Martin F. Kohn
March 15, 1991 AT 05:00 AM EST

Johnny Tremain

Current Status
In Season
Esther Forbes
Kids and Family

We gave it an A

Apprentice silversmith Johnny Tremain, a teenage Type A if ever there was one, loses the use of his right hand in an accident but finds is soul in liberty’s cause in Revoltutionary War-era Boston. As E.L. Doctorow would later mingle fictional characters with historic figures, so, in 1943, did Esther Forbes seamlessly place Johnny and other figments of her imagination among Paul Revere, John Hancock, and Samuel Adams.

In Johnny Tremain, this tale of a war that began two centuries ago are parallels the more recent war in the Persian Gulf: a deadline after which hostilities are to begin, an embargo intended to cut off food to an enemy (the enemy in this case being the colonists of Boston), and the sudden horror of the first battlefield casualties. Richly detailed, Forbes’ story of one war, written for children of another (World War II), resonates again.

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