Our Featured Friend: Revolutionary War on Wednesday by Mary Pope Osborne
In honor of Memorial Day this week, I selected Revolutionary War on Wednesday because it features a war that led to America’s freedom and because my eight-year-old loves the Magic Tree House series. Since he enjoys reading them in order, I know he’s read at least 22 of them, because he recently finished this one. That’s a good sign that it’s a great series! He (and I) love how Osborne places her main characters, Jack and Annie, into the historical period, and we feel like we are with them in their adventure. Come join us, I mean them!
Introducing: Jack and Annie & George Washington and the Patriots:
In books #21-24, Jack and Annie help Morgan Le Fay, the magical librarian from Camelot save her kingdom. In the previous story, Civil War on Sunday, Jack and Annie found this note from Morgan:
“Dear Jack and Annie,
Camelot is in trouble. To save the kingdom,
please find these four special kinds of writing for my library:
Something to follow
Something to send
Something to learn
Something to lend
On Sunday, they found something to follow from nurse Clara Barton, during the Civil War.
Now it’s Wednesday and they must find something to send!
They knew what to do: Enter their magic tree house, point to the cover of the book titled, Revolutionary War, and say the magic words, “I wish I could go there.”
Thus begins their dangerous adventure: Jack and Annie go back over 200 years into history where they are discovered by Patriots (thankfully not the Redcoats), meet the Commander-in-Chief, George Washington, and hear a compelling letter penned by Thomas Paine. Before George Washington leads his troops on a secret mission on Christmas Day, 1776, he instills courage into the Patriots with these words by Paine:
“These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink back from the service of their country. But he that stands it now deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. . . .The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly. It is dearness only that gives everything its value.”
The Captain, whom Jack and Annie met earlier among the Patriots, gives Jack a note with some quotes from this speech to send back to his family in case he does not survive the battle. Holding his note, Jack realizes he has what he needs for Morgan’s library, the something to send, and they can return home! But, he can’t find Annie.
When Jack discovers her sitting on George Washington’s boat, he tries to pull her off, but it’s too late. They set off down the Delaware River in Pennsylvania with the 2,400 Patriot troops headed on their secret mission Christmas Day, 1776.
On their way to the surprise attack to capture 1,000 Hessians (German soldiers hired by the British to fight for them), Jack reminds the discouraged Commander-in-Chief, George Washington of his own advice:
“Jack looked at George Washington.
‘Even if things look impossible, you should keep going sir,’ he said. ‘The harder things seem, the greater the triumph, right? That’s what you read to your men. You have to keep going for their sake.’ “
” ‘Yes! And you have to keep going for our sake,’ said Annie. ‘For the sake of the future children of America, sir.’ ”
And he does. The Patriot’s battle and Jack and Annie’s journey were both a success. A fun book with a lot of history, adventure and valuable lessons!
. . . Thankfully the story of this battle recorded in the history books tell us that very few lives were given in this secret mission, but many more people sacrificed their lives in this war and other wars. Memorial Day is important to every generation because were not obtained cheaply so we should not esteem them lightly!