Friday, August 28, 2015

Sons of Liberty: episode 2

I just want you all to know that every time I type the title of this mini-series for the blog post title, I always type "Sons of Library."  So I think that should be the title of History Channel's next mini-series.

Episode 2: The Uprising

The Boston Tea Party commences when Sam Adams and friends seize a British ship and proceed to dump its cargo in Boston Harbor.  In retaliation the British prime minister back in London, despite Ben Franklin's futile ministrations on behalf of Boston, dispatches the "cancer" otherwise known as General Gage to Boston with more troops to bring the city to heel.

After relieving the governor of his duties in Boston and putting the city under military rule (for all intents and purposes really), Gage attempts to placate the Sam Adams problem by buying the man off.  This fails miserably, and so Gage decides the next best thing is to send a message to the city and its citizens by publicly flogging a man caught stealing.  In another attempt to solve the Sam Adams problem, Gage summons Sam's cousin, John Adams, to a meeting where the general proceeds to intimidate and threaten John Adams and everything he's worked for and holds dear if the poor man doesn't rein his cousin.  Instead John Adams is finally spurred to action after a whole lotta doin' nothin' except trying to talk some sense into his cousin, Sam, while observing most of the goings on in Boston from the side lines.  Then Gage confiscates Hancock's house, and Hancock throws in again with Sam Adams.

John Adams' call for a Continental Congress in Philadelphia spectacularly fails to rally other colonies' support for Boston's British problem (except from Virginia's George Washington, who sees the writing on the wall long before the other delegates thanks to prior personal experience with Gage).  Boston's delegates return to the city to heed Washington's advice to build their own militia to defend themselves.  Adams and company recruit some men and get their hands on an armory's worth of guns, but the British have gun powder on lock down, and without gun powder the guns are useless.  So for the second time in two episodes Sam Adams gets to stick it to the British by stealing all the barrels of gun powder out of the heavily guarded British storehouse in the middle of the night right under the British soldiers' noses.  And then the colonists blow up the storehouse for good measure.  The episode ends on the green at Lexington where the British had hoped to surprise the colonial militia and crush the resistance once and for all.  The colonial militia is neither surprised nor will the resistance be crushed.

My thoughts

--Why does everyone except Sam Adams paint their faces for the Boston Tea Party?

--I think Hancock should know better by now than to think he will successfully be able to talk down Sam Adams from whatever foolhardy plan the man's cooking up.

--My reaction to Gage's mistaken assumption that Sam Adams can be bought off: HAHAHAHAHAHA.

--Dr. Warren and Mrs. Gage are playing with fire and only painting targets on their backs because when the general finds out about those two, they will both be lucky to survive.

--George Washington says General Gage is a cancer, and Gage is indeed a cancer.

--Why does Gage confiscate Hancock's house?  Is it retaliation because Gage suspects Hancock is mixed up with the rebels?  Or is the governor's mansion not fancy enough for Gage?

--Reviewed by Ms. Angie

Friday, August 21, 2015

Sons of Liberty: episode 1

Episode 1: A Dangerous Game

The British have put out an arrest warrant for Samuel Adams, tax collector, because he hasn't been collecting taxes.  That is, rather than put his friends out of their homes or businesses or throw them in jail when they can't afford to pay, he lets it slide.  And now the British want their money and have come to Sam to collect the debt.  Instead Sam leads his would be captors on a wild chase through the streets and over the roof tops of colonial Boston eventually eluding them when a mob of colonials chases the British regulars back to the governor's mansion.  The soldiers grab up the governor and skedaddle before the mob descends on the mansion.  And so begins Boston's ever escalating British problems.

Following the failed arrest of Sam Adams and the ensuing debacle that ended with the mob taking apart the governor's mansion, the governor decides to approach the Sam Adams problem from a different angle.  The governor reaches out to the very wealthy dandy, John Hancock and dispatches him to 'take care' of his (the governor's) Adams problem.  However, when this deal goes sideways and the governor sends word to London about his problems with these feisty colonials, the perhaps unintended result is escalation rather de-escalation of tensions when more British troops are dispatched to Boston, there's a crack down on import/customs tariffs, and whatever shady deal Hancock had with the governor regarding customs tariffs is terminated.

Hancock only cares about his bottom line and making money, so the termination of his shady deal forces him to engage Sam Adams and friends in a city wide smuggling/black market operation that operates right under the noses of the British authorities.  Tensions escalate as they do in situations like these, and snowball as they tend to do, when the governor and his forces discover the black market operation, break it wide open, put the participating store keepers out of business (in favor of known loyalist store owners), and then a confrontation between another colonial mob and a loyalist storekeeper ends in a tragedy that will have far reaching consequences for all those involved.  The episode ends with another confrontation between another colonial mob and a small group of British soldiers that ends in still more bloodshed.

My thoughts:

--This episode covers so much ground--five years and a lot of time jumping--that it can be hard to keep the time line straight.

--There were a lot of colonial mobs back in the day.

--Throughout the initial governor and Hancock discussion in which the governor enlists Hancock to rein in Adams, I can't help but think that the governor will underestimate Hancock, that Hancock will not deal with Adams the way the governor wants, and that this detente will lead to the governor making an enemy out of Hancock.

--Eventually Hancock is going to have to make a choice: make money or throw in with Adams' fight to end British tyranny.

