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Will's Story: 1771 (Colonial Williamsburg: Young Americans Series)
     

Will's Story: 1771 (Colonial Williamsburg: Young Americans Series)

by Joan Lowery Nixon, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation (Other)
 
In partnership with the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation come authentic novels set in the 18th century about actual people, places, and events in this celebrated Virginia town.

Eleven-year-old Will Pelham's father is the gaoler for the city of Williamsburg. Mr. Pelham took the job only three months ago and Will is still uncomfortable with the prisoners

Overview

In partnership with the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation come authentic novels set in the 18th century about actual people, places, and events in this celebrated Virginia town.

Eleven-year-old Will Pelham's father is the gaoler for the city of Williamsburg. Mr. Pelham took the job only three months ago and Will is still uncomfortable with the prisoners in the cells beneath his family's living quarters. As he does his chores at the gaol, however, he becomes sympathetic to some of the prisoners' situations, particularly that of Emmanuel, a runaway slave. Then Will starts to suspect that Emmanuel is planning to escape. Will knows Emmanuel would be better off as a runaway — the slave is sure to face a harsh punishment, maybe even death, when he's reclaimed by his master. But Will has a responsibility to his father, too. What is he to do?

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
Twelve-year-old William has many things on his mind. It is 1771, and his father is the new gaoler in Williamsburg. His father also plays the organ for the church, and while William enjoys listening to his father play, he has no interest in learning the craft. William is trying to come to terms with the possibility that a family slave might be helping a runaway slave in the gaol escape. Beginning to question his own beliefs about slavery, William is torn. He knows that Emmanuel the runaway will face harsh punishment, possibly death, at the hands of his cruel owner. Yet, William can't help but feel he is betraying his father by not telling him of his suspicions. As a part of the "Young Americans: Colonial Williamsburg," series, Ms. Nixon has created a challenging and engaging story about young William's thoughts and feelings regarding life in Williamsburg. Told in the third person, the author's use of language and detail capture one's attention so well you cannot help but feel you are there. This fictional account will help any student learn about early American history and how our society and its rules have changed. 2001, Delacorte Press, $9.95. Ages 10 to 15. Reviewer: John D. Orsborn
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
Gr 4-6-Will Pelham, a real person in history, lives with his family in housing attached to the public gaol, where his father is the gaoler. The 12-year-old helps out by feeding the prisoners. He finds the family's circumstances unsettling, especially his nightly walk down a dark passageway past the prisoners' cells to his own room. Will's sense of fear is heightened when one prisoner rambles about the ghost of Blackbeard. Later, he becomes suspicious that the family's slave, Toby, may be plotting to help a runaway slave held in the gaol escape to freedom. Will is an especially well-drawn character, with his fears, thoughts, and doubts portrayed convincingly. Nixon also does a nice job of depicting a boy caught in that confusing time of life between wanting to be a grown-up and clinging to comfortable childhood roles. The period details are smoothly intertwined into the plot, with the protagonist even encountering George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. Thirty pages of concluding notes and black-and-white photos include information about Williamsburg then and now and childhood and crime and punishment in 18th-century America. The only flaw may be that the plot is a little too slow in moving toward the action, with most of the prisoners' cases concluding in an epilogue and author's note at the end of the story. However, historical fiction fans will be intrigued by Will's unique experiences.-Kristen Oravec, Cuyahoga County Public Library, Strongsville, OH Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
In Young Americans: Colonial Williamsburg, twelve-year-old Will's father works for the city of Willliamsburg and Will still feels uncomfortable with the prisoners they are housing beneath his family's living quarters. His friendship with a runaway slave leads to a dangerous involvement in this moving story of responsibility in early American life.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780385326827
Publisher:
Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
04/10/2001
Series:
Colonial Williamsburg: Young Americans Series
Pages:
176
Product dimensions:
5.10(w) x 7.18(h) x 0.72(d)
Lexile:
740L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Related Subjects

Meet the Author

Joan Lowery Nixon (1927—2003) was an American journalist and author, specializing in historical fiction and mystery books for children and young adults. Some of her popular books include The Kidnapping of Christina Lattimore, the Orphan Train Adventures series, and The Other Side of Dark, the last of which was adapted into a television movie entitled Awake to Danger (1995). Nixon won four Edgar Allan Poe Awards from the Mystery Writers of America, and had five additional nominations. She died in 2003 of pancreatic cancer.

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