A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Johnny Tremain is a rich, well-told tale set in Colonial America. It details daily life in the colonies and puts teen Johnny in the heart of the action as the Boston Tea Party, Paul Revere's ride, and the battles at Lexington and Concord unfold. First published in 1943, it's sometimes bit dry by today's standards, but it nevertheless helps the history kids read about in textbooks come alive. Families might want to check out the 1957 Disney film adaptation.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Is it any good?
This sweeping tale of redcoats and revolutionaries has a lot to offer. Esther Forbes' brilliant characterizations in immerse readers in this turbulent era of America's past. Seeing JOHNNY TREMAIN's impulsive actions and hasty judgments questioned by the more mature Rab, Johnny's character slowly develops, and his efforts to become a sensible, courageous young man are often poignant and endearing.
Forbes, a historian, writes with detail and precision, imbuing historical events with life and passion that is often lacking in textbooks. The Boston Tea Party, Paul Revere's ride, and the battles at Lexington and Concord are all powerfully portrayed. Forbes also shows the daily life of the working class in the colonies, illustrating the social order against which the revolutionaries fought. Written in the 1940s, the novel is sometimes a bit dry by today's standards. And the African-American characters conform to stereotypes and have only marginal involvement in the events that take place. But parents and teachers can provide the cultural-historical context of such characterizations and omissions.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the racism and stereotypes. Why do you think Johnny's view of black people changes over the course of the book? Do you think his views were typical of the time? How have attitudes changed?
Why do you think stories about the American colonial period are popular?
What do like about reading historical novels? What others have your read?
- Author: Esther Forbes
- Illustrator: Lynd Ward
- Genre: Historical Fiction
- Topics: Adventures, Friendship, History, Misfits and Underdogs
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
- Publication date: January 1, 1943
- Number of pages: 256
- Available on: Paperback, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, Kindle
- Award: Newbery Medal and Honors
- Last updated: January 12, 2021
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