The Rooster Crows

Title: The Rooster Crows
Author: Maud & Miska Petersham
Pages: 62
Reading Level: 8 & up
Star Rating: ★★★

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Few things expose the character of a people more than their folk songs. This book, subtitled ‘A Book of American Rhymes and Jingles’ serves as a glimpse into the lives of the American people in their earlier centuries.

Here are a few of my favorite rhymes from this book.

Fuzzy Wuzzy was a bear,
Fuzzy Wuzzy lost his hair.
The Fuzzy Wuzzy wasn’t fuzzy,
Was he? [pg. 37]

=]

The rose is red, the violet’s blue,
Sugar’s sweet and so are you.
If you love me as I love you,
No knife can cut our love in two.
My love for you will never fail
As long as pussy has a tail. [pg. 43]

And perhaps my favorite,

As sure as the vine
Twines ‘round the stump,
You’re my darling sugar lump. [pg. 40]

D’aww.

Discussion.

Several of the poems (as is common with jingles) involved exaggeration / tall talishness.

One of the poems refers to kissing. Another involves a little girl who doesn’t want to get up in the morning until her mother promises her a “nice young man with rosy cheeks”.

Conclusion. A nice introduction to the entertainment of past generations, The Rooster Crows features a sweet Dick-and-Jane illustration style and lots of fun verses.

…If You Lived in Williamsburg in Colonial Days

Title: …If You Lived in Williamsburg in Colonial Days
Author: Barbara Brenner
Illustrator: Jenny Williams
Pages: 79
Recommended Ages: 8 & up
Star Rating: ★★★★

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The If You series.

Q & A.

How did people pay for what they bought?

In colonial Virginia, you could pay for goods with coins. The coins had been made in other countries and were brought to Williamsburg by merchants and traders. The most common coins were Spanish silver.

The value of the money was based on the English system. Merchants weighed foreign coins to figure out their value in pence (d), shillings (s), and pounds (L). To make change, they would cut up a coin.

A pound in any form was a great deal of money. It was several weeks’ pay for many people. If you were lucky, your parents might give you a few pence to spend at the market. You could but a pencil for 3.25 pence or a pack of playing cards for 7.5 pence. But a pound of chocolate would have been beyond your budget at two shillings and sixpence (2/6).

The most common way grown-ups made a big purchase, such as a horse, was by using a tobacco certificate. A tobacco certificate was something like a check. But instead of being backed by a certain amount of money in a warehouse. You could buy a horse, a wagon, or a whole set of furniture with a tobacco certificate.

You could also trade, or barter, instead of using money. If you were selling corn and you wanted to buy a rooster, for example, you might give so many bushels of corn for the rooster. [pgs. 12-13]

Did children have storybooks to read?

There were no lending libraries in Williamsburg in 1770. Your parents could order books from England or buy them at the Printing Office on Duke of Gloucester Street. A Bible was the only book some families owned, although others had books for both children and adults.

In addition to nursery rhymes, you might have read classic English children’s stories such as Jack the Giant Killer. As you got older, you would have graduated to popular novels – Gulliver’s Travels and The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe. [pg. 49]

What kind of clothes did men and boys wear?

Baby boys and girls of colonial Williamsburg wer dressed almost alike, in a long gown (dress), a shift (a nightgownlike garment), or a shirt. Early on, parents began to train their children to stand up straight. As a toddler, you would have been put into stays, a kind of cloth brace stiffened with whalebone, which would keep your back straight and give you good posture.

When a boy was about four years old, he was breeched. He graduated from babyhood to boyhood by getting his first pair of breeches, pants that came down just over the knees, the way mens’s beeches did. The stays came off, and the boy dressed like a smaller version of his father. [pg. 16]

What was an apprentice?

Being an apprentice was a kind of work-study program. In colonial times, a boy was sent to work without pay for a tradesman – a carpenter or printer, for example. In return, the man taught the boy his trade.

The apprentice lived with his master for as long as seven years. At the end of that time, he was considered a journeyman. He could now get a paying job with another master or go into partnership with the man who had trained him. [pg. 61]

Discussion.

