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The Boston Tea Party

The Boston Tea Party

by Freedman Russell, Peter Malone (Illustrator)

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More than any other event, the Boston Tea Party of 1773 has come to stand for the determination of American colonists to control their own destinies. From the arrival of the ships full of controversial taxed tea in Boston Harbor, through the explosive protest meetings at the Old South Church, to the defiant act of dumping 226 chests of fine tea into the harbor on


More than any other event, the Boston Tea Party of 1773 has come to stand for the determination of American colonists to control their own destinies. From the arrival of the ships full of controversial taxed tea in Boston Harbor, through the explosive protest meetings at the Old South Church, to the defiant act of dumping 226 chests of fine tea into the harbor on December 16, Freedman captures this exciting story. Source notes, a bibliography, a time line, an afterword, a historical map, and index.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this addition to Freedman's (Lafayette and the American Revolution) long-running Library of American History series, he again demonstrates his proficiency at distilling history with insight into both the events described and the individuals involved. Malone (Big Wig: A Little History of Hair) contributes evocative, gauzy watercolor paintings distinguished by meticulous period detail. The accessible text and sprawling pictures sweep readers into the fervor of Boston streets in December 1773, portraying the colonists' passion and determination to block British ships' crews from unloading tea to protest "the latest in a series of taxes that incited massive colonial opposition." Quotations from eager teenage participants give the story immediacy and relevance, and their voices help crystallize the protestors' enthusiasm and solidarity. "Wishing to have my share of the fun," a young mason's apprentice disguises himself as a "Mohawk" (like the other protestors), only to find himself working alongside his employer. An afterword on the Boston Tea Party's connection to the outbreak of the Revolution, a bibliography, and a time line conclude this smart, succinct book. Ages 7–10. (Sept.)
Children's Literature - Natalie Gurr
Soon after the rain stopped on the night of December 16, 1773, a group of men, disguised as Mohawk Indians, stealthily hurried down the streets of Boston. They had demanded and pleaded with Britain for fair representation for too long and now it was time to take matters into their own hands. They boarded the ships at bay and quickly dispersed of all the tea on board. Under the watchful eyes of a growing crowd, the men made a formal protest: they would not be conceding to Britain anymore. The event that became known as The Boston Tea Party is often considered the opening of the Revolutionary War and is an important part of American history. Freedman descriptively describes this pivotal moment in a way that is accessible to children. The story is riddled with quotes from primary documents, which lend authenticity to the text. Malone cleverly depicts the scenes with widespread illustrations that bring the event to life. The watercolors are masterfully done and will help students visualize the setting. This book is especially appropriate for teachers, whose lessons include United States history. An introduction, afterword, and timeline provide helpful information that will enrich the reader's understanding. Students could easily use this book to write a report. Reviewer: Natalie Gurr
School Library Journal
Gr 3–5—Freedman tackles the Boston Tea Party with his characteristic energy and rigor and provides a gripping account of the nation-defining episode. He starts with a lucid, two-page introduction offering historical context-not stopping to get bogged down in the details of the Stamp Tax and its ilk-before he vaults into his story with a promising opening that mixes fact and suspense. From that page forward, he weaves together meticulously sourced quotations and information with engaging personal details to effectively enliven the tense, silent act of rebellion. Along with the usual heroes of the Revolution—Samuel Adams, Paul Revere, etc.—Freedman presents the actions of young men such as a rope-maker's apprentice who snuck out a window to join the mob and the mason-in-training who detoured to the protest on his way to a date. These charming and enlightening particulars, including many direct quotes, lend immediacy and emotional weight to the account, told in an effective but surprisingly casual tone. Freedman's absorbing and informative story is somewhat underserved by Malone's illustrations. A rich, earthy palette and period details, even with an occasional spark of humor, can't quite overcome the static feeling of the pictures, which resemble watercolor renditions of an American history diorama with their stiff-armed figures and blank faces. Fortunately, Freedman's text proves lively enough for both. Back matter includes a note on the importance of tea in colonial American life.—Robbin E. Friedman, Chappaqua Library, NY
Kirkus Reviews
It might be said that the American Revolution began with the Boston Tea Party on December 16, 1773. Crowds of protestors filled Boston's Old South Church. "Boston Harbor a teapot tonight!" someone yelled. And sure enough, that evening, thousands of pounds of tea from three merchant ships were dumped into the harbor. A wide range of Boston society--well-known citizens, carpenters, printers, blacksmiths and shipwrights, young and old--dressed up to resemble Mohawk Indians, their faces smeared with grease and lampblack or soot, turned out to protest the British government's tyranny. As always, Freedman demonstrates his skill at telling the story behind the facts, weaving a lively narrative out of the details and voices that shaped one episode of history. Drawing on primary resources as well as scholarly works, he smoothly melds quotations from eyewitnesses and other sources into a lively and engaging narrative. The volume has been lovingly designed, and Malone's memorable watercolor illustrations are beautifully wrought, adding much to the telling. The Boston Tea Party is often just one of several names and events that students have to memorize in school; here's a chance to read about it as an exciting story. This slim volume brings to you-are-there life a historical episode often relegated to a sidebar. (afterword, bibliographic essay, note on tea, timeline, sources, index) (Nonfiction. 8-12)
The New York Times
The goal here is immediacy, but also historical accuracy, and Freedman…impressively achieves both. He neither sugar coats nor cherry picks in describing the events of Dec. 16, 1773. He delivers the historical past without ideology or histrionics…Peter Malone's classic, detailed watercolors illuminate the episode marvelously, as do Freedman's afterword, bibliography and time line. He includes source notes and an index, unusual in so short a text, but helpful to children learning that real research requires more than a few minutes of Googling. Freedman has clearly and skillfully done his homework and may well inspire young readers to do the same.
—Pamela Paul

Product Details

Holiday House, Inc.
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
8.60(w) x 11.10(h) x 0.30(d)
NC1130L (what's this?)
Age Range:
7 - 10 Years

Meet the Author

Russell Freedman’s awards and honors include a Newbery Medal, three Newbery Honors, a Sibert Honor, and the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award. In 2007, he received the National Humanities Medal. He lives in New York City.

Peter Malone’s fine artist prints are widely collected. His illustrations have appeared in The New Yorker as well as in books for children. He lives in England.

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