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Fever 1793

Fever 1793

Illustrated by: Lori Earley
For Ages: 10 - 14
  • reading group guide
  • 29awards
From Fever 1793
"Where's Polly?" I asked as I dropped the bucket down the well. "Did you pass by the blacksmith's?
"I spoke with her mother, with Mistress Logan," Mother answered softly, looking at her neat rows of carrots.
"And?" I waved a mosquito away from my face.
"It happened quickly. Polly sewed by candlelight after dinner. Her mother repeated that over and over, 'she sewed by candlelight after dinner.' And then she collapsed."
I released the handle and the bucket splashed, a distant sound.
"Matilda, Polly's dead."

August 1793. Fourteen-year-old Mattie Cook is ambitious, adventurous, and sick to death of listening to her mother. Mattie has plans of her own. She wants to turn the Cook Coffeehouse into the finest business in Philadelphia, the capital of the new United States.
But the waterfront is abuzz with reports of disease. "Fever" spreads from the docks and creeps toward Mattie's home, threatening everything she holds dear.
As the cemeteries fill with fever victims, fear turns to panic, and thousands flee the city. Then tragedy strikes the coffeehouse, and Mattie is trapped in a living nightmare. Suddenly, her struggle to build a better life must give way to something even more important -- the fight to stay alive.
Choose a format:
  • Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers | 
  • 256 pages | 
  • ISBN 9780689838583 | 
  • September 2000 | 
  • Grades 5 - 9 | 
  • Lexile 580L
List Price $22.99

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Reading Group Guide

Reading Group Guide to

Fever 1793
By Laurie Halse Anderson

About the Book

August 1793. Fourteen-year-old Mattie Cook is ambitious, adventurous, and sick to death of listening to her mother. Mattie has plans of her own. She wants to turn the Cook Coffeehouse into the finest business in Philadelphia, the capital of the new United States.

But the waterfront is abuzz with reports of disease. “Fever” spreads from the docks and creeps toward Mattie’s home, threatening everything she holds dear.

As the cemeteries fill with fever victims, fear turns to panic, and thousands flee the city. Then tragedy strikes the coffeehouse, and Mattie is trapped in a living nightmare. Suddenly her struggle to build a better life must give way to something even more important—the fight to stay alive.

Discussion Topics

1.What was Philadelphia like in 1793? What were the advantages and disadvantages of living in the countryside outside of Philadelphia?

2.How was the life of a fourteen-year-old in 1793 different from the life of a fourteen-year-old today? In which period would you rather live? Why?

3.Mattie’s grandfather didn’t think there was any need to rush out of Philadelphia when the fever started to spread. Why did some people think it was safe to stay? What would you have done?

4.The color yellow is see more

More Books from this Author

About the Author

Laurie Halse Anderson
photograph courtesy of the author

Laurie Halse Anderson

Laurie Halse Anderson is the New York Times bestselling author who writes for kids of all ages. Known for tackling tough subjects with humor and sensitivity, her work has earned numerous ALA and state awards. Two of her books, Speak and Chains, were National Book Award finalists. Chains also received the 2009 Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction, and Laurie was chosen for the 2009 Margaret A. Edwards Award. Mother of four and wife of one, Laurie lives in Northern New York, where she likes to watch the snow fall as she writes. You can follow her adventures on Twitter @HalseAnderson, or visit her at MadWomanInTheForest.com.

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