The Matchlock Gun

If you want great historical fiction for younger children, The Matchlock Gun, which won the 1942 Newbery Medal, by Walter D. Edmonds, who also wrote the classic novel Drums Along the Mohawk, is it. Set in 1757, when New York was still a British colony during the French and Indian War, it tells the true story of ten-year-old Edward Van Alstyne, who lives with his father Teunis, mother Gertrude, and little sister Trudy, outside of Albany in upper New York. Father is called away with the militia to watch for an Indian raid from the north and leaves Edward to protect Mama and Trudy. The only gun left in the house is an old Spanish matchlock gun which is twice as long as Edward and much too heavy. Even Papa has never fired it, but he shows him how to use it, and Edward is determined to fight for his home and family. Will any Indians come? And if they do, will Edward be able to do anything about it? There is one reference to Papa’s wanting his schnapps. Otherwise, there is nothing objectionable. The size (just 62 pages) makes it perfect for early readers who are ready for chapter books.

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