Joan Lowery Nixon’s latest foray into the past for children is a charming story. The hero, young John Nicholas, is caught up in the events of the pre-Revolutionary period in 1775 Virginia. His father is a leading figure in the colony of Williamsburg, determined to find a peaceful solution to the colonists’ grievances. But John’s older brother, George, is more radical and leads the Williamsburg militia into action, much to the distress of their father.
Based on the lives of a real colonial family, this novel is well written, fast-paced and educational. Told from John’s point of view, it reveals the life of young boy in exciting times, one who is both scared and determined to participate. The author, who knows how to integrate her research into the narrative, evenly mixes history and action. The characters are distinctive and appealing, though at times the dialogue seems slightly stilted. John also seems a little too mature for his age, even for a time when children grew up more quickly.
Overall, though, highly recommended for children who love history, and more especially for those who don’t, as its compelling story may spark their interest.