Title: Johnny Tremain
Author: Esther Forbes
Major Themes: 18th century (1700s), New England, Historical Fiction, Children’s Books, Young Adult Books, United States History, American Revolution
Synopsis: Johnny Tremain has always wanted to be a man—but when life turns against him, will he be able to prove his worth even if he can’t be a Revolutionary soldier?
When I was nine, I first heard Johnny Tremain’s fascinating story. Then we found it in the library as a six-tape audiobook, and I’m not sure how many times I listened to it over the few weeks I had it checked out. This book is a great way to share the American Revolution with your children, and along the way you learn a lot about the era and what life was like then.
Johnny is an apprentice to one of the most renowned silversmiths in Boston. When his hand is burned terribly after an accident, he can no longer pursue the trade—which leaves him both without home and without a job. When he tries to get help from wealthy relatives, he is charged with thievery and sent to jail—and the punishment for stealing is hanging. Will he get out in time? And if he does, will he be able to build a new life for himself?
This is an exciting, page-turning story. The main story is fascinating, and woven throughout are the real facts of history in an exciting, relevant presentation. Johnny Tremain is the book that I remember best for bringing the Revolution era to life—and we also get a fun (and sometimes thought-provoking) look into what it would have been like to live as a common at that time. This story makes a great read-aloud, as well as a good reader.
WARNING: There is language and lying throughout the book. The first paragraph of page 41 describes a bad accident.
Listening Level—Ages 8 – 12, 10 – 12
Reading Independently—10 – 12, 12 – 15, 15 and Above