Maria Rind lives in Williamsburg, Virginia, two years before the Revolutionary War begins. She came to Williamsburg when her father was invited by Thomas Jefferson to start a newspaper. This new paper would print the viewpoint of the colonists and their grievances against England. Other newspapers didn't dare to do that. Her father won a government contract to publish The Virginia Gazette. But then he died. Now Maria's mother, Clementina Rind, must take over his newspaper and keep making money from it, or else her family will become destitute.
Maria is only nine-years-old, but she wants very much to help her mother run the newspaper. But Clementina says that Maria's older brother, William, will do that. Maria must take care of her three younger brothers, cook, and run the household while Clementina manages the newspaper. Maria does what she is told, but she believes that if she just knew how to read and write better, her mother would let her help with the paper, too. The only problem is, while her father was sick, her mother couldn't teach Maria her lessons, and Maria can barely read. She doesn't know how to cook, either, and she has to learn everything the hard way --- she has to figure things out by herself because her mother tells Maria not to bother her while she's working on the paper.
Maria works hard to teach herself to read, and she finds ways to help her mother with the paper, too. In fact, Maria figures out a solution to one serious problem that nobody else thinks of. This book is based on a true story about a real little girl, Maria Rind, who lived in Williamsburg before and during the Revolutionary War. Her mother, Clementina, really did run the newspaper after her husband died, the only woman ever to do so in the Virginia colony.
The book includes several sections of history about Williamsburg, printing, children of the time, and what happened to the real Maria and her family. It has lots of photographs, and the story it tells is well-researched and accurate. You will want to find out how Maria copes with the tragic and dangerous things that happen in her life. And you will see how very unfair life could be to little girls in those days, even when they were smarter than their brothers!
--- Reviewed by Tamara Penny