Friday, June 25, 2010

Another Book Review - Johnny Tremain

Johnny Tremain, Esther Forbes, 1943, Newbery Medal Winner

In honor of Independence Day, I wanted to post my review of this well-know book. Unfortunately, it seems to have fallen from favor in recent years, and I hope to encourage folks to enjoy it again.

I read this book for the first time many years ago. I enjoyed it then, and I thoroughly enjoyed it when I read it again recently.

I have heard others describe this book as boring, and perhaps that is because Esther Forbes’ descriptions are lengthy and detailed. The time in which she wrote valued descriptions in literature. But I was awed by her skill with words and history. Her writing immediately drew me into her setting. I laughed many times at her subtle humor, and as I read, I felt as if she were telling a story she herself had witnessed. Her characters were intricately developed and life-like. Her ability to fully color her story’s people was phenomenal.

Johnny, as the main character, is a pure pleasure to watch grow from a likeable, gifted, arrogant, self-centered fourteen-year-old boy into a sobered, more thoughtful, still arrogant young man. His life in Boston as the Revolutionary War approached is fascinatingly chronicled. His thoughts and feelings about the people in his life are touchingly complex. British-occupied Boston in the 1770’s is a very interesting setting in which to explore the complicated reactions a young man has to an enemy he is beginning to know and appreciate as individuals.

I think this book has value on several levels. It is a superb example of masterfully written children’s literature. The story is plain-old interesting. It offers pointed observations and powerful lessons in human nature. And its Revolutionary War setting is an unforgettable history lesson.

Read this book. Read it to your kids. It’s worth every minute.

I noticed that Esther Forbes won a Pulitzer Prize for her book Paul Revere and the World He lived In. Re-reading Johnny Tremain has made me put Paul Revere at the top of my want-to-read list.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


...and the livin' is easy. Actually, we are finding ourselves just as busy as ever, just not with school work. (Yeehaw!) The weather has been beautiful here in Denver. A little hot on some days, but nothing like what you folks in the Southeast have regularly. I've felt well for the most part. The Tamoxifen that I'll be taking for another 4 1/2 years pulls some mean tricks on me sometimes, but I hope to adjust as time passes.

Meanwhile, life is going pretty smoothly. My topiary-hair continues to grow, but the newer growth is pretty straight. I figure the next time I get a hair cut, most of the curl will be gone. It still gets really bushy when the wind blows or when I don't use the right styling products. I'm trying to work up the humility to post a picture of a bad hair day for everyone's enjoyment. It would certainly make you laugh.

Gilead was dedicated to God on Mother's Day. (The pictures below are from that Sunday.) It's hard to believe that exactly a year before, we were in the hospital with an itty bitty little preemie, waiting to see if he would breathe sufficiently on his own, and wondering what kind of damage the chemotherapy had done to him. So far, he is doing remarkably well. His development has been normal and a pleasure for all of us to watch. He's trying to say words now. One of his favorites is "rum-rum". You'll have to imagine that with a little bit of a growl - it's the sound he makes when he's riding a toy with wheels or playing with cars. He has cute little efforts at words like "don't touch", "uh-oh", and "night-night". Having seven children doesn't make these little growing steps any less exciting. Recently, one of his favorite things to do has been to climb the stairs and throw Hotwheels through the railing to the wood floor below - not good for the cars or for the floor, but it makes a really cool noise. Anything that makes noise is exciting - vacuum cleaner, lawn mower, weed eater, hammers, noisy siblings, music. I'm glad he likes it because he's sure not going to get away from it.