Sunday, February 10, 2013

And then what Happened, Paul Revere?: Jean Fritz (1973)

            And then what Happened, Paul Revere? by Jean Fritz (1973) is a historical biography that focuses on the life of Paul Revere.  Although Paul Revere is most well-known for his midnight ride to warn the Colonial militia that the British troops were approaching, this book allows young students to learn about many aspects of Revere’s life.  The story begins with a brief description of Paul Revere’s childhood in Boston, Massachusetts.  At the young age of 15, Paul’s father passed away, and he would then take his father’s position as a silversmith.  In 1756, Paul married his first wife Sarah Orne, and had 8 children.  After Sarah passed away, he married Rachel Walker, and had 8 more children.  Fritz (1973) also discusses side jobs that Revere took on to earn extra money for his large family, including making artificial teeth and ringing the church bell.  In 1765, the English began taxing Americans on several items, one being tea.  Revere was also a member of the Sons of Liberty, as he participated in the Boston Tea Party in 1773, and was an “express rider between Boston and Philadelphia” (Fritz, 1973, p. 22).  Fritz (1973) includes fun facts in her book such as Paul Revere forgetting his spurs for his ride to Lexington.  After the Revolutionary War, he kept himself busy with many jobs, both new and old.  As Revere grew older, he had many grandchildren and great-grandchildren who would listen to his stories and ask, “’And then what happened?’” (p. 45). 
            And then what Happened, Paul Revere? is classified as a nonfiction biography about the historically well-known Paul Revere, but Fritz (1973) has written the book in an almost fiction manner for the audience of young readers.  This biography is narrated from Revere’s childhood to his old age where he reminisced about his many experiences.  Fritz (1973) highlights many important events/accomplishments within Revere’s life, as can be seen above.  The author includes many fun facts about Revere’s life, one being that he truly did create a silver collar for someone’s pet squirrel.  Fritz (1973) did an amazing job grounding the biography in facts about Revere, whether significant or silly, and presented them in a way that children could not only relate to the busy man, but learn about his compelling life (Galda, Cullinan, & Sipe, 2010).  The biography also flows smoothly, as Fritz designed an interesting and factual story line.  Revere is also a multidimensional character with his many businesses, large family, and busy lifestyle. 
            When considering illustrations within the book, Margot Tomes did a great job of helping readers to visualize the place and time in which Revere’s life took place; Tomes also accurately captured the dress during this time period (Galda et al., 2010).  Many of the illustrations are in black and white, or with bits of color incorporated within, and appear to be sketched on paper.  Tomes also uses quite a bit of detail in the simple and small pictures on each page. 
            To be honest, history has not always been a strong subject of mine, but this story allowed me to read a story that was not only true, but was rather enjoyable.  I liked that Fritz (1973) discussed many significant life events that I was able to understand; her word choice and to-the-point style will be beneficial for young readers.  I also liked that Fritz portrayed Revere as an ordinary man.  I love that he made a collar for a squirrel, was a dreamer, and forgot his spurs, just like everyone forgets something at some point (Fritz, 1973). 
            Jean Fritz and her family lived in China until she was 12 (Houghton Mifflin Company, n.d.).  As a young girl, Fritz loved to read and write about the people she met.  Her father often spoke of American heroes, and her homesickness for her American roots strengthened (Scholastic Inc., 2013). Fritz also attempted to get several of her children’s stories published, but her first few attempts were unsuccessful; after working as a librarian however, here ability to write for children deepened (Houghton Mifflin Company, n.d.).  As one can see, success followed.  Jean Fritz has written many great biographies that portray “pivotal figures and events in America’s history” (Fritz, 1973).  When creating such work, she researches her subjects and how they shaped history, as well as their quirky characteristics (Houghton Mifflin Company, n.d.).  Another aspect of her writing that makes it so special is that she uses journals, diaries, and letters of those she writes about, to make the biography “theirs”.  Several other books written by Fritz include Bully for you, Teddy Roosevelt!, Can’t you Make them Behave, King George?, and Just a Few Words, Mr. Lincoln. 
Below are 2 motivational activities and reader response questions that would be beneficial for students within the classroom:
  1.  The 1st activity would allow students to compare the 1700’s with today.  After reading the story, analyzing photographs, and seeing additional pictures of Boston from the 1700s, students would compare and contrast the time periods.  Students might choose to think about transportation, communication, families, buildings, occupations, etc.  Students could then share their preferences of living in the 1700s, or today. 
  2. The 2nd activity would involve the construction of a Paul Revere timeline.  After reading the book, the class would work together to construct a timeline displaying events within Paul Revere’s life.  If certain dates are unknown, students will be chosen to research the topic on the computer.  After events and dates are decided upon, students will be able to color and illustrate on the timeline.  Students will be able to witness the progression of time and the accumulation of accomplishments. 
Reader Response Questions:
  1.  What do you know about Paul Revere now that you did not know before?
  2. Explain why you would/would not like to have lived in the place or time of this story.
  3. What events within the book created conflict during this time period?
Fritz, J.  (1973).  And then what Happened, Paul Revere?.  New York, NY:  Penguin Group.
Galda, L., Cullinan, B.E., & Sipe, L. R. (2010).  Literature and the Child (7th ed.).  Belmont, CA: 
            Wadsworth, Inc.
Houghton Mifflin Company.  (n.d.).  Meet the Author: Jean Fritz.  Retrieved from                        
Scholastic Inc.  (2013).  Biography: Jean Fritz.  Retrieved from             
Small, D.  (2009).  “And then what Happened, Paul Revere?”.  [online image].  Retrieved from             

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