HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Sam And The Colonels
Author: Bianca Bradbury
Illustrator: Charles Greer
Publisher: Macrae Smith Company, 1966
Language level: 1
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Ages 10-14
Rating: ***** 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Bradbury, Bianca. Sam And The Colonels (published in 1966 by Macrae Smith Company, Philadelphia, PA). It is 1661, and thirteen year old Sam Goode, an orphan, lives in the colony of New Haven, later to be part of Connecticut, with the Puritan minister, John Davenport, and his family. Sam’s father, who had been the town’s harness maker, had died when Sam was young. Then when his mother also died, the Davenports took Sam into their home. On March 7 of that year, two Colonels rode into town. They were Edward Whalley and William Goffe, two of the Puritan judges who had tried Charles I and condemned him to death. After the collapse of the Commonwealth under Oliver Cromwell, they came to America to escape their prosecution by the new king, Charles II, son of Charles I.
The two men were tracked down in Boston and fled to the then small New Haven Colony, where the Sam joined with all the townspeople to cooperate in sheltering the “regicides” and in distracting the King’s agents sent to find them. But will their efforts be enough? Can the good folks of New Haven be successful in concealing the Colonels and smuggling them to safety? Or do the King’s spies find out where they are hidden and capture them? Author Bianca Bradbury (1908-1982) lived in Connecticut, and as a young wife, her writing took the form of verse, articles, and short stories, which found their way into such magazines as Family Circle and McCall’s. Once she had two children, she began writing, first picture books, and then longer books.
This tale from the history of the author’s home town is filled with excitement and suspense that will hold the attention of readers. A couple instances occur of drinking ale or wine, though Mr. Davenport disapproved of it, and smoking tobacco in a pipe. However, there is much factual information about the founding of New Haven and other events of that time. All the major events mentioned actually happened, and all the main characters were real people. Sam Goode is the exception. The snobs at Kirkus Reviews said, “To be overlooked is the fictional embroidery about the young orphan boy Sam Goode who is the charge of the minister and his confidante, and who appears to engineer most of the narrow escapes.” Well, duh! That’s what historical fiction is all about—weaving the life of a fictional character into a historical setting. I really liked the story.