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In 1793 Philadelphia, sixteen-year-old Matilda Cook, separated from her sick mother, learns about perseverance and self-reliance when she is forced to cope with the horrors of a yellow fever epidemic.

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Showing 1-5 of 235 (next | show all)
This was a reread for me, first having read it in 2006. It's a very interesting and well-told story and now I'm inspired to jump into studies of this period of history. Having seen how quickly this plague spread and caused such havoc, I can see why people were, at first, nervous about Covid. Of course, we now know it was nothing like this, but it's shocking to think how quickly everything changed for those who experienced this pandemic in 1793. One thing that particularly stuck out to me was how the people returning back to the city after the danger had passed seemed to be insensitive to all those who stayed in the city had gone through. I can imagine it wasn't wrapped up nearly as neatly as it is in this children's book. ( )
  classyhomemaker | Dec 11, 2023 |
A great novel that deals with the yellow fever epidemic in 1793. I read this book when I was younger and thought that the main character was believable and had realistic growth through the story. This novel would be great for classrooms and for learning about epidemics that happened in American history. Throughout the novel, Mattie has to rely on her inner strength that she did not know she had in order to survive. ( )
  BrennaMarohl | Jul 5, 2023 |
This is a well-written story about a serious epidemic caused by Yellow Fever in Philadelphia in 1793. It's an interesting and well-researched account of a piece of history I knew nothing about. The epidemic is experienced through the eyes of a young girl, Mattie, and we learn what happens to her, members of her family and household, friends and neighbours right across the social and cultural strata of the city. ( )
  MochaVonBee | Jan 21, 2023 |
Loved it! A book, perhaps, for young, young adults. And not so much young adults. (At least by today's standards ... it's much more innocent than The Luxe series or Gossip Girl or Pretty Little Liars). However, it also stands apart from GG or PLL because it takes place centuries ago and uses historical facts and characters throughout the plot (a reason why I LOVE the Luxe series).

There is only one main character (refreshing, as lately I'm used to young adult novels with several main characters, constant switching of POVs or checking in on other characters across towns and countries): a sweet, innocent, hardworking girl who stands up for herself. It takes place during, yes, 1793, when the yellow fever caused thousands of deaths in Philadelphia and its surrounding villages.

This novel is a light introduction for teens to topics such as death of loved ones, first crushes, learning work ethic, and having to grow wise beyond your years at a rapid pace because of circumstances out of your control. A pleasant, quick read. A lovely blend of fictional and real characters that paint a dismal yet hopeful picture of a thriving city in young America. ( )
  ostbying | Jan 1, 2023 |
This book follows a young teen girl named Matilda (Mattie) Cook who lives with her family above a coffeehouse in the year 1793. An illness breaks out and the rest of the book is a mystery about what is going to happen to Mattie next. The book is based on the yellow fever epidemic. There is so much history and misconceptions on how illness work in this book that the Mattie has to find out. I would recommend this book to upper middle grades and high school aged children. It is also very interesting to read it as an adult. ( )
  mlh132 | Nov 18, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 235 (next | show all)
This is a great historical fiction for middle school through adults. I don't remember being taught anything about the yellow fever epidemic that consumed Philadelphia in 1793 so I was really interested after reading the description.

In the beginning of the book, Mattie Cook is a typical kid with big hopes and dreams. She often butted heads with her hard-working mother who owned and operated a coffee shop. The shop was normally packed all day, but as the fever spread, more and more people fled to the country leaving Philadelphia a ghost town.

Mattie came down with the fever after being stranded in the middle of nowhere by a family that she had paid to take her and her grandfather to a friends farm outside the city. She was found laying by the side of the road by French nurses who took her and her grandfather to their hospital.

Mattie recovered and returned to Philadelphia to look for her mother. Instead, she saw people dying in the streets and carts full of the dead being taken to mass graves. Her mother was not at home and the shop had been ransacked. Food was in such short supply everyone ate very little.

You can feel the pain, sorrow, and determination on every page. Mattie's character evolves and grows up quickly. She kept going through it all never giving up or loosing faith that her mother was alive and would return to town.

The first frost of fall came with a huge celebration, marking the end of the yellow fever pandemic. Philadelphia's once hauntingly silent streets were packed with Philadelphians eager to return home. At the time, Philadelphia was the capital of the growing United States. When president Washington returned to the city, the last of the residents came home.

I enjoyed this quick historical read and highly recommend it to middle grades and up. It gives the reader a glimpse into the struggle of staying alive in a time when there were no treatments.

As always, happy reading! 📚



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The City of Philadelphia is perhaps one of the wonders of the world. —Lord Adam Gordon, 1795
Oh then the hands of the pitiful Mother prepared her Child's body for the grave... —Letter of Margaret Morris, 1793
This book is for my father, Reverend Frank A. Halse Jr, the finest man I know.
First words
I woke to the sound of a mosquito whining in my left ear and my mother screeching in the right.
A hot wind blew trash and dirt through the abandoned stalls. It looked like an enormous broom had swept away all the people.
"A field plowed by the devil," I murmured. "They're not even using coffins."
Though we were all healed of the fever, some wounds were inside the heart and would mend slowly.
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In 1793 Philadelphia, sixteen-year-old Matilda Cook, separated from her sick mother, learns about perseverance and self-reliance when she is forced to cope with the horrors of a yellow fever epidemic.

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In 1793 Philadelphia, sixteen-year-old Matilda Cook, separated from her sick mother, learns about perseverance and self-reliance when she is forced to cope with the horrors of a yellow fever epidemic.
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Laurie Halse Anderson is a LibraryThing Author, an author who lists their personal library on LibraryThing.

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