Powder Monkey by Donna McDine, illustrated by K.C. Snider, is a heart wrenching historical fiction. The story chronicles the lives of two brothers during British naval history. The brothers are taken and forced to run powder to the cannons during battles at sea.
No child should have to endure such cruel ordeal. At the age of twelve and fourteen, the two brothers should have been allowed to attend school, not be servants to sailors.
I was so encouraged by Tommy’s will to make the best of his situation. He could have easily given up. He never sees his parents again, but Tommy refuses to let his situation define who he becomes.
As I read the story, I thought about the lessons young children today can learn from Tommy’s situation. The two words that come to mind are perseverance and thankfulness.
The technical age we now live in encourages children to go after instant gratification. I see this in my classroom all the time. Students are not willing to put in the work in order to do well. It is a good thing to teach children early on the value of not giving up and to be thankful for the child labor laws that protect them.
K.C. Snider’s artwork transports the reader back to a world where innocent boys endured many hardships. Parents and teachers can certainly use the book to teach many valuable lessons about life and how it should not be taken for granted.