cover image The Boy Who Saved Cleveland: Based on a True Story

The Boy Who Saved Cleveland: Based on a True Story

James Cross Giblin, , illus. by Michael Dooling. . Holt, $15.95 (64pp) ISBN 978-0-8050-7355-3

Giblin (The Life and Death of Adolph Hitler ) illuminates an inspiring sliver of American history in this novel starring an intrepid, selfless 10-year-old whose efforts save the lives of his family and neighbors. The author credibly recreates the past as he describes the tiny settlement of Cleveland, Ohio, in 1798—then consisting merely of three log cabins set in cleared forestland and bordered by cornfields. Seth Doan, his parents and older sister have recently moved to this remote frontier post from Connecticut. The Doans' three other sons had previously died—twins of lung fever and an infant of colic. Seth misses his grandparents and the friends he left behind, but finds solace in reading the Bible—the only book his family took with them on their trip west. After his sister, father and finally his mother come down with "the shakes and fever" (a form of malaria), Seth must do all the chores and keep his feverish family members fed—which entails daily treks to the mill to grind corn into cornmeal. And when the disease strikes the nearby households, the boy ensures that the neighbors, too, get food. Seth survives his own bout with the dread illness, and the grateful community rewards him with profound thanks—and a novel of his own. Crisply and succinctly told, this engaging tale featuring a real-life peer and a generous number of atmospheric drawings is just right for readers ready for chapter books. Ages 8-12. (Apr.)