A Story of Boston in Revolt
256 pages. 12 full-page illustrations.
In a recent poll, most of you thought this classic children's novel was still worth reading, so I decided to dig it out and read it. (I suspect, like many of you, that I read it for school years ago, but I don't remember.)
I was surprised at how good this novel still is.
The protagonist is Johnny Tremain, an orphan apprenticed to an aging silversmith. Despite the misfortune of losing his mother, and not knowing much of his own family and background, 14-year-old Johnny has done well as an apprentice, demonstrating such skill that he is already expected to inherit the business and marry the silversmith's granddaughter. But his swift rise and proud manners have earned him the enmity of the senior apprentice…
Johnny remains the center of the story as he suffers misfortune, finds out who his true friends are, explores new opportunities, seeks out his relatives, makes new friends, and finds himself a witness at a key moment in American history.
The author skillfully weaves in historical and fictional characters, teaching history without it ever seeming forced. She is also careful to provide the viewpoint of a variety of characters, British and Colonial, free and slave, from a variety of classes and circumstances. The brief depiction of Hancock's boy slave is a small flaw in this novel, as the author seems to find humor in his situation. Other slave characters, however, are shown as brave and wise. The author has an interesting way of bringing out the good side of bad characters, and vice versa.
Could you game it? The novel ends with the battles of Concord and Lexington, so you might game those; or be inspired to go on to the following Battle of Bunker Hill (not in this novel).
This is the sort of juvenile novel that is equally enjoyable by adults. I wish she had written a sequel, as I wanted more.
Reviewed by Editor in Chief Bill .