Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Son of Liberty

Johnny Tremain
by Esther Forbes
336 pages
ISBN:  04440442508

Although Esther Forbes wrote fewer than a dozen books in her life, her 1942 biography Paul Revere and the World in Which He Lived won the Pulitzer Prize for History, and her 1943 historical novel Johnny Tremain was awarded the Newbery Medal.  As of 2000--more than fifty years after its publication--Johnny Tremain was the 16th bestselling children's book in the United States.  Set in the exciting pre-Revolutionary years of Boston, Johnny Tremain is the story of an orphaned fourteen-year-old silversmith apprentice, who after burning and deforming his hand with hot silver, must find work elsewhere.

Stopping in various shops to find suitable employment, Johnny wanders into a print shop that publishes The Boston Observer, a patriot newspaper.  Johnny is hired to deliver papers to subscribers in outlying towns and takes lodging in a loft above the shop with Rab, the printer's apprentice.  On Sundays, their sleeping loft becomes the meeting place of a secret club, the Boston Observers, whose members include Paul Revere, Sam and John Adams, John Hancock, Joseph Otis, and Dr. Joseph Warrens.

Johnny "changed from knowing little enough about the political excitement, and caring less, to being an ardent Whig," as he gets caught up in the growing tensions between the Whigs (Patriots) and Torries (British sympathizers) that lead to the Boston Tea Party, the midnight ride of Paul Revere, and the Battle of Lexington.  Johnny Tremain is a story of pride, adventure, and hope, but one of sadness and loss, too.


  1. Love that last line "....a story of pride, adventure, and hope, but one of sadness and loss, too." as so many great stories are. -T

  2. Hey T, what an astute comment. So many stories do fit that description. Reminds me of what I once read about there being only two basic plots in all of literature: hero goes on a journey, and a stranger comes to town. Try that one out; I don't know if I've found an exception yet.

  3. That sounds like a fun game actually. I will start trying to apply to those I'm reading. -T