Mr. Thorleifson has created something astonishing for a new fiction author; a work of true educational merit that immediately engages interest.
Beginning and centered in Yonkers, in the disputed territory between British and Colonial forces in early 1777, economic, social, and political realities of the period are made explicit.
Bold line drawings, also by the writer, convey the utilitarian simplicity of buildings, transport, and tools.
Clear intent to teach is established with notes in simple declarative style, a paragraph here, pages-long elsewhere. These are all professionally presented, as though one had a friendly teacher reading along. Some of those insertions are historical background that is not conveyed in the story line, but is necessary for full understanding of the environment through which that tale wends its way. Some are biographical, some financial . . . how shillings and pence and pieces of eight and seasonal scarcity and plenty interacted could have been stultifying. Set this way, these snippets of information are easily learned and remembered. A great contribution for neophyte students of our revolutionary period, and for some of us not so new–come to the era!
Having said that, any experienced editor will wince at frequent telling, rather than showing; where dialogue is employed to relieve the telling, it is sometimes stilted so the read is jarred. None of this detracts from the desire to know what happens next! Point of view shifts enough that a grateful reader needs to leaf back to the Characters page set handily before Chapter one.
This is not Johnny Tremaine for the grade schooler, though the protagonist here, too, is an apprentice, to a carpenter, a trade for which the boy lacks some focus. His sobriquet is “Tim Useless” among his fellows. He is plunged into action on the first page and into serious legal trouble just as fast. In the course of time and while he grows, both physically and mentally, Tim’s adventures pull the reader into frightening military intelligence, a seeking for a murderer, and to a developed self respect.
This would be a fine Christmas gift for a youngster or even an elder who likes a good read.