Johnny Tremain

Johnny Tremain

3.7 266
by Esther Forbes

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Johnny Tremain, winner of the 1943 Newbery Medal, is one of the finest historical novels ever written for children. As compelling today as it was fifty years ago, to read this riveting novel is to live through the defining events leading up to the American Revolutionary War seen through the eyes of a boy who turns in his smithing tools to take up a rifle and fight for…  See more details below


Johnny Tremain, winner of the 1943 Newbery Medal, is one of the finest historical novels ever written for children. As compelling today as it was fifty years ago, to read this riveting novel is to live through the defining events leading up to the American Revolutionary War seen through the eyes of a boy who turns in his smithing tools to take up a rifle and fight for the liberty of America.

Fourteen-year old Johnny Tremain, an apprentice silversmith with a bright future ahead of him, injures his hand in a tragic accident, forcing him to look for other work. In his new job as a horse-boy, riding for the patriotic newspaper, the Boston Observer, and as a messenger for the Sons of Liberty, he encounters John Hancock, Samuel Adams, and Dr. Joseph Warren. Soon Johnny is involved in the pivotal events shaping the American Revolution from the Boston Tea Party to the first shots fired at Lexington.

Powerful illustrations by American artist Michael McCurdy, bring new life to Ether Forbes' quintessential novel of the American Revolution.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Marilyn Courtot
To read Johnny Tremain is to live through two dramatic years of our country's history, and to see these great events through the shrewd eyes of an observant boy. After injuring his hand, this silversmith's apprentice in Boston becomes a messenger for the Sons of Liberty in the days before the American Revolution. His new role brings Johnny Tremain in contact with the great men of history: John Hancock, John and Samuel Adams, and other Boston patriots. The story leads up to the Tea Party and Battle of Lexington. Ward has sharpened the drama of the story by adding full-page illustrations. 1944 Newbery Award.
From the Publisher
"This is Esther Forbes at her brilliant best. She has drawn the character of Johnny with such sympathy and insight that he may take his place with Jim Hawkins, Huck Finn and other young immortals."  —BookWeek

Product Details

EMC/Paradigm Publishing
Publication date:
The EMC Masterpiece Series Access Editions
Age Range:
9 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt

On rocky islands gulls woke. Time to be about their business. Silently they Rooted in on the town, but when their icy eyes sighted die first dead fish, Am bits of garbage about the ships and wharves they began to scream and quarrel.

The cocks in Boston back yards bad long before cried the coming of day. Now the hens were also awake, scratching, clucking, laying eggs.

Cats in malt houses, granaries, ship holds, mansions and hovels caught a last mouse, settled down to wash their for and deep. Cats did not work by day.
In stables, horses shook their halters and whinnied.

In barns, cows lowed to be milked.

Boston, slowly opened its eyes, stretched, and woke. The sun struck in horizontally from the cad, flashing upon weathervanes -- brass cocks and arrows, here a glass-eyed Indian, there, a copper grasshopper - and the bells in the steeples cling-clanged, telling the people, it was time to be up and about.

In hundreds of houses sleepy women woke sleepier children Get up and to work. Ephraim, get to the pump, fetch Mother water Ann, got to the barn, milk the cow and drive her to the Common. Start the fire Silas. Put on a dean shirt, James. Dolly, it you aren't up before I count ten...

And so, in a crooked little house at the head of Hancock' on crowded Fish Street, Mrs. Lapham stood at the foot of a ladder leading to the attic where her fathe-in-law's apprentices slept. These boys were luckier than most apprentices. Their master was too feeble to climb 1adders; the middle-aged mistress too stout. It was only her bellows that could penetrate to their quarters -- not her heavy hands.




"Coming, ma'am! Dove turned over for one more snooze.

Frustrated, she shook the ladder she was too heavy to climb. She wished she could shake "them limbs of Satan."

