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July 13 , 2007

Hannah's Hessian


Children’s historical fiction, ages 9-12.

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When Hannah Atwater’s father goes marching off with the Minute Men in the spring of 1775, his last words to her are, “Remember, little daughter, when I come home, you’re going to read the Bible to me.”

As if poor Hannah doesn’t have enough to worry about, including war, the danger of smallpox, and storing enough food and firewood to last the Atwater family through the harsh New England winters, there’s also school. She just can’t manage to learn to read under the severe gaze of Master Hawkes, who whips naughty pupils at the least provocation.

But worst of all are the rumors that soon arise about the terrifying Hessians, soldiers hired by the king of England to fight the American patriot army. The Hessians, the older children tell her, are eight feet tall, have two sets of teeth, eat boys and girls for dinner, and are coming to find her. And when a procession of Hessian prisoners passes through their own village, Hannah’s greatest fear seems to be coming true – or does it?

“Little Hannah in this story will appeal to modern nine and ten-year-olds as much as a little girl of today, although she was young when the Minute Men were called to fight the Redcoats and George Washington was struggling to hold his own against the British . . . Well told, pleasantly illustrated and easy to read, this gives a genuine picture of life in the hard years, 1775-1777, a fine approach to history.”
– The New York Herald-Tribune (1958)

“An unusual insight into the mentality of a little girl and an unoppressive historical context recommend this tender story of a child's role in a crucial period of American history.”
– Kirkus Reviews (1958)

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