Johnny Tremain

by Esther Forbes, Houghton Mifflin. 1944
Activities 2002 Nancy Polette

Return to list of literature guides
Clever and gifted Johnny Tremain is apprenticed to a silversmith in the year 1773. Johnny sees a great future ahead until the day that carelessness caused his hand to be so badly burned that his dreams of being a silversmith were gone. Johnny becomes bitter and feels useless until he becomes a dispatch rider for the Committee of Public Safety and gets to know the leaders of the Revolution. With the rapid events that follow leading to independence, Johnny fills a valuable role in securing the nation's freedom from English oppression. Live through two years of history with Johnny Tremain and watch through his eyes as the revolution unfolds.
Overcoming Handicaps

The expression "When life hands you a lemon, make lemonade" is one Johnny Tremain had a hard time understanding. He felt his life was over when his injured hand prevented him from pursuing his chosen field as a silversmith.

Read about Christopher Reeve, a man who from the age of eight chose acting as a career and became very successful only to be completely paralyzed at the height of his career by a fall from a horse. Christopher Reeve is known to many fans as Superman, a movie that was followed by 17 films and 150 plays. He was a superb athlete who did his own stunts in films, earned his pilot's license and flew twice across the Atlantic. In May of 1995 had the accident that left him paralyzed from the neck down. Read how this most self-reliant and active man who became totally dependent on others did not give up but became even more of a national hero.

Write a letter from Christopher Reeve to Johnny Tremain giving Johnny advice as to how to handle his handicap. What opportunities might Johnny have before him? How can he best take advantage of these opportunities? In what related fields might Johnny be able to use his talents?

Christopher Reeve
by Libby Hughes. Dillon Press, 1997
Christopher Reeve: Actor and Activist by Margaret Finn. Chelsea House, 1997
American Revolution by Sharon Harley. Mod. Cur. Press, 1994
The American Revolution by Bruce Bliven. Random House, 1987
The American Revolution: How We Fought the War of Independence by Edward F. Dolan, Millbrook Press, 1995


Directions: Choose a character: Mr. Lyte, Mr. Lapham, or Johnny Tremain. Tell what your character would do in each situation that follows.

A. Your character is alone at night on a dark, deserted street and hears footsteps approaching.

B. Your character is at the supermarket and knocks over a barrel of apples, spilling them all over the floor.

C. Your character answers the door to find a homeless person asking for food.

D. Your character is given the choice of attending a symphony concert or a rock festival.

E. Your character has done a difficult job for agreed-upon pay and the employer refuses to pay.

F. Your character is alone in a strange land where no one speaks the character's language and wants directions for getting home.

G. Your character is on horseback out west and faces a herd of stampeding cattle.

H. Your character was left home alone by mistake. The family won't return for three days.

Character ____________________________________


A. __________________________________________________________

B. __________________________________________________________

C. __________________________________________________________

D. __________________________________________________________

E. __________________________________________________________

F. __________________________________________________________

G. __________________________________________________________

H. __________________________________________________________