Monday, August 4, 2008

A Difficult Boy by M. P. Barker

In this historical fiction novel, it is 1839, and Ethan (who is nine years old) becomes an indentured servant to Mr. Lyman, the storekeeper. There is a strong secondary character Daniel (often called the derogatory term "Paddy" because he is Irish) who is older. Mr. Lyman is abusive and although Ethan is only nine, he at times seems much older - since kids were put to work very young in the past (despite the young protagonist, this is not for a younger audience). Ethan and Daniel find evidence that incriminates Mr. Lyman in theft and dishonesty (including stealing Daniel's land) and they have to try and find the right actions to take. This was a very strong novel, although I have some concerns about teen appeal, I vote yes.


M.P. Barker said...

Thanks for the thumbs up!

You're right about kids from the past seeming much older in some ways than kids today. They often had to take on a lot of adult responsibilities at a very early age--sometimes going out to work as young as 5 years old. Our modern concept of childhood as this carefree time for playing and fun wasn't the norm for most kids, especially from poorer families.

Thanks for reading,

M.P. Barker
Historical fiction from Holiday House

Pat said...

In spite of it being on the younger side, it has a very powerful message, epecially about relationships. I loved this book and am voting YES.