cover image Sleds on Boston Common: A Story from the American Revolution

Sleds on Boston Common: A Story from the American Revolution

Louise Borden. Margaret K. McElderry Books, $17.99 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-689-82812-6

Borden (Good-bye, Charles Lindbergh) bases her thought-provoking story on Boston folklore. Written in free verse, her lyrical reworking of an alleged incident is set in December 1774, six months after King George III had closed the Boston harbor. Accompanied by his three siblings, narrator Henry Price makes his way to Boston Common on his ninth birthday. Eager to try out his brand-new sled on the steep hill, he finds that soldiers have pitched tents right in the middle of the sled runs. Henry sees General Thomas Gage and concludes that he looks ""like a man who would listen,/ a good man,/ a man like my father."" When Henry complains to him, the officer praises the child for having ""the courage of a good soldier/ as well as the spunk of your local rebels"" and instructs his men to allow the children to sled wherever they wish. Though crisply depicting the British soldiers' bright red uniforms, Parker's (The Hatmaker's Sign) characteristically sketchy watercolor art is otherwise too vague to give youngsters a sure sense of the story's era or setting. Fortunately, Borden's own eye for detail compensates--for example, readers learn that the runners of the sled are ""slick beef bones""; Henry and his siblings surreptitiously count the kegs of powder and the new sheds on the Common, to pass the information back to their father. A lively historical snippet. Ages 9-12. (Sept.)