Grade Level: Fifth
Finally, after seven loooooong years, Laurie Halse Anderson brings us the final installment in her Seeds of America Trilogy: Ashes. This book wraps up the story of Isabel, Ruthie, and Curzon so nicely and puts a neat little bow on top.
Ashes picks up several years after Isabel and Curzon marched out of Valley Forge. At the onset of this novel, Curzon and Isabel are hiding in the woods a mere feet away from the sign that will tell them just how far they have left to travel… and a group of redcoats.
Very early in this book Isabel finds the very object she has been searching for since the middle of Chains: Ruth. After escaping undetected from the British soldiers and Virginia militia, Isabel and Curzon arrive at the Lockton Plantation in South Carolina. They climb a tree to wait for nightfall. They have learned that being patient and scouting out residences is the best way to go, but no sooners has Isabel climbed the tree, when a young slave girl strolls from the barn. Immediately, Isabel senses a familiar air about this young woman. After a few seconds, Isabel recognizes her for her she is and throwing caution to the wind, she runs to greet Ruth. Unfortunately, the greeting and the subsequent travels are not at all what Isabel had in mind.
Through kind actions of the older slave couple at the plantation, Isabel, Curzon, Ruth and another slave from the plantation, Aberdeen, escape. They manage to travel through the woods toward freedom. Much of this time, Isabel is trying to get Ruth to speak to her. The group eventually finds themselves in the midst of the Continental Army and their French Allies.
Isabel and Curzon continue to find themselves in situations where their loyalty to each other is tested. Isabel’s greatest focus during the war was never on those involved in the war, but on finding her sister. Now that she will be forced to choose a side. The final major battle of the American Revolution looms before her, Isabel is forced to choose a side. Ruth seems to want to follow Aberdeen… toward the British. Curzon, the boy she has spent years with, is passionately fighting for the Americans. Which should she choose? How will she know which is the right choice? Can she guarantee her freedom?
In this novel, Anderson will ask her readers to think about independence for all. Isabel will be faced with a difficult decision. And she will ultimately follow her heart.
Lesson Plan Ideas:
*Check out my workbook on Teacher’s Pay Teachers
*Write a response to Ms. Serafina’s quote on page 39: “The greatest strength of all is daring to love.”
*Take a page from Isabel’s book. As a family, talk about memories from special events.
*On page 84, Isabel describes the “bedraggled” soldiers. Research the struggles faced by the Patriot army.
*Research the significance of the location of Yorktown.
*Compare the camp at Williamsburg to the camp at Valley Forge. Use chapter XVII to help describe Williamsburg and pages 73-127 in Forge to help describe Valley Forge.
*On page 132, Isabel discusses the walls of Jericho. Read the story in Joshua Chapter 6.
*Compare a regular battle with a siege. How are the two strategies different?
*Research the ending of Yorktown. Who surrendered in Cornwallis’ stead?
*The appendix has some great questions and resources too.