Form and Content

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

Make Way for Sam Houston is Jean Fritz’s biographical look at the life of Houston, the famous politician and statesman. The book gives a general overview of Houston’s life, from his birth in 1793 to his death seventy years later. A fair amount of detail is devoted to the events that shaped his early life and subsequent events that proved to be turning points; however, the book gives more of an overall look at Houston’s career and character and the effects that he had on history.

Although the biography is divided into chapters, these divisions follow changes in Houston’s political career rather than specific ages of his life. Fritz places major emphasis on the political events of Houston’s life, as they were the result of his overriding drive to change things for the better. The chronicle of Houston’s involvement with Texas takes up the greater half of the book, running from chapter 3 to chapter 7.

Fritz focuses her text on Houston’s single-mindedness on all subjects. When Houston decided that he was going to do something, he gave it his utmost; even if he did not succeed, he was usually able to make a difference in the outcome of an issue. The book also places emphasis on the somewhat unconventional tactics that Houston used to highlight his causes. Each chapter, or period of his life, is characterized by at least one such method.

The book is written in the light, easy-to-read style that characterizes most of Fritz’s books. The personal view and attention to small details of the time period make the biography very authentic, while the odd quirks of the main character give the narrative a rich flavor.

There are seven pencil illustrations placed in Make Way for Sam Houston, one for each chapter, and one map is set at the back of the book. All the illustrations, except for the last, chronicle the bold, unconventional moves that Houston often made to gain attention for himself and his causes. The map is a view of the Texas territory as it was in Houston’s time.