Genre: Children's Fiction, Historical Fiction Publication.Date May 20th 2013 Pages: 24 Published By: Guardian Angel Publishing Author Donna M McDine Powder Monkey on Goodreads My review copy: Received from the author in exchange for an honest review.
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Forced into a life at sea by the Royal Navy Press Gangs, 12-year-old Tommy Kitt finds himself in a floating sea of misery. Poor living conditions and beatings occur daily. Despite his small size, Tommy must summon the courage and physical ability to prevail in a situation he cannot escape.
Suggested age range for readers: 8-12. Free Educator Guides Available.
Eight young boys, all thrown on top of each other. The constant creak of the wagon wheels blended with loud breathing from the boys. The sweat of fear filled Tommy's nostrils.
"Stand tall and be proud, you are now a sailor."
A story of endurance, survival and hardship, Powder Monkey pretty much left me breathless. This 24-page-long historical fiction for children made a huge emotional impact on me - even bigger than some of the adults novel I've read this year. I will be reeling from it for a very long time.
It's a sad and heart-wrenching tale about a boy, little Tommy, who is brutally ripped away from his parents and, together with his older brother and a group of other children, forced by the Royal Navy Press Gangs into a miserable life on board of a ship. Robbed of his childhood, lonely, scared and often times starved, Tommy has to obediently follow the rules and do whatever the seamen order him to do, including scrubbing toilets and cleaning the manger of the live stock. Or, in case of a battle, fetching the bags with gun powder. He's terrified to the point he's physically ill, but he's smart and determined to stay alive.
This is a bleak and emotionally gutting tale, perhaps a bit too mature and depressing for young children, though I do believe that between happy and fluffy stories, every child should also find time for this powerful and affecting tale. It will expand their world view and teach them about history. It will also make for a fabulous lesson about courage, hope and enduring hardships. I would, however, recommended this for a slightly older audience - closer to the age of 12 perhaps - and not, as suggested for readers ages 8 and up.
Ultimately, Powder Monkey is a very moving and important story that carries a huge emotional load and some interesting life lessons. It's very sad and riveting, but it ends on a hopeful note, which makes it a great addition to your child's collection.
About the Author
Donna McDine is a multiple award-winning children’s author, Honorable Mention in the 77th and two Honorable Mentions in the78th Annual Writer’s Digest Writing Competitions, A Sandy Grave ~ Story Monster Approved and Beach Book Festival Honorable Mention 2014, The Golden Pathway ~ Literary Classics Silver Award & Seal of Approval Recipient Picture Book Early Reader, Readers Favorite 2012 International Book Awards Honorable Mention, Global eBook Awards Finalist Children’s Picture Book Fiction, and Preditors & Editors Readers Poll 2010 Top Ten Children’s Books.Her interest in ocean life resulted in writing and publishing A Sandy Grave (January 2014). Other books by McDine, Powder Monkey (May 2013), Hockey Agony (January 2013) and The Golden Pathway (August 2010). A fifth book is in the publishing pipeline with Guardian Angel Publishing. She writes and moms from her home in the historical hamlet Tappan, NY. McDine is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators.
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