Sunday, June 20, 2010

Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes

This historical fiction work is set in the pre-revolutionary war era and touches on the Boston Tea Party, Lexington and Concord and many historical figures from the Revolution, including Paul Revere. A young orphaned boy, Johnny Tremain is apprenticed as a silversmith. He is very good at what he does and it goes to his head. In his desire to do good work, receive praise and money, he lords it over the other apprentices and because of this mistake, he has a fatal fall. One of the other apprentice boys slips him a cracked tool and the silver spills out and burns Johnny's hand so that he can no longer use it to do any trade he wants, let alone work his precious silver. As Johnny recovers from this physical and spiritual wound, he learns compassion and service and love from a good friend Rab. The morals that are taught in this story are profound and not forceful but they make you want to be like Rab, just as Johnny does. I love that the story includes a kind mentor, in the form of a Master Silversmith, who sees Johnny's talent but also his failings and gently tries to teach his young apprentice and never gives up on him. I love that when the story ends, Johnny is the kind of boy, turning into a man that we would all want for our son.

Pigs to the Rescue

This hilarious tail resonates with all parents who have children trying to help and realize that help is just not making things better. The kids love this tale because the pigs are doing such outrageous things to help. Every time something on the farm goes wrong, the pigs rush in to help. When the garden hose leaks and Mrs. Greenstalk can't water her flowers, the pigs rush in with a small wading pool, water balloons and other assorted water sources and they succeed in watering the garden but leave behind a flower graveyard. When the pigs rescue Jeffrey's kite, they get it out of the tree but it is no longer in one piece. The family experiences many such "rescues" and are relieved when the pigs don't hear about spilled milk. Unfortunately, the cows do! This is a fabulous read for little kids and it will guarantee them a laugh.