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The Secret of the Sealed Room: A Mystery of Young Ben Franklin    by Bailey MacDonald order for
Secret of the Sealed Room
by Bailey MacDonald
Order:  USA  Can
Aladdin, 2010 (2010)

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* *   Reviewed by Bob Walch

A historical mystery for readers eight years of age and up, this exciting adventure brings together a young Ben Franklin and an indentured servant girl named Patience Martin.

Life in Boston in 1721 is hard enough without having a harsh and demanding employer. For 14 year old Patience it is Abedela Worth, a penny-pinching woman who begrudges her servant even a decent meal to keep her strength up.

In Ben's case, he has to deal with his brother James who has agreed to take his younger sibling on and teach him the printer's trade. Even though Ben is quite talented at setting type, James treats him like a lackey and has him running errands all over the town when he's not working in the shop.

When Patience's employer dies under mysterious circumstances and a local woman, Moll Bacon, is accused of using witchcraft to kill Mrs. Worth, Patience enlists Ben's help to try to prove the accused murderer innocent. Exhibiting courage, determination, and more than just a little ingenuity, the pair not only prevents a second murder but also clears the accused woman.

Not only is this an entertaining story, but young readers will also get a sense of what life was like in New England in the early 18th century. Unfortunately, although they will learn a little about the early life of Ben Franklin, this novel isn't going to appreciably increase the audience's knowledge of the famous inventor, businessman and civic figure.

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