Lew Wallace: Boy Writer

Lew Wallace: Boy Writer

by Martha E. Schaaf, Cathy Morrison

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The world-famous novel of ancient times, Ben Hur: A Tale of the Christ, was written by Lew Wallace, who grew up in the early 1800s roaming the fields and streams of Indiana. Young readers will meet the renowned author as a child whose daring exploits, coupled with a deep religious faith, foreshadowed the Civil War general, governor of the New Mexico Territory,


The world-famous novel of ancient times, Ben Hur: A Tale of the Christ, was written by Lew Wallace, who grew up in the early 1800s roaming the fields and streams of Indiana. Young readers will meet the renowned author as a child whose daring exploits, coupled with a deep religious faith, foreshadowed the Civil War general, governor of the New Mexico Territory, United States ambassador, and author he would become. Children will delight in young Lew's rescue of his brother from a runaway carriage, feel a kinship with the boy and his passion for art as he draws portraits of his schoolmates with his "magic pencil," and share his fascination for the exotic places he reads about in the books he loves. Action-packed illustrations enhance a fascinating story that will draw kids into the life of the young country boy who grew up to write one of the best-loved Christian novels ever penned.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
Lewis Wallace was born in 1827 in the heartland of America. Although he desperately wanted to be a painter, he was discouraged by his father, a lawyer and politician who wanted his son to earn a solid living, and his teachers, who found his clever caricatures vexing. His hankerings led him to spend time alone, hunting and roaming the prairies and woodlands of the wild undeveloped country, where he sought solace. Finally he discovered the world of books and became an avid scholar. Eventually, this creative, intelligent boy became a writer, giving the world the timeless classic, Ben Hur, and other books as well. His struggles to find himself, from early childhood to the age of nineteen, are set securely against the background of early American history. Life at that time is vividly depicted with charm and imagination, drawing the reader in completely. Both the political issues of the times and the commonplace events are conveyed with graceful literary style, yet the language is light and easy to absorb. Originally published in 1961, this current edition contains some editorial changes as well as new illustrations. The publishers wisely chose to use a larger typeface than is normally used for fiction, giving it the look of a chapter book. This makes the length and complexity of the story more accessible and less daunting for younger readers who are ready for a sophisticated plot. This book is Volume 3 of the "Young Patriots" series. 2001 (orig. 1961), Patria Press, $14.95 and $9.95. Ages 7 to 11. Reviewer: Nancy Partridge
Lew Wallace grew up to be a governor, foreign minister, Civil War general, inventor, and artist. But he is best known today as the author of the novel Ben-Hur. Lew Wallace: Boy Writer is the latest entry in the Patria Press "Young Patriots" series and the fascinating story of Wallace as a Midwest American youth who grew up like other boys of his era — including the occasional playing of hooky from school! Martha Schaaf has definitively researched and superbly presented the life of Wallace from the age of 5 through 19. Also very highly recommended in this outstanding series are: Amelia Earhart: Young Air Pioneer (1882859022, $14.95) and William Henry Harrison: Young Tippecanoe (1882859030, $14.95). All three titles would make a popular and much appreciated addition to any personal, school or community library biography collection for young readers.

Product Details

Patria Press, Inc
Publication date:
Young Patriots Series
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter Excerpt:


