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.

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