Trouble with Jeremy Chance

Overview

The award-winning author of Parents Wanted returns with a historical adventure -- a story of heroism in unlikely places.

In a small New England town at the close of World War I, Jeremy Chance eagerly awaits the return of his brother, Davey, who has been fighting overseas. He keeps himself busy by exploring the woods near his home and building the courage to leap from his bedroom window into a huge snowdrift below -- a rite of passage for boys his age. But when Jeremy declares ...

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Overview

The award-winning author of Parents Wanted returns with a historical adventure -- a story of heroism in unlikely places.

In a small New England town at the close of World War I, Jeremy Chance eagerly awaits the return of his brother, Davey, who has been fighting overseas. He keeps himself busy by exploring the woods near his home and building the courage to leap from his bedroom window into a huge snowdrift below -- a rite of passage for boys his age. But when Jeremy declares his father wrong in a dispute with their neighbor, the real trouble begins. Jeremy's father is furious, and the rift between them gives Jeremy the excuse he needs to run away.

He hooks up with a "traveling man," who gives him some tips on the hobo lifestyle, and catches a freight train to Boston, where he wants to meet his brother's ship. After arriving, Jeremy is wowed by the crowds, the tall buildings, and the El. But when a big explosion rocks Boston, Jeremy's quick-witted resourcefulness becomes crucial to saving a firefighter's life.

George Harrar's tale of a disagreement that grows into an all-out battle between father and son highlights the courage it takes to question a parent and the strength that is necessary to know when to forgive.

