by Laurie Halse Anderson
School Library Journal Gr 6-10-Mattie Cook, a spirited 14-year-old girl, lives with her widowed mother who manages a coffee house during the late 1700's in Philadelphia, the nation's capital. During August of 1793, the yellow fever engulfs the city. Mattie must make decisions that affect herself, Eliza, a free black widow and friend, her grandfather, and an orphaned girl, Nell. This coming of age novel by Laurie Halse Anderson (S&S, 2000) gives a full-bodied aroma to life of the markets, docks, printing houses, artists and upper class lifestyles and adds multicultural flavor with monies exchanged such as, pence from Massachusetts, shillings from Virginia, British pounds and French francs. While the book itself is exciting and informative, especially with the closing comments on the Free African Society of 1787, coffee houses of the 1790's, and synopses of yellow fever and "Moving the U.S. Capitol," the narration by actress Emily Bergl does not enrich it. The lack of variation of intensity and tone in the reader's voice makes it difficult to distinguish between narration and dialogue. Despite the range of foreign, ethnic, and varying classes of characters, the voices are not clearly distinguishable, even among the most prevelant ones. The pauses between dialogue and "she said" or "he said" cause a staccato rhythm and make this reading less than first rate.-Tina Hudak, St. Bernard's School, Riverdale, MA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.