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Reviewed by Paul F. Murray for Readers' Favorite
One Small Spark by Jackie Minniti starts out with an all-is-well feeling about the Pembroke family. The elder Pembroke is a wealthy Boston merchant in the early 1770s, benefitting from the peaceful and civilized rule of that wonderful English King, George III, and his redcoat British soldiers are there to help keep the peace. Young Benjamin dreams of someday being an officer in the King’s army. This warm, tranquil state of affairs quickly falls apart, however. Readers are witnesses to a series of scenes showing how tyrants and their representatives--in this case a customs officer named Ebenezer Richardson (an actual, historical personage)--can take advantage of the absence of laws, liberty and protections for ordinary citizens to not only throw their weight around but hurl it around at even the most government-loyal individuals. Benjamin Pembroke, Abigail Pembroke, and their loyalist father learn that there is simply no way under British rule in the early 1770s to protect their business, their home, and indeed their very lives. But then what to do about that situation?
One Small Spark by Jackie Minniti is a wonderful novel that will educate any reader of any age regarding why the Revolutionary War was fought. The heroes of the story are unusual; 11-year-olds Benjamin Pembroke and his twin sister, Abigail Pembroke. I say unusual in that the story works as well for adult readers as it does for younger and teenage readers. That shows some real creativity on the part of the author. I thoroughly enjoyed One Small Spark for multiple reasons. An “educational” novel isn’t always entertaining, but this one was entertaining, and then some. It can serve as a starting point for readers of any age, from an older child to an adult, who would like to study and learn more about the American Revolution and the reasons for it. History can sometimes be distorted by those with a nefarious agenda. This novel lays the facts out straight.