--While all Hancock wants to do is (continue to) make money, Sam Adams' motives are slightly more altruistic with the added side benefit of sticking it to the British in the process.  Or maybe all Adams really wants to do is stick it to the British.

--Reviewed by Ms. Angie

Friday, August 14, 2015

Sons of Liberty

It's been a while since my last post.  I took two classes this summer, and I didn't really have a lot of time to read anything other than class assignments, especially after the second class started.  I've been reading the same book since May and have picked that one back up after the end of the second class.  So there will be a review for that one eventually.

I recently watched History channel's mini-series, Sons of Liberty (for which I've now typed 'Sons of Library' twice).  Prior to Sons of Liberty I watched the movie Seventh Son, which stars Ben Barnes (of Prince Caspian in The Chronicles of Narnia fame) as the apprentice and seventh son of a seventh son of the title.  Ben Barnes also stars in this mini-series as Sam Adams.   Anyway some people watch this mini-series and are all 'so many errors--it's so bad.'  People.  I realize History channel didn't advertise this fact (it sounds like they buried it a little bit), but it's a mini-series--it is not a documentary.  It is a highly fictionalized account of the events and tensions centered in Boston, Massachusetts, in the ten years that led to the colonies in America declaring their independence from the British.  The majority of the action is centered in Boston--in fact, when the Continental Congress finally does meet in Philadelphia most of the other delegates are pretty much like, 'too bad so sad' but ya'll brought this on yourselves so you're on your own.  The mini-series highly dramatizes the events, tensions, characters' relationships and roles and plays fast and loose with a lot of the facts, and if you go into the series knowing this, you will enjoy it.  The three episodes are jam packed with plot and cover a lot of ground in not a lot of time.  Check back in the coming weeks for my reviews and thoughts on each episode!  And if you've seen the mini-series, leave a comment and let me know what you thought!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Jane, The Fox & Me by Fanny Britt and Isabelle Arsenault

I've been taking a class this summer, so I haven't had much time for reading anything other than class readings.  However, I did recently read the graphic novel Jane, The Fox & Me by Fanny Britt and Isabelle Arsenault.  I was shelving books in the juvenile fiction section, and I came across this book; it looked intriguing so I checked it out.  Originally written in French and published in French speaking Canada, it's been translated into English by Christelle Morelli.

Jane, The Fox & Me is both a charming and heartbreaking story about a friendless girl who is being bullied by a group of girls who used to be her friends.  What precipitated the bullying isn't elaborated upon... and really, I want to know why these girls turned on their friend, Helene.  The former friends bully Helene about her weight and call her fat, which Helene is not.  What is even more upsetting is that Helene has so internalized their barbed comments that she believes she is fat.  Helene is a reader, and she finds solace in the book Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, particularly identifying with Jane.  Then Helene's class goes on an overnight trip to a wilderness camp, which Helene dreads like the dickens, and after a particularly humiliating encounter with the bullies, Helene is befriended by another girl.

This is lovely story, and it has lovely illustrations.  It's a slim novel and since it's also a graphic novel, it reads very quickly.  Don't forget to really study the illustrations--the visual imagery of every graphic novel is just as important as the words on the page.

--Reviewed by Ms. Angie

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Hidden: A Child's Story of the Holocaust

Hidden: A Child's Story of the Holocaust is written by Loic Dauvillier, illustrated by Marc Lizano and colored by Greg Salsedo.  It was also translated by Alexis Siegel.  It's a very slim, middle level graphic novel.  This is the second Holocaust themed graphic novel that I've read.  In college I read Art Spiegelman's Maus I: A Survivor's Tale: My Father Bleeds History and Maus II: A Survivor's Tale: And Here My Troubles Began; I also read Spiegelman's later graphic novel that depicted his experiences in New York City on September 11, 2001, and I highly recommend them all.

I don't know if Hidden is based upon the writer's family history or if it is a fictionalized Holocaust story.  Other than a synopsis of the story on the book jacket, there isn't really information on the writer and illustrator.  According to the publisher's website, Hidden is a Mildred L. Batchelder Honor Book, an America Library Association Notable Children's Book, and an Association of Jewish Libraries Sydney Taylor Honor Book.

The comic panels tell the harrowing story of Dounia Cohen's childhood living as a Jew in France in 1942.  The story opens immediately after the establishment of Vichy France when Germany's Nazis begin their systematic persecution of France's Jews.  The story is framed as a story within a story in that many years later, Dounia shares the story of her childhood with her granddaughter, Elsa, late one night.  After France falls to Germany, Dounia is persecuted by her teachers at her girls' school and scorned by her best friend.  Late one night when the police come to arrest her parents, Dounia's parents manage to hide her in the bottom of a dresser for safekeeping.  Early the next morning Dounia's neighbor lady, who turns out to be part of a network of people helping Jews hide in France, comes to get her, and Dounia's time in hiding begins.

Hidden tells the story of a scary situation that no child should have to endure.  And while it is very serious subject matter, the story is framed for younger readers because Elsa, the granddaughter to whom Dounia tells her story, is very young.  This would be a good book to introduce younger readers to the history of the Holocaust or to use as supplemental reading material in a unit about Holocaust.  You can print a brief reader's guide for the book here.

--Reviewed by Ms. Angie