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The Whispering Rod: A Tale of Old Massachusetts

The Whispering Rod: A Tale of Old Massachusetts

by Nancy J. Kelley

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
Mary Dyer was a real person whose statue stands in Boston Commons. She was hung for speaking up against the persecution of the innocent. In The Whispering Rod, Hannah Pryor, a fictitious teenager, is struggling between the laws and decrees of the village elders, including her father, and the kind words and convictions of Mary Dyer and her followers. Her mother died giving birth and was a friend of Mary Dyer's. What relationship did they have and why does her father forbid her to say Mary Dyer's name? In the Puritan colonies of 1659 there are strict rules of conduct, punishment in the stocks and death by hanging. One is not to question the decisions of the council. Risking her father's wrath and punishment by the elders, Hannah asks Mary about her mother and learns she was a pious and godly woman. The language in the book is formal and polite, typical of a Puritan colony and the customs are accurately portrayed. Most of our history focuses on our forefathers. It's refreshing to know women also promoted equality and freedom and helped to create an atmosphere of free speech and diverse opinions in the early stages of the United States. 2001, White Mane Kids, $17.95. Ages 11 to 14. Reviewer: Janet L. Rose
Set in Puritan Boston in the spring of 1659, this tale is of fourteen-year-old Hannah Pryor who lives with her father, one of the town's most prominent citizens. Hannah feels increasing discomfort with the colony's anti-Quaker laws, which have resulted in executions for those caught practicing the religion. She is particularly taken with the plight of Mary Dyer, who refuses to repudiate her faith to avoid being banished from the colony. Hannah's father will not discuss the issue, and she senses that this has something to do with her late mother, who died giving birth to Hannah. Hannah's quest for information and understanding lead to conflict with her father and danger for herself and her new friends. Although Hannah is a fictional creation, her story covers real events. The writing is stilted at times, but Hannah's coming-of-age and her beginning to think independently and draw her own conclusions make her an appealing young adult heroine. Her father's last minute change of heart comes a bit abruptly, but the happy ending, with its intimation of future romance, will satisfy readers. Fans of Ann Rinaldi and American historical fiction in general will enjoy this title. Biblio. VOYA CODES: 3Q 3P M J (Readable without serious defects; Will appeal with pushing; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9). 2001, White Mane Publishing, 167p. 17.95. Ages 11 to 15.
— Alice F. Stern
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up-Kelley weaves her plot around the political and religious unrest in Boston in 1659. Hannah Pryor, 14, has been raised by her father since her mother died in childbirth. As she witnesses Quakers being hanged for practicing their faith, she struggles to find out the truth about her mother's involvement with the group and its leader, and confronts her own Puritan upbringing and her father's rigid adherence to those beliefs. The historical events of the story overshadow all other elements, and the writing style and vocabulary are very sophisticated. While this book may have some appeal for readers wanting to learn more about the executions of Quakers during the early part of U.S. history, it will not attract most teen readers.-Carrie Lynn Cooper, Eastern Kentucky University, Richmond Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

Product Details

White Mane Publishing Company, Incorporated
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.70(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range:
9 - 12 Years

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