Dateline: 7 December 2005
Back in the 1970’s I started buying and reading a variety of books with agrarian themes. Among them were several written by Eric Sloane. My cheap ($2.95) Ballantine paperback copy of Diary of an Early American Boy is in poor condition now. The pages are loose and the cover is held together with scotch tape.
Sloane’s book was inspired by the actual wood-backed, leather-bound 1805 diary of 15 year old Noah Blake that Sloan found in “an ancient house.” Along with the diary was a handmade stone inkwell and an almanac.
Using Noah Blake’s diary entries, Sloane weaves a wonderful tale of rural American life as it was two hundred years ago. It was not a life of drudgery. There was certainly a lot of hard work to be done but there was the joy of accomplishment, of holiday celebrations, and of living in close community with other like-minded people. Underlying the story is a clear acknowledgment of the Blake family’s Christian beliefs and the Christian culture that they lived in. Sloan’s numerous pen & ink illustrations are excellent and serve to explain such things as how Noah’ made his ink well to how a post & beam sawmill is built and operated.
You will like this book and learn a lot from it. If you have young boys, they will enjoy having you read this book to them. I know this because I recently read it to my 11 and 14 year old sons. They were very taken with it and that pleased me greatly.