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The Matchlock Gun

3.68  ·  Rating Details ·  5,943 Ratings  ·  212 Reviews
A Newbery Medal Winner

In 1756, New York State was still a British colony, and the French and the Indians were constant threats to Edward and his family. When his father was called away to watch for a raid from the north, only Edward was left to protect Mama and little Trudy. His father had shown him how to use the huge matchlock gun, an old Spanish gun that was twice as lo
Paperback, 80 pages
Published November 23rd 1998 by Puffin Books (first published January 1st 1941)
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Drew Wilkerson
Jul 01, 2013 Drew Wilkerson rated it did not like it
Shelves: newbery
There was absolutely nothing redeeming about this book. I realize a Newbery winner from 70 years ago is going to be different, but I don't see how this was ever considered the most outstanding contribution to literature. Perhaps a kid killing Indians was meant to inspire the children during World War II? Wow, what an embarrassment for the Newbery name.
Benji Martin
Sep 09, 2014 Benji Martin rated it it was ok
This has been the shortest Newbery winner, by far. I believe it took me about 30 minutes to read it.

In the beginning, it was ok. A boy is left with an old-timey gun to protect his mom and sister during the French-Indian War. It's kind of exciting, the type of a book that boys love. I have some students that would probably still read and enjoy this book.

I'm ok with a book about hostilities between Native Americans and European settlers. It happened. It's history. I'm even kind of ok with the ra
Sep 13, 2008 Wendy rated it really liked it
Shelves: newbery
A very exciting French and Indian War story--it has all the elements of a great plot: a brave son, a heroic mother, a funny little girl, and an absent father. I'm just annoyed that the book's foreword gave away an important element of the climax, so if you read this, skip the foreword and the jacket copy. It's illustrated by Paul Lantz, who I like almost as well as Garth Williams. (Well, maybe not ALMOST as well, but I like his work a lot.) I think what's most impressive is how distilled this bo ...more
Hailey White
Mar 31, 2015 Hailey White rated it it was amazing
Shelves: chapter-books
This short (62 pages) chapter book packs a big punch. It was a fantastic read-a-loud to my 9 and 6 year old children. We all agreed on it being a 5 star.
Mr. Paul
Apr 11, 2015 Mr. Paul added it
Shelves: fiction, kids
I would recommend this book to anyone who likes stories about mothers who trick their young sons into murdering Native Americans.
Apr 08, 2012 Matt rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction, newbery, ya
So I was talking to Courtney about this one, a short story about a young boy (spoilers, I guess) killing three American Indians who were attacking his house during the French and Indian War.
I really didn't care for the book, and I think it was partially because it trafficked in some of the same racial stereotypes that keep popping up in these Newbery books. But although there were some very shady beginnings to the war (like seizing American Indian territory, systematic oppression, etc.), there'
Jan 27, 2012 Audra rated it it was amazing
Shelves: moses
I disagree that the subject matter is too dark for this level of reader. Read the forward, and you find not only is the story true - but has a very happy ending. Good history lesson and great for discussion. My son could hardly stop from getting sidetracked in discussing this book and what he's learning in school about the French and Indian War. We read the whole little book - beautiful illustrations and all - in one sitting. A must-read, I think!
1942 Newbery Medal Winner

A rather dark and dated story, that doesn't really add up to much more than just an exciting episode in the early American frontier. But, taking into account the times in which this book was published, and the United States entry into World War 2, then this story can be seen as an allegory for the times.
Nolan M.
Oct 20, 2016 Nolan M. rated it liked it
The Matchlock Gun, by Walter D. Edmonds is an OK book. I wouldn't prefer it, but that's just me. It is about a family, in 1756, who has to survive, and fend off the Indians and French from his village. There is a brave, young boy, a funny little girl, and a courageous mother, who work together to save their own, and the rest of the villages lives.
I don't think this book was a good one, nor a bad one. I really think the book was too rushed, it seemed to me that the author didn’t even take interes
Aug 31, 2016 Kaia rated it did not like it
1942 Newbery Winner. Due to the time period I'm still in, none of the Newbery winners do well with describing non-white peoples and cultures. But I feel like the number of books with really appalling depictions of Native Americans in the early Newbery winners is particularly high. I'm sad to report that The Matchlock Gun is one of them.

It's a really short and simple story. Father goes with militia to nearby fight in the French and Indian War, leaving the boy along with his mother and sister beh
Faith Hough
We read this historical fiction classic as part of our studies of the French and Indian War. It's a short novel, completely understandable to a second grader, with some beautiful writing and excellent tension. I felt the close perspective (one family's experience over two days, in their house while the father goes out to keep the Indians back) and the jumps between the mother's and son's perspectives were interesting but made the book lack a certain depth. My daughter's verdict was: "The beginni ...more
Jun 22, 2016 Kristen rated it liked it
Shelves: newbery-winners
Newbery Medal Winner--1942

This is a slice of Americana--a short story about family on the dangerous frontier in 1756. Some readers take issue with the portrayal of American Indians, but as I read through these older Newbery winners, I always tell myself to think about the time frame when I come across something seemingly offensive. There were terrible Indian attacks and war with the French and Indians during the time this story is set, and the year it won the Newbery (1942) wasn't exactly a mecc
Aug 01, 2012 Almeta rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: shortcut
Engaging story of a family and an incident in their struggle for survival as North American pioneers. Don't expect any history lesson about the French/Indian War or about the causes of these conflicts. This is really a story of courage.

