Readers travel back in time to discover what happened in American history just before the Revolutionary War accompanied by Moses, a freed slave; James and Henri, Ben Franklin's print shop apprentices; and Sarah, a British teen who traveled to America. Original.
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Grade 5-8-Sarah Phillips, 15, sails alone from England to the American Colonies on a cargo ship, where she is to stay with Ben Franklin and eventually join her father, a British officer serving in the Wilderness West. Franklin, a friend of her mother's, has arranged for three of his employees to meet Sarah's ship when it docks in Boston. They are Moses, a free man of color and the mature influence in the group; James, a printer's apprentice with dive-before-looking enthusiasm; and Henri, an eight-year-old street boy. Through a set of unbelievable coincidences, the four characters take an active part in Colonial history. With the mention of her officer father, Sarah gains the trust of the British soldiers. The group is then free to make the road trip to Philadelphia where they meet John and Sam Adams and other patriots. By this time Sarah has converted from a loyal British subject to a fervent American. The plot is as jerky and bumpy as the wagon ride from Boston to Philadelphia and the characters are straight out of the 21st century. Their shallow development is based on modern stereotypes, and their thoughts and actions are neither sufficiently nor historically motivated or explained. Although there is one "lesson" designed to teach James to make less biased judgments about the loyalists and the patriots, it is too obvious and fits awkwardly into the story. In the attempt to make the past accessible to today's readers, real history has been lost.
Carolyn Janssen, Children's Learning Center of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, OH
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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