Johnny Tremain

Written by Ester Forbes • Illustrated by Lind Ward

Reviewed by Brianna L. (age 11)

Johnny Tremain was a 14-year-old boy who was an apprentice silversmith. As an apprentice he lived with his master and his master’s family, the Lapham’s. His skill as silversmith was unmatched by any of his coworkers and this soon led to a position of power and arrogance. His was able to get out of more menial housekeeping tasks and reveled in pride and treated others poorly. A fateful event occurred when he was working on a silver platter for Mr. Hancock. A misstep in his technique caused Johnny to severely burn his hand. With a crippled hand he was no longer able to be a silversmith. This crushed Johnny who sunk into an angry, and mean spirited person. His life-long dream had been to be a silversmith, now it was over. Mr. Lapham told Johnny that he had become a burden and now needed to look for other work somewhere else. Johnny had searched long for another job. Finally he walked into a newspaper shop call the “Boston Observer.” A boy was in there talking to a women. Johnny observed how the boy, named Rab, was a good listener and didn’t interrupt her. Johnny was eventually hired on to be a delivery boy. Rab’s character began to influence Johnny. Rab was the same person no matter whether good or ill fortune was his lot. Rab’s steadfast and dependable spirit help Johnny realize that he needed to watch himself. Inspired by the influence of Rab, Johnny’s fortunes began to change. Learning to read he soon became a trusted delivery boy and grew in maturity. The world around him began to change and war was in the air. He began delivering documents for secret meetings held by Samuel Adams, Paul Revere and John Hancock. He even found himself caught up in being in the Boston Tea Party. Pretty soon war breaks out and Johnny needs to put all of growth and maturity into action. Johnny experiences the loss of his best friend, Rab. When Johnny first met Rab he was a selfish, prideful, rude, and self-pitting boy. After Rab died Johnny was a kind, thoughtful, and brave man. In the end Doctor Warren, a man who was involved with the secret meetings and war, performed a surgery on Johnny’s hand. This surgery allowed Johnny to hold a gun properly and fight for his country. Johnny sees that the men in Boston believed so deeply in the principles of freedom that they were willing to sacrifice everything including their lives. He now understands the seriousness of war and that liberty does not come cheaply and now takes his place to fight for liberty.

I liked Johnny Tremain because he always did the best job he could. Even when he was prideful about his work. I liked him especially after Rab had taught him lessons about controlling his temper, arrogance, and influenced him in compassion, how to care for others, and how to love. Most of the bad habits began when Johnny lived with the Lapham’s. Also I enjoyed reading about Rab. I loved how he was so patient, thoughtful, smart, and kind. I most appreciated that he somehow was always prepared for what was next to come. He was good at not showing his emotions when he was fearful, sad and angry. Lastly. Rab left a permanent example for Johnny on the virtues of being dependable, steadfast, and respectful at all times.

I would recommend this book for those who love history. I would also recommend this book to young men who want to grow strong and mature by growing through times of great adversity.

Brianna L. is a student in Ms. Coulombe's Reading Club
2007-2008