Powder Monkey by Donna McDine, illustrated by K.C. Snider, is strong historical fiction. It tells a story of a harsh period in British naval history that is not for the faint of heart. Two brothers are taken by the Royal Navy Press Gang and impressed into service aboard a warship. These boys, aged twelve and fourteen, are destined to run powder to the cannons during battles at sea.
Tommy, the younger brother, is witness to the brutality of the press gang against his parents, who try to save their boys. He sees other boys, his neighbors, also taken into service. These farm boys have to learn to survive as servants of the crown, at the beck and call of the sailors they serve. These “powder monkeys” experience violence, and must perform the vilest duties aboard ship.
K.C. Snider’s artwork captures the agony and horror suffered by those boys at that time in history. The haunting images she creates take us back to that awful period. We see the smoke, the filth, and the danger in these boys’ lives. It’s a wonder any of them lived through such an awful experience.
Tommy’s will to survive overcomes his terrible circumstances, his pain, and his losses. He learns what he needs to do and does it. Although he never sees his parents again, he does become an able bodied seaman, and that’s as close to a happy ending as we get in this story.
There is a lot to discuss here with students, especially those who might want to complain about their situation now. All they need to do is look at what happened to those boys back then. History lessons can be hard to hear – and harder to learn -- but these stories must be told.
Published by www.guardianangelpublishing.com/
This review is part of the World of Ink Virtual Blog Tour.
Thanks for posting this book review Penelope. Donna's book sounds gripping and filled with excitement, just the ticket for kids who might otherwise not be so interested in "boring" history! Great review!ReplyDelete
Thanks Sharon, I was surprised at the realism -- it is gripping! Wishing Donna much success.Delete
Thank you for taking the time out to visit with us and read Penny's review of Powder Monkey. Your support is truly appreciated.
This one was a page turner. Thanks Penny.ReplyDelete
Hi Susan, Yes, it was difficult to see the harsh world those young boys lived in. War is a tough taskmaster. Thanks for commenting.Delete
Hope you are well. Thanks for your never ending support. I truly appreciate it!
It sounds like a great book to help kids understand the past and value the present.ReplyDelete
Thanks so much, Jan, for your supportive comments.Delete
My goal in writing historical fiction is to get children interested in history and get them thinking. Thanks for visiting, I truly appreciate your support.
Thank you for your wonderful review of Powder Monkey. You grabbed the true essence of the book. Congratulations on your recent awards. Keep up the great work!
Hi Donna, In doing your research, it must have been difficult to read these stories -- of personal loss and tragedy. Thank you for writing such an honest book. I wish you much success! And thanks for your support and congrats!Delete
I've heard a lot about the book, but it's the first time I've seen an illustration. WOW! KC is so talented, and I'm sure Donna wrote a great story to go with it. Thanks for the review, Penny!ReplyDelete
Hi Margo, Thanks for your comments. Yes, I wish I could have posted even more of K.C's artwork -- the pain of the story really comes through because of it. Wishing them much success!Delete