Esther Forbes Alice M. Jordan - Essay

Alice M. Jordan

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

The publication of Johnny Tremain gives young people an outstanding novel of Revolutionary days in Boston, and may well be counted a red-letter event in children's books. Esther Forbes has now preserved for young people's reading some of the very background of her Paul Revere, with its details of domestic life, its penetrating knowledge of colonial Boston, its perception of character, its artistry…. Johnny's personal story, however, holds absorbed attention throughout the book. Following an accident to his hand, which barred him from his loved trade, he rode for the patriotic newspaper, Observer, and as messenger for the Sons of Liberty. So he came in touch with the Whig leaders, with many of the Tories and the British Army officers. Sam Adams, James Otis, Dr. Warren, General Gage—they are alive and real as they have never been in a children's book. Quick-tongued Johnny is no prodigy, he plays no important rôle in memorable deeds, but he is a true, likable boy, growing up to manhood at sixteen, to understand, as many boys are understanding today, the meaning to all men of the Liberty for which they fight. (p. 413)

Alice M. Jordan, in The Horn Book Magazine (copyrighted, 1943, by The Horn Book, Inc., Boston), November, 1943.