Monday, April 21, 2008

Fever 1793
By Laurie Halse Anderson
Most enjoyed by 5th through 8th graders

Mattie is fourteen years old and convinced she is made for a life of business. Helping her mother run the family coffeehouse has given her a good eye for what sells and how to please a customer. Now if she could only get herself out of bed on time. Up early one day, she learns the startling news that her best friend Polly has died suddenly of some kind of fever. And Polly isn't the only one dead. More and more people each day are dying and word in the market place is to leave Philadelphia if you want to live. Mattie's mother wants her to leave, to head for the country to a friend's farm. But Mattie, backed by her grandfather, wants no part of it, until Mattie's mother falls victim to the fever. Mattie flees the city with her grandfather only to be dumped at the side of the road when the old man gets sick. Mattie grows up quickly as she tries to survive and get back home where nothing is the same. Will life ever get back to normal?

'Fever 1793' is a fictional account of the yellow fever epidemic that hit Philadelphia in 1793. It wasn't the only time fever struck the city, but one in which thousands died. The book is fast-paced and gripping, leaving you wondering as you turn each page if Mattie will survive. Would you, could you, scrape and scrabble like Mattie did, simply to live?

A good companion book that gives you more information about the yellow fever epidemic in 'An American Plague: The True and Terrifying Story of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793' by Jim Murphy. This non-fiction title adds facts and details about the epidemic that flesh out the story in 'Fever 1793'. It also tells how Philadelphia changed after the epidemic. Read all or part of 'An American Plague' to learn more about this fascinating event in history.

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