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Children's LiteratureIn an easy-to-read format, this book relates how John Mickley and his son Johnny smuggled the Liberty Bell, then called "Old Independence," out of Philadelphia as the British approached in 1777. Drawing well on historical material, the story imagines that young Johnny took over the driving of the hay wagon while his father pretended to sleep to draw the attention of patrolling British soldiers away from the man and to the sleepy farmboy in his farm wagon. The next day when the axle of the wagon broke, the bell had to be quickly transferred to Frederick Leaser's wagon to get to Northampton Town (now Allentown) and the boy must have suffered deep disappointment in not being able to complete the journey. But the author has Johnny visiting the church to view the bell hidden under the floorboards and safe from the British. This is a fitting ending because, as the text states, one person couldn't do what everyone working together could do—save the bell, and by inference, free the country. It's a stirring story aptly illustrated in paintings that show the solid farm boy persevering through the night and standing proudly with his father's arm around him at the end. An afterword explains how the author used facts to bolster this part of the American Revolutionary saga. 2004, Carolrhoda Books, Ages 7 to 11.
—Susan Hepler, Ph.D.