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June 2, 2008

Sarah Bishop

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Sarah Bishop

Author: Scott O’Dell

Page Length: 230

Reading Level: 5

Genre: Historical Fiction

PLOT SUMMARY: Sarah is a 15 year old young woman growing up during the Revolutionary War. She has only her brother and father for company. Her father, a Tory, is quite outspoken in a divided town – Tory supporters and Rebels. Word has gotten out the Sarah’s father still displays the flag of King George and trouble is brewing. Chad, her brother, leaves to go and fight in the war. Late one night, Sarah and her father suffer an attack. Their lives are forever altered. Sarah leaves her home and must make a new life for herself on the frontier. With little money and no relatives, Sarah will have to rely on her instincts for survival. Can she make it on her own or will the dreadful war take everything that she holds dear?

REVIEW: This is a typical O’Dell survival novel where the character must endure seemingly endless hardships. Yet, Sarah only grows stronger. Her will to survive despite bitter circumstances and personal loss is admirable. She is a character from which we can all learn.

The story is nicely written and portrays well what it might have felt like to be trapped between those who honored King George and those who were adamant about securing immediate freedom. The hardship and cruelty of war and the savagery of the human heart is portrayed well in this novel. Yet, O’Dell also brings to light hope and compassion. This book is an excellent tool for helping students to visualize and identify with historic events. In addition, empathizing with Sarah’s pain and learning that we all have our hardships to overcome is a valuable life lesson.

AREAS FOR TEACHING: theme, setting, cause and effect, irony, resolution, conflict, character traits

TOUCHY AREAS-PAGES: very mildly presented attempt at rape, witch-craft

RELATED BOOKS: Island of the Blue Dolphins, “The Crucible”

RELATED MOVIES:  The Crossing, The Patriot, The Crucible


REVIEWED BY: Dayna Taylor

January 21, 2008

My Brother Sam is Dead

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My Brother Sam is Dead

Authors: James Lincoln Collier & Christopher Collier

Page Length: 211

Reading Level:  6

Genre: Historical Fiction


REVIEW: I found this book to be an interesting look at what Revolutionary War in America and in Connecticut in particular might have been like. It was interesting to read about everyday life under such circumstances. The title leads the reader to keep turning the pages to discover whether or not Tim’s brother, Sam, will die and how. This was an intriguing look at innocence, coming of age, the harsh realities of war, and understanding that indeed there are two sides to every story. I would recommend this novel to a student particularly interested in historical events. The book’s main characters are young men; although, minor female roles are interlaced throughout the book. Hence, the book would likely appeal more to male students. The novel is sufficiently laced with suspense, intrigue, hints of espionage, and may even evoke outrage and disgust in the reader. This Newberry Honor book would serve as an excellent starting point for further research, discussions, and debates.




REVIEWED BY: Dayna Taylor

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