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The Matchlock Gun

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A Newbery Medal Winner In 1756, New York State was still a British colony, and the French and the Indians were constant threats to Edward and his family. When his father was called away to watch for a raid from the north, only Edward was left to protect Mama and little Trudy. His father had shown him how to use the huge matchlock gun, an old Spanish gun that was twice as lo A Newbery Medal Winner In 1756, New York State was still a British colony, and the French and the Indians were constant threats to Edward and his family. When his father was called away to watch for a raid from the north, only Edward was left to protect Mama and little Trudy. His father had shown him how to use the huge matchlock gun, an old Spanish gun that was twice as long as he was, but would Edward be able to handle it if trouble actually came? This classic, first published in 1941, has an updated, kid-friendly format that includes the original black-and-white illustrations.

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A Newbery Medal Winner In 1756, New York State was still a British colony, and the French and the Indians were constant threats to Edward and his family. When his father was called away to watch for a raid from the north, only Edward was left to protect Mama and little Trudy. His father had shown him how to use the huge matchlock gun, an old Spanish gun that was twice as lo A Newbery Medal Winner In 1756, New York State was still a British colony, and the French and the Indians were constant threats to Edward and his family. When his father was called away to watch for a raid from the north, only Edward was left to protect Mama and little Trudy. His father had shown him how to use the huge matchlock gun, an old Spanish gun that was twice as long as he was, but would Edward be able to handle it if trouble actually came? This classic, first published in 1941, has an updated, kid-friendly format that includes the original black-and-white illustrations.

30 review for The Matchlock Gun

  1. 4 out of 5

    Benji Martin

    This has been the shortest Newbery winner, by far. I believe it took me about 30 minutes to read it. In the beginning, it was ok. A boy is left with an old-timey gun to protect his mom and sister during the French-Indian War. It's kind of exciting, the type of a book that boys love. I have some students that would probably still read and enjoy this book. I'm ok with a book about hostilities between Native Americans and European settlers. It happened. It's history. I'm even kind of ok with the ra This has been the shortest Newbery winner, by far. I believe it took me about 30 minutes to read it. In the beginning, it was ok. A boy is left with an old-timey gun to protect his mom and sister during the French-Indian War. It's kind of exciting, the type of a book that boys love. I have some students that would probably still read and enjoy this book. I'm ok with a book about hostilities between Native Americans and European settlers. It happened. It's history. I'm even kind of ok with the racist Native American stereotypes. No, I don't think that books like this one or Daniel Boone would be or should be published today, but I do understand that this was how white Americans viewed Native Americans, both at the times when the books were set, and in the 1940's when the books were published. It's a shame, but it is how they viewed them, and if we ignore history, we can't learn from it. My main problem was with the end. The boy had just shot three Native Americans. Three human beings. Yes, they were attacking his farm, and yes, they did just hit his mother with a tomahawk, but still, he killed three people, and instead of being even a little bit remorseful or traumatized, or even worried about his wounded mother, he was just like, "That was so cool. I just killed three Injuns. I can't wait to show my kids this gun and tell them the story when I'm a grown up." I don't think that anyone, much less a little boy, can take someone else's life without being at least a little concerned about it. That made the ending really unbelievable, and bit distasteful for me. I think the real problem is that the author (and the author of Daniel Boone) doesn't view the Native Americans as people at all. They are more like really intelligent animals, and killing them isn't any worse than killing a bear or a mountain lion. It's sad, but that's the vibe I got.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Drew Wilkerson

    There was absolutely nothing redeeming about this book. I realize a Newbery winner from 70 years ago is going to be different, but I don't see how this was ever considered the most outstanding contribution to literature. Perhaps a kid killing Indians was meant to inspire the children during World War II? Wow, what an embarrassment for the Newbery name.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jacklyn (ReadingBliss)