I’m not sure if this was intentional or not, but I appreciated a choice of words that Ms. Brenner made. Instead of referring to those in slavery merely as ‘slaves’, she called them ‘enslaved people’. I thought this really emphasized the active nature of slavery – the state of being enslaved – as opposed to the more passive ‘slaves’.

Another very clever choice on the part of Ms. Brenner was to place historic jingles under questions concerning the same topic. For example, underneath the question concerning the duties/occupations of women in colonial Williamsburg was the rhyme –

My Maid Mary, she minds the dairy,

While I go a-hoeing and mowing each morn;

Gaily run the reel and the little spinning wheel,

While I am singing and mowing my corn. [pg. 62]

One question reads,

What happened when a child misbehaved?

A great many parents of the eighteenth century still believed in paddling, spanking, and whipping with a cane. [pg. 69]

While this is true at face value, it makes the practice of corporal punishment sound old-fashioned and obsolete.

One question mentions a few superstitious cures.

Conclusion. Wonderful. A great addition to any study of Colonial American.

Meet Benjamin Franklin

Title: Meet Benjamin Franklin
Author: Maggi Scarf
Pages: 64
Recommended Ages: 7-10
Star Rating: ★★★★★

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A solid, sober, biography of Benjamin Franklin for younger readers, Meet Benjamin Franklin presents the basic facts of Franklin’s life along with a few funny stories about him. The illustrations are realistic and expand the texts’ effectiveness.

Cautions.

Keep in mind that Franklin had rocky relationships with his parents and older brother.

One page declares that people in England “began to think of him [Franklin] as a kind of magician.” [pg. 51] Franklin exploits their credulity by playing a “magic” trick on them – they fall for it – but he winds up explaining the trick to them.

Conclusion. Great introductory biography.

Let’s Play Soldier, George Washington!

Title: Let’s Play Soldier, George Washington!
Author: Peter and Connie Roop
Pages: 57
Recommended Ages: 8-12
Star Rating: ★★★★

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Remember Let’s Drive, Henry Ford? Well, Let’s Play Soldier, George Washington! is written by the same authors!

His Life.

When George Washington was born in 1732, no one knew that he would someday be called the father of his country. No one even knew that a new country would be born – but it was, and he was, indeed, a great part of her birth. But before George could ever attend to matters of state, he had a great many other things to deal with.

For example, when George was eleven, his father died. Both of his older brothers had moved away from home to pursue their own careers, so George was the man of the family. Their farm was large and needed lots of money to keep it running. George had to think of some way to help the family! He began practicing to be a surveyor. What he really wanted was to go to England and receive a formal education there, but he knew that was out of the question. So instead, he worked to learn everything that he could right there in Virginia.

His hard work paid off. One day, he met Lord Fairfax, a man who owned several million acres worth of land. Because George was polite, a good rider, and an excellent surveyor, Lord Fairfax asked him to do a survey of his vast estates. George agreed to go.

The journey was hard, but it was good for George. It made him a better surveyor, but also a better woodsman. When the French and Indian War broke out in the fifties, George was helpful as a messenger and also as a scout for the British. Yes, that’s right, for the British. In his first war, George was a Colonel with the British and Americans against the French and Indians. In his second war, George was a General with the Americans and French against the British. Funny how that works, isn’t it?

Anyway, the short of the story is this – George fought and was a successful soldier. The Americans won the war. Then, George became President – he was successful at that, too. In 1799, when he died, George had been successful at many things, but what we remember most is how well he fought for our country during the war – and after it, too.

Discussion.

Let’s Play Soldier, George Washington! brought forth one fact about George Washington’s life that I had never learned about. And that was his relationship with his mother. Apparently, (or at least according to this book), Mary Washington was a strong-minded woman with a violent temper. When George accidentally killed one of her favorite horses (which she had forbidden him to ride), she never forgave him. Although she often threw obstacles in his path (she did not allow him possession of his father’s farm for years after he legally inherited it), George always treated her with respect.

