Saturnalia

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9780060219123: Saturnalia

In 1681 in Boston, fourteen-year-old William, a Narraganset Indian captured in a raid six years earlier, leads a productive and contented life as a printer's apprentice but is increasingly anxious to make some connection with his Indian past.

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About the Author:

Paul Fleischman grew up in Santa Monica, California in a house with a printing press, a grand piano, a shortwave radio, and his father—children’s author Sid Fleischman. Playing recorder in early music consorts led to his books of verbal duets—I Am Phoenix, Joyful Noise (winner of the 1989 Newbery Medal), and Big Talk. His novels built from monologues include Bull Run, a 16-character account of the Civil War's first battle, and Seedfolks—the chronicle of the first year of a Cleveland community garden. His interest in theater inspired his young adult novels Mind's Eye, Seek, and Breakout, all of which revolve around the spoken word. His historical fiction includes Saturnalia and The Borning Room. He's written nonfiction and picture books as well, including Time Train, Weslandia, and Sidewalk Circus.

Alongside the Newbery Medal, he's won a Newbery Honor Book, the Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction, the PEN West Literary Award, the California Young Reader Medal, and most recently was a finalist for the 2003 National Book Award. He makes his home in the village of Aromas, California.

From School Library Journal:

Grade 7 Up-- On a "tombstone-cracking" cold morning in 1681, the tithingman begins his rounds in Boston, "walking the lightless lanes of sin." His first stop is at the home of Currie the printer, where readers first meet his apprentice William, a 14-year-old Narraganset Indian boy whose story weaves throughout the book. A variety of characters, some of whom flourish in the day and others who people the night, are introduced in a series of meetings and happenings that seamlessly link up one to another. The relationship between master and servant, which is literally turned upside down during the celebration of the ancient Roman holiday Saturnalia, is the theme of this haunting story. The backdrop is King Philip's War and specifically the Great Swamp fight of December 19, 1675, in which a Narraganset settlement near Boston was attacked and burned down. Six years later young William searches for his twin brother and his heritage; Mr. Speke, the wood carver, seeks atonement and relief from his nightmares of the battle; and Mr. Baggot, the tithingman, thirsts for revenge for his slain grandchildren. Comic relief is provided by the pompous wigmaker's pursuit of a wealthy widow and his girl-chasing, thieving manservant, whose own pursuit of the widow's serving girl lands him in mud, garbage, and other equally messy settings. Although some readers may be initially confused by the number of characters so quickly introduced, the masterful way Fleischman brings their stories together makes for an unforgettable tale. The writing is lyrical with somber tones, bright and lively notes, and quiet, thoughtful stretches. A very special book for a special audience. --Amy Kellman, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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