The talented Laurie Halse Anderson (halseanderson ) just shared the news that her historical novel CHAINS has won the Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction, and I couldn’t be happier. My 7th graders and I will be reading the final chapters tomorrow and Friday, and I was excited about that even before I heard today’s news. CHAINS is about Isabel, a slave girl trapped in New York City and torn between Loyalists and Patriots as the Revolutionary War ravages the city. Yesterday, President Obama (I love writing that) gave us a brilliant connection to this chapter of American history when he quoted Thomas Paine’s "The Crisis" in his Inaugural Address.
"Let it be told to the future world that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive, that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet it."
Just days after Paine shared those words, General George Washington did what no one believed was possible — defeated the Hessians at Trenton after the famous river crossing immortalized in this painting by Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze.
George Washington Crossing the Delaware, 1851 – Metropolitan Museum of Art
In my classroom this week, we’ll be talking about turning points and history and hope. And we’re going to write letters through time, to tell Isabel and Curzon from CHAINS all about what happened in Washington, DC on a cold day in January, 2009. We’ll let them know about Laurie’s award, too. On both counts, I know they will be so very proud.