What I thought was a fascinating fact was included on page thirty-three.

George turned twenty-one on February 22, 1753. George had been born on February 11, 1732. But in 1752, the calendars were changed. This is because the old calendar was off by eleven days. Now, George’s birthday was February 22. Some years, when he wanted to, George celebrated his birthday twice! [pgs. 33-35]

After reporting the number of horses that were shot from under him in one battle, the Roops comment, “George Washington was very lucky.” [pg. 50] No mention is made of George Washington’s great faith in the Christian God.

Ten illustrations were included in Let’s Play Soldier, George Washington!, nine of which I thought were exceptionally goofy.

Conclusion. I believe that Let’s Play Soldier, George Washington! is worthwhile despite the foolish illustrations. Its content was serious but easy to understand.

The Secret Agent and Other Spy Kids

Title: The Secret Agent
Author: Allan Zullo
Pages: 147
Recommended Ages: 12 & up
Star Rating: ★★★★

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Remember The Secret is Out? The Secret Agent follows the same idea, only all of its characters are youths.

Their Lives.

1)      The Carolina Heroine. Emily Geiger serves the Patriot cause by helping her partially-paralyzed father supply the Patriots with food from their crops. But when a more thrilling, more dangerous opportunity comes, she jumps at it. Will Emily safely deliver General Greene’s message to General Sumter, or will she be caught?

2)      The Texas Rat. Kit Benson doesn’t want to leave his family’s log cabin, but he has no choice. The ruthless Mexican general, Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna has destroyed the Alamo and is now making his way towards their home, destroying everything in his path. So, when the opportunity comes to deliver important information to General Sam Houston, Kit doesn’t hesitate. But will he be caught before he reaches Houston’s camp?

3)      The Newsboy. Charles Phillips pretends to be a regular newsboy, selling papers on the streets of Richmond, Virginia. And he is a newsboy – but that’s not all he is. He’s also a spy who ferrets information out of the men he sells papers to. But Jim and Tom Smith, fellow newsboys, seem to suspect that Charles is more than he seems. Charles must be careful…

4)      The Rebel Joan of Arc. Belle Boyd loves her Southern life and is deeply disgusted by the uncouth Union soldiers who now occupy her beloved Shenandoah. But if by mingling with the soldiers, she can gain useful information for the Confederacy – now that is a different matter altogether!

5)      The Slave Boy. Charley Felton didn’t plan to be a spy – all he wanted was to escape from his cruel master’s plantation and begin a new life in the North. But when he overheard his master speaking of important military plans, he knew he didn’t have a choice. He must warn the Union soldiers!

6)      The Boy Martyr. David Dodd is just an ordinary boy – until the day his friend, Confederate General James F. Fagan, lightheartedly suggests that he spy while conducting business in enemy territory. And so, he does, and by doing so, he becomes embroiled in a greater mess than he could ever have imagined…

7)      The Boy Scout. Joe Leysin is ecstatic to meet Baden-Powell, a member of the British Secret Service, and learn spying techniques from him. Joe believes that he has spotted a few spies himself, and goes in to discover them. He soon learns that unmasking a spy is far more difficult than he knew!

8)      The School Girl. Marguerite Vourc’h is from a patriotic French family. So, when that beast, Adolph Hitler invades her native land, she retaliates with the best that she can give – her unique spying abilities!

9)      The Peasant Girl. Nobody suspects Ingeborg Klein of being a spy. But that’s just what she is. She fits perfectly into the little French village where she and her mother live – speaks the language like a native – but she is German born. She knows the language. And she uses her knowledge against the Nazis!

10)   The Hungry Orphan. Choon Kyung Ko has the perfect alias identity; he pretends to be a poor beggar, orphaned by the recent tragedies which have ravaged Korea. And he is an orphan. But he is also a spy who penetrates the enemy’s camps and reports back information to his friends in South Korea. Will his very audacity keep him alive, or will he be found out?

Cautions.

Emily Geiger goes on several missions without asking permission of her father. He and she support the same cause, but she (correctly) believes that he would not allow her to participate in dangerous missions if she asked permission of him.