    For those considering reading this Newberry award winning book to their children, I would suggest you be understanding and accepting that this tale is told from a different era that takes place during a time of war and hardship. Although not graphic by any means, it depicts an imagery to those who can grasp the concept, of causing harm to others (war) and death (killing or be killed attitude/self defense). Personally, I am interested, and on a quest, to become familiar with as many children's aw For those considering reading this Newberry award winning book to their children, I would suggest you be understanding and accepting that this tale is told from a different era that takes place during a time of war and hardship. Although not graphic by any means, it depicts an imagery to those who can grasp the concept, of causing harm to others (war) and death (killing or be killed attitude/self defense). Personally, I am interested, and on a quest, to become familiar with as many children's award winning literature as I possibly can. I want to know and possess my own opinion about each one so that I may know what America constitutes as the most fulfilling reads for children. As an aspiring children's professional, I feel this knowledge will prove invaluable as my child grows and in any educational capacity involving other's children so I can better match literature to parent's and children's maturity and interests. With that said, I thought the merit of the award was obvious. The culture and priorities of that particular moment in time shines brightly in this short, illustrated caption of a boy and his family settling in New America with the indians, surrounded by fear of the unknown and misunderstood. It is not a happy tale, but one I can believe was a personal experience by many, including the small portrayal of the indian's past. If you do not consider the content to be child-friendly, I think it is mostly due to how times have changed and children are not expected to endure similar circumstances in America any longer, so priorities and portrayals of perspectives are desired to be more current to be held more relative by their (now) audiences. In my opinion, for a young child's chapter book, the writing was impressionable as I read it aloud to my child, and not because of the content, but because of the feelings it spurred in me as an adult due to how it was written. I was captivated with vivid imageries from so few words given to describe the events, with no graphic explanations (such as specific descriptions of consequences of injury, like blood and guts), and enthralled with suspense for the ending. As I said, I can understand why this book may be controversial, but it did not bother anyone in my home.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Robert Davis

    1942 Newbery Medal Winner A rather dark and dated story, that doesn't really add up to much more than just an exciting episode in the early American frontier. But, taking into account the times in which this book was published, and the United States entry into World War 2, then this story can be seen as an allegory for the times.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Mr. Paul

    I would recommend this book to anyone who likes stories about mothers who trick their young sons into murdering Native Americans.

  6. 4 out of 5

    DaNae

    Aside from the obvious patriarchy, raciest reasons this book would never be written today, it is so boring. Was this the best 1941 had to offer?

  7. 4 out of 5

    Lmichelleb

    I made the mistake of reading this one to the children too often right before bed! A good story of bravery and the consequences of the struggle between the early American settlers and the Indians.

  8. 5 out of 5

    David

    Great fast read. Excellent.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Wendy

    A very exciting French and Indian War story--it has all the elements of a great plot: a brave son, a heroic mother, a funny little girl, and an absent father. I'm just annoyed that the book's foreword gave away an important element of the climax, so if you read this, skip the foreword and the jacket copy. It's illustrated by Paul Lantz, who I like almost as well as Garth Williams. (Well, maybe not ALMOST as well, but I like his work a lot.) I think what's most impressive is how distilled this bo A very exciting French and Indian War story--it has all the elements of a great plot: a brave son, a heroic mother, a funny little girl, and an absent father. I'm just annoyed that the book's foreword gave away an important element of the climax, so if you read this, skip the foreword and the jacket copy. It's illustrated by Paul Lantz, who I like almost as well as Garth Williams. (Well, maybe not ALMOST as well, but I like his work a lot.) I think what's most impressive is how distilled this book is--it's very short, but feels complete. Recommended generally. (Jack might look at this and think he's too old for it, but I bet he would like it--Andrew, too, Betsy--if you ladies don't mind the combination of settlers, guns, and Indians, that is. It's not without its problems, but I think it's still worth reading.)

  10. 4 out of 5

    momma.hailey

    This short (62 pages) chapter book packs a big punch. It was a fantastic read-a-loud to my 9 and 6 year old children. We all agreed on it being a 5 star.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer (JenIsNotaBookSnob)

