Title: Thee, Hannah!
Author: Marguerite de Angeli
Major Themes: Pennsylvania, Quakers, Underground Railroad
Synopsis: A little Quaker girl enjoys life in 1850s Philadelphia, and learns what it means to be a Friend.
I have always enjoyed books by Marguerite de Angeli. I remember reading Thee, Hannah! many years ago when I was young. This is a very simple story with no real plot; it just tells the story of a little Quaker girl growing up in Philadelphia shortly before the Civil War.
Hannah loved pretty dresses and bonnets, but she always had to dress in plain clothes. She was frequently told that she needed to learn what it was to be a Friend, and why they wore the clothes they wore. One day, something happened that made her know why she should be content with what she had.
Life wasn’t all thinking about pretty clothes, though. There were plenty of other activities to occupy little girls. Hannah played in the snow and skated on the ice and played dolls with her sister. She helped clean the house and cook the meals, and went to school. There were frequently guests, and one night her eyes got bigger and bigger as she watched a guest eat more biscuits than she imagined anyone would ever eat. Then there was Quaker Week, when people came from all over—how many people could fit into the house?
This is a delightful story, based on true accounts from a friend of the author, showing what life was like for a child in the 1850s. It’s also a gentle introduction to slavery and the Underground Railroad. Not only is is a lovely story, but the illustrations are beautiful. They are pen and ink drawings, and some are painted beautifully. This is an altogether lovely book! It’s not really a picture book, since it has chapters, but is the next step up from a picture book.
Listening Level—Ages 3 – 4, 5 – 8
Reading Independently—Ages 7 – 9, 8 – 12