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Fetching Jonas Blake Review by Krystin CorneilsonMargaret McKinney
Tate Publishing and Enterprises, LLC
127 E. Trade Center Terrace
Mustang, OK 73064
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 real life.
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.