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Colonial Voices: Hear Them Speak Hardcover – May 15, 2008

4.6 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Grade 3–6—Colonial Bostonians introduce themselves through free-verse vignettes that describe their work and their feelings about the current political situation. As errand boy Ethan moves about the city, he links the people together. From the printer, who distributes the news of a gathering to be held, to the baker, the school mistress, the shoemaker, the milliner, and so on, he covers a territory that ends up at the Old South Meeting House. There, the Sons of Liberty decide to protest the governor's decision regarding some shipments of British tea. Winters's poems flow well, but they employ somewhat complex vocabulary and syntax. A glossary is included to help children with terms such as "fripperies," "journeyman," "limner," "hackle," and "wag-on-the-wall." Historical notes go into more detail about each person's job and compare similar positions in the northern and southern colonies. Both men and women are portrayed; while most characters are white, a Native American woman and a male African slave are also featured. The political sentiments described include Patriots, Loyalists, and some in-between. The watercolor and ink illustrations add humor and drama through shifting perspectives and well-detailed settings full of period details. Ethan appears in each picture, and children will enjoy following his route and sharing his reactions to the varied scenes he observes. A unique presentation for all libraries.—Lucinda Snyder Whitehurst, St. Christopher's School, Richmond, VA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Winters, who so successfully captured the common folk in Voices of Egypt (2005), offers an even more layered and textured group of voices here. It’s December 16, 1773, and “Boston is about to explode.” The immediacy of the words draws readers in, as Ethan, an errand boy to the printer, sets off with papers to deliver to the patriots in the area. So begins a glorious introduction to the Boston Tea Party, and so much more.  Each handsome two-page spread brings forth another voice from the time as Ethan delivers his message. There’s the printer, whose presses tell of British subjugation; the baker and the shoemaker, who are secret patriots; the milliner, who says, “Pay the tax! Count your blessings. I prefer the King to a rabble-rousing mob!” The tavern keeper, the blacksmith’s slave, the Native American basket maker, and others also have their say, until the patriots gather at the harbor and “speak out for liberty.” Winter’s strong, moving text is supported by a thoughtful design that incorporates the look of historical papers, and rich paintings capture the individuals and their circumstances as well as what’s at stake. The back matter, offering additional information on the tea party and on each speaker’s profession, makes this even more useful. This does for colonial times what the 2008 Newbery Medal book, Good Masters, Sweet Ladies, does for the Middle Ages. Grades 4-7. --Ilene Cooper
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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: Dutton Books for Young Readers; First Edition edition (May 15, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0525478728
  • ISBN-13: 978-0525478720
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 0.4 x 11.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #946,535 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Yana V. Rodgers on August 14, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Shoemakers who pull teeth for customers with toothaches, and barbers who apply leaches to bruises and let blood drain to cure a fever. These are but two of the many interesting tidbits about occupations during the Colonial period that make this book an enjoyable read for children and adults alike. As the central premise of the book, young Ethan, a printer's errand boy, makes his way around a number of local businesses in Boston on that fateful day in December 1773 leading up to the Boston Tea Party. He is charged with delivering news about the tea tax, Governor Hutchinson's decisions, and the protest meeting that evening in the Old South Meeting House. At each of Ethan's stops, the reader hears about the political views and job responsibilities of the colonial merchants through their own voices.

The stunning watercolor-and-ink illustrations, the themed typeset and layout, and the map of Colonial Boston inside the book's covers reinforce the book's historical theme. A concerted effort to add vocabulary from the Colonial era and detailed occupational descriptions in the historical notes further contribute to the book's high marks on substantive content. Although Colonial Voices: Hear Them Speak mostly covers the economics concept of jobs, its focus on the Boston Tea Party also make it a useful vehicle for teaching about monopolies and taxes. Most readers will finish the book more informed about this pivotal event in Colonial history, and relieved that we do not need to visit the shoemaker and barber for our healthcare needs.
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Format: Hardcover
***Note to publishers and authors: That's enough free verse.*** We parents want our kids to READ. Kids can handle paragraphs -- go ahead and write in standard English.

I'm working on a summer 2012 homeschool unit for my gang of boys on colonial/pre-revolutionary days in New England, then visiting Boston and surroundings on our summer trip.

So I've read a lot of the children's books that are available on this time period, and will be reading still more. This book is great in the illustration department -- the illustrations are well-researched and historical. Very nice. The written portion of this book is a yawner -- the text is so superficial (and in free verse!) that it's not instructive or memorable.

Instead of this, I recommend:
Betsy Maestro's "Liberty or Death"
Dennis Fradin's "Let it Begin Here"
Rosalyn Schanzer's "George vs. George"
Pamela Duncan Edwards' "Boston Tea Party"

Good historical notes section in this book, a map, and a surprisingly good glossary. And very fine illustrations.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"Colonial Voices" is an imaginative and eye-catching way to introduce children to American history. Kay Winters does this by creating stories "told" by children who lived in Boston just before the American Revolution. I was especially impressed that these stories didn't avoid some of the hard truths about being a child in Colonial Day -- the Errand Boy who was on his own when his mother died in childbirth and his Dad was at sea; the Silversmith's Apprentice who was orphaned, as well. The Tavern Keeper tells her story when, with her daughter, she takes over the tavern upon another loss. Winters doesn't mince words in "The Basket Trader" or "The Blacksmith's Slave," but does so at a level that children can appreciate.
This book is a perfect example of Kay Winters' ability to write gripping stories for children without talking down to them. She gives her young readers a chance to take a trip through colonial Boston in an exciting --and dangerous -- time so often rushed through in normal history classes.
Larry Day's illustrations beautifully capture the mood and color of the period, and show a huge amount of research in his use of clothing, household details, and tools of the time.
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When needing a user-friendly and enjoyable Colonial Boston occupations resource, this is a great find! Interwoven in the prose are subtle messages about the undercurrents of those turbulent times in Boston, spoken by the characters whose jobs you learn about. Colorful and clear illustrations enhance this knowledge. I first located it in our school library, but I knew I immediately wanted my own copy!
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This book was written by a friend of mine whose talent I much admire. It gives the young reader a different perspective of the events leading up to the American Revolution - through the eyes of an errand boy who, while delivering an important message to Boston Patriots, gives the reader an inside view into the lives of some of the colonists. It is an interesting and beautifully illustrated book.
I bought it for my granddaughter who is nine, and will be studying the American Revolition next year in 4th grade.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a wonderful find. The information is enough to hook a kid into reading quick history, but not enough to fill an essay. The illustrations are great
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Great resource. My students loved this book.
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