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Sleds on Boston Common: A Story from the American Revolution Hardcover – September 1, 2000


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Borden (Good-bye, Charles Lindbergh) bases her thought-provoking story on Boston folklore. Written in free verse, her lyrical reworking of an alleged incident is set in December 1774, six months after King George III had closed the Boston harbor. Accompanied by his three siblings, narrator Henry Price makes his way to Boston Common on his ninth birthday. Eager to try out his brand-new sled on the steep hill, he finds that soldiers have pitched tents right in the middle of the sled runs. Henry sees General Thomas Gage and concludes that he looks "like a man who would listen,/ a good man,/ a man like my father." When Henry complains to him, the officer praises the child for having "the courage of a good soldier/ as well as the spunk of your local rebels" and instructs his men to allow the children to sled wherever they wish. Though crisply depicting the British soldiers' bright red uniforms, Parker's (The Hatmaker's Sign) characteristically sketchy watercolor art is otherwise too vague to give youngsters a sure sense of the story's era or setting. Fortunately, Borden's own eye for detail compensatesAfor example, readers learn that the runners of the sled are "slick beef bones"; Henry and his siblings surreptitiously count the kegs of powder and the new sheds on the Common, to pass the information back to their father. A lively historical snippet. Ages 9-12. (Sept.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Grade 2-4-This story, based on local folklore, takes place in Boston during the harsh winter of 1775. It's Henry's ninth birthday, and he wants to use the new sled that his father has made for him. However, British soldiers camped on the Common have built cook fires right in the middle of the best hill. Henry and his siblings see General Thomas Gage, the royal governor of Boston, speaking with his troops. Noting the man's kind eyes and gentle manner, Henry dares to approach him and asks that the sled run be cleared. Moved by the child's earnest request and by his courage, Gage complies. Later, when the war begins and the general returns to England, Henry watches him leave, knowing that, despite their political differences, Gage is a "good man." This well-told story gives a clear picture of life in pre-Revolutionary Boston, and the changes brought by the blockade of Boston Harbor and the encampment of thousands of "lobster backs." It also shows that one's "enemies" are not necessarily evil simply because their political ideals may differ from one's own. The full- and double-page watercolor paintings create a nice sense of atmosphere and provide a fine backdrop for the action. A helpful author's note provides historical background. Pair this with a version of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's "Paul Revere's Ride" to place it in a larger historical context.
Nancy Menaldi-Scanlan, LaSalle Academy, Providence, RI
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 9 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 4 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 640L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books; First Edition edition (September 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0689828128
  • ISBN-13: 978-0689828126
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 0.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #800,034 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Born (Oct 30,1949) and raised in Cincinnati, I have lived in Ohio my entire life except for two years in Massachusetts right after I was married. Growing up in an old house on a steep street, I attended a small elementary school called Lotspeich. There, all the marvelous shelves of books in the library shaped me into a lifelong reader. So it is a thrill for me to know that some of my books are being read by children in other libraries all over the country.

Before I became a full-time writer and speaker, I taught preschoolers and first graders and was even a part-owner of a bookstore in Cincinnati.

Today, it is hard for me to separate my writing from the way I live my life. My own family, personal experiences, and friendships, as well as a love of history and travel, have rich and lasting connections to the books I write. The first impulse to write a book is always triggered by something that has touched me indelibly.

In addition to my writing, my work in schools allows me to travel the incredible variety of landscape in Ohio, and meet the heart of its people. I have spoken in over 400 schools across the country, but mostly in Ohio. Because of this, I now have lifelong friends in communities from mighty Cleveland to small-town Greenville.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 26, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Sleds on Boston Common makes history come alive by focusing on a fictional group of children who want to go sledding during the tension-filled days just before the start of the American Revolution. The story moves beyond the normal heroism of the patriots and the perfidy of the British to put a warm human face on everyone. Reading this story can be the precursor to a wonderful visit to the Boston Common to locate where the best sled runs might be. It can also help ignite an interest in American history.
Henry Price lives in Boston, where his father runs a small toy and map shop. Because of rebellious activities, the port of Boston was closed by the king on June 1, 1774. This hurt commerce and everyone was suffering economically. Despite this, Henry's father had made Henry a new sled for his birthday which fell on December 22, 1774. During the two hour break from school at lunchtime, Henry and his siblings head for the Boston Common with the new sled. They are discouraged to find that thousands of troops are setting up camp there, and the troops block all the best sled runs!
What to do? When Henry sees General Thomas Gage, the British Governer of Massachusetts Colony, Henry decides to speak to him. But first, he and his brothers and sister count the troops, horses, and anything else that the patriots want to know.
General Gage turns to Henry and says, "Let this boy have his words."
After listening to Henry, General Gage says, "I'm a father as well as a soldier for my king . . . ." " . . . I know my own children would like to sled this hill if there were here." "He shook my hand, man to man." "My eldest son is named Henry.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Harold L. Wilkinson on August 13, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I read this book to my grandchildren before we visited the Boston Commons. It peaked their interest in visiting this historical spot and created lots of good dialog between us. Since then, I have used it in my classroom when we study the Revolutionary War. Then I show a picture of me standing in the Commons with my grandchildren. This makes history seem more real to them. I recommend this book for home and educational purposes.

Nola Wilkinson
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ulyyf on July 12, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a fictionalized account of an event that (maybe) actually happened. The story has been told often enough - I heard it long before this book was published - about a group of children who sent a delegation to the British General encamped on their sledding hill, asking him politely to move so they could still sled there, but all the details in this book are made up to fill the sketchy story that's been passed down.

The pictures are simple and engaging, the story is inspiring, and it involves sledding... as well as the lesson that the people you dislike and fear, who are your enemies, still are people inside.
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