A poetic rendering of the early days of the American Revolution.
In 1775, the British occupied Boston to quell the colonists, whom George III called an “unhappy and deluded multitude.” Orgill tells the story as a novel in verse, preceding it with a cast of characters, including George Washington; his aide-de-camp, Joseph Reed; William Lee, “Washington’s slave who travels with him”; Henry Knox, a Boston bookseller who rose to the rank of colonel; and Abigail Adams. The perspective alternates among the characters, breaking for the occasional military order or news update and incorporating quotations from primary sources. Most “voices” are written from a third-person point of view, good for presenting information but distancing readers from the characters. The volume is most alive when protagonists speak for themselves, making the contrast with the more objective voice noticeable. Still, third-person narration can summon energy, too, as in a snowball fight among patriot troops: “Fifty men became / a thousand / biting, punching / gouging / a knockdown battle / sailor vs. huntsman / musket vs. rifle / north against south.” All in all, the multiple perspectives give a solid overview of how the incipient Revolution would affect those involved and effectively portray Washington learning as he goes.
An interesting take on an oft-told story and an especially fine choice for readers’ theater in the classroom. (maps, glossary, source notes, bibliography) (Historical verse fiction. 9-14)