Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Parents' Choice Awards : Books : Historical Fiction
Caesar Rodney's Ride

Caesar Rodney's Ride

Fall 2004 Historical Fiction
Ages: 9 & Up
Author: Jan Cheripko
Illustrator: Gary Lippincott
ISBN: 1-59078-065-5
Hardcover Price: $16.95
To tell the larger story of the Second Continental Congress and the signing of the Declaration of Independence, Jan Cheripko takes up the minor story of Caesar Rodney-a largely unknown delegate from Delaware who rode some eighty miles by horseback to attend the meeting at the last minute and vote. By means of this technique, readers are introduced to information about the issues then being debated and we see in the background those patriots (John Adams, Ben Franklin, and others) usually found in the foreground. Balancing foregrounds and backgrounds, Gary Lippincott provides competent illustrations for the book.

The story is made compelling by sacrifice and suspense. Rodney's ride was long and hard, and Cheripko makes much of the fact that Rodney had suffered from cancer of the face and asthma; but for a story of patriotic sacrifice, one can only wish that he might also have had to plow through horrible snowstorms rather than just suffer from saddle sores and a July thunderstorm. Suspense is generated by cinema-like crosscutting between Rodney's ride and events unfolding against the clock in Philadelphia where the vote would be taken for a declaration of independence or not; of course, it would have been wonderful if the vote was close and Rodney had arrived just in time with a tie-breaker but, as the author concedes, that wasn't quite the case.

History has a way of not being as interesting as fiction, but this book goes to great lengths to overcome that by trying to put Caesar Rodney's Ride right up there with Paul Revere's.

Jerry Griswold   ©2004 Parents' Choice

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