henry and the cannons

Henry and the Cannons: An Extraordinary True Story of the American Revolution by Don Brown

The trend for great children’s historical biographies in picture book format continue this year.  This picture book tells the story of Henry Knox.   It is the winter of 1775 and the Americans need cannons to take back Boston from the British.  Knox takes the challenge of moving 59 cannons over 225 miles across Massachusetts in the dead of winter.  It took boats, oxen and plenty of determination and innovation to get those cannons across the state.  The journey and amazing achievement is told here in a way that will entice children to learn more stories about the American Revolution.

Brown’s writing is solid throughout the book.  He carefully sets the scene, clearly explaining how unbalanced the war was with Revolutionaries vs. the world’s best soldiers.  Add to that the power of cannons, and there was clearly no hope for victory.  After that the book turns more towards adventure and peril, making for a read that must be finished.  From the impossible mission to each and every mishap, readers will be rooting for Knox.

The illustrations serve to underline the stark winter and the heaviness of the cannons.  Men and oxen strain to move the 120,000 pounds of cannon.  Snow flies, the boats seem more like twigs next to the metal, and the crossing of an iced-over river brings drama and danger. 

Strong and noteworthy, this picture book nonfiction title has history and also plenty of action and adventure.  Appropriate for ages 7-10.

Reviewed from copy received from Roaring Brook Press.