Belle Boyd notoriously used her beauty to extract important information from enemy soldiers. Called the ‘Siren of the Shenandoah’ and ‘Cleopatra of the Secession’, Belle was a first rate flirt. Nothing truly inappropriate is included from her exploits, but she is portrayed in mildly flirtatious situations.

David Dodd encourages mild flirting amongst soldiers and local girls as a method of gathering information.

A soldier says that he will kiss Ingeborg Klein, but she is disgusted at the thought and forestalls the event.

Marguerite Vourc’h has a crush on one of her fellow agents.

Several war-related lies are told. One girl tells an additional, unnecessary lie.

‘God’ is used three times, ‘Dieu’ once. ‘Darn’ is used twice and ‘damn’ and ‘gee’ once each.

Conclusion. Exciting accounts of remarkably brave youths who served their country with steadfastness.

Trouble At Otter Creek

Title: Trouble At Otter Creek
Author: Wilma Pitchford Hays
Pages: 44
Recommended Ages: 7-8
Star Rating: ★★★★

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A slim chapter book set just before the American War for Independence…

The Story.

Sam is afraid. His father is dead. His wonderful father who dreamed of a day when he could move his family to the beautiful land along Otter Creek died while clearing that very land. And now, Mama has decided that the family will move there anyway. She says that it is what Father would have wanted.

Sam trusts his mother, but still worries. And when the Yorkers claim his father’s land, he is doubly worried. But he has hope; if he can contact Ethan Allen of the Green Mountain Boys, they should be able to protect Sam and his family. But will they?

Discussion.

Sam’s mother is a very strong woman. When her husband does, she disregards the counsel of her family and journeys to the cabin, declaring that her husband would have wanted her to take possession of his land. It doesn’t seem feministic in its tone – more as though she wanted to carry on his legacy.

The children tease each other mildly, but are good friends.

Conclusion. Good. Trouble at Otter Creek will serve as an interesting chapter book for elementary readers interested in the frontier.

Meet George Washington

Title: Meet George Washington
Author: Joan Heilbroner
Pages: 66
Reading Level: 8 & up
Star Rating: ★★★★★

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This will be a tiny review because I do not have the time to provide a thorough biography of George Washington. Meet George Washington seemed to me to be entirely accurate in its details and portrayed George Washington in a favourable, though not adoring manner. It provided information from Washington’s boyhood to his death in 1799, and even addresses the popular cherry tree myth.

Conclusion. Perfectly suited for its age group.

Moonfleet

Title: Moonfleet
Author: J. Meade Falkner
Pages: 254
Recommended Ages: 12 & up
Star Rating: ★★★

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Smugglers. Wahoo!

The Story.

John Trenchard has never known life outside of Moonfleet. He was born there and raised there – raised by his aunt after both of his parents died. Now, at the age of fifteen, he enjoys walking around in the village and looking towards the sea to catch a glimpse of the ships that sometimes sail there. There are even a few ships that smuggle cargo out of his very village! Although, of course, that must be done in the black of night…

But not all is right in the village of Moonfleet. Strange sounds – hollow, echoing sounds – have been emanating from the vault beneath the church. But there is nothing down there! Nothing alive that is…

John is suspicious of these sounds – and scared of them. But when the opportunity comes for him to  satisfy his curiosity, he cannot resist it. What he finds will change the course of his entire life. Is it for the better? You’ll have to read Moonfleet to find out!

Discussion.

Moonfleet is an action/adventure novel written in genuine King James English. It reminded me, actually, of Robinson Crusoe’s style, only without all of the annoying indirect objects.

My biggest complaint about Moonfleet has nothing to do with the acceptable nature of its contents. Moonfleet began as a rip-roaring adventure story replete with a magnificent treasure and villainous bad guys. About halfway through the story this theme faltered, and everything went wrong. I suppose it was more ‘realistic’ than the typical treasure story, but it disappointed me. I wanted John to have the perfect, happy-go-lucky story, not what happened!