Copyright 1987 by Esther Forbes

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From the Publisher
"This is Esther Forbes at her brilliant best. She has drawn the character of Johnny with such sympathy and insight that he may take his place with Jim Hawkins, Huck Finn and other young immortals."  —BookWeek

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Johnny Tremain 3.7 out of 5 based on 1 ratings. 266 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This has been the best book that i have ever read. I am a fifth grader reading this book at the current time. We are on the chapter, the boston observer, and it is very good so far. I would reccomend this book for advanced fourth and up graders. It is a joy to read so if you are bored, do not know what to do, then you can just pick this book up and read it.
Liz4 More than 1 year ago
I write this review as a retired teacher. This book, historical fiction, is a Newbery Medal Winner, and is typically found on the reading list for grades 6 though 8. Esther Forbes does an excellent job of blending her fictional characters with the famous figures we have come to know from history in Boston during the period leading up to the Revolution. It is a coming-of-age story on two levels: Fictionally, it deals with an insecure and immature fourteen-year-old seeking to find his roots and his way in life. We believe that Johnny makes an interesting character for kids from eleven through fourteen to relate to, because his negative attitude in the beginning makes him somewhat unattractive. Consequently, he gets very little sympathy when he needs it the most. Fortunately for Johnny, he latches onto a genuine human being named Rab, who becomes his mentor and role model. It is really heartwarming to see how Rab's kindness works as counseling that rearranges Johnny's thinking, which in turn, causes Johnny to work to correct his own behavior. You can't help but love Rab! By the end of the book, sixteen-year-old Johnny has emerged as a responsible, caring, self-respecting young man who has also acquired respect for others. And like Rab, he too, has become lovable. On a historical level, this story deals with America's coming of age. The colonies are outgrowing the Mother Country. In Boston, Sam Adams and his Committee of Correspondence members are paving the way for independence. The Sons of Liberty are rebelling against King George III, in a manner not unlike that of a two-year-old rebelling against parents. "If I don't get my way, I'm going to make you pay. I'll dump your tea into the sea." Had King George III been less of a tyrant, and Sam Adams less of a rebel, would we be the United States today? (Interestingly, underneath King George III's portrait hanging in the British Museum is a line labeling him as the ruler who cost England her American colonies.) I see reading this book as an opportunity for students to increase their word power. Underlining unknown words and making a list of them to look up in the dictionary is the way to learn new words. Words like Whigs, Tories, and apprentice will be easily learned from usage. Also, if this book is required reading for a reluctant reader, I strongly recommend buying the audio version to use in conjunction with the reading. The audio comes unabridged on CDs and makes an excellent supplement for reading improvement, because reading and listening at the same time is twofold learning. This book has too much to offer in both history and fictional character development to not support it completely. It deserves the Newbery medal it received.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you don't know the vocab in this book, tap and hold. It will give you options at the bottom, and click on "look up".
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Introduction Johnny is a young man whom seeks out to be a skilled silversmith. He becomes Mr. Lapham's apprentice, who has two other youth apprentices who tend to get in Johnny's way with their pranks, laziness and insults. Description and summary of main points Sometime after Johnny has his accident, he goes off to look for a different trade. Soon he finds a job that could fit him, and a friend too. Eventually, he takes the job and joins him in the secret union which that friend is in. Evaluation Johnny Tremain was quite an interesting book. It showed me how life was like back in those days for a young apprentice when bad luck runs a muck. I wasn't pleased reading it the whole way through, but it had it's moments where it was pleasing. There were moments where I wanted to keep reading the book. Final review Johnny Tremain is a book I would recommend. It was a above average book, but not perfect. It had some of its flaws, but all in all, It was something that is worth your time. I give it a 4 out of 5.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read the book and saw the movie and the book was so much better than the movie! Now I understand why my teachers always made us read the book before we watched the movie! LOVED IT!!!!!!!:D
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is amazing so far. Of course I'm only a little more than half way but it is emosewa. (Awesome spelled backwards meaning double awesome.) I give it 5 stars because it is well written, has a good story, and is historical and thats just the tip of the iceberg. I would very much recomend it :) By: The Awesome Reviws