I especially enjoyed the descriptiion of the cabin's interior and the way the rooms were used for double duty. (view spoiler)
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
Jul 24, 2009 Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance rated it it was ok
Shelves: newbery
Another Newbery tale that was once popular and now is seen as wrong-minded. This is an old family story of a boy who saved his mother and sister from Indian attack in the early years of New York. The boy was able to fire off an ancient family gun and stop the invaders from destroying his family. I understand how a group of people, in this case the Native Americans, can be unilaterally seen as cruel and aggressive from books such as Daniel Boone and The Matchlock Gun, but another part of me sees ...more
There is only one word to describe this blurb: Huh? This just seems like something that would belong in the back of one of those kids magazines featuring tiny stories that they write and submit in. If the otherworldly events that happened in this book happened today, the main character would be jailed with murder. It is not "deeply moving" as the dust jacket implies. By far, this is the worst Newbery Medal winning book that I've read so far for the project.
Amanda Harrison
Wow, 1942, this was the best you could do? A kid who thinks he needs a slave, a mother that needs saved from crazed Indians by her ten year old son. I'm a little embarrassed Newbery committee.
Warren Truitt
Oct 27, 2007 Warren Truitt rated it liked it
Shelves: chapterbooks
Quick read, strictly from the Dutch settler family's point of view. A Newbery Medal-winner, yes, but a dated view of "savage Indians."
Sep 18, 2016 Janelle rated it it was ok
Shelves: newbery-award
Short, not particularly well-written, but it is an interesting and historical account of a brave 10-year old boy in the 1700s upstate New York.
Aug 02, 2012 Debra rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Today's youngsters might not be able to relate to this harrowing story about an Indian attack on a family's home, but I'm sure young folk back in the day found it quite exciting!
Mar 31, 2015 Karen rated it it was amazing
Shelves: jacob, ellie, mom
Read summer 2014. My 8yr old son loved this book. Will read again!

Reading again..krb 7/24/15. Very interesting. This time Jacob rated this book 4 stars. Ellie rates it 2 stars..krb 7/27/15
Oh my. Times have changed.
Jennifer Kapetanovich
I would give it a 2, but my daughter gave it a 4, so I averaged our scores.
Feb 24, 2012 Samuel rated it it was ok
Shelves: children, newbery
Walter D. Edmonds won the Newbery in 1942, the Lewis Carroll Shelf Award in 1960, and the National Book Award in 1976, but these days, he's mostly remembered because John Ford made a famous film adaptation of his 1936 adult novel, Drums Along the Mohawk. As Rachael noted, Meindert DeJong can sympathize with one's reputation deteriorating over time, but it's still fascinating to me how quickly someone can be relegated to the footnotes of history.

The Matchlock Gun isn't a very well-remembered Newb
Erin Pierce
Mar 02, 2017 Erin Pierce rated it liked it
I liked this historical novelette....but it's not one I'd probably read again or recommend.
I read this book aloud to my children. It won the 1942 Newbery Medal.

The story takes place in the mid 1700s in New York State. Captain Teunis Van Alstyne is a member of the militia and has been going to Albany for the past several months to watch for the Indians who were raiding the houses of settlers. With her husband away on military duty, Gertrude becomes concerned by the fires in the distance which she fears have been set by the Indians. She takes the huge matchlock gun down from the mantle,
1942 Newbery Medal Winner

Wow. Ummm... heheh, heh... man.

I listened to the Blackstone Audio edition narrated by Mark Turetsky. Great narration.

Definitely wouldn't read this to a kid these days without more contextual explanation, though. Totally not PC. Whoa damn.

Basically, it's about a pioneer(?) family of Dutch (I think?) origin in New York, probably in the 1700s from what I could gather, embroiled in the French and Indian War(?) (obviously I didn't read the description of the book and am not s
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 24, 2014 Kathi rated it really liked it
Shelves: newbery
This short Newbery packs a lot into its few pages.

First, Walter D. Edmonds gives Mama, Papa, and Edward richly detailed characterization. We learn much about the young parents in a short time—even hints of their love and passion for each other. Edward is both admirably and realistically brave; I kept picturing my grandsons in his place, which made me connect even more deeply and emotionally with the story.

Next, the story of The Matchlock Gun is a slice of America, a chapter in Americana.

The Va
Nov 15, 2011 Sherri rated it it was ok
Genre: Novella, Historical Fiction, Adventure

Rating: ** This short novella by Walter D. Edmonds was first published in 1941. It includes both black and white and colored illustrations by Paul Lantz. The simplistic story line is easy to follow, but the Dutch names are difficult.

Summary: During the French and Indian War in 1756, Edward and his family were in a constant state of fear from threats by the French and the Indians. Edward’s father is a militia captain and is called away to protect their
Shanna Gonzalez
Jul 16, 2010 Shanna Gonzalez rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children-04-08
Teunis and Gertrude Van Alstyne are Dutch homesteaders caught in the middle of the French and Indian War, and one night Teunis is called away to fight. He leaves Gertrude, ten-year-old Edward, and six-year-old Trudy alone in their cabin, admonishing her to go to his mother's house if Indians come their way. But when Teunis sends word that Indians are coming, Gertrude decides to stay in the cabin out of dislike for her mother-in-law. Although she rationalizes the decision by telling herself their ...more
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Walter D. Edmonds has been a National Book Award winner and recipient of the Newbery Medal. He is the author of Bert Breen’s Barn, The Boyds of Black River, In the Hands of the Senecas, Mostly Canallers, Rome Haul, Time to Go House, and most recently the autobiographical Tales My Father Never Told, all available from Syracuse University Press.
More about Walter D. Edmonds...

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