In London in 1735, eleven-year-old Forrest Harper is living with his family in the Tower of London. There he helps his father tend the ravens and guard the prisoners. Still, life is lonely. When vicious Scottish Rebels are captured, Forrest is delighted. Perhaps now he can prove his courage and impress the local bullies who torment him. His happiness is short-lived, though, when the Harpers are only given custody of Maddy, a Scottish Rebel's daughter, for a rebel in a dress will surely make Forrest a laughingstock. As the days pass, Maddy's beauty and warmth and her touching stories of life in Scotland seal a friendship between them. But when she is slated for execution, Forrest is faced with a horrifying choice: commit treason and help her escape, or obey the law and allow his innocent friend to be executed.
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Elvira Woodruff is the author of many popular novels. Her books have won numerous awards and honors. The hundreds of letters from children that she receives each year keep her excited about writing. She lives in Martin's Creek, Pennsylvania, where she keeps a garden that is filled with morning glories.
Simon Vance is an award-winning actor and an AudioFile Golden Voice with over forty Earphones Awards. He has won thirteen prestigious Audie Awards and was Booklist's very first Voice of Choice in 2008. He has narrated more than eight hundred audiobooks over almost thirty years, beginning when he was a radio newsreader for the BBC in London.From School Library Journal:
Grade 5-8-Eleven-year-old Forrest is the son of the Ravenmaster in the Tower of London. Historically, this position, which fell to one of the Tower guards, was to care for the ravens that live within the walls of the fortress as a token of luck to keep it from falling to its enemies. Forrest has grown up in the Tower and has his own pet raven, Tuck. He feels confined and sheltered from the outside world. Bullies make fun of him. When dangerous Scottish rebels are captured and imprisoned, he hopes to show his bravery. His responsibility, however, turns out to be to take food to the young daughter of one of the rebels. As he learns more about Maddy, he comes to admire and respect her, and realizes that if he does not help her escape, she will be executed. To do so, though, he will have to go against all he has been taught. The story has its share of suspense, excitement, and interesting characters. Set in 1735, it does not flinch from describing the brutality of the time, including public hangings, which Forrest's mother loves to attend. While some of the plot elements may seem unrealistic and the ending too pat, the story is certainly satisfying. Its message of judging people on their own merits and not on the basis of stereotypes comes across strongly. An author's note, a history of the Tower of London, and a glossary of unfamiliar English and Scottish words are appended.
Bruce Anne Shook, Mendenhall Middle School, Greensboro, NC
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