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was very fun and I enjoyed reading every page. This book tells abou tthe American Revolution in a cool way! Read this book!
Guest More than 1 year ago
the first time i read this book i was in fifth grade, and i didn't understand a thing! (i was forced to read it that time) but then i began to love history alot more, especially the american revolution. i went back in eighth grade to read it over the summer and i loved it!! it makes a huge difference if you can understand the vocabulary and if you are a history buff, like me!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Johnny Tremain has no family or no relatives. Johnny lives with the Laphems on a farm. He is a silversmith apprentice. Until he burns his hand in hot silver. He leaves the Laphems looking for work. Then he finds Rab. Rab is a printers boy who prints newspapers. Since Johnny is looking for work Rab gives him a job to deliver papers. Rab works with the sons of liberty and Johnny gets involved very quickly. He eventually volunteers to help with the boston tea party. I think this book was good. The author really gives you an idea of the setting. For example the wharf bustling with lots of people, vender, and slaves. Plus you really get an idea of what the characters look like and how they act. For example Johnny, he is cocky and brags about himself until he burns his hand. I think this book it is full good characters and good characters and good places.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Johnny Tremain is a wonderful book for a 10 or 11 year old who is studying the Revolutionary War in school.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a WAAAAAAY awesome book, amd i am a 7th grader.
Cougar_H More than 1 year ago
I truly enjoyed this book with its historic time frame and the lessons on being arrogant and then learning to be humble. It tells a great story about a funny kid who reminds me of an old friend who now lives in Oregon. Being set in the Revalutionar war drew my interest to this book. I love to read and watch tv shows about history and things that happened during the various time frames. Even though I don't like reading, I enjoyed this book and would read it again. The story is about a 14 year old moves in with a family, the Lapham's to be an apprentice to a silversmith. The mom is determined he will also marry her daughter. Becoming so skilled, he became arrogant and bullies the other kids in the house. Johnny's fame as a silversmith takes a turn for the better and is asked to do an elaborate silver basin for a wealthy merchant. He also tells the daughter, Cilla that he is related to a wealthy Boston merchant. Not happy with the results of silver basin's handles. He created a mold for a perfect set of handles. One of the sons decided to play a practical joke that would forever change Johnny's life. His hands were burned and disfigured. Mrs. Lapham complains about feeding him, and that she no longer would allow him to marry her daughter. Johnny searches for work at a Boston Newspaper telling how his hands became damaged and was promised a job delivering papers if he could find no other work. Depressed he decides to contact his wealthy relative. He produced a silver cup given to him by his mom and was told he stole it and was arrested. After going to trial, he was cleared of the charge. Down on his luck, he went back to the newspaper to ask for the delivery job. He becomes friendly with the key members in politics and is transformed from a political bystander into an ardent Whig. He participates in the Boston Tea Party. He slowly changes from a selfish arrogant child into a selfless idealistic man. The book teaches you about history during that time period and life challenges. That your life can change in a heartbeat.
ColleenaLenna More than 1 year ago
Introduction Everybody loved Johnny Tremain except Dove. He had the hands of an artist and a mind of an adult. As young as he is he keeps all of his housemates in order and they abide by him with some rude comments. Mr.Lapham has taught him many things to being a silversmith. Description and summary of main points Then a tragity happened to young Johnny. Rushing to make Hancock's a sugar Basin, his hand got severely burned for the fault to blame is Dove. His hand is useless and now he has to struggle with out a useful hand for the rest of his life. Nobody will hire him and Mrs.Lapham doesn't favor him. Life is going no where Evaluation I believe that Johnny's life came tumbling down and that i look up to him for the dedication he has for what he believes in. My final review This book is absolutely described as a fun educational reading. Definitely, I am recommending this to others. Especially other teachers because I am a student and is thrilled that i got assigned this book because This is way better than a history book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Johnny Tremain is about a boy named, you guessed it, a 14 year-old boy named Johnny Tremain, Johnny is a boy who goes through a series