John is attracted to a young girl, but it is totally clean. Here’s his account.

We bred up a boy-girl affection, and must needs pledge ourselves to be true to one another, not knowing what such silly words might mean. [pg. 90]

In the end *spoiler* they get married.

A legend is told about Blackbeard, a villainous, deceased Colonel, walking in the church grave yard on nights. John initially believes this tale until he learns the true explanation.

John wears a locket with Scripture verses in it to keep away evil spirits. In one part of the book, John is holed up in a cave with a lame leg.

I have said that I was melancholy; but worse followed, for I grew timid, and fearful of the wild night, and the loneliness, and the darkness. And all sorts of evil tales came to my mind, and I thought much of baleful heathen gods that St. Aldhelm had banished to these underground cellars, and of the Mandrive who leaped on people in the dark and strangled them. And then fancy played another trick on me, and I seemed to see a man lying on the cave floor with a drawn white face upturned, and a red hole in the forehead; and at last could bear the dark no longer, but got up with my lame leg and groped round till I found a candle, for we had two or three in store. [pgs. 131-132]

John goes on to read the verses to himself. He has a conversation with his comrade about the topic – both of them hold to superstitious views on the subject.

In the main turning point of the story *BIG SPOILER*, John makes his way into an underground vault which tunnels under the village church. There, he hides behind a coffin when several smugglers make their way into the vault. After they leave, he gets up to go, but trips against the coffin. It splinters and he accidentally pulls the beard off of the man’s body. It is not a grotesque scene, just an eerie one.

Conclusion. An interesting story – not the best ever, but certainly worth reading for those who enjoy treasure/adventure stories.

…If You Lived At the Time of the American Revolution

Title: …If You Lived At the Time of the American Revolution
Author: Kay Moore
Pages: 80
Recommended Ages: 8 & up
Star Rating: ★★★★

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The more books I read from the …If You Lived series, the more I like it. Because of the simple device this series employs (posing questions and then providing the answers), more thought-provoking issues are addressed than in the typical children’s history book.

Here are a few of the most interesting Q&As.

Questions and Answers.

Did everyone in the colonies take sides?

No. Many people tried to stay neutral (not choose a side) during the war. Some changed sides depending on what was happening.

Many families split because of different views abot the war. Some changed sides depending on what was happening.

Many families split because of different views about the war. Benjamin Franklin was a well-known Patriot. His son, William, was the Royal Governor of New Jersey and warned the people in that colony not to act against the king. William became the head of the Board of American Loyalists.

George Washington was the leader of the Continental Army. His older half brother, Lawrence, was a Loyalist. [pg. 29]

How could you tell who was a Patriot?

…the number 13 was important to the Patriots because there were thirteen colonies. It was often used as a signal. Some women wore their hair in thirteen curls as a sign of support for the Patriots. [pg. 38]

What useful things were invented during the war?

David Bushnell made the Turtle, an early submarine. Looking like a large oak barrel, it moved when a propeller was turned by hand. Bushnell presented it to the Patriots as a way to put bombs on British warships. Ezra Lee made the first try, but he couldn’t get the bomb to stick to the ship. Lee had to work fast – there was only enough air for thirty minutes underwater. The Turtle never worked like Bushnell hoped, but he built underwater mines that made the British navy very nervous. [pg. 72]

Did you know?

“A Declaration of Dependence was written late in 1776 and signed by seven hundred Loyalists. This only made the Patriots more angry.” [pg. 36]

The word “cowboy” was first used to name pro-British outlaws. They used cowbells to attract people and then robbed them or stole animals from farmers and sold them to the British army. [pg. 73]

Cautions.

In two pictures, due to Colonial necklines, women’s cleavage is shown. However, it is very hazy (basically just a line).

Ms. Moore gives none of the religious reasons behind the war, mentioning only taxation without representation as its cause.

Conclusion. An excellent resource for young children. Purchase your copy here.

