Home Fronts: The Illustrated Colonials Book Two
Empire Studies Press (2021)
Reviewed by Jeni Tahaney for Reader Views (06/2021)
“Home Fronts” is the second book in The Illustrated Colonials series by Tom Durwood. In this story, the six main characters, Mei Ying, Glibert, Sheyndil, Leo, Mahmoud, and Will, scatter across the globe to spread the American ideal of freedom; in addition, some of the young heroes try to improve the infrastructure of their homelands using what they learned in school. Gilbert finds himself in America participating in the Battle of Brandywine while Leo is making friends with the colonials and sharing his idea for advanced weapons. Mei Ying goes home only to be banished to the foothills of Jinan. She decides to use her travels to spread the word of the American ideal of freedom of religion. Along the way she meets French Missionaries, Hessian despots, and a slew of other characters who try to impede her way.
Meanwhile, Mahmoud builds canals at the palace in hopes that he might eventually be able to bring running water to the working class. Knowing he is not smart enough to build the canals properly, Mahmoud places himself as an apprentice, doing the lowliest of jobs, to learn more to help his people. Then his father, the Sultan, betrays his son and heir. When he receives a letter calling him to fulfill the pact made in book one, Mahmoud leaves to help his friends. The readers find Mei Ying travelling across the county incognito still on her mission for Catherine the Great, while Will is finding his footing in the Dutch trade industry. All of the main characters have faced various types of danger, but there is more danger brewing for the young heroes. In the meantime, the American Ambassador, Benjamin Franklin, makes an appeal to the French King, Louis XVI for help. The war in America is not going as planned, and America needs allies.
In Home Fronts, the main characters leave their beloved school to share what they learned and to help the Colonials in America. Once again, the author skillfully embeds the main characters into the Revolutionary War, which gives this war a contemporary awakening. The international perspectives each of the characters bring to this historic event are both inventive and unconventional. They draw in a younger audience to what is sometimes perceived by this generation as another boring event in American history.
This reader’s favorite scene is early in the story where Mei Ying encounters the French Missionaries. The rapid-fire dialog is interesting and funny. That bit of humor, for an otherwise serious subject, shows how knowledgeable Mr. Durwood is about his feisty character and the circumstance that she faces. In addition to the different perspectives and the dialog, the illustrations that accompany the storylines further engage those readers who may not choose historical fiction as their “go to” genre. Therefore, “Home Fronts” is recommended for audiences from age 10 to adulthood who enjoy a good adventure with a twist of history.