Ben’s Revolution by Nathaniel Philbrick

This young-reader history of the early days of the American Revolution views events through the experience of 12-year-old Ben Russell.

Ben’s Revolution: Benjamin Russell and the Battle of Bunker Hill by Nathaniel Philbrick.  Penguin, 2017, 64 pages

Reading Level: Middle grades, ages 8-10

Recommended for: ages 6-12

Benjamin Russell was 12 when the trouble started—all that fury about the tea tax that led to throwing the tea in Boston Harbor.  Until then he lived a quiet life in the New England town, taking care of the family milk cow and helping out at the print shop of Isaiah Thomas.  His printing job put him at the cutting edge of momentous events from 1774-1776—and sometimes at the front lines.  When the British blockaded Boston, Benjamin and some of his friends were cut off from the city for months.  But Ben had quite a story to tell his parents when he was finally able to return.  The boys put the time to good use by helping deliver supplies to the gathering American troops and their new commander, George Washington.

Telling the story of the opening days of the American Revolution through the eyes of a young teenager makes it relevant.  Today’s kids should be able to easily imagine themselves in the same circumstances.  The narrative is terse but filled with human-interest details (like the sledding incident, where Benjamin and his friends ran afoul of British troops).  Full-page illustrations, and some two-page spreads, add a sense of time and place.

Cautions: None

Overall Rating: 3.75 (out of 5)

  • Worldview/moral value: 3.5
  • Artistic value: 4

For more picture books about the American Revolution, see our reviews of Gingerbread for Liberty! and The Boston Tea PartyThe Revolutionary War, liberally illustrated by famed historical artist Mort Kunstler, offers a look at the entire sweep of the war for elementary ages.


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Janie is the VERY senior staff writer for Redeemed Reader, as well as a long-time contributor to WORLD Magazine and an author of nine books for children. The rest of the time she's long-distance smooching on her four grandchildren (not an easy task). She lives with her equally senior husband of almost-fifty years in the Ozarks of Missouri.

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