Books by Greg Harlin

Released: Sept. 1, 2006

Taking a small segment of American Revolutionary history noted in Jacob Rader Marcus's United States Jewry 1776-1985, Krensky constructs a story around an American soldier's Hanukkah observance one cold December night at Valley Forge. When the weary and troubled George Washington comes upon a soldier's private lighting of the menorah in his cabin, the Polish-born Jewish warrior offers an explanation of the holiday and ritual. Patiently listening, Washington wisely parallels the struggle for freedom in which they are both engaged with that of the Maccabees' battle. Both are able to gain a bit of hope and resolve through the idea that belief in miracles is much needed in the effort to create a better world. Watercolors in deep purple hues show wintry Valley Forge scenes paralleled by the golden glows of the ancient Temple confrontation and combine to portray, through life-like portrait-style illustrations, the emotional significance of the verbal exchange between Washington and his unnamed soldier. A beautiful and excellent bit of historical drama and fiction based on two analogous events in history. (Picture book. 7-12)Read full book review >
Released: Jan. 1, 2005

Infused with a blue glow, Harlin's nautical paintings add an oddly spectral air to this fictionalized account of the Atlantic crossing made by John Adams and his son to France in 1778, in search of support for the beleaguered Patriot army. Seen largely through the eyes of young "Johnny," the voyage is an exciting one, punctuated by a wild storm, a lightning strike, a suspenseful chase by British frigates, and, turnabout, the capture of a British merchant vessel. In line with the art's remote feeling, though, his father has other views ("We see nothing but Sky, Clouds, and Sea. And then Seas, Clouds, and Sky.") and greets with pleasure the eventual approach to France's "Land, Cattle, Houses, &c." Krensky draws incidents and brief passages from the elder Adams's diary, adding invented but believable details, plus background information that underscores the mission's importance to the American cause. Considering the recent hail of titles for younger readers that highlight George Washington's feats, this offers a timely reminder that others played important roles in the Revolutionary War, too. (author's note, map) (Picture book/nonfiction. 7-9)Read full book review >
Released: Aug. 1, 2002

In a departure from other Paul Revere stories, Krensky (How Santa Lost His Job, 2001, etc.) tells the tale from the perspectives of Paul Revere, British General Gage, and his commander, Lord Percy. While Revere rushes to begin his ride to warn the patriots in Concord, the British troops form lines for a review that brings an end to months of inactivity. They wanted a fight, but did not really believe the colonists would go to battle over their ideals. Under the two lights shining from the Old North Church tower, both Paul and the Redcoats made their way across the Charles River by boat. With his fast horse, Paul escaped one set of soldiers waiting on the road, and spread the word to the patriots in Lexington. Paul's luck held even when the British soldiers captured him. They were so worried by his message that Concord had been warned that they took his horse, but set him free. The fighting at Lexington and the North Bridge are covered in two brief pages, and Revere's life during the war in one small paragraph, but for the reader, the ride of Paul Revere, and the actions of the British soldiers on that famous night are made real. Harlin's (Mississippi, not reviewed) watercolors marvelously illustrate colonial times, from the painstakingly detailed British uniforms and the dress of the American colonists, to the clapboard houses and the furnishings within. He uses close-ups to focus the reader's attention and complement the words of the text. As the author describes the Regulars' departure from the boats, the reader can see the water and mud they trudged through and easily imagine their discomfort. The front endpaper features a map showing the route of Paul Revere's ride, and an afterword gives more background to the conflict between the colonists and England, as well as the ultimate outcome. A good introduction to the start of the Revolutionary War. (Picture book/nonfiction. 7-12)Read full book review >