Fever 1793 takes place in Philadelphia during the yellow fever plague. The novel starts off normally enough. Mattie, the protagonist, lives with her m...moreFever 1793 takes place in Philadelphia during the yellow fever plague. The novel starts off normally enough. Mattie, the protagonist, lives with her mother and grandfather, running a coffeehouse. One day, one of the workers does not show up for work-she has fallen ill and died. Suddenly, many, eventually thousands, also fall ill and die. Mattie’s mother soon falls ill as well and is sent out of the city to recover. Mattie and her grandfather abandon the coffee-shop, trying to escape the fever, when the grandfather falls ill. They are left on the streets with nothing to support them. In the process of taking care of her grandfather, Mattie too falls ill. They eventually both recover and return to Philadelphia, only to discover that their coffeehouse had been ransacked. The two try to live in the house with what little they have when the grandfather falls ill again. During this time, burglars come, and a scuffle arises that ends in the grandfather’s death. All hope seems lost until Mattie finds Eliza, a black woman who used to work in her family’s coffeehouse. Together they survive the harsh winter, caring for those less fortunate. Ultimately, the fever is eradicated, and Mattie survives the fever of 1793. As a reader, this novel was enjoyable because it was narrated by Mattie. The reader sees not only the horrors of the epidemic, but also the views of a teenage girl. We see her lament about Nathaniel and whine about her chores. This makes her very relatable. It was also enjoyable because it covers a topic that is often not mentioned in literature: the yellow fever that killed thousands of Philadelphians. Philadelphia was the New York City of its time. Imagine if a disease such as that hit NYC today? It’s almost impossible to imagine. The drama that unfolds really keeps the reader’s attention, especially when the grandfather must fight to protect his shop. As a teacher, this novel would be a good text to teach about overcoming obstacles. It might also serve as a good format for a research paper. Perhaps students could look up more information about the yellow fever or other various plagues that affected the world in the last 500 years.
Witch Child is a novel, fictionally based around the pages of a diary found stitched into a quilt from the colonial period. We are introduced to Mary...moreWitch Child is a novel, fictionally based around the pages of a diary found stitched into a quilt from the colonial period. We are introduced to Mary and her grandmother, who is a very good healer in a little English town. The town’s people think that the grandmother is a witch and within the first chapter we, through Marie’s eyes, witness the execution of her grandmother. Mary escapes, with the help of other witches, is put on a ship bound for the wilderness of America. She travels with a congregation looking for a new home, and makes friends with an old woman who is alone and a father and son not with the congregation. They try to make a life for themselves but the oppressive leaders of the congregation have taken a disliking to them. While Mary and her friends try to settle and form a new life, the congregation prepares for a witch hunt. This novel is great because it is interesting and fun but also takes place during the colonial period in America, which we feel is the time period students learn the most about in school. This novel utilizes a strong female protagonist who, while young, is quick on her feet and cleverer than most of the older characters in the book. There is always the suspense of her being found out for being a witch, plus the added questions as to if she really does have magical powers or not. This book is also part of a series so interested students can read on if they like the story. The idea that the congregation is coming to America to find religious freedom but denies anyone who is different that same freedom is powerful and thought provoking. It has the potential to raise very interesting discussion points.