Title Katie’s Trunk
Author Ann Turner
Illustrator/Photographer Ron Himler
Publisher and Year Macmillan Publishing Company, 1992
Number of pages: 28
Genre: Historical Fiction
Descriptive Annotation: The illustrations in this book are done with watercolors and pencils, and help show what the text does not. There is not too much text on each page, so the illustrations help convey the emotions that are experienced by the characters. Katie’s Trunk tells the story of a family on Britain’s side during the American Revolution. Katie has lost many of her friends, and there is a general sense of uneasiness in the air. One day, American rebels invade Katie’s house, but instead of hiding with her family in the woods, Katie decides to run back inside and touch her belongings for what she believes to be one last time. As the rebels get closer, Katie hides in her mother’s large wedding trunk and is seen by an old friend, who luckily kept her safe. Instead of telling the others of her location, he clears them out of the house, and Katie and her family reunite.
Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis: This story is set during the time of the American Revolution in colonial America, so the language used is different than the typical terminology used today. Students would need a background lesson (if not done as part of a unit on the American Revolution) on the different language used during that time period (i.e. Tory, rebel).
Interdisciplinary Connections: This book would clearly go along with a social studies unit on the American Revolution. Something special about Katie’s Trunk is that not only is it told from the perspective of a child, but also a child whose family does not support the American rebels, and instead is still loyal to Britain. Students could be asked to describe their feelings from the perspective of various characters in the story—Katie, John Warren (the boy who did not reveal her location), Katie’s brother or parents—and share those with the class. A language arts lesson could also be incorporated with this lesson (aside from just reading the book). Throughout the story, the action of sewing straight seams is brought up, both literally and figuratively. Students could be asked to describe what they believe this metaphor means.
Other Information: An excerpt from this story was found in my co-op’s 5th grade Language Arts book. We read it as a class and students were asked to demonstrate hiding in the trunk by hiding under their desks. My co-op made the students stay very quiet while they were hiding to mimic how Katie had to respond in order to stay safe. Doing something interactive with this story is a definite possibility, and it helped demonstrate to the students how small of a space Katie (and others who lived during that time) had to hide in to protect herself.