In 1919, following a disagreement with his father and his first whipping by a belt, twelve-year-old Jeremy hops a train to Boston to meet his older brother, a soldier returning from World War I.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In 1919, as the "war to end all wars" draws to a close in Europe, narrator Jeremy Chance, a 12-year-old in New Hampshire, experiences a battle close to home, in the prolonged dispute between his father and their neighbor. Siding with the neighbor earns Jeremy a whipping; hurt and angry, the boy runs away ("Wasn't that one thing we fought the Germans for, to live free?" Jeremy asks himself. "What good was living free if you couldn't say what you thought?"). Jeremy heads to Boston, where his brother, a soldier who has been on the front lines, will be arriving soon from Europe. Delivered in Jeremy's crisp, personable voice, this timeless tale of family conflict and coming of age also conveys the thrills of a country boy's first trip to the city. Harrar (Parents Wanted) expresses Jeremy's awe and curiosity as he sneaks a ride on a freight train, dines in a restaurant and witnesses a freakish disaster (a molasses factory explosion). The boy makes some mistakes (squandering all his money on one meal and stealing rum balls from a vendor) before he hooks up with his brother (and with his repentant father, too). In the end, the protagonist proves himself a hero, saving a man's life and regaining his father's respect. Besides providing fast-paced action and a happy ending, this colorful novel captures the mood of the nation at the start of an exciting new era. Final artwork not seen by PW. Ages 8-13. (Sept.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
When Jeremy does something, he never seems to do it in a half hearted way; whether it is proving his courage or showing that he is well and truly upset with you. It is 1919, and "The War to End all Wars" is, at long last, over. Best of all, Jeremy's older brother Davey is on his way home from the battlefields of France. Jeremy and his father have had a hard war too, for Jeremy's mother was one of the many casualties of the Spanish influenza, having caught the dread disease and dying so suddenly that nothing could be done to save her. Just when things should be looking up, a terrible disagreement develops between Jeremy's father and their next-door neighbor, elderly Mr. Cutter. Because of the argument, Pa builds a "spite fence" and Jeremy finds himself caught in the middle of these two men, both of whom he cares for very much. Then his father goes too far. Pa accuses Jeremy of being disrespectful, whips him, and forbids him to go and visit Mr. Cutter. Jeremy is appalled at this unfair treatment. He knows something about Mr. Cutter and the reason for his side of the argument, yet Pa won't let him speak. What follows is an adventure to beat all adventures, and what is truly wonderful is that the outrageous part of Jeremy's adventure is actually true and the author mentions this fact in the Afterword. We are taken back into a time of great change and able to see the huge disparity between the country life and the city. Though Jeremy undoubtedly has a knack for getting into trouble and for making some dubious decisions, he also has a big heart and great courage. He feels things deeply and is a sensitive boy. The author has created a wonderful character to show us that parents can also makemistakes, that they are not infallible. They can be unfair, but also capable of saying they are sorry. The author has succeeded well in getting inside the head of this bright and likeable boy, whom we can identify with, laugh about, and remember long after we have put the book down. 2003, Milkweed Editions, Ages 12 up.
— Marya Jansen-Gruber
VOYA
It is January 1, 1919, and twelve-year-old Jeremy T. Chance feels both sad because his mother died from influenza and excited because brother Davey is due home from the war. The drama unfolds when his father makes a deal to use an eighty-foot black walnut tree as building material. Although the tree hangs mostly on their land, it is actually rooted on the property of Cutter, their eighty-year-old neighbor, who forbids cutting down the tree because it spreads over his wife's grave. Jeremy's father reacts angrily and builds a spite fence between him and Cutter. A confrontation occurs when Jeremy defies Pa and visits Cutter. For the first time, Pa thrashes Jeremy viciously with a belt. In retaliation, Jeremy runs away to Boston, intent on meeting Davey's ship. He hops a freight train, eats his first meal in a restaurant, is caught in a molasses flood when the old Purity Distilling tanks explode, and becomes a hero for saving a man. Pa and Jeremy resolve their issues and Davey arrives safely. Pa realizes that the boys are more important than the fence and removes it. Colloquial in tone and told in brief episodes, the story moves from family relationships to adventure. Convenient outcomes and inconsistent characterization weaken the believability of the story. The author states that the molasses flood is based on a real event. The book will appeal to readers looking for adventure and a sentimental ending. VOYA Codes: 3Q 3P M (Readable without serious defects; Will appeal with pushing; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8). 2003, Milkweed Editions, 141p., Ages 11 to 14.
—Pat M. Patterson
Children's Literature - Gail C. Krause
Twelve-year-old Jeremy Chance grew to manhood in the winter of the Great Molasses Flood, in Boston, Massachusetts in 1916. Disagreeing with his father's decision to put up a spite fence near his neighbor's walnut tree, because old Cutter refused to let him cut it down to make furniture for a rich woman, Jeremy told his Pa he was wrong. He paid the price for speaking his mind by enduring a whipping with Pa's belt. Missing his Ma, who died the year before of Influenza, and his older brother, Davey, who was away fighting in WWI, he had no one to turn to when he and his Pa disagreed. Cousin Sadie kept house for Jeremy and his Pa, but still he could not confide in her. She was Pa's cousin, and he thought she would side with Pa. The only solution Jeremy came up with was to go to Boston, from Derry, New Hampshire; to meet his brother, scheduled to be returning from the war. He walked, met two hoboes who helped him hop a ride on a freight train, spent his frugally saved money for one meal and was tempted to steal rum balls, when the molasses vats in the rum distillery exploded, covering the North End of Boston with three feet of thick, syrupy molasses. Children died and homes collapsed. Davey's small frame allowed him to assist the fireman by sneaking into an opening of the North End firehouse where he saved the life of Gallagher, a firefighter who had been caught. As the fireman and police cheered Jeremy's heroism, his Pa found him in their midst and assumed Jeremy was in trouble. The police informed Pa that his son, Jeremy, was a hero. Pa developed a newfound respect for his youngest son and they both went to meet Davey at the wharf. They all returned to their humble home and Pa learned torecognize that Jeremy was no longer a boy. Pa, who had believed he was always right, apologized to both Cutter and Jeremy, after he tore down the spite fence. Jeremy realized the world indeed was changing. He was a man.
School Library Journal
Gr 4-8-In the winter of 1919, 12-year-old Jeremy Chance is living with his father and cousin Sadie in rural New Hampshire. Eagerly awaiting the return of his brother Davey, who was fighting in World War I, he passes his time visiting neighbors, especially old Mr. Cutter. When Cutter and his father argue over a walnut tree, the boy is forbidden future visits. When Jeremy disagrees with his father about the dispute he is given his first serious whipping for disrespect. Hurt that his father would punish him for speaking his mind, Jeremy hops a train to Boston hoping to find his brother, whose ship is due at any time. He happens to be in the North End during the Great Molasses Flood at the moment the distillery tanks burst and spill two million gallons of molasses and becomes a hero when he rescues a man trapped beneath a wagon. His father arrives shortly after the incident and is too proud of his heroic son to punish him for running away. The story ends a bit too neatly and predictably as Jeremy and his father happen upon the recently returned Davey in a local tavern. This appealing story about the need to know when to forgive is rich in period detail. An afterword provides historical context and explains which of the events depicted are true. A good coming-of-age story, set in an interesting time and populated with engaging characters.-Edward Sullivan, White Pine School, TN Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781571316691
  • Publisher: Milkweed Editions
  • Publication date: 10/28/2006
  • Series: Historical Fiction for Young Readers
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 168
  • Lexile: 780L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 7.70 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Table of Contents

Calamities 3
Influenza 15
Spite 26
Jump 38
Whipping 52
Wrong 63
Running 71
Boston 86
Explosion 97
Hero 112
Davey! 119
Homecoming 131
Apology 137
Afterword 140
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