Expected publication: May 23rd 2017 by Nancy Paulsen Books
Format read: Hardcover
ISBN: 0399166742 (ISBN13: 9780399166747)
“You’ll never have history told like this in school. If it were, you might find more kids interested in it.”—State Journal-Register for Bunker Hill
Ben and his friends are in school in Boston on April 19th, 1775, when they hear the news that war has erupted with the British soldiers they’ve been living side by side with for months. They rush out of class and follow the throngs of British reinforcements marching toward Concord. The boys end up trapped in Cambridge when returning troops seal off the city of Boston. Now the boys are suddenly stuck in the middle of a war, with no way to reach their families. But rather than finding this prospect alarming, the young boys are excited to help the Patriots. Ben becomes a clerk to the jovial Israel Putnam, commander of the provincial army.
When the Battle of Bunker Hill erupts, Ben watches the whole thing from Prospect Hill, a vantage point overlooking both the battleground and Boston, and is both awed and dismayed by all he witnesses. For four months during the siege of Boston, Ben serves the Patriots, until the day he is surprisingly reunited with his father. Then he begins an apprenticeship with famous revolutionary newsman Isaiah Thomas, and in March 1776 helps set into type the news of the British leaving Boston, and later reports on the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
It's a beautifully written book by Nathaniel Philbrick, which details the life of Benjamin Russell, a real-life figure of the Revolutionary War era. Philbrick walks us through the phases of young Ben's life, beginning with realization that war has occurred, and inadvertently finding his own place within the conflict. Philbrick follows him throughout several key events of the war - e.g. Bunker Hill - until the signing of the Declaration of Independence, and the birth of a nation.
What's great about Ben's Revolution, is that it's an easily digestible look at a timely and complex piece of American history. By centering the events of the American Revolution around Ben's observation and recognition of them, Philbrick instantly makes the events feel more relatable, particularly for the young reader who may be learning about the Revolutionary War for the first time.
Philbrick is also careful to use short sentences and third person omniscient as a narration style, which allows him to not only include references to Ben's personal life, but to also help provide readers looks into what the British are thinking on the eve of war, as well. Though the interludes are brief, it's a nice reminder that there are multiple sides to historical events, and helps reinforce the mentality and need to study those sides, early.
Though it is no easy task to parse through several years of battles and conflict, Philbrick manages to do so in a way that is cohesive, and helps draw a definitive line from the beginning of the conflict to the end. With beautiful illustrations that bring history vibrantly to life, this is a book that can't be missed.
Highly recommend, and Ben's Revolution will be an asset on bookshelves for any eager young reader.
About the author/illustrator:
ILLUSTRATOR WENDELL MINOR'S numerous picture books include Daylight Starlight Wildlife, My Farm Friends, How Big Could Your Pumpkin Grow?, The Buffalo Are Back(by Jean Craighead George), and Look to the Stars (by Buzz Aldrin). His paintings are in the permanent collections of the Norman Rockwell Museum, the Museum of American Illustration, the US Air Force, the US Coast Guard, and NASA, and he had a major retrospective, Wendell Minor's America, at the Norman Rockwell Museum in 2014.