Book by Esther Forbes
Book by Esther Forbes
Study Guide by Virginia Knowles
Johnny Tremain, by Esther Forbes, is a Newbery Medal (1944) novel set during the time just before the Revolutionary War. Johnny is an proud young apprentice to a silversmith when a workroom accident costs him the use of his right hand. The themes of humility and courage are woven throughout this excellent book! This study guide also contains extension activities of poetry using Longfellow's "The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere." For additional activities on oratory and patriotism using Patrick Henry's "Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death" speech, click here: Great American Communicators: Patrick Henry.
I use selected pages from the publisher's free downloadable study guide.
Literature Study Guide Questions
Please note that each full chapter is marked with a Roman numeral (I, II, III, and IV). Sections within each chapter are marked with Arabic numerals (1, 2, 3, 4…) so make sure you read a whole chapter and not just a little section!
- List all of the ways in this chapter that an apprentice helped in a silversmith business.
- Why does Mr. Lapham choose those particular Bible verses for Johnny to read? What is Cilla’s teasing reply?
- What does Johnny do to help Mr. Lapham keep his orders straight?
- What two things does Cilla do for Johnny in this chapter, and why?
- What do we find out about Johnny’s family?
- Draw your own idea of what the Lyte family emblem may have looked like.
- What does Johnny do when he can’t get the handles of the sugar basin right?
- What two things prevent Johnny from getting the rest of the work done on Saturday? How are they related?
- What reason does Mrs. Lapham give for not fetching a doctor?
- Describe the conversation between Dove and Johnny.
- What two things does Mr. Lapham ask Johnny to do?
- Describe the personality of Rab. How does he make Johnny feel better?
- How does Johnny get kicked out of the Lapham house?
- What kind of woman is Lavinia Lyte and how does Johnny feel about her?
- How do Cilla and Isannah react to Johnny in this chapter?
- What happens that makes Johnny feel he must go to Merchant Lyte for help?
- What were Johnny’s expectations as he anticipated his visit to Mr. Lyte?
- What was Reb’s opinion of Mr. Lyte?
- What was the consequence in this section of Johnny calling Mr. Tweedie a “squeak-pig” earlier in the book?
- Who were the four witnesses in the trial, as described by communication styles?
“stood up straight”, “clear, low voice” _____________________
“confidently”, “spoke simply and easily” ___________________
“bright sparkle in his slippery black eyes” __________________
“vividness of her jumbled recital” ________________________
- Describe Goblin.
Tell how Johnny learned about politics.
- What did Johnny want Cilla to do each Thursday and Sunday?
- For what bad habit did Rab try to correct Johnny? What was the result?
- Put these events in chronological order (1-5):
___ hired as sailor
___ hired at Boston Observer
___ chased by Captain Bull
___ dinner at Afric Queen
___ second visit to Mr. Lyte
- Using a dictionary, look up two unfamiliar words in this chapter and write their definitions.
- What role did printers play in the cause of liberty?
- How had Johnny’s attitude changed toward Cilla and Isannah?
- What two regrets did Johnny have as he was trying to sleep?
- “There was a rattle of drums, with the shouts of officers, and off the ships poured a flood, as scarlet as a tide of blood.” To what does this colorful simile refer?
- How does Johnny feel about Cilla by the end of this section?
- What does Lydia, the washerwoman, do to help Johnny?
- What does Johnny realize about Mrs. Lapham?
- Why does Johnny hate Lavinia Lyte?
- What happened to the Lyte family in Milton?
- How did Johnny feel about the country house in Milton?
- What happened when James Otis showed up at the meeting?
- Describe four different emotions that Rab displays in this chapter, along with a brief phrase describing the reason for each one.
- What kind of words/phrases are Marlborough Street, Province House, Medway, Dock Square, and Afric Queen? Find some more that fit in this category.
- What does Mr. Otis mean in his statements about "only that a man can stand up" near the end of this chapter?
- What did Johnny find out from Lydia?
- How did Lieutenant Stranger reward Johnny for his help with the horse?
- What deal does Johnny make with Mr. Pumpkin?
- Ask someone to dictate a sentence to you while you write it down.
- What is the main thing that happened in this section, and how did it affect Johnny emotionally?
- Whom does Paul Revere Distrust?
- What sounds, other than human speech, are described in this section?
- How does Johnny gather information from Dove?
- How do Billy Dawes and his wife each show their skill for acting?
Today, instead of reading Johnny Tremain, you will study the classic poem “Paul Revere’s Ride” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. You can find the poem after the study questions for chapter XII.
- Read the poem out loud with expression. Notice the rhythm.
- Longfellow uses sensory language to describe the night of April 18, 1775. What words or phrases help you see and hear what happened during Paul Revere’s ride?
- In “Paul’s Revere’s Ride” Longfellow writes, “The fate of nation was riding that night.” Do you agree? What might have happened if the events had gone differently?
- How does Longfellow’s portrayal of Paul Revere compare with that found in Johnny Tremain? In what ways are the portrayals the same? In what ways are they different?
- Copy the three lines in this poem that you find most interesting.
- Pay attention to the rhyming pattern of the poem. I have diagrammed the first stanza. The first and second lines rhyme with the fifth and they are all labeled A. The third and fourth lines rhyme with each other. Diagram a few other stanzas. Is the pattern regular?
