This week, I continued my chronological trip through the Newbery winners by finishing Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes (1944). This was probably the fourth time that I have read this book — I read it in about the fourth grade, again in high school while studying the American Revolution in AP US History, and again as an adult while in graduate school, so I was very familiar with this book and I loved it just as much reading it this time as I had in earlier years. Johnny is a brilliant but arrogant young silversmith’s apprentice in 1770s Boston who is severely injured in an accident, leaving one of his hands unable to do such delicate work. He struggles to find his place in the world and eventually becomes friends with a printer’s apprentice and settles into delivering the printer’s newspaper on horseback. The Boston Tea Party and Revolution unfold as the backdrop to Johnny’s personal story — I won’t give away the plot, but suffice it to say that this is a moving, historically accurate (the author also won a Pulitzer for her biography of Paul Revere) and powerfully written book that I highly recommend for older readers.
I have started Rabbit Hill by Robert Lawson (1945)and I’m about two chapters in. This book follows the life of a family of rabbits and their animal neighbors as they anticipate (with equal parts excitement and concern) the arrival of new human inhabitants of the nearby house. So far, it’s a very sweet book and I’m enjoying getting to know Georgie, the young rabbit, who has just earned his family’s respect by leaping over Dead Man’s Brook to evade a pursuing hound.
I’m knitting a sontag from an 1860 pattern that was originally in Godey’s Lady’s Book — you can find the pattern rewritten for modern knitters on this page from Ragged Soldier. (You can find Ravelry examples here.) A sontag or “bosom friend” is a cold weather garment that is kind of a cross between a shawl and a vest. It goes over the shoulders, crosses across the chest, and usually buttons or ties in back. The yarn is Knit Picks Wool of the Andes worsted in Cadet. The eventual trim will be white. I’m intending this for my daughter to wear when our family does living history events at a local historic site.
Be sure to visit this week’s Yarn Along for more knitting and reading!