Nancy Keane's Booktalks -- Quick and Simple

Main Page
Author List
Title List
New This Month
Interest Level
Subject List
Booktalking Tips
Book Review Sources
Reading lists
Nancy Keane's Children's Website
Anderson, Laurie Halse.
FEVER 1793
New York : Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2000.
IL 5-8, RL 5.4
ISBN 0689838581

(3 booktalks)

Booktalk #1

In Fever 1793, we are introduced to young Mattie Cook who along with her mother and grandfather runs the Cook Coffeehouse, a popular eating house at the corner of 7th and High Streets through in the new capital of Philadelphia. It is mid August 1793 and the city is sweltering a seemingly endless hear wave when news comes of a fever taking hold of the city. Fear and panic spread as the death toll climbs and the cemeteries begin to fill up. "Bring out your dead, bring out your dead!" Philadelphia almost seems to be a medieval plague city. Worrying that Mattie will fall ill with the fever, her mother sends her to the country to wait it out with friends. But Mattie never reaches her destination in the country. She, too, falls victim to the fever. Is she strong enough to survive this deadly disease? Take a step back in time to wander through Philadelphia and the countryside with Mattie Cook during the great yellow fever epidemic of 1793, a true historical tragedy from our country's earliest days.  (Jeannie Bellavance for Pennsylvania Young Reader's Choice Awards)

Booktalk #2

Yellow Fever quickly spreads through Philadelphia in 1793. Up until that tragic summer, teenager Mattie Cook lived a comfortable, interesting life with her mother and grandfather, who together run a profitable coffeehouse. All of this is shattered by the epidemic and Mattie must fight for her survival while facing hardships, illness, and death. This well-researched, riveting historical fiction novel, packed with drama and action, will appeal to a broad range of readers.  (Sunshine State Young Reader’s Award Program, 2004-2005)

Booktalk #3

I am Mattie Cook, a fourteen-year-old living in the city of Philadelphia with my mother and grandfather above our coffeehouse. I often wake to the sound of “a mosquito whining in my left ear and my mother screeching in the right.” As any kid my age, I am sick to death of listening to my mother and just want to get a few more minutes of rest, but after tragedy strikes my city and home, I would do anything to hear my mother’s squealing voice telling me to wake up. If only the fever was a dream, but to my harsh realities, this disease happened and my world was turned upside down. “No one was about, businesses were closed and houses shuttered. I could hear a woman weeping. Some houses were barred against intruders. Yellow rags fluttered from railings and door knockers- pus yellow, fear yellow- to mark the homes of the sick and dying.” Laurie Halse Anderson shares my story of the historical misfortune of ailment that swept my city in her novel Fever 1793. My fight now was not with my mother, but rather the fight to stay alive.
(Tiffany Maychszak., college student)

SUBJECTS: Yellow fever -- Pennsylvania -- Philadelphia -- Fiction.
                        Epidemics -- Fiction.
                        Pennsylvania -- History -- 1775-1865 -- Fiction.
                        Philadelphia (Pa.) -- Fiction.
                        Survival -- Fiction.


Permission is granted for the noncommercial duplication and use of this resource, provided it is substantially unchanged from its present form and appropriate credit is given.