of unfortunate events (Sometimes fortunate) like crippling his hand. O.K. to the story, Johnny is first waken up in the attic of his “master’s” (Mr. Lapham) house, there he goes to work as a silversmith with two other apprentices named Dusty and Dove. A man went in to the silversmiths and asked if Johnny and Mr. Lapham could make a new sugar basin, he accepts and they get right to work, Johnny has to work on the handles and he cannot seem to get the handles to be the way he wants it to be. Seems like a normal situation, right? When he asks for help by a different silversmith and finally gets the planning right, but, as he tries to melt the metal to make the handles, one of the apprentices gives him a broken tool on purpose and hot metal pours onto Johnny’s right hand. To make matters worse he has to quit his job as a silversmith, as he is job hunting the Lapham family starts to dislike him, and he can’t get a job because of his attitude and his hand. He gets a job as an employee at The Boston Observer and gets a good friend who is 16, named Rab Silsbee. Johnny Tremain works there for a long time and finds out it is a secret rebel message site thing. And as things get bad with the British later, Johnny tells you to read the book to know more.  And for my book review, I thought this book was O.K. But it did have a good plot so it did keep you interested, but some parts are boring. Also, you have to keep track of some people or you have to reread, also, it had a moderate amount of places to remember. I think it is good for people who are 11-14 because the main characters are teens,  teens read about teens. So, like I said, it was Okay/Goodish.
Guest More than 1 year ago
We read this book as a family. We have a 6 year old and 9 year old. The book was interesting and we almost couldn't put it down. It made history come alive for all of us!
Guest More than 1 year ago
It is a good book but it dosent include enough about the apprentice system.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read a lot of books but this is the best book I have ever read. I first had to read it in fifth grade but I didn't want to because it was long. But I loved it after I read it. Then in eight grade I had to read it again. Actually I could have read something else but I read this again for my project. The first time I had not understood it very well but the second time you read it it makes way more sence. I thank my Fifth grade teacher for making me read it and I'll never forget it, Thank you Mrs. Lenaghan. (hope I spelled it right)
Guest More than 1 year ago
Johnny Tremain was a young man. He had a very hard time with the family he stays with after his mother's death. His mother had sent him to the Lapham's before she had died. Dove, Mrs.Lapham's annoying and loud son, wants to kill Johnny because he hates Johnny and he thinks Johnny is a big show of. On the other hand Johnny is very calm and likes to keep things inside he head. In the middle of the book Johnny was asked to go to court, because Mrs.Lapham thought he had stole an expensive cup. Mrs.Lapham had kicked Johnny out of the house during the court problem. Later Johnny meets a friend and together they join the Boston Revolution. During the war he starts a new life on his own. This book would make you want to read it over and over again. I would give you this hint if you like action or war books I suggest you to read Johnny Tremain.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was never really that interested in History. I decided to choose Jonny Tremain for my Book Report. After reading it, I was into the subject! I highly recomend it to anyone learning about the revolution. This is where the fun begins!
Guest More than 1 year ago
A very well written. This book has sparked my intrest in the American Revolution. After reading the book, I got on the internet and found information about Paul Revere, Sam Adams, Joseph Warren, and others. I highly recommend this book to EVERYONE.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read this book and and am still reading the book. It is about a boy who burns his hand and can not work for his master Mr. Lapham.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought that this book was a great portrayal of what the patriots were really fighting for. It also did a good job of connecting fictional characters with non-fictional events.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I can not think of anything more memorable than reading this story in my 5th grade English class in 1983. I am surprised to see that it is now not normally taught until 8th grade. I remember highlighting various parts of the book, reading and re-reading. Sixteen years later I still have that book on my shelf and read it maybe once per year, smiling at all the notes I made in the margains. It is my hope that when my children are old enough they will love the story as much as I did. I never would have given it a chance if not made to by my teacher, so to her, I say thank you!
Anonymous 5 months ago
Im in 8th garde and i chose to read this book for my literature class from most of the reviews it sounds like an amazing book i cant wait to read it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago