The Big E's birthday is two weeks from today. Get your birthday wishes in now for your chance at winning a signed copy of The Hero of Ticonderoga, which deals with a sixth grade student who finds herself forced to do an oral report on Vermont's famous old dead guy.
Now, I'm interested in this nearly eight-year-old book because I'm the author, and I have a box of copies of the thing. But why should you care? Well, Hero was an ALA Notable back in 2002, right around the time I started blogging but before most of you knew me. And the ALA citation includes the word "ribald." How often do you suppose that happens?
In addition, the book has been used in schools in Vermont and New York. Just last month it was used as an enrichment-type reader for a fifth grade class in Connecticut during its Revolutionary War unit.
If you're thinking, "Ew. That sounds educational and improving," remember, the ALA used the word "ribald" when describing it. Don't you want to be the one to give your school something like that?
By the way, no portraits of Ethan Allen exist. Thus that incredibly unflattering depiction of him at the site I linked to was just pulled out of the air.
I am happy to attest that The Hero of Ticonderoga is ribald.
I second the ribaldry. Once upon a time I got in trouble because a teacher to whom I had recommended the book began reading it to her class -- without prereading it. Honestly, I TOLD her it revealed unvarnished truths.
It is, of course, a brilliant read aloud. I think she was just enough older than I to desire a more traditional, iconic image of our state hero.
I expected some people would be even offended by the way Ethan is portrayed in Hero. However, I love him because he wasn't a romanticized, traditional, founding father type. Having read his memoir, I think he probably wanted to be. He may have aspired to be. But he was what he was, not a gentleman farmer or New England lawyer like so many of the men who formed their own elite class in eighteenth century colonial America.
Ethan was loud and profane and a heavy drinker and looking for a way for a regular guy like himself to make a buck, and he ended up speaking for all the regular guys like himself who had no voice back then but really needed to make a buck because they had to live.
Okay, the speaking for the regular guys may have been something he fell into rather than a calling, but the end result was the same. He would not be ignored, and he kept a lot of other people from being ignored, too.
This guy is supposed to have been a legend in his own lifetime. Some authorities suggest that his star dimmed in the nineteenth century because Vermont and America became more "civilized" and were embarrassed by guys like him. I think there was a class thing going on, too. He spoke for poor farmers and started out as one, himself. The poor often end up as footnotes in history.
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