    Yay! I finally read this book and now I can donate it and never look at it again. This book has crossed my path many times. I owned it as a child and didn't read it. I owned it as a young adult and donated it before a cross country move. Now, as an adult, I ended up with one again in a lot of other books. This book has never appealed to me. I don't like the illustrations, I don't like the story. Remember the 1950's books where the 'noble' cowboy shoots the 'no-good thievin' injuns'? Well, this s Yay! I finally read this book and now I can donate it and never look at it again. This book has crossed my path many times. I owned it as a child and didn't read it. I owned it as a young adult and donated it before a cross country move. Now, as an adult, I ended up with one again in a lot of other books. This book has never appealed to me. I don't like the illustrations, I don't like the story. Remember the 1950's books where the 'noble' cowboy shoots the 'no-good thievin' injuns'? Well, this sort of felt like a more eloquently worded and historical version of exactly those tales. It's like the author sat and thought to himself, "I really want to write a story where a 10 year old boy kills an Indigenous person, how can I make that happen?" There is not much in the way of other daily life details, the whole tale is just the setup for how a 10 year old would get to be the one pulling the trigger. The version I read felt like there were parts missing. Somehow, the story jumps from him killing all three indians in one shot to the whole house being up in flames with no explanation for how that happened. One day I may thumb through an older version just to see what was supposed to be there. Now, I'm not a fan of censoring books. That being said, I still see no reason to read this to your kids. This is something you read because you are reading all the Newbery books. If you want to teach your kids about the racism experienced by the Indigenous, then read something written by an Indigenous person. You don't need to read something glorifying the 'great white male hunter' to teach your kids about racism. You can read a fictionalized account of life in a residential school instead. If you want to teach your kids about the French-Indian war there are plenty of options. Now, if this book held a special place in your childhood, I can see reading it to your kids. There are just too many other better books out there to bother with this one.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    So I was talking to Courtney about this one, a short story about a young boy (spoilers, I guess) killing three American Indians who were attacking his house during the French and Indian War. I really didn't care for the book, and I think it was partially because it trafficked in some of the same racial stereotypes that keep popping up in these Newbery books. But although there were some very shady beginnings to the war (like seizing American Indian territory, systematic oppression, etc.), there' So I was talking to Courtney about this one, a short story about a young boy (spoilers, I guess) killing three American Indians who were attacking his house during the French and Indian War. I really didn't care for the book, and I think it was partially because it trafficked in some of the same racial stereotypes that keep popping up in these Newbery books. But although there were some very shady beginnings to the war (like seizing American Indian territory, systematic oppression, etc.), there's some nuance (and this book is supposed to be based on a true story): the Indians in the book were trying to kill a mother and two young children. What bothered me, though, was that there was no intimation of that nuance, no complexity or anything here. There's no sense that war is a terrible thing that leads a young boy to kill three people, no sense that the dead Indians were actually fully human, and no sense of anything but celebration at this boy's bravery -- the book even ends on a laugh line. You can read the novel in less than an hour, but I don't recommend it.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Audra

    I disagree that the subject matter is too dark for this level of reader. Read the forward, and you find not only is the story true - but has a very happy ending. Good history lesson and great for discussion. My son could hardly stop from getting sidetracked in discussing this book and what he's learning in school about the French and Indian War. We read the whole little book - beautiful illustrations and all - in one sitting. A must-read, I think!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Falina

    I mostly enjoyed the illustrations, which appear to be by the same illustrator who did the Little House on the Prairie book set. The story itself is entirely unremarkable plot and character-wise, and offensive in its complete dehumanization of the Native Americans and its light portrayal of murder. I feel like by 1941 this subject matter should have been handled better.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    Very good short story for children describing what it might have been like to live in the wilderness during the French and Indian War. The illustrations were cool also.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Becky Wooler

    I can see how this book would be controversial today. I can see it being useful to start a discussion with an older child on racial attitudes in early American history, and how the war would have impacted that, with the addition of other literature to show another perspective. That difficulty aside, I did find that after the relatively long buildup, the resolution was handled too quickly and left me with questions. So this wouldn't be the first book I'd hand my boys as an illustration of courage I can see how this book would be controversial today. I can see it being useful to start a discussion with an older child on racial attitudes in early American history, and how the war would have impacted that, with the addition of other literature to show another perspective. That difficulty aside, I did find that after the relatively long buildup, the resolution was handled too quickly and left me with questions. So this wouldn't be the first book I'd hand my boys as an illustration of courage in difficult circumstances.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Darlene

    I read this book aloud to my children. It won the 1942 Newbery Medal. The story takes place in the mid 1700s in New York State. Captain Teunis Van Alstyne is a member of the militia and has been going to Albany for the past several months to watch for the Indians who were raiding the houses of settlers. With her husband away on military duty, Gertrude becomes concerned by the fires in the distance which she fears have been set by the Indians. She takes the huge matchlock gun down from the mantle, I read this book aloud to my children. It won the 1942 Newbery Medal. The story takes place in the mid 1700s in New York State. Captain Teunis Van Alstyne is a member of the militia and has been going to Albany for the past several months to watch for the Indians who were raiding the houses of settlers. With her husband away on military duty, Gertrude becomes concerned by the fires in the distance which she fears have been set by the Indians. She takes the huge matchlock gun down from the mantle, loads it, and props it up on the table. She shows her ten year-old son, Edward, how to light the flint but only when she calls his name in Dutch, "Ateoord!" Gertrude secures the bolts on the window shutters and chops a corner of one shutter away with an axe. She has the matchlock gun pointing right at the opening. She takes her six year-old daughter, Trudy, and tells her to play quietly in the bedroom. Gertrude goes outside on the premise of picking beans, but she is only pretending to so that she can look around and see whether she can spot anything suspicious. She comes across five Indians, and she runs towards home while yelling the names of her husband and uncle for help. This is obviously meant as a heads-up to her son, since her husband is away on military duty and her uncle has been deceased for years. As she reaches the front door, she shouts "Ateoord!" and Edward lights the matchlock gun, which kills three of the Indians but not before a tomahawk is launched at her and lands in her shoulder. The force of the massive gun going off knocks Edward backwards, and the heavy gun lands on top of him and he is struck unconscious. He is awakened by Trudy's screaming, and he finds that the front stoop is on fire -- presumably set by the two surviving Indians before they fled the scene. Edward drags the matchlock gun outside and pulls his mother off the burning stoop. As he watches their house burn down, young Trudy falls asleep in his lap while his unconscious mother lies beside him. Captain Teunis returns hope to find the bodies of three dead Indians lying beside his sleeping family. Although a bit violent, I really enjoyed this story because it portrayed the mother as the heroine of the story! She was fearless, even though she was terrified, and she came up with a plan and executed it to perfection. The plan would never have worked if she hadn't put her faith and trust in her young son. It was a great example of teamwork! I posted this review on my book blog: http://darlenesbooknook.blogspot.ca/2...

