- ISBN-13: 9780689828126
- ISBN-10: 0689828128
- Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
- Publish Date: September 2000
- Page Count: 40
- Reading Level: Ages 9-12
- Dimensions: 9.25 x 7.86 x 0.42 inches
- Shipping Weight: 0.73 pounds
During the winter of 1774, times were hard for the residents of Boston. Money was short, King George III was dealing harshly with those who spoke out against him, and more of the king's soldiers were congregating on Boston Common.
Against this backdrop, Louise Borden spins an endearing story involving nine-year-old Henry Price and his siblings, who are en route to try out their sleds on the hills of Boston Common. They soon discover that the British troops, commonly referred to as "lobster backs," have blocked their way. With the soldier's pitched tents and cooking fires in the middle of the town's best sled runs, Henry, Colin and Kate fear their sledding days are over. But thanks to the "courage" and "spunk" of Henry, the children are given a chance to lodge an official complaint with the commanding officer of the British troops, General Gage himself. The general, whom Henry comes to see as a "good man," has children of his own and easily identifies with the birthday boy's predicament.
After listening carefully to Henry, who explains their dilemma, the father in General Gage takes over and issues an order that "all troops . . . are to allow the town children to sled where they wish." To add to his kindness, the general orders his soldiers "To be quick about it. It's my young friend's birthday, and he needs to try out a new sled before two o'clock this day."
Based on local folklore, Louise Borden's story depicts a realistic portrait of colonial life in Boston, sprinkling in facts regarding the events that lead up to the War for American Independence. Borden gives this time in history a child's eye view, along with a child's problem, and warms up a bit of history that is sure to appeal to even the youngest reader.
Robert Parker's watercolor illustrations give this fictionalized history lesson a folksy feel. His many details give Borden's historical text a nice sense of balance. This story has just the right touch to spark a child's interest in the pre-Revolutionary War period it so ably depicts.
Katie McAllaster Weaver writes from her home in Benicia, California, where she can often be found wishing for snow while searching for the perfect sledding hill.