He needn’t fear. ¬†After all the work of building this house, Matt wasn’t going to let it burn down about his ears. (3)

This is probably the shortest book review I’ve ever done! ūüôā ¬†Any of you read this book? ¬†No commenting spoilers please, though! ¬†Any of you (besides Ellen) read any of Miss Speare’s other books? ¬†Happy Thursday!

Mothers

Mr. Burd sank into a chair before the fire. ¬†“Now, wait a minute,” he said. ¬†“After Jon gets me a drink of water and Sally fetches my slippers and Andy puts Molly in the barn and Mother sits and rests herself, I”ll tell you all about it” (26).

-“By Wagon and Flatboat” by Enid La Monte Meadowcroft

(Emphasis mine)

 

That sounds like something¬†my Dad would say! ¬†Mamas sure work hard, don’t they?

Anchored

“Thy resolution may fluctuate on the wild and changeful billows of human opinion; but mine is anchored on the Rock of Ages” (345).

-“Ivanhoe” by Sir Walter Scott

This is one of my favorite books! ¬†I flipped through it yesterday and read all the things I’ve underlined–and then some. ¬†All its faults taken into consideration, I’d forgotten how much I love¬†that book!

Another Quote

“Once, long years ago, I thought I could set a canoe-load of my people free by breaking the bands at my wrists and killing the white man who held the weapon. ¬†I had the strength in my hands to do such a deed and I had the fire within, but I didn’t do it.” ¬†“What held you back?” ¬†Amos shook his head. ¬†“My hand was restrained and I’m glad that it was, for the years between have shown me that it does a man no good to be free until he knows how to live, how to walk in step with God” (161, 162).

-“Amos Fortune, Free Man” by Elizabeth Yates