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The Boy Who Saved Cleveland
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The Boy Who Saved Cleveland

4.0 1
by James Cross Giblin, Michael Dooling (Illustrator)

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If not for Seth Doan, the city of Cleveland wouldn't exist today...

In 1798, Cleveland, Ohio, was in danger of being wiped out by a malaria epidemic. Based on fact, this book tells the remarkable story of Seth Doan, a young boy whose heroic efforts kept his family and neighbors alive and ultimately put the city of Cleveland on the map. J

im Giblin's


If not for Seth Doan, the city of Cleveland wouldn't exist today...

In 1798, Cleveland, Ohio, was in danger of being wiped out by a malaria epidemic. Based on fact, this book tells the remarkable story of Seth Doan, a young boy whose heroic efforts kept his family and neighbors alive and ultimately put the city of Cleveland on the map. J

im Giblin's first full-length work of historical fiction, this chapter book is perfect for kids of that in-between age—too old for picture books and too young for full-length novels.

The Boy Who Saved Cleveland is a 2007 Bank Street - Best Children's Book of the Year.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Giblin (The Life and Death of Adolph Hitler) illuminates an inspiring sliver of American history in this novel starring an intrepid, selfless 10-year-old whose efforts save the lives of his family and neighbors. The author credibly recreates the past as he describes the tiny settlement of Cleveland, Ohio, in 1798-then consisting merely of three log cabins set in cleared forestland and bordered by cornfields. Seth Doan, his parents and older sister have recently moved to this remote frontier post from Connecticut. The Doans' three other sons had previously died-twins of lung fever and an infant of colic. Seth misses his grandparents and the friends he left behind, but finds solace in reading the Bible-the only book his family took with them on their trip west. After his sister, father and finally his mother come down with "the shakes and fever" (a form of malaria), Seth must do all the chores and keep his feverish family members fed-which entails daily treks to the mill to grind corn into cornmeal. And when the disease strikes the nearby households, the boy ensures that the neighbors, too, get food. Seth survives his own bout with the dread illness, and the grateful community rewards him with profound thanks-and a novel of his own. Crisply and succinctly told, this engaging tale featuring a real-life peer and a generous number of atmospheric drawings is just right for readers ready for chapter books. Ages 8-12. (Apr.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
In the summer of 1798, Cleveland, Ohio, was just three log cabins near Lake Erie. Seth Doan, a ten-year-old boy who had recently moved to Cleveland with his family, snatches all the spare time he can from his chores to read the Bible—the only book the family owns. When an outbreak of malaria weakens almost everyone in Cleveland, it is up to Seth to haul corn to the mill each day so that they have food to eat. Despite his own weakness and an encounter with a bear, Seth saves the day. His father had previously not approved of the time Seth spent reading, but after he shows what a hard worker he can be his father appreciates what a responsible young man he is. Period details, such as the blackberry juice they drink at a celebration or the straw mattress Seth sleeps on, are worked in unobtrusively. Seth turns to his Bible for encouragement, and there is an odd beginning about Abraham and Isaac, but the book does not feel overly religious. The penciled illustrations help greatly to give the flavor of the time, and an author's note at the end explains the historical background. It is hard to imagine a young reader picking this up of his or her own choice (especially if Laura Ingalls Wilder is given as an option instead), but it ends up being quite interesting. 2006, Henry Holt, Ages 6 to 12.
—Sara Lorimer
School Library Journal
Gr 3-4-Giblin bases this novel on actual historical events. In 1798, Ohio wasn't a state yet and Cleveland was just three cabins in the woods. Seth Doan lives in one of those cabins with his sister and parents. Like any youth of that time and place, the 10-year-old is well aware of how fragile life can be. A cross marks the grave of his baby brother, and he still misses the twins who died back East. When his family falls ill of malaria, the boy must make the four-mile round trip to grind corn, the mainstay of their diet. The other families also fall ill, so the settlement's survival depends on him. Giblin describes well the pioneers' spartan way of life. Seth's family owns just one book, the Bible. He loves its stories, and turns to them to calm his fears. The author's straightforward style underplays the drama that the title reflects. Like boys of his time, Seth simply does what needs to be done. Adults will admire the themes of perseverance, education, and responsibility. Young readers will enjoy the clear writing and plot-driven pace. Dooling's full-page pencil-on-paper illustrations convey the time period as well as the emotional tone. A solid choice for those seeking pioneer fiction and strong characters.-Pat Leach, Lincoln City Libraries, NE Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Famed nonfiction writer Giblin makes a mostly successful foray into historical fiction with this slim novel based on a true story. In the summer of 1798, Cleveland, Ohio is a tiny three-cabin settlement reachable only by flatboat from Lake Erie. Without horses or mules, the settlers walk to a mill two miles away to grind their dried corn into meal-the mainstay of their diet until their first harvest. When malaria strikes, ten-year-old Seth, the last one still healthy, must make the daily trip alone, carrying enough corn to keep everyone fed. Giblin's history is impeccable, but the plain style that serves him so well in nonfiction is a liability here-he doesn't put the reader firmly into Seth's shoes, or make his struggle seem large enough that success is anything but assured. Still, this will interest young readers and could spark interesting classroom discussion. (Historical fiction. 7-12)

Product Details

Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Publication date:
Edition description:
First Edition
Product dimensions:
6.24(w) x 8.32(h) x 0.71(d)
740L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Meet the Author

James Cross Giblin is the author of many prestigious nonfiction books for children, including The Life and Death of Adolf Hitler. He grew up in a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio, and now lives in New York City.

Michael Dooling has illustrated numerous books for children. Among them are George Washington: A Picture Book Biography by James Cross Giblin, O. Henry's The Gift of the Magi and Other Stories, and Lewis and Clark and Me by Laurie Myers. He lives in Audubon, New Jersey, with his wife, Jane, and her daughters, Rachel and Lisa.

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The Boy Who Saved Cleveland 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I would recommend this book mainly because it is based on true facts. It tells a story of how a young boy tries to help his family and neighbors survive through malaria. Young boys would find this book worth reading due to the adventure in it. It will also enlighten children on life in the late 1700's- early 1800's. I thought it was a very good historical fiction tale.