word craft



What’s this book about?

In this book, Avi explores the Amer­i­can Rev­o­lu­tion from a fresh per­spec­tive with the sto­ry of a young Loy­al­ist turned British spy nav­i­gat­ing patri­o­tism and per­son­al respon­si­bil­i­ty dur­ing the lead-up to the War of Inde­pen­dence.

When his father is killed by rebel vig­i­lantes, Noah flees with his fam­i­ly to Boston. Intent on aveng­ing his father, Noah becomes a spy for the British and first­hand wit­ness to the pow­er of par­ti­san rumor to dis­tort facts, the hypocrisy of men who demand free­dom while enslav­ing oth­ers, and the human con­nec­tions that bind peo­ple togeth­er regard­less of stat­ed alle­giances. Awash in con­tra­dic­to­ry infor­ma­tion and par­tic­i­pat­ing in key events lead­ing to the Amer­i­can Rev­o­lu­tion, Noah must forge his own under­stand­ing of right and wrong and deter­mine for him­self where his loy­al­ty tru­ly lies.


“In 1774, Mass­a­chu­setts was cen­tral to ris­ing ten­sions between the Colonies and Britain. Thir­teen-year-old Noah’s fam­i­ly sup­ports the King, but a friend’s betray­al caus­es the fam­i­ly to be dri­ven from their home after mem­bers of the Sons of Lib­er­ty beat Noah and tar and feath­er his father. It’s no won­der then that once Noah, his moth­er, and sis­ters flee to Boston, the teen becomes a spy for the British. Noah’s com­mit­ment to the Loy­al­ist cause wavers as he sees hypocrisy and tyran­ny on both sides. His Black friend Jol­la rais­es white Noah’s aware­ness of British and Amer­i­can com­mit­ment to slav­ery. As Noah strug­gles to deter­mine where his loy­al­ty lies, his mother’s words ‘think for your­self’ guide him and will res­onate with read­ers. While Noah wit­ness­es the famous ‘shot heard round the world’ at Lex­ing­ton, the book is less about com­bat than the issues that stoke the fires of con­flict, many of which are rel­e­vant today. His involve­ment in anoth­er his­tor­i­cal event demon­strates that rapid-fire spread of inac­cu­rate news is not a recent devel­op­ment. Avi paints a vivid por­trait of the pubs, streets, and coast­line of colo­nial Boston, fraught with dan­ger due to ris­ing ten­sions among the cit­i­zens. Noah’s fate is left unre­solved, sug­gest­ing there are no easy answers when choos­ing between right and wrong, but he is pre­pared to make his own deci­sions with con­fi­dence. VERDICT A fas­ci­nat­ing, com­plex and rarely seen view of the Amer­i­can Rev­o­lu­tion­ary War; a first pur­chase.” (School Library Jour­nal, starred review, Mary­beth Kozikows­ki, Sachem Pub­lic Library, Hol­brook, NY)

“But for the mus­kets and pow­dered wigs and tri­corn hats, read­ers might be excused for think­ing that Loy­al­ty, the lat­est nov­el from the New­bery Medal win­ner Avi (Crispin: The Cross of Lead), is a book about present-day Amer­i­ca. A dead­ly pan­dem­ic rav­ages the pop­u­la­tion. An armed police force intim­i­dates and assaults the peo­ple it’s meant to pro­tect. Gov­ern­ment lead­ers restrict vot­ing rights when elec­tions don’t go their way. Activists lead eco­nom­ic boy­cotts. Zealots dox polit­i­cal oppo­nents. Homes and busi­ness­es board up their win­dows against civ­il unrest. … Young read­ers who make it through the siege of Boston with him will be reward­ed with a nov­el that chal­lenges their ideas of Amer­i­can his­to­ry and their notions of loy­al­ty and patri­o­tism.” (Alan Gratz, The New York Times)

“Avi does an incred­i­ble job show­ing Noah’s inner tur­moil and shar­ing the his­tor­i­cal set­ting and events, this would be a great book club book for sixth graders!” (Imag­i­na­tion Soup, 100 Best Books for Sixth Graders)

“This is an impor­tant his­tor­i­cal era, yet fic­tion­al books on the top­ic are hard to come by, and ones that under­stand cur­rent thoughts about colo­nial­ism and race rela­tions are even hard­er to find. … Avi has the his­tor­i­cal chops to do this jus­tice.” (Ms. Yin­gling Reads)

“In his newest nov­el, Avi revis­its the begin­nings of the Amer­i­can Rev­o­lu­tion, explor­ing it from a young Loy­al­ist’s point of view. As the sto­ry opens, Noah’s father—a Church of Eng­land pastor—proclaims sup­port for the crown from his pul­pit, set­ting off a series of events that result in his death and change the lives of his fam­i­ly for­ev­er. They move to Boston, where Noah earns his wages under­cov­er in a Patri­ot-friend­ly tav­ern, spy­ing for the British cause. There he meets Jol­la, a young free Black man. Through their time togeth­er, as well as all he expe­ri­ences in the months lead­ing into the begin­ning of the war, he comes to the real­iza­tion that, no mat­ter what they pro­fess, there is hypocrisy on both sides of the con­flict. Con­fused and dis­il­lu­sioned, Noah must decide where he will stand. With his trade­mark eye for detail, Avi brings read­ers into the sto­ry’s time and place, not spar­ing the real­i­ties of war, and deal­ing authen­ti­cal­ly with Noah’s emo­tions. Inclu­sive and objec­tive, the work deliv­ers his­tor­i­cal food for thought and a great read.” (Beth Rosa­nia, Book­list)

“The sto­ry is spiked with live­ly dia­logue, espe­cial­ly effec­tive as Jol­la and Noah sort out how they feel about ‘being in a place where there are all kinds of slav­ery.’ An exten­sive author’s note points out how the ideals of the Amer­i­can Rev­o­lu­tion and def­i­n­i­tions of the words patri­ot, trai­tor, and loy­al­ty are still being debat­ed today.” (Dean Schnei­der, The Horn Book)

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