This biographical book in the "Young Patriots" series by Kathryn Cleven Sisson is published by Patria Press, Inc.
John Hancock, Independent Boy is written for kids ages 9 to 12. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.
Johnny Hancock grows up in New England in the 1700s, a time when the French threaten their safety and the British refuse to forfeit control over the American colonies. When Johnny's father dies, his mother sends him to live with his wealthy aunt and uncle in Boston. His new, loving caregivers provide him with fine material goods and the best education. He has many opportunities to learn about the day's political issues and be around other patriots including George Washington, Paul Revere and Samuel Adams. In his adult years, John becomes a well-known freedom fighter and, because of his uncle's inheritance, is the richest man in New England. Wanted by the British for treason, he participates in famous events, such as Paul Revere's Ride, and is the first man to sign the Declaration of Independence.
John Hancock's father is a parson whose speaking abilities draw crowds from far away. John and his contemporaries discuss whether having wealth and celebrating Christmas are sins. John's friends and family members use phrases such as "God bless you" and "Thank the Lord," and prayer is common before meals and in school. Sam Adams, who writes a newspaper promoting freedom from England, asserts that liberty is a gift from God. In preparation for an attack by the French, many New Englanders fast and pray that God will sink the enemy ships with His mighty winds. Just then, winds tear at the building and cause the church bell to ring, and later, they learn the French are too badly injured to attack. Delighted, they cry, "If God be for us, who can be against us?
John's parents are loving Christians. When his father dies, his mother is forced to send John to his aunt and uncle because of tight finances. John's aunt and uncle provide a stable, caring home. Uncle Tom, in particular, demonstrates a passionate interest in John's future and opens many doors for the boy. John later notes how Uncle Tom helped several young men learn a trade and succeed in businesses of their own. The British strong-arm the colonies into paying high taxes. They even kidnap American men and force them to work on their warships.
Other Belief Systems
If your children have read this book or someone has read it to them, consider these discussion topics:
- How do you think you would have responded to the country's political turmoil if you lived in John Hancock's time?
- Would you have been brave enough to sign the Declaration of Independence, knowing the British might kill you?
- Do you think the founders of our nation had a strong faith in God?
How might their faith have impacted their victory over the British?
(Parents may want to provide further information about the Christian beliefs of early U.S. leaders.)
- Is there anything that seems unjust to you?
- What could you do to bring about change, as John Hancock did?
Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. A book's inclusion does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.