  18. 5 out of 5

    Kaia

    1942 Newbery Winner. Due to the time period I'm still in, none of the Newbery winners do well with describing non-white peoples and cultures. But I feel like the number of books with really appalling depictions of Native Americans in the early Newbery winners is particularly high. I'm sad to report that The Matchlock Gun is one of them. It's a really short and simple story. Father goes with militia to nearby fight in the French and Indian War, leaving the boy along with his mother and sister beh 1942 Newbery Winner. Due to the time period I'm still in, none of the Newbery winners do well with describing non-white peoples and cultures. But I feel like the number of books with really appalling depictions of Native Americans in the early Newbery winners is particularly high. I'm sad to report that The Matchlock Gun is one of them. It's a really short and simple story. Father goes with militia to nearby fight in the French and Indian War, leaving the boy along with his mother and sister behind. The family has inherited a large, Spanish matchlock gun that they've never fired, but that sits above the fireplace. The mother gets a report that there are Indians nearby. (view spoiler)[In the end, the mother gets hurt by a tomahawk and the boy kills three Indians. (hide spoiler)] Yes, that is the story. Don't read this book.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Nolan M.

    The Matchlock Gun, by Walter D. Edmonds is an OK book. I wouldn't prefer it, but that's just me. It is about a family, in 1756, who has to survive, and fend off the Indians and French from his village. There is a brave, young boy, a funny little girl, and a courageous mother, who work together to save their own, and the rest of the villages lives. I don't think this book was a good one, nor a bad one. I really think the book was too rushed, it seemed to me that the author didn’t even take interes The Matchlock Gun, by Walter D. Edmonds is an OK book. I wouldn't prefer it, but that's just me. It is about a family, in 1756, who has to survive, and fend off the Indians and French from his village. There is a brave, young boy, a funny little girl, and a courageous mother, who work together to save their own, and the rest of the villages lives. I don't think this book was a good one, nor a bad one. I really think the book was too rushed, it seemed to me that the author didn’t even take interest in what he himself was writing. It had way far less length for a book written about bravery, and some real life events. If he took some more time on the book, and added in more details, this book would have probably been one of my top five books read. I think the book was just way too short and not complete. If there were more essence to the book, it would’ve been a FANTASTIC book.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Faith Hough

    We read this historical fiction classic as part of our studies of the French and Indian War. It's a short novel, completely understandable to a second grader, with some beautiful writing and excellent tension. I felt the close perspective (one family's experience over two days, in their house while the father goes out to keep the Indians back) and the jumps between the mother's and son's perspectives were interesting but made the book lack a certain depth. My daughter's verdict was: "The beginni We read this historical fiction classic as part of our studies of the French and Indian War. It's a short novel, completely understandable to a second grader, with some beautiful writing and excellent tension. I felt the close perspective (one family's experience over two days, in their house while the father goes out to keep the Indians back) and the jumps between the mother's and son's perspectives were interesting but made the book lack a certain depth. My daughter's verdict was: "The beginning wasn't very good, but it got a lot funner when the Indians came and started setting the houses on fire." (Yeah, we're working on the grammar--along with some more balanced portrayals of American Indians.)

