Laurie Halse Anderson
Everything seemed to be pretty monotonous for Mattie Cook. She was subjected to her mother’s constant criticism and authoritarian ways. Something happens that will change Mattie’s little world forever, the fever. The yellow fever starts plaguing Philadelphia that fall during some of the hottest months not caring who its victims are and ravaging the city causing mass chaos. At first, Mattie is able to keep the chaos outside of the four walls of her family’s coffeehouse but suddenly without warning it penetrates them and now Mattie is forced to leave her home which sends her into many morbid adventures. How will Mattie respond when fever strikes close? And how will she survive when all hope seems to be dying?
- Mattie is living life at the family coffeehouse like always. Working endlessly to meet her mother’s constant demands
- Things change when their servant Polly dies of the fever, the fear of fever starts settling in
- Mattie and her mother go to tea at the Ogilvie mansion
- Fever breaks out in the city
- Mother gets the fever
- Mattie is sent away to the country
- Mattie and Grandfather are stranded in the countryside and grandfather is quite ill
- Mattie comes down with the fever and awakens to find herself in a hospital
- Mattie makes it through the fever and begins to recover and regain her strength
- Grandfather and Mattie go back to Philadelphia after Mattie has regained enough strength
- They return to find their coffeehouse empty and looted with no sign of Mother. There is also no food.
- Mattie did what she could to make their house livable
- They are robbed in the night and was grandfather was killed
- Alone and emptyhanded Mattie does not know what to do and begins wandering the streets of Philadelphia.
- Mattie stumbles upon an orphaned girl named Nell and takes her with her although she does not know what she is doing
- Mattie happens upon Eliza who gives Mattie a place to stay and provides her with food as well as allows Mattie to help with her aid work
- When Nell and Eliza’s nephews get the fever Mattie and Eliza take them back to the coffeehouse to care for them
- A frost finally comes to the city which helps break the fever and the children pull through
- Mattie is reunited with her dear friend Nathaniel and they become very close
- Mattie reopens the coffeehouse and is very successful
- In the end, mother returns!
This book would be great to read in the classroom because of all the historical context. Several of our country’s founding fathers are mentioned. I think students would enjoy having history come alive in this way and there are many different aspects of history and the story that could be elaborated on with various activities and methods. I think this book’s historical context as well as its realistic nature make it both appealing to readers and educational. - JK