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by Kathleen Ernst

Age Range: 8 - 14

Pub Date: March 1st, 2004
ISBN: 1-58485-879-6
Publisher: American Girl

The American Revolution smolders in the North Carolina hills in 1775; for the thousands of recently immigrated Scots settlers, choosing sides is very difficult. Most of them are still reeling from the long-reaching effects of their own failed rebellion against the British 30 years ago. Twelve-year-old Elspeth, whose grandparents bear physical and emotional scars from that long-ago war, wants nothing more than to fit in to her new life as a weaver’s apprentice to an English woman. When Patriots begin to threaten her family, she’s not sure what to do. Strong writing brings the setting to life; when Grandda roars, “I fought at Culloden, ye numpty gowks!” readers may not know “Culloden,” “numpty,” or “gowks,” but will understand the overall meaning just fine. Complex emotions are as balanced as the light and dark threads in the overshot patterns Elspeth loves to weave, and Elspeth, trying desperately to find her own balance, is appealing and brave. Only the focus on the requisite mystery seems a touch off, a constraint forced upon the book by its inclusion in the “History Mysteries” series. Still, a grand read and an important addition for this age group about the Revolutionary War. (Historical fiction. 8-14)