Title: Clyde the Rebel
Author: Rebecca Martin
Series: Rebecca Martin Heritage series, book 4
Major Themes: American Revolution, Mennonites, Pennsylvania, Revolutionary War
Synopsis: As a rebellion is breaking out in the American colonies, Peter Miller has struggles at home with other rebels, including his horse.
For several months now, we have been reading a series of books about Anabaptist history by Rebecca Martin. Starting with A Captain for Hans and continuing through The Brickmakers and Follow Me, and now Clyde the Rebel, we have learned a lot about the Anabaptists from their earliest days in Switzerland, moving to Germany, then to America. Now, the family has been settled in Pennsylvania for 60 years, and are prospering.
Peter Miller is excited about the new colt their Clydesdale mare, which they imported from Scotland, has had. He has big dreams of watching this colt grow up and training him. He has other things on his mind, too, though, as tensions are growing, both at home and in the colony.
The challenges at home center mainly around the indentured servant, Irishman Mike Culligan. Even though Mike attends church with the Miller family, he frequently scoffs at their beliefs. He also rides the colt on the sly. And then, things get even worse when Peter’s sister falls in love with Mike.
The tensions in the colony are also escalating, in these years of 1775 and 1776. As news filters from Boston and Philadelphia to the Mennonites in Lancaster County, they struggle to know how they should respond. Peter’s father is a firm believer in the defenselessness of the true Christian, and refuses to take sides in the war that breaks out, but other families in their church and community support the rebellion. How will Peter respond?
This is a very different viewpoint on the American Revolution. I had never read anything from an Anabaptist perspective, and I appreciated that. I also appreciated the author’s note at the beginning of the book that the trials experienced by the Mennonites are documented in history! We did question some of the wording and other details; it felt like the author used modern Mennonite customs and modern terminology, rather than using authentic ways of speaking. (For example, Peter’s family was told at one point that they would have to move out of the state; wouldn’t they have referred to it as a colony, before the Revolution was over? Also, people frequently went for the mail, and they subscribed to a regular newspaper.) Other than those minor quibbles, we enjoyed the book and its unique look at a well-known time period.
WARNING: In chapter 17, some boys throw rocks at Peter, badly injuring his arm.
Listening Level—Ages 8 – 12, Family Friendly
Reading Independently—Ages 8 – 12, 10 – 12, 12 – 15