Form and Content

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

Stewart Holbrook begins his chronology on a stormy night in January, 1737, when Ethan Allen was born and ends on another stormy night in February, 1789, when Allen died—appropriate settings for this man of action. The narrative of America’s Ethan Allen moves smoothly from incident to incident and is interspersed with facts about what was happening in America, and Holbrook’s renderings of dialogue give the story a sense of immediacy. With no divisions other than the occasional blank line, the story flows freely and swiftly with the help of Lynd Ward’s realistic, dramatic illustrations, which frame the text. Black-and-white drawings appear on every worded page, and many of the colored illustrations cover one or two full pages and complement or foreshadow the text. For example, Ward draws a howling wolf on the first page of text, and Holbrook later describes Allen urging his friends to join him on a big wolf hunt in which they will pursue New Yorkers and British troops. America’s Ethan Allen was named a Caldecott Honor Book in 1950.

Allen, the leader of the Green Mountain Boys and the hero of the battle for Fort Ticonderoga, was an excellent woodsman and scholar while still a youth. When his father died, he, as the oldest child, assumed the responsibility for his mother and seven siblings. Consequently, Allen had to forgo his formal schooling, but he continued to read, discuss, and learn. (In his old age, he even wrote a book on...

(The entire section is 501 words.)