Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Servant to Abigail Adams: The early American Adventures of Hannah Cooper

Servant to Abigail Adams: The early American Adventures of Hannah Cooper

Kate Connell, Nancy Feresten
Historical Fiction  Series
For ages 8 to 12
National Geographic, 2003   ISBN: 978-0792258285

Abigail Adams, the wife of President Adams, is returning to the capital, Philadelphia, and with her she is taking a new servant, a thirteen-year-old girl from Massachusetts called Hannah. Soon after she arrives Hannah begins to write to her family and through her letters, and those that she receives from them, we discover a great deal about life in American in the late 1700’s and early 1800’s. We also get a glimpse into Hannah’s heart through diary entries that she writes at this time.

There is no doubt that being a servant in those days was hard and from Hannah’s brother Daniel we learn that his life as a printer’s apprentice is no picnic either. We also learn about the political climate of the times and how unsure things were in the early days of the new democracy.

In addition to the very personal and authentic sounding letters which fly between the Copper siblings and to Hannah’s diary entries, this book is full of additional information provided at the beginning and at the end of each chapter. This text helps to set the scene and provides background information for the story. Great events occur which are cause for much excitement in the country; a Presidential election takes place, and the President moves to the White House in the new city of Washington.

By entwining Hannah’s story with the real story of the Adams family and that of the young United States, the author has brought history to life and given it a face and a heart. This is a refreshing and entertaining way of presenting history to young people. Rich colorful illustrations from the period provide a backdrop for the excellent text.