July 17, 2010

Book Log: American Adventures

Just days before the 4th of July, I happened upon these treasures at the library.   I wished we had known of them before hand, we would have started on them sooner. These books are based on actual events of the Revolutionary War. The pages are full of period detail and interesting characters.  It seems there is some sort of excitement on every page, whether it be danger, relief, humor or adventure.  The good-sized font and fast exciting pace make this an ideal book for the reluctant reader.


Thomas (1778)

by Bonnie Pryor

Thomas is a 10-year-old boy who lives with his family in the Pennsylvania frontier.  His father is away at war serving with George Washington’s Army, leaving him - along with his mother, 9-year-old sister Emma, and baby brother Ben managing the home front.

The rumors have proved true, and the Tories, joined with Indians, have attacked leaving them nothing but ashes and their lives.   The family’s only hope is to walk to Fort Forty for safety and aid.

At Fort Forty, they receive shelter and a meager bit of food, but realize the threat is not over.  The fort is crowded and food supplies run dangerously low.  The militia is training and waiting for signs of the Tory aggressors.  Wanting to help, Thomas and his new friend sneak out at night to gather information to help the militia, but get captured instead and learn of the trap the Tories are planning.  Thomas and his friend do escape barely and are desperate to reach the fort to warn the others before they have fall victim to the ambush that awaits them.

Things turn for the worst as they don’t make it in time and many lives are lost.  In hopes of survival some of the women and children strike out on their own to cross the mountains to reach safety in the east.  Thomas’ family is among them.  However, his family has to break from the group and travel alone because others are worried that their baby and dog will make noise and give them away.

Thomas and his family, after fending off a mother bear, are startled by a strange man who appears out of no where.  He offers help and takes them to his home where there is plenty of food, fresh water, and shelter to rest.  Through this hard journey Thomas realizes that freedom is worth it.

Note: In More About Thomas found at the end, there are some interesting facts about the time and interesting explanation of some of the terms of the day – like gollynippers,  and johnnycakes.  The events in this story are based on a true incident – the massacre of colonists in Pennsylvania’s Wyoming Valley.


Thomas in Danger (1779)

by Bonnie Pryor

The Bowden’s story picks up where it left off in the previous book.  The family is traveling to Philadelphia to stay with Mrs. Bowden’s Sister until her husband has returned from the war.

However, when they arrive at her sister’s home, they find new owners living there.  The new owners are kind enough to help them out for just a short time.  However the biggest help of all comes from their overworked house servant.  She tells Mrs. Bowden of an Inn that belonged to her sister’s family and she even knows where the key is.  This is just the news they need.  Immediately, the Bowden’s travel to the Inn and begin cleaning it and preparing for customers.  The house servant joins the Bowdens and is a huge help.

One day, while Thomas was waiting on customers at the Inn, he over hears something suspicious.  He recognizes a man sitting in the corner with others but can’t place him.  When he does finally remember where he saw him before, it is too late.  The man – A Tory – who was involved in the Massacre near his home is up to no good.  Fearing his cover will be blown, he kidnaps Thomas and takes him with him and a group of others on a trip to take supplies and weapons to George Washington and his troops.  Of course the Tory has other plans.  He is stealing the supplies and giving them to the Tories.

Thomas is eventually left with a group of Indians who take him in as their own and teach him to hunt and do many other things.  At first he hates them, but his feelings eventually change and he is able to see the cruelty of war on both sides.

Notes: This was the 2nd volume of what was supposed to be a 4 volume set on Thomas.  I have yet to locate the other two volumes and am not sure they were ever written. 

This book also contains some additional historical information in the back that is very enjoyable in a section titled More about Thomas in Danger.

We really enjoyed these books and my children begged me to read them more.

Here are some other books in the American Adventures series:

  • Luke on the Golden Trail (1849)
  • Luke on the High Seas (1850)
  • Joseph’s Choice (1851)
  • Joseph - A Rumble of War (1861)


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