History is a favorite subject in our homeschool, especially when
we incorporate a variety of books, multimedia, and hands-on activities.
For example, we include well-written historical fiction as a way
to immerse our students in the everyday experiences of a particular
time period. Set in Virginia at the outset of the Revolutionary
War, Fetching Jonas Blake features feisty teenager Anne
Summerton, her disabled twin brother, and their prim and proper
sister who find themselves alone, and in danger of losing the family
farm to a greedy neighbor.
As the story unfolds, the realities of war reveal the vulnerability
of families and towns while their men were away on the front lines.
The hard work of farming and responsibility of protecting property
fell to the women and children left behind. The trailblazing American
spirit that helped build our country is evident in Anne and her
siblings. They realized that they needed help, and set out to find
Jonas Blake, a young soldier from their hometown. Their story of
adventure is peppered with danger and quick-thinking bravery. Their
faith in God is impenetrable and inspiring.
Fetching Jonas Blake is suitable for upper middle school
students and older. As a read aloud or as assigned reading, it
could be used to complement early American history curriculum,
or as part of a literature class or for family reading time. It
would also be a fun book club selection for a co-op.
Historical fiction is my favorite genre. It is obvious that author
Margaret McKinney is passionate about it as well. I was easily
able to assume the identity of Anne Summerton as I read the book,
understanding her teenage thoughts of independence and feeling
her anger and indignation when Mr. Norrington was trying to steal
their farm. The scenes are detailed without being too wordy and
leave enough to the imagination to make them individually satisfying.
I have a 15-year old daughter who will love this book for its historical
value, its girl power, and its pleasing conclusion. In fact, Fetching
Jonas Blake is dedicated to "all the girls left behind while
the boys go to seek their glory." On the other hand, my 12-, 10-,
and 8-year old boys will appreciate the adventure aspect and seeing
how the facts and figures we have been studying would appear in
This book is worthwhile in and of itself. The addition of discussion
questions or suggestions for further research would be a bonus,
but are not necessary.