  21. 5 out of 5

    The Bookish Hooker

    Written in 1942, The matchlock Gun focuses on Edward, a young boy left in charge of the family farm when his father leaves to fight in the French-Indian War. Before leaving, his father gives him a matchlock gun to help protect his mother and sister. While this is the shortest Newbery winner that I've read, it packed quite a punch in its brief pages. Obviously, there are quite a few depictions of war type violence so this might be best for slightly older children. There is a great feeling of brave Written in 1942, The matchlock Gun focuses on Edward, a young boy left in charge of the family farm when his father leaves to fight in the French-Indian War. Before leaving, his father gives him a matchlock gun to help protect his mother and sister. While this is the shortest Newbery winner that I've read, it packed quite a punch in its brief pages. Obviously, there are quite a few depictions of war type violence so this might be best for slightly older children. There is a great feeling of bravery in difficult circumstances throughout the story that I enjoyed. Overall, though, I didn't like this book as much as I did other Newbery winners.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Kristen

    Newbery Medal Winner--1942 This is a slice of Americana--a short story about family on the dangerous frontier in 1756. Some readers take issue with the portrayal of American Indians, but as I read through these older Newbery winners, I always tell myself to think about the time frame when I come across something seemingly offensive. There were terrible Indian attacks and war with the French and Indians during the time this story is set, and the year it won the Newbery (1942) wasn't exactly a mecc Newbery Medal Winner--1942 This is a slice of Americana--a short story about family on the dangerous frontier in 1756. Some readers take issue with the portrayal of American Indians, but as I read through these older Newbery winners, I always tell myself to think about the time frame when I come across something seemingly offensive. There were terrible Indian attacks and war with the French and Indians during the time this story is set, and the year it won the Newbery (1942) wasn't exactly a mecca of civil rights, either. I enjoyed this short piece of fiction--which, by the way, is based on a true story--for what it was: a frontier story about a boy and a gun.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance

    Another Newbery tale that was once popular and now is seen as wrong-minded. This is an old family story of a boy who saved his mother and sister from Indian attack in the early years of New York. The boy was able to fire off an ancient family gun and stop the invaders from destroying his family. I understand how a group of people, in this case the Native Americans, can be unilaterally seen as cruel and aggressive from books such as Daniel Boone and The Matchlock Gun, but another part of me sees Another Newbery tale that was once popular and now is seen as wrong-minded. This is an old family story of a boy who saved his mother and sister from Indian attack in the early years of New York. The boy was able to fire off an ancient family gun and stop the invaders from destroying his family. I understand how a group of people, in this case the Native Americans, can be unilaterally seen as cruel and aggressive from books such as Daniel Boone and The Matchlock Gun, but another part of me sees this book as part of history, albeit a part of history that is no longer recognized as unbiased.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Almeta

    Engaging story of a family and an incident in their struggle for survival as North American pioneers. Don't expect any history lesson about the French/Indian War or about the causes of these conflicts. This is really a story of courage. I especially enjoyed the descriptiion of the cabin's interior and the way the rooms were used for double duty. (view spoiler)[The description of the shadows in the attic that looked like "white-coated soldiers", but were really curing hams was a great image. (hide Engaging story of a family and an incident in their struggle for survival as North American pioneers. Don't expect any history lesson about the French/Indian War or about the causes of these conflicts. This is really a story of courage. I especially enjoyed the descriptiion of the cabin's interior and the way the rooms were used for double duty. (view spoiler)[The description of the shadows in the attic that looked like "white-coated soldiers", but were really curing hams was a great image. (hide spoiler)]

  25. 4 out of 5

    Michael Fitzgerald

    Would that there were dozens more books like this. Some very minor flaws, possibly due to the printing process: the glorious color illustrations sometimes show up too early and give away the story. It's also difficult to know how Gertrude fares in the end (unless you have read the foreword, which kind of spoils the story). Perhaps they should have made it an afterword - it really would work much better that way.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Davis

    There is only one word to describe this blurb: Huh? This just seems like something that would belong in the back of one of those kids magazines featuring tiny stories that they write and submit in. If the otherworldly events that happened in this book happened today, the main character would be jailed with murder. It is not "deeply moving" as the dust jacket implies. By far, this is the worst Newbery Medal winning book that I've read so far for the project.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    Read summer 2014. My 8yr old son loved this book. Will read again! Reading again..krb 7/24/15. Very interesting. This time Jacob rated this book 4 stars. Ellie rates it 2 stars..krb 7/27/15 Jacob is reading this book for our family summer reading program..krb 7/24/17

  28. 4 out of 5

    Sara Arrigoni

    After finishing this, I'm honestly surprised it is raved about and included on so many "must read" book lists. Other than covering a time period (French and Indian War) that isn't covered a lot in upper elementary fiction, it really didn't have much to redeem it for me.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Janelle

    Short, not particularly well-written, but it is an interesting and historical account of a brave 10-year old boy in the 1700s upstate New York.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Amanda Harrison

    Wow, 1942, this was the best you could do? A kid who thinks he needs a slave, a mother that needs saved from crazed Indians by her ten year old son. I'm a little embarrassed Newbery committee.

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