Set in 1651 Salem, Mass., the first volume of the American Diaries series opens and closes with excerpts from the diary of the eponymous 12-year-old heroine. These entries are dated only two days apart-as jacket copy for the series explains, ""Sometimes one day can change a life forever."" The resulting story, about how Sarah and a friend violate the Sabbath and are harshly punished with stints in the pillory, is slow in plot and a little forced in its characterizations. In place of rapid action, Duey (Mr. Stumpguss Is a Third Grader) fills the narrative with careful details about Puritan customs and ethics, describing everything from the dogs brought to church to warm their owners' feet to the design of the salt barrel in Sarah's root cellar. Impressive though the research may be, it does not offer enough excitement or intrigue to hook the target audience. Ages 8-12. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/01/1996 Release date: 04/01/1996 Genre: Children's
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