US – 1700s

James Lincoln Collier and Christopher CollierMy Brother Sam is Dead  1775

Not everyone within a family always shares the same political views.  Within the same family, some might be Loyalists and some rebels.  Tim tells the story of his older brother, Sam, who defies his Loyalist father and joins the rebels.   The title gives away what happened to Sam.  That’s okay – it is the journey.  This book has been dissected to death – a plethora of teacher’s guides abound.  This story is educational for many reasons, but most importantly, it is an extremely good read.

Laurie Halse Anderson   Chains   1776

I think many students have the misconception that all colonists supported the rebellion against King George.  This book gives readers an insight into daily life in the colonies, the views of the loyal colonists and the views of the rebels.  Isabel and her little sister were legally freed upon the death of their owner.  However the horrid nephew doesn’t care about legalities and he promptly sells them to a cruel couple in New York City, in the home of Loyalists.  Curzon, a young servant boy with the rebel cause encourages her to spy for the rebels.  Chains was on our reading list a few years ago.  It was very popular, coming in second of the favorite books that year.

Gary BlackwoodThe Year of the Hangman  ALTERNATE HISTORY 1777

ALERT: Alternate History – What if?  Not based on historical facts, but includes people from history.  Hey, talk about higher level thinking . . .

There is lots of alternate history writing for adults, this is one of the few for the YA audience.  What if the revolutionary war had not be successful?  What if the Declaration of Independence signers were round up and hanged or had to flee?  In this version of history, Benjamin Franklin escaped to Spain’s territory of New Orleans and is publishing papers on revolution.  I like this book and this concept.  It makes you think how if one battle had gone differently, perhaps there would have been a huge change in the course of history.

Laurie Halse Anderson  Forge   1777-1778

Forge picks up where Chains ends, but the two do not have to be read in order.  Forge follows the path of Curzon.  He enlists to join the rebel cause and fights during the long cruel winter at Valley Forge.  The squalid conditions the troops had to deal are detailed.  Both Chains and Forge are extremely well written.


Laurie Halse Anderson   Fever, 1793   1793

A yellow fever epidemic killed 10% of the Philadelphia population, around 5,000 people.  We witness the epidemic from the eyes of teen Mattie.  Her widowed mother sends Mattie and her grandfather to the country to escape the illness.  Turned away, they return to Philadelphia where they witness looting and chaos from the frightened remaining citizens.  Mattie is a realistic character and grows from a spoiled girl to a strong and determined individual.