Peter Pembroke, Apprentice

Title: Peter Pembroke, Apprentice
Author: Jan Nickerson
Pages: 154
Recommended Ages: 11-14
Star Rating: ★★★★★

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When I purchased this book for $ .10, I had no clue it would turn out to be the little gem that it is.

The Story.

The year is 1723. Peter Pembroke has just sailed into a Boston port from England. He is thrilled at the prospect of being reunited with his father and brother who came over a year ago to purchase a farm. All he must do is find the Mr. Sewall which his father’s letters spoke of, and Mr. Sewall will be able to send him to find his family.

But when Peter finally finds Mr. Sewell, he hears bad news. His father and brother settled in a small town called Worcester, which has since been attacked by Indians. Mr. Sewell does not know if Peter’s family is still alive.

Peter is disappointed and frightened. But there is nothing he can do to help his family, so he apprentices himself to Mr. Fisher, a cabinetmaker, in the hopes that his father and brother will someday make their way back to Boston and to him. Will Peter ever be reunited with his family?

Praises.

A superb story. Over and over again, Peter demonstrated kindness, dependability, responsibility, and other good character qualities.

When Peter is feeling discouraged about his brother, he is encouraged by the thought that God knows where Jonathan is and prays that God will bring the two of them back together again. Throughout the course of the novel, even though Peter becomes involved with different people and an absorbing job, he still longs for the day when he will be united with his brother.

Instead of trying to develop a romantic relationship with Verity (a young girl who also lives with the Fishers), both Peter and his fellow apprentice Richard treat her as they would a sister, and she regards them as her brothers. I especially appreciated this because I am tired of the concept popularized by books and movies that any boy and girl thrown into close proximity with each other will inevitably fall in love. It’s just not true.

When two of the boys break into an unruly fight, Mr. Fisher first stops them, and then tells them this.

“I will not have undisciplined boys in my charge. You are learning to obey me, but it is important for you to learn self-discipline. When you have learned that, you will be able to get along with your fellow workmen. Do you understand this?” [pg. 81]

After this incident, the boys learn that by cooperating with one another, they can accomplish their work more quickly.

In one conversation that Peter has with Ben Franklin, Ben says,

“I’ve had some indiscreet arguments about religion, too, and some people think I’m either an infidel or an atheist.”

Peter gasped. “Are you?”

“No.” [pg. 88] 

I just loved how shocked Peter was at the suggestion that a person might not believe in God.

This is a long passage, but it shows the kind of wholesome instruction Mr. Fisher gave those in his care. He has just released Jared from his apprenticeship because of his unacceptable conduct.

Mr. Fisher cleared his throat, but it was a few moments before he spoke. He addressed himself to Jared.

“Tomorrow you’ll be going to a new master,” he said. “I hope you will find his craft more to your liking and that you’ll advance more quickly than you have here. Since you are without family, Jared, you do need to learn some craft in order to earn your living. I regret that I failed to teach you much.”

Jared continued to study his boots.

“I have several things to say, Jared, and I want the others present. Jared, look at me!”

Slowly the boy raised his eyes and looked at Mr. Fisher. It seemed to Peter that Jared was embarrassed. He didn’t have his customary sullen expression.

“Jared, do you know what honesty is?”

Jared nodded very slowly.

“Perhaps you have come to the inevitable conclusion that tricks didn’t accomplish a thing. Think of the porringer you took from the cupboard and hid in your fellow worker’s box in order to make someone look like a thief. Were you not surprised to find the porringer back on the shelf and nothing said? The same applies to the spoon you hid in Verity’s room.”

The flush deepened in Jared’s cheeks, but still he said nothing.

“Since you have not tried this sort of thing again, I am concluding that you have seen the folly of it and changed your ways. Am I right?”

Jared nodded.

“Then we can give thanks for that,” Mr. Fisher said in a solemn voice. “But there is one more thing to settle. That first spoon which disappeared and was found in Asa’s chest – you put that ther, did you not?”

“Yes,” said Jared in a small voice.

“So he is not a thief?”

“No.”

“Yet you let him be accused of it. Do you not know that by doing so, you committed a second wrong against him?”

