Sunday, July 14, 2013

Nonfiction Monday: What Was the Boston Tea Party?

What Was the Boston Tea Party?
written by Kathleen Krull; illustrated by Lauren Mortimer
2013 (Grosset and Dunlap)
Source: Orange County Public Library

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Those who took part in the Boston Tea Party weren't trying to become famous. They were ordinary people rejecting laws they saw as unjust. They were literally taking matters into their own hands, making their own voices heard (without shouting)- and shaping history.

Kathleen Krull is such a good writer. If you've read her work before, you're shaking your head and saying "Duh!" because you knew this already. Why is this book so good? First, she provides the background knowledge that is necessary to understand why the Boston Tea Party took place. Krull explains why the colonists were in such a rebellious mood. The French and Indian War nearly broke the bank for England and they needed to recoup the costs. Parliament and King George argued that they provided "protection" for the colonies and therefore needed to be paid back. Funny how the colonists didn't quite see it this way. The Stamp Act is passed and colonists rioting becomes so bad that the British governor of Massachusetts has to move off his headquarters offshore. The Stamp Act is repealed the following year. Because Krull lays out the facts, you understand how the constant poking of the colonists by Parliament would make them irritable enough to throw tons of tea into the harbor.

I also appreciate the descriptive quality of Kathleen Krull's writing. Look at the first sentence of the book: In the 1700s, Boston reeked of horse manure and garbage, unless fresh, salty air from the harbor breezed through. She had me at horse manure and garbage. Boston at this time is not a pretty place.

The most surprising thing, and who doesn't like surprises in nonfiction, about the Boston Tea Party is how quiet the participants were during the event and afterwards. A British reporter wrote "you could hear distinctly the ripping open of the chests and no other sound." The whole process was very business like and a bit gentlemanly as well. The "party crashers" were polite to the crews of the ships and even swept the decks of the boats. There were no unnecessary celebrations and after three hours, the participants went quietly to their homes and talked very little about it in the years to come.

If your class is studying early American history, you need to check out or buy this book. It would be great to read pieces of it aloud. Students will be entertained by the interesting new facts that they will learn. What Was the Boston Tea Party? should also be used as a mentor text for "show don't tell" mini lessons that focus on nonfiction. This was a very enjoyable read!


  1. I love Kathleen Krull's work, and this title is definitely one I'll order for our library. How interesting that it was such a "gentlemanly" affair! That cover is eye-catching, too. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Sounds like a good read Jeff. Historical non-fiction can be tricky to pull off and this book seems to be well written and illustrated. Thanks for sharing on NF Monday.

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  4. Dear Jeff,
    I don't know why it took so long for me to notice this, but I certainly appreciate your kind words. Your students are so lucky to have you.
    Kathleen Krull