Voices of Revolution

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Jean Fritz

Home: Dobbs Ferry, New York

Accomplishments: Fritz has written more than forty-four books for children and adults.

Childhood: Fritz was born in China where her parents were missionaries. She came to the United States at age thirteen and found her American roots by reading about American heroes.

Reasons for writing about history: Fritz likes to show the human side of famous people. She believes that truth is often funnier than fiction.

Sampler of her books: Where Was Patrick Henry on the 29th of May?, What's the Big Idea, Ben Franklin?, Won't You Sign Here, John Hancock?

Meet the Illustrator

Margot Tomes

Accomplishments: Before her death in 1991, Tomes illustrated more than sixty-six books, four of them by Jean Fritz.

Childhood: Tomes was born in 1917 in Yonkers, New York. She loved old books and fairy tales, even though her fascination with monsters kept her awake at night.

Reasons for becoming an illustrator: Tomes called herself a "pre-television person." She preferred to spend her time reading and looking at book illustrations.


Find out more about Jean Fritz and Margot Tomes at Education Place. www.eduplace.com/kids



Think About the Selection

  1. Which word best describes Paul Revere for you: smart, ambitious, busy, lucky, energetic, accomplished, or some other word? Explain your choice.

  2. Find examples in the selection to prove or disprove this statement: Paul Revere could not have carried out his famous midnight ride without help from others.

  3. Jean Fritz writes that Paul Revere sometimes was forgetful, daydreamed, and made mistakes. Why do you think she included this information?

  4. If Paul Revere were alive today, what would he be interested in? What kind of job do you think he might have? Explain your answer.

  5. Compare Paul Revere's busy schedule with your own. Do you like to do many different things? Do you prefer to have just a few activities? Why?

  6. Paul Revere used to tell his grandchildren stories about his life. If you were one of his grandchildren, what questions would you want to ask him?

  7. Connecting/Comparing Of all Paul Revere's contributions to the American Revolution, which do you think is his most valuable one and why?


Write a Message

Paul Revere carried news of the Boston Tea Party to New York and Philadelphia. Write a message that he might have carried, giving details about the event and explaining its importance.


Begin the message with the most important facts.

Include details that tell who, what, when, where, why, and how.



Compute Revere’s Earnings

On p. 276, Jean Fritz tells us that Paul Revere made church bells. If each bell weighed 500 pounds, how much money did he earn making bells? If everyone paid their bills, how much did he earn from the bells that are still ringing in New England?


Compare Metals

Paul Revere made objects from many different metals: silver, copper, brass, and iron. Review the text to see how Revere used these metals. Choose one of the metals and explain how that metal is used today.

Bonus Find out more about one of the metals listed above. Report your findings to the class.


Go On a Web Field Trip

Connect to Education Place and learn more about colonial America. www.eduplace.com/kids


Music Link

Skill: How to Read Song Lyrics

  1. Look for these parts of a song:

Lyrics: all the words of a song.

Chorus: part that is repeated.

Stanzas: two or more lines of verse.

  1. Read the lyrics above or below the lines of musical notes. Notice the rhythm of the words.

  2. Read the remaining stanzas. Repeat the chorus at the end of each stanza.

Yankee Doodle

By Jerry Silverman

The surest way to popularize an idea in song is to set new words to a familiar melody. As early as 1767, there was mention in Philadelphia of a comic song called "Yankee Doodle."

When the word "yankee" first appeared in print, people were not quite sure what it meant. To this day there is some confusion about its origin. Some people believe it comes from an Indian word; others think it is based on a French word. The strongest possibility is that it comes from the Dutch name for the English colonists: "Jan Kaas," or "Jan Kees." Jan (yan) is Dutch for John; kees means cheese. "John Cheese" was not meant as a compliment. Neither was "Doodle," which means a fool.

"Yankee Doodle" first appeared in print in a London broadside in 1775. Its subtitle was "The Lexington March." The British band played it on the march to Lexington. In those days, European armies played loud music on the way into battle. It cheered up the soldiers and gave them courage. In this case, the strains of the music let the Minutemen know exactly where the British were.

The Minutemen also realized that the British were trying to make fun of them by calling them "Yankee Doodles." In the true spirit of the times, the familiar melody was taken up by the Americans (with new words by a Harvard College student, Edward Bangs) and sung right back at them. It is this version of "Yankee Doodle" that has


gone down in American history.

In verse one, a boy visits a rebel, or patriot, camp with his father. The entire song is a light-hearted description of his impressions of the soldiers, captains, and arms. "Hasty pudding" was a quickly prepared cornmeal mush.

Yankee Doodle went to town

Riding on a pony;

Stuck a feather in his cap

And called it macaroni.

This well-known verse doesn't seem to have anything to do with the rest of the song. Most people who sing it probably assume that it is just a bit of Revolutionary War nonsense. Not at all!

This well-known verse doesn't seem to have anything to do with the rest of the song. Most people who sing it probably assume that it is just a bit of Revolutionary War nonsense. Not at all!

This verse was sung by the British to taunt the patriots. In eighteenth-century

England, a "macaroni" was a gen­tleman who wore overly fancy clothes in what he thought was the "Italian style," to try and make himself look more important than he really was. In other words, a macaroni was a dandy.

And just what was Yankee Doodle trying to do? He was, from the British point of view, getting "all dressed up" and "putting on airs." Yankee Doodle, in this verse, represents the colonies and their foolish desire to be free of Great Britain.



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