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The Matchlock Gun (1941)

by Walter D. Edmonds

Other authors: Paul Lantz (Illustrator)

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1,906296,686 (3.67)20
In 1756, during the French and Indian War in upper New York state, ten-year-old Edward is determined to protect his home and family with the ancient, and much too heavy, Spanish gun that his father had given him before leaving home to fight the enemy.
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» See also 20 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 29 (next | show all)
Not bad, but feels like an excerpt rather than a book, or an abridgment. There was no background, no motivation to help understand why the characters behaved the way they did. And it was very slight, not enough detail to make a full story. ( )
  emrsalgado | Jul 23, 2021 |
NA
  pszolovits | Feb 3, 2021 |
Walter D Edmonds, teacher and historical writer, wrote the classic adult historical fiction book, Drums Along the Mohawk that was made into a popular movie. With his children’s book, The Matchlock Gun, he demonstrated his mastery not only of colonial New York history in the 1700s, America’s western frontier at the time, but also of world history. He presents it in a way that is not dry or preachy, but his casual adjectives and descriptions such as St Francis Indians, the Spanish gun from Bergom Op Zoom, and that Mama is a Palatine disliked by her Dutch mother-in-law show the depths of his knowledge and create a clear picture for us of those times.
The French and their Algonquian allies raided the American settlements before we were a nation, hoping to secure this country for their own, fighting the English, Dutch and Palatine settlers that had established themselves here. Through the young boy’s eyes we hear the story of the events around 1757 leading up to and including the Indian raid. Not a casual onlooker, Edward does his part to protect his family.
Some people ask me why I am interested in stories of the past that appear to us today to be racist or “politically incorrect”. We read that the boy’s Dutch grandmother barricaded herself in the house with her slaves and there is no understanding of why the St Francis Indians (Native Americans to us today) are visiting this horror on the frontier farmers. It is important to see the world through their eyes and not to forget our history. More importantly, I think we should not clean history up too much to suit todays norms or we may not remember the lessons we can learn from the past. There were Dutch slave owners in New York and New Jersey and the state of Rhode Island had the largest slave population in the country for a time. Historical writing is a wonderful starting point for looking into the realities of a situation.
The hard feelings between the Dutch and the Palatines lasted a long time and the divisions between the Dutch and the English were so strong, that after the English conquered New York in 1664 and the Dutch rebellion conquered it back for a year in 1673-1674, some of the Dutch refused to live under English rule and moved to New Jersey. The English and the French took even longer to make peace with each other on this side of the Atlantic. As a descendant of all of the parties involved, the Palatines, Dutch, French and St. Francis Indians, this book is a treasure, showing through the eyes of a child, the simple realities of life and survival on the frontier of New York State in the 1700s. It is still a good book for very young children and interesting and informative adult reading. ( )
  PhyllisHarrison | Oct 25, 2020 |
00008884
  lcslibrarian | Aug 13, 2020 |
Written in 1942, The matchlock Gun focuses on Edward, a young boy left in charge of the family farm when his father leaves to fight in the French-Indian War. Before leaving, his father gives him a matchlock gun to help protect his mother and sister.

While this is the shortest Newbery winner that I've read, it packed quite a punch in its brief pages. Obviously, there are quite a few depictions of war type violence so this might be best for slightly older children. There is a great feeling of bravery in difficult circumstances throughout the story that I enjoyed. Overall, though, I didn't like this book as much as I did other Newbery winners. ( )
  BookishHooker | Dec 16, 2019 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Walter D. Edmondsprimary authorall editionscalculated
Lantz, PaulIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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To my godson Nicholas Biddle Edmonds
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Edward watched intently as his father struggled into the blue uniform coat that he had had made when he was elected captain of the Guilderland militia.
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In 1756, during the French and Indian War in upper New York state, ten-year-old Edward is determined to protect his home and family with the ancient, and much too heavy, Spanish gun that his father had given him before leaving home to fight the enemy.

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In 1756, during the French and Indian War in upper New York state, ten-year-old Edward is determined to protect his home and family with the ancient, and much too heavy, Spanish gun that his father had given him before leaving home to fight the enemy.

Available online at The Internet Archive:
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