Listen my children and you shall hear A
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere, A
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five; B
Hardly a man is now alive B
Who remembers that famous day and year. A
- Find all of the contractions in section 1 of this chapter, starting with the paragraph which begins, “The Doctor’s clear, blue eyes darkened.”
- Who are Yankee Doodle and the scarlet dragon?
- What happened to Uncle Lorne’s shop?
- What does Lavinia Lyte tell Johnny about his mother?
- What is Johnny’s plan for Uncle Lorne’s family?
- Why did Johnny roll around in the mud?
- In section 2, write the first word of the paragraph that seems out of place in a description of war.
- Copy a sentence from section 3 that describes emotions.
- What main thing happens in this section 4?
- What do the last three sentences of the book mean to you?
Paul Revere’s Ride
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Listen my children and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five;
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year.
He said to his friend, "If the British march
By land or sea from the town to-night,
Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry arch
Of the North Church tower as a signal light,--
One if by land, and two if by sea;
And I on the opposite shore will be,
Ready to ride and spread the alarm
Through every Middlesex village and farm,
For the country folk to be up and to arm."
Then he said "Good-night!" and with muffled oar
Silently rowed to the Charlestown shore,
Just as the moon rose over the bay,
Where swinging wide at her moorings lay
The Somerset, British man-of-war;
A phantom ship, with each mast and spar
Across the moon like a prison bar,
And a huge black hulk, that was magnified
By its own reflection in the tide.
Meanwhile, his friend through alley and street
Wanders and watches, with eager ears,
Till in the silence around him he hears
The muster of men at the barrack door,
The sound of arms, and the tramp of feet,
And the measured tread of the grenadiers,
Marching down to their boats on the shore.
Then he climbed the tower of the Old North Church,
By the wooden stairs, with stealthy tread,
To the belfry chamber overhead,
And startled the pigeons from their perch
On the sombre rafters, that round him made
Masses and moving shapes of shade,--
By the trembling ladder, steep and tall,
To the highest window in the wall,
Where he paused to listen and look down
A moment on the roofs of the town
And the moonlight flowing over all.
Beneath, in the churchyard, lay the dead,
In their night encampment on the hill,
Wrapped in silence so deep and still
That he could hear, like a sentinel's tread,
The watchful night-wind, as it went
Creeping along from tent to tent,
And seeming to whisper, "All is well!"
A moment only he feels the spell
Of the place and the hour, and the secret dread
Of the lonely belfry and the dead;
For suddenly all his thoughts are bent
On a shadowy something far away,
Where the river widens to meet the bay,--
A line of black that bends and floats
On the rising tide like a bridge of boats.
Meanwhile, impatient to mount and ride,
Booted and spurred, with a heavy stride
On the opposite shore walked Paul Revere.
Now he patted his horse's side,
Now he gazed at the landscape far and near,
Then, impetuous, stamped the earth,
And turned and tightened his saddle girth;
But mostly he watched with eager search
The belfry tower of the Old North Church,
As it rose above the graves on the hill,
Lonely and spectral and sombre and still.
And lo! as he looks, on the belfry's height
A glimmer, and then a gleam of light!
He springs to the saddle, the bridle he turns,
But lingers and gazes, till full on his sight
A second lamp in the belfry burns.
A hurry of hoofs in a village street,
A shape in the moonlight, a bulk in the dark,
And beneath, from the pebbles, in passing, a spark
Struck out by a steed flying fearless and fleet;
That was all! And yet, through the gloom and the light,
The fate of a nation was riding that night;
And the spark struck out by that steed, in his flight,
Kindled the land into flame with its heat.
He has left the village and mounted the steep,
And beneath him, tranquil and broad and deep,
Is the Mystic, meeting the ocean tides;
And under the alders that skirt its edge,
Now soft on the sand, now loud on the ledge,
Is heard the tramp of his steed as he rides.
It was twelve by the village clock
When he crossed the bridge into Medford town.
He heard the crowing of the cock,
And the barking of the farmer's dog,
And felt the damp of the river fog,
That rises after the sun goes down.
It was one by the village clock,
When he galloped into Lexington.
He saw the gilded weathercock
Swim in the moonlight as he passed,
And the meeting-house windows, black and bare,
Gaze at him with a spectral glare,
As if they already stood aghast
At the bloody work they would look upon.
It was two by the village clock,
When he came to the bridge in Concord town.
He heard the bleating of the flock,
And the twitter of birds among the trees,
And felt the breath of the morning breeze
Blowing over the meadow brown.
And one was safe and asleep in his bed
Who at the bridge would be first to fall,
Who that day would be lying dead,
Pierced by a British musket ball.
You know the rest. In the books you have read
How the British Regulars fired and fled,---
How the farmers gave them ball for ball,
From behind each fence and farmyard wall,
Chasing the redcoats down the lane,
Then crossing the fields to emerge again
Under the trees at the turn of the road,
And only pausing to fire and load.
So through the night rode Paul Revere;
And so through the night went his cry of alarm
To every Middlesex village and farm,---
A cry of defiance, and not of fear,
A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door,
And a word that shall echo for evermore!
For, borne on the night-wind of the Past,
Through all our history, to the last,
In the hour of darkness and peril and need,
The people will waken and listen to hear
The hurrying hoof-beats of that steed,
And the midnight message of Paul Revere.