We Are Patriots: Hope's Revolutionary War Diary Discussion Guide
- Grades: 3–5
About this book
To the Discussion Leader
Books in the My America series, aimed at 7-9 year-olds, follow one character through multiple novels allowing young readers to get thoroughly enmeshed in major events from American history. Following on from Five Smooth Stones, celebrated author Kristiana Gregory continues ten-year-old Hope's Revolutionary War experiences in We Are Patriots: Hope's Revolutionary War Diary, Book Two. We Are Patriots has General Washington, General Howe, and General Lafayette marching through Hope's diary. Tories and Patriots clash, and Hope finds her beloved home and city, Philadelphia, occupied by British soldiers. The Sons of Liberty and the Boston Tea Party take on a special significance for Hope and her family.
Kristiana Gregory says, "It's a great adventure for an author to imagine what life might have been like for kids during Colonial America." Young readers will enjoy sharing in Hope's continuing adventures set amidst the tragedy of battle casualties, conflicting loyalties, and hopeful attempts to keep a loving family together.
"I shall try to be cheerful but 'tis with a heavy heart that I pick up my pen, " writes ten-year-old Hope on her birthday, January 2, 1777. The United States is at war with England. Hope's father has been gone more than a year, and her brother Ethan is in a Redcoat gaol (prison.) Hope and her mother and baby sister Faith have been living with relatives at Valley Forge because it has been too dangerous to stay in their home town, Philadelphia. When Ethan is released from prison, the family decides to go back to their home. Hope is anxious to be with her best friend Polly once again. She is shocked to learn that Polly's parents are Loyalists who support the King. They forbid Polly to even speak to Hope since Hope's family members are Patriots who support the new nation. The girls find ways to meet secretly.
Hope's father returns from the war having lost a hand "from one cruel stroke by a Redcoat's cutlass." Because Papa was a member of a secret society, The Sons of Liberty, the British are hunting him. He decides to join General George Washington's army. Soon after he leaves, the Redcoats enter Philadelphia. Six soldiers move into Hope's house and demand that Hope's mother cook for them and do their laundry. They also expect her to sign an oath of allegiance to the king. She refuses, saying, "Sirs, ye may take me to gaol, but I shall sign no oath to King George.
Just before Christmas, Hope gets word that Papa is all right. She writes, "I go to bed tonight thankful. We have food and soft featherbeds. Polly and I are still friends and Papa is safe. Mother says mayhap we could visit him for Christmas. 'Tis just one week away! I must blow out this candle. I think I will sleep well."
Thinking About the Book
- Hope and her family live in Philadelphia. But, at the start of We Are Patriots, they have moved to the countryside of Valley Forge. Why?
- Identify the following. Why is each person/term important in Hope's diary?
- Why was Hope's brother, Ethan, taken as a prisoner? Describe what he experienced in gaol. How is he now different?
- Why do the Redcoats want to capture the city of Philadelphia?
- Explain what it means to see a red ribbon on someone's front door?
- What news does Hope receive on Saturday, the 12th of April that makes her say, "Oh joy?" What does she discover about her father that makes her say, "I was horror-struck?"
- Why must Polly and Hope meet in secret? Why do they stop meeting and instead become "pen pals?"
- Why do the Patriots move the Liberty Bell out of Philadelphia? Where do they take it? Why?
- On August 24th and on September 27th Hope writes about parades marching through Philadelphia, the first led by General Washington and the second lead by the British General Howe. How are these parades alike? How are they different? How does Hope feel during each parade?
- People in Hope's time had different ways of doing household tasks. Compare how we do these things today with the way they were done in Philadelphia in 1777:
* getting the news
* washing dishes
* starching clothes
* keeping warm in bed
* lighting street lights
* freshening stale air
- In her diary entry for Saturday, the 27th of September, Hope mentions that the musicians in the British parade played "God Save the King." Listen to this melody . (It's called "God Save the Queen" today because Queen Elizabeth rules England.) Does this melody sound familiar? If so, why?
- In Hope's time some people put symbols outside their homes to let others know if they were loyal to the king. What was the symbol of the Tories? What did the Patriots put on their homes to show their loyalty? What do you see people doing now in America that shows they are loyal to our country?
- Hope sees the young Frenchman Lafayette in the parade on the 24th of August. Look up Lafayette and learn more about this famous Patriot.
- Hope's family are bakers. Their specialty is apple tarts. Make some baked apples for you and your friends to enjoy. Or make a spice cake like the one Hope bakes in honor of her Papa's birthday.
Discussion Guide written by Richard F. Abrahamson, Ph.D., Professor of Literature for Children and Young Adults, University of Houston and Eleanore S. Tyson, Ed.D., Clinical Assistant Professor, University of Houston, Department of Curriculum and Instruction, Houston, Texas.