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Book club: Boy questions his beliefs as America prepares for war

The Washington Post logo The Washington Post 6/15/2022 Christina Barron
© Allison Colpoys for The Washington Post

Loyalty

Avi

Ages 8 to 12

The American Revolution and the lead-up to it might seem like a simple story: The British were unfair to the American colonists, taxing them without giving them a voice in Parliament and getting too involved in local government. The liberty-seeking patriots were the heroes. But for Noah Cope, a 13-year-old main character in the novel “Loyalty,” the situation was a lot more complicated.

© HarperCollins/HarperCollins

In 1774, Noah’s family lives in Tullbury, Massachusetts, where his father is a pastor of a parish connected to the Church of England. Noah and his two sisters were born in America, but the Copes consider themselves British. As the story begins, Noah’s father is overheard praying for King George III. He’s pulled from their home by local rebels and ordered to denounce the king. When he refuses, he’s stripped of clothing, and covered in hot tar and feathers. Mr. Cope dies of his injuries a few days later, and Noah is beaten for not providing names of other townspeople loyal to the king.

Click here to join the Summer Book Club

The teen vows to avenge his father’s killing by joining the Royal Navy and helping defeat the rebels. After the family heads to nearby Boston for protection, Noah finds he’s far too young and too short to join the military. But he’s offered a job as a spy.

Noah eagerly accepts the assignment, which mostly involves eavesdropping on Paul Revere, Samuel Adams and others at a pub and sharing what he learns with the British. At first, Noah thinks his mission is heroic, protecting colonists from a small, violent group of rebels. But he starts to hear and see things that don’t fit with that perspective.

Jolla, a Black teenager freed from enslavement who works at the pub, is suspicious of both sides and their promises. He encourages Noah to think critically. Noah doesn’t want to reject his father’s beliefs, but it becomes clear that the rebels have a lot of support. As war appears likely, the teen realizes he has to reconsider where his loyalties lie.

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© Scholastic/Scholastic © Scholastic/Scholastic

In Lauren Tarshis’s “I Survived the American Revolution, 1776” (for ages 7 to 10), orphan Nathaniel Knox runs away from his mean uncle’s house and finds himself in New York City during the Battle of Brooklyn Heights. The 11-year-old gets an up-close look at war and how slavery is involved in the fight for liberty.

World War II is the backdrop of Alan Gratz’s “Projekt 1065” (ages 10 to 14), the story of Michael O’Shaunessey, who poses as a member of Hitler Youth to spy on Nazi Germany for the Irish government. The German people aren’t all bad, and the teen wrestles with betrayal and the weight of individual sacrifice for the greater cause.

Next time in book club

© Penguin Random House/Penguin Randomhouse

Fast Pitch

By Nic Stone

Ages 8 to 12

Georgia native Shenice Lockwood is smart, funny and nicknamed “Lightning” on the softball field. A talented catcher and batter, the 12-year-old is also the captain trying to lead her softball team, the Fulton Firebirds, to a championship season. But a variety of challenges emerge for the only all-Black team in the Dixie Youth Softball Association. Can Shenice pursue her competitive dreams while trying to uncover the truth surrounding the first in her family’s long line of ballplayers?

Join the club

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The Summer Book Club is open to kids ages 6 to 14. They may read some or all of the books on our list. (Find a blurb for each book at wapo.st/kidspostbookclublaunch2022.) The first 700 kids registered will receive a notebook and pen. To join the club, children must be registered by a parent or guardian. To register, that adult must fill out our form at wapo.st/kidspostbookclub2022. If you have questions, contact kidspost@washpost.com.

Do you have a suggestion?

The 2022 KidsPost Summer Book Club has the theme “Speaking Truth,” and we would like to know your favorite books that relate to the theme. Kids ages 6 to 14 are eligible to participate; one entry per person. Have a parent or guardian fill out the top part of the form at wapo.st/kidspostYMAL and then share your suggestions by July 28. We may include your favorites in KidsPost. At the end of the summer, we will send a selection of books to three randomly selected kids who sent in suggestions. Winners will be notified by August 30.

To our commenters

A reminder from the KidsPost team: Our stories are geared to 7- to 13-year-olds. We welcome discussion from readers of all ages, but please follow our community rules and make comments appropriate for that age group.

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