There was a pause. Jared had no comment to make.

“I wish you to ask Asa’s forgiveness,” Mr. Fisher said.

Jared looked at him in astonishment. He would rather have been whipped, and they all knew it. Asa moved uneasily. He had not thought about forgiving Jared. All he had wanted was his name cleared.

“Well?” said Mr. Fisher.

Jared swallowed and tried to speak. The words stuck in his throat. Mr. Fisher stood watching him. Jared tried again.

“I’m-I’m sorry,” he managed.

Before Asa could respond, Mr. Fisher cut in. “That is not an apology, Jared You must state your wrongdoing and then ask forgiveness.”

Jared stood on one foot and then on the other. He inspected the toes of his boots again. The very slowly he began, still looking at his boots. “I-er-I took the spoons and porringer that belonged to Mr. and Mistress Fisher and hid them in Asa’s and Peter’s and Verity’s boxes. When Asa was accused of stealing the spoon, I kept quiet and let him take the blame.” This was the longest speech Peter had ever heard Jared make. And he wasn’t finished yet, for Mr. Fisher was still looking at him with his sternest expression.”I – I …” They knew this was the very hardest part of it for Jared. “I ask you to forgive me,” he said.

Now Mr. Fisher’s glance turned to Asa.

“I do,” Asa said.

“Very well. That is all.” Mr. Fisher sounded as though he were dismissing a court session. To the boys it had seemed like one. [pgs. 138-140]

Wasn’t that just wonderful?

Discussion.

A book set in New England must inevitably portray Puritans in one way or another. Mr. Fisher is a Puritan who attends Cotton Mather’s church. Peter and his family were members of the Church of England before they came to the colonies, but at Mr. Fisher’s requirement, Peter attends Mather’s church. Every Sunday, work ceases, and Mr. Fisher’s entire household attends Sunday worship. When they return home, he questions the boys about the sermon that they heard. Towards the end of the book, Mrs. Nickerson writes,

“Peter didn’t especially enjoy Mr. Mather’s long sermons, but he didn’t dare not listen, for Mr. Fisher sometimes questioned him later about what the minister had said.” [pg. 121]

I had mixed feelings about this. While I align myself with the teachings of the Puritans rather than that of the Church of England, I appreciated that Peter was remaining loyal to the church which his father believed to be true. Mixed thoughts.

At the very end of the book, Peter attends a service at the newly built Church of England without asking Mr. Fisher’s permission. Because he *SPOILER* finds his brother Jonathan there Mr. Fisher forgives him.

“Mr. Fisher’s eyes were kind as he looked at Peter. “Then we’ll say no more about today’s disobedience. If the Lord called you to go to that church this morning and find your brother, I cannot punish you for doing so. However, in the future, never fail to ask my permission for whatever you wish to do. I will be reasonable, lad, and grant your request if I can.” [pg. 153]

I can’t help but marvel at a time when employers considered themselves responsible for the spiritual state of their employees.

Here Peter states an opinion of Christmas.

Peter remembered Christmas in England. It had been a happy time. His mother decorated the house with evergreens and berries; they sang Christmas songs; they went to church and had a feast at home on Christmas Day. Merry Christmas was on everyone’s tongue and it was a gay thing to say. It wasn’t like that in Boston.

Mr. Mather and his followers did not celebrate Christmas. The Church of England people did, but Peter, of course, could not join with them – not even with his beloved Mistress Wellington, Mr. Fisher’s own sister. He imagined the fragrance of pine branches in her home at Winnissimet, the blazing open fire, and a delicious dinner of roasted turkey or beef.

Peter could see no reason why it was wrong to celebrate Christmas. It was commemorating the birth of Jesus. It was religious, but, Peter concluded, such celebrations were too gay for the serious Puritans. There would be no celebration in the Fisher household and Peter had to resign himself to work as usual. None of the others appeared to find it strange that they would work on the twenty-fifth of December, so he knew he would have to keep his disappointment to himself. [pg. 142]

Conclusion. An excellent book that will give its readers a taste of life as it was in the 1700s.