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Colonial Voices
- Hear Them Speak
Illustrated by Larry Day

Dutton/Penguin, 2008, 978-0-525-47872-0

Cover Copyright © by Larry Day, 2008


  Winner of the 2009 Carol Otis Hurst Children's Book Prize

Colonial Voices Cover

Colonial Voices - Hear them Speak: It's December 16th, 1773, and Boston is about to explode! Meet Ethan, errand boy for the printer and spy for the Sons of Liberty. Follow him through Boston as he does his chores for Patriots, Loyalists, and those who are in-between. What will happen now?  


Author's Comments:
King George has declared a new tax for the colonists to pay. This time the tax is on tea.
Today is the final meeting at Old South to decide whether the tea ships will be returned to England  or unloaded and taxed. In Colonial Voices, we visit the shoemaker, the innkeeper, the clockmaker, the midwife, the dame school mistress, the blacksmith and others. We learn about their occupations and listen to their political views. Larry Day, award winning illustrator, has provided delicious details in his vivid watercolors.

The book was also designed to become a Reader's Theater. In some schools, teachers have had students choose parts and project the illustrations as each student reads his or her part. Other teachers have had students make up additional appropriate characters to add to the script.
What Reviewers Said:

Booklist , May 15th issue.(Starred Review). Also, Book Links (July, '08):
Winters, who so successfully captured the common folk in Voices of Egypt (2005), offers an even more layered and textured group of voices here. It’s December 16, 1773, and “Boston is about to explode.”. So begins a glorious introduction to the Boston Tea Party, which is so much more. There’s the printer, the baker and the shoemaker, who are secret patriots; the milliner, who says, “Pay [the tax]! Count your blessings. I prefer the King to a rabble-rousing mob!” The tavern keeper, the blacksmith’s slave, the Native American basket maker, and others have their say. Winter’s strong, moving text is supported by a thoughtful design and rich paintings capture the individuals and their circumstances as well as what’s at stake.. This does for colonial times what the 2007 Newbery Medal book, Good Masters, Sweet Ladies, does for the Middle Ages. —Ilene Cooper

School Library Journal ,June, '08, (Starred Review):
Colonial Bostonians introduce themselves through free-verse vignettes… A glossary is included to help children with terms such as “fripperies,” “journeyman,” “limner,” “hackle,” and “wag-on-the-wall.” Historical notes go into more detail about each person’s job and compare similar positions in the northern and southern colonies. Both men and women are portrayed; while most characters are white, a Native American woman and a male African slave are also featured. A unique presentation for all libraries.–Lucinda Snyder Whitehurst, St. Christopher’s School, Richmond, VA

Kirkus Reviews(April, '08):
Ever wonder what it felt like to be in Boston on December 16, 1773 - the day of the infamous Boston Tea Party? Everyone has an opinion about the King and his tea tax. By nightfall..., the patriots opt to turn Boston harbor into a teapot and defy the King. Told from the perspectives of ordinary citizens engaged in ordinary work, the text conveys the diversity and defiance of the times. Engaging ink-and-watercolor illustrations contrast the drama of this historical event with details of everyday life in the streets and shops of colonial Boston. Savory historical fare.


Winner of the 2009 Carol Otis Hurst Children's Book Prize, sponsored by the Westfield, MA Athenaeum: the Milton Burrall Whitney Library, the Jasper Rand Art Museum, and the Edwin Smith Historical Museum.
Book of the Month (October, 2008), Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children.   


Award Nominations/State Reading Lists:

Indiana Library Federation - Young Hoosier Book Award(Intermediate) 2011-2012
Virginia State Reading Association - Virginia Readers Choice List 2011-2012
South Carolina Association of School Librarians - Children's Book Award List 2010-2011
Texas Christian Schools Association - Children's Crown Award 2010-2011
New York State Reading Association - The Charlotte Award 2010
Pennsylvania Reading Association - Keystone to Reading Book Award List 2009-2010
Delaware State Reading Association - Delaware Diamond Book Award List 2009-2010
Nominated for the Cybils Award (2008)


Best Book Lists:

National Council for the Social Studies - Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People (2009)
International Reading Association - Teacher's Choices List (2009)
Texas Library Association - Recommended Books Published in 2008
Peggy Sharp, Educational Consultant - Best New Children's Books List
Barbara Kiefer, Charlotte S. Huck Professor, Ohio State University - Favorite Books for 2008


UMass Teaching American History Project

Colonial Voices was used as a resource for an Teaching American History Project funded by the US Department of Education in partnership with the University of Massachusetts Lowell. I was invited to speak at their final session to the 130 social studies teachers who participated. They came from eight school districts in the greater Boston area. I called my presentation "Bringing History Alive".
Signing in Lowell
Kay signs copies of Colonial Voices: Hear them Speak for two participants in the Teaching American History Project.  Kay was invited to speak about the creation of her book, research that was done, and strategies for bringing history alive in classrooms. Thirty eight teachers attended, and some shared projects they had created for their students about life in Colonial America.
Comment from the American History Project Coordinator:
"I want to say again how wonderful your presentation was on several levels. Perhaps you realized it (perhaps not), but in addition to presenting a compelling and very coherent account of how your books are created and produced, you modeled a truly excellent approach to the teaching of history, especially for teaching elementary school students who are often getting their first experience in learning history and social studies. I think the teachers greatly appreciated hearing about the importance of storytelling, including bringing into the story the voices and perspectives of people who experienced the actual historical event(s)."

Gregory Gray Fitzsimons
Project Manager
Office of School Partnerships
of Massachusetts Lowell
600 Suffolk Street
Lowell, MA 01854

"Voices of Boston"
Performed by the third grade in the Ellis Mendell Elementary School, Roxbury, MA
Ellis Mendell School Cantata
Several third grade classes at Ellis Mendell Elementary wrote an 8-song cantata through "Classroom Cantatas", the Cantata Singers' song-writing and singing program in the Boston Public Schools. Elizabeth Hodder, the Trustee/Education Advisor, researched ideas for the text of the cantatas and discovered Colonial Voices: Hear Them Speak, which provided some inspiration for the music the children composed.


Did You Hear What I Heard?
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Voices from the Oregon Trail
This School Year Will Be THE BEST!
Colonial Voices - Hear Them Speak
My Teacher for President
Voices of Ancient Egypt
Abe Lincoln, The Boy Who Loved Books
Whooo's That?
The Teeny Tiny Ghost
Whooo's Haunting the Teeny Tiny Ghost
The Teeny Tiny Ghost and the Monster
Did You See What I Saw?
How Will the Easter Bunny Know?
But Mom, Everybody Else Does!
Tiger Trail
Wolf Watch
Who's Coming for Christmas?


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