Little Hero

     “Wake up, my little dreamer!”  A tall woman knelt beside her young son, asleep in a trundle bed.  
    “Wake up,” she whispered again.  It was early, earlier than her son usually woke up. The boy stirred slightly.  He felt her hand gently brushing back his hair. “Come, Lewis, get up!  We are moving today!”
His dark eyes opened wide, and he sat up suddenly.  Now he remembered his father had said they would be going with the big, white-topped wagons this trip!   
Lewis Wallace liked to watch the wagon trains as they came rumbling through their town, Brookville, Indiana, on the road leading west.  Sometimes they stopped at his grandfather’s inn
“Are we going in a wagon?” Lewis asked.
“No, we will go in the carriage, Lewis,” Mrs. Wallace replied.  “It is already harnessed and packed.  Get into your clothes.”
    Lewis heard his younger brothers, three-year-old John and Baby Edwin, in the next room.
“William is already up,” his mother called, as she hurried to the younger children.
“Of course he is,” Lewis thought.  Older brother William always did everything right.  Lewis loved his brother Bill and tried to be like him, but Lewis was different.
Now he was thinking of the wagons.  He listened for their sound—bells on the harness tinkling in rhythm with the clomp, clomp of the hoof beats.  He could hear them coming.
“Ready, Lewis?” his mother called.
“Almost,” he answered, quickly pulling on the homespun trousers. They felt scratchy but he was pleased he no longer had to wear a dress. Lewis had grown into trousers on his fifth birthday, a few weeks past.  When asked his age, he would proudly reply, “I am five.  I was born on April 10, 1827, and I am grown-up!  See my trousers?”
Now dressed, Lewis went over to the open window to look for the wagons.  Upstairs here, in their tall brick house, he was a giant looking over the world below him.
The sun was coming up over the hills to the southeast, touching everything with gold.  The river was splashing over the wheel of one of the mills.  The gold eagle on top of the Court House steeple caught his eye.  The Court House bell reflected the golden rays.
His father spent much of his time there.  Mr. Wallace helped people who needed a lawyer.
Lewis wondered if there would be a courthouse where they were moving.  He looked at the hills to the west.  They looked golden, too.  Then he glanced down.
Yes, the carriage was waiting below, with trunks and bundles piled on top.  The horses were tied to the hitching post.  They pulled and strained at it, impatient to be off.
He looked at the heavy rear wheels of the carriage.  A stone was propped under one of them as an extra brake.  Slowly the stone began to move, tugged by a small hand.
Lewis’ heart stood still.
“John must be under the carriage,” he thought, “playing by the big wheel!”
“John, John,” Lewis screamed, as he saw his little brother so close to danger.  Dashing out of the room, Lewis slid down the banister, ran out the door, and stooped under the back of the carriage.
With all his strength, Lewis pulled John away, just as the stone loosened.  The carriage jolted forward.  John yelled.  The horses reared and jerked free of the post.  The horses were running away with the loaded carriage!  Lewis ran after the carriage.
“Stop the horses!  Stop the horses!” he yelled.
Heads popped out of the stately houses along the street.  Almost breathless, Lewis kept running and shouting.  The horses were at the corner of the Town Square now.  With two roads to choose from, the horses slowed.
In the second that they seemed to pause, a tall man leaped in front of them.  He tugged at the reins to stop them.
“Whoa, Ball, whoa.  Easy now,” he commanded firmly.
The horses reared.  The carriage reeled, shook, and came to a sudden stop.
Lewis ran to catch up with them.  The horses were in front of Grandfather Wallace’s inn, at the southeast corner of the Square.  The man who had stopped the runaways was his grandfather!
“Grandfather!” Lewis shouted, “You stopped the horses!”
“I heard you from the doorway.  When I came out I saw you pull John from under the carriage,” Grandfather Wallace explained.
Grandmother Wallace appeared at the door.  “What is all the commotion, Andrew?”
“I heard Lewis shouting to his brother.  The next thing I knew, the carriage was racing down the street headed this way.  I just ran out and stopped it."
“Wasn’t Grandfather brave?” exclaimed Lewis.
“Lewis, you were the brave one,” Grandfather Wallace replied.  “I saw you rescue John.”
“Well, bravery just runs in the family!” Grandmother Wallace exclaimed.  “Our Lewis might be as famous as brave Uncle John, someday,” she said, smiling down at her grandson.
Hearing those words, Lewis found his breath, and his chest swelled with pride. He dreamed of being a hero like his great-great-uncle John Paul Jones—a real hero!

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