Book talks for readers at Chisago Lakes Middle School.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson

The best way I can think of telling about this book is by showing you objects that remind me about certain parts of the first few chapters from the book-sort of like using a character bag to describe what items an important character of a book would possess. Here are some significant objects and things from the book Chains:

Seeds-after Isabel says goodbye at her mother's grave, she barely has enough time to take something to remember her former home. She takes a packet full of seeds. She dare not take anything else lest she be severely punished.

The Snake-This how Isabel refers to Mr. Roberts. There is probably no better way to describe him as he cares little for anyone else and is preoccupied with the profit he'll make selling Isabel and her sister Ruth at auction in the city of Newport. Although distasteful to some, auctioning off people as if they were property was still an accepted business practice in Newport in the year 1776.

The Lion-This is how Isabel pictures her father. She remembers him roaring with the strength of a lion when they tried to bust-up his family as if they some kind of farm animals. It took five men to stop him, but as if they pulled out his claws and teeth, her father couldn't stop the men from taking his girls away.

A ship-It took 2 days and 2 nights to go from New Port to New York. Isabel's new masters, Mr. and Mrs. Lockton enjoyed the view above decks while Isabel and her sister Ruth endured the stench below decks, sharing the space with six sheep, a pen of hogs, three families from Scotland and 50 casks of Cod fish labeled with the names Lockhart and Foote.

A walnut trunk or chest-Washington's soldiers greeted the Locktons with suspicion. They considered the Locktons to be Loyalists, Tories, and possibly British spies. The soldiers didn't trust anything that was labeled Lockton and Foote so they searched everything brought ashore except for one walnut trunk belonging to Mrs. Lockton. She protested of course, but the soldiers also didn't want to risk offending a lady's dignity by searching through her clothes.

A pail-Isabel was immediately sent to fetch a pail of water for her new masters the Locktons, but she had no idea where to get some. She was rescued by a boy named Curzon who helped her, but he had another objective on his mind. He approached Isabel to ask her if she would spy on the Locktons for Washington's soldiers.

A hidden compartment in Mrs. Lockton's walnut trunk-Isabel learned of a secret compartment in Mrs. Lockton's walnut chest which was possibly full of money, British money. What was the money for? Would she decide to spy on the Locktons after all?

A chain-why should Isabel help Washington's soldiers? Wouldn't they be using her for their own gain? But why should she be faithful to the Lockons, her new masters that purchased her like she was a piece of property? How could she escape the chains of slavery to obtain the freedom she was promised by her original owner?

If you like historical fiction, I would like to recommend the book, Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson. She also wrote one of my favorite historical fiction books called, Fever 1793.

The book, Fever 1793

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