Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Secret of the Sealed Room: A Mystery of Young Benjamin Franklin

The Secret of the Sealed Room: A Mystery of Young Benjamin Franklin

Bailey MacDonald
Historical Fiction
For ages 9 to 12
Simon and Schuster, 2010   ISBN: 978-1416997603

Patience Martin has been an indentured servant for three years, and four more lonely and unhappy years lie ahead of her before she will finally be free to do as she wishes. She works for her mistress, Mrs. Worth, as best she can, tolerating the woman’s meanness and her sharp tongue. Then, quite suddenly, Mrs. Worth dies. Mr. Richard, Mrs. Worth’s brother-in- law, quickly accuses Moll Bacon, the local midwife and healer, of being responsible for Mrs. Worth’s demise. When it is learned that Patience’s mistress was poisoned, Moll is quickly arrested and imprisoned.

Patience is told to go to Mr. Richard’s house and there she overhears the mean-spirited man saying that he will sell Patience’s indenture for “a bargain.” Terrified that her services will be sold to someone who will treat her badly, Patience decides to run away. She is going to need help though, and she decides to ask Ben Franklin, a boy she met after the death of her mistress, for his help.

Ben Franklin, a local printer’s apprentice, turns out to be very resourceful indeed, and together he and Patience decide to find out what really happened to Mrs. Worth. They are convinced that Moll is not a poisoner, but they don’t know who the real culprit is.

This engaging and beautifully crafted work of historical fiction combines a mystery with real historical facts. The true-to-life characters bring this period in America’s history to life.