Felicity: An American Girl Adventure

Debuted as a television move in 2005. Not rated. 


It's Felicity's tenth birthday, and many exciting things are happening . Her grandfather's visiting, and she meets Elizabeth Cole, a newly-arrived English immigrant with a disagreeable older sister. She also sees the most beautiful horse she's ever laid eyes on, a chestnut mare belonging to an abusive tanner, Jiggy Nye. She wishes desperately that she could rescue the horse, who she decides she'd name Penny, and talks about it the poor animal with her parents and grandfather at dinner. The conversation soon turns to how Mr. Nye was once wonderful with animals, but since the death of his wife spends most of his time drunk. Mrs. Merriman redirects the conversation to more proper topics, like the gentlewoman lessons Felicity will start in the day after tomorrow. The conversation derails again to talk of the unfair taxes the crown is placing on the colonies.

But soon it's two days later, and Felicity attends her first lesson. Like in Felicity Learns a Lesson, there's some snobbery from Annabelle, but Miss Manderly smooths everything over and the three girls have a productive lesson. Felicity takes Elizabeth to see Penny,  and also visits the horse that night. She's sure she can get the horse to trust her, but she doesn't want to get on the wrong side of Mr. Nye. He may not even have a right side. Later that day, her grandfather comments that he saw her coming home in the wee hours of the morning. She explains, and he agrees to keep her secret. Felicity continues her clandestine visits, eventually getting Penny to trust her enough to ride her. Her father's apprentice Ben also finds out, and also agrees to keep the secret.

Felicity has more to worry about than just the horse, though. Tensions between the colonies and the British crown are rising, and people are taking sides. Felicity's father is a patriot and refuses to sell tea in his store, but her (maternal) grandfather is a loyalist. Ben is also a patriot. Elizabeth and her family are loyalists. Felicity isn't sure which is the right side, and her parents tell her that she must decide for herself.

That's not to say Felicity ignores Penny, of course. Like in the books, she hears Mr. Nye boast that whoever can ride the horse can have her, and she sets out to prove she's earned Penny. The same argument occurs, with the same threat that Mr. Nye will kill Penny if Felicity touches her again. And like in the books, Felicity frees Penny. 

The movie then goes back to the patriot-or-loyalist plot. Ben admonishes Felicity that she shouldn't be attending tea lessons, especially with her father refusing to sell tea. Felicity counters that the lessons are about more than tea, but Ben still thinks there are many more things of greater importance than learning to be a gentlewoman. Contemplating Ben's words and the rest of what's going on her life, Felicity politely refuses her tea.

It's not long before lessons are over. Summer's arrived, and Felicity is going to spend some time at her grandfather's plantation with her mother and siblings. Her father will only be able to join them for a few days. Ben ran away, so he can't leave the store for long. Felicity's grandfather seems to be slowing up a bit, but he still makes time to go riding with Felicity, and he has a surprise for her. He's found Penny, and bought her from a horse seller to give to Felicity. One day as Felicity saddles Penny up for a ride, she gets a note from Ben, who's wounded in the woods near the plantation. She finds him and tends to his wounds, but also gives him a piece of her mind regarding the way he broke his contract with her father. She doesn't let him gloss over that, even he thinks he's justified in running away to join the militia. In the end, she convinces him to come back. Like in Felicity Saves the Day, he and Felicity's father agrees that he will stay on until he's sixteen, and then take a leave of absence to fight. Felicity's grandfather is impressed that she talked Ben into returning and while they're chatting he all of a sudden has a heart attack or something and dies, almost onscreen.

Not long after the funeral, the Merriman family returns home. Elizabeth is oddly cold to Felicity. Felicity is able to pry out of her that Elizabeth's father is in jail for being a loyalist, and Elizabeth feels she has to be careful. When Felicity and her father visit Mr. Cole, Felicity sees that Mr. Nye is there too, and gravely ill. Felicity's father is able to talk some sense into the local judicial committee and get Mr. Cole freed. Felicity wants to help Mr. Nye too, despite how cruel he's been in the past. She gives him some quality food (not always provided in colonial jail), a blanket, and perhaps most importantly, a bit of kindness.

More time passes, and soon Christmas is on its way. Felicity finds herself invited to Miss Templeton's fancy winter ball, along with Elizabeth and Annabelle Cole. Despite being nearly nine months pregnant, Mrs. Merriman starts sewing a new gown for the occasion. The very next day, Felicity's baby sister Polly is born, and Mrs. Merriman has a terrible time recovering from the birth and seems on the brink of death. Instead of preparing for Christmas, Felicity suddenly needs to take on the roles her mother had fulfilled. Her days and nights of filled with running the household and praying for her mother's recovery. On Christmas Eve, her mother's health begins to improve, and her mother praises Felicity for all the hard work she's done. She tells Felicity to get ready for the ball. Elizabeth and her mother finished the gown, and she's sure to be the most fashionable girl at the ball. No longer worried about her mother's help, Felicity is able to enjoy the ball with Elizabeth.

When Felicity returns home, Penny is in distressed labor. Felicity runs to get Mr. Nye (her father's away), now out of jail. Mr. Nye safely delivers a healthy foal, which Felicity names Patriot. Once the foal is born, Penny's health returns. Felicity's father returns just then, and in gratitude invites Mr. Nye to Christmas dinner. The Coles also attend. and together everyone has a merry Christmas.


When we were kids, my older brother told me that he thought men should ride side-saddled and girls astride, with one leg on either side of the horse (and same for bikes). He figured external genitalia would be more protected that way. He also told me that men have larger noses in cartoons because men like to sneeze, so maybe take that with a grain of salt.

Miss Manderly is a young here, rather than the grey-haired woman she is in the books.

The milk that Miss Manderly pours looks distinctly like low or non-fat milk. It's perfectly possible that colonists could have skimmed their milk so it's not inaccurate. I just noticed.

Jiggy Nye's teeth are amazingly white, especially for a colonial era drunk. Ben's are too, but his face is usually clean so they don't stand out so much.

Like in Felicity Learns a Lesson, we don't see Felicity get a chance to serve tea after she decides to be a patriot.

Ooh, Ben's wound looks bad, considering there aren't any antibiotics in Felicity's time. The actress playing Felicity does an especially good job in the scene when she finds Ben. The actress playing Nan really shines during the funeral scenes.

There wasn't really formula back in the 1770s, and the newborn is always in a different room from her mother. What was she fed? Maybe she was brought to Mrs. Merriman to nurse when she was hungry, but Mrs. Merriman might have been so ill that she wasn't producing milk. Maybe a wet nurse? Animal milk? Also Mrs. Merriman's nightclothes look decidedly inconvenient for nursing. Unless the neckline loosens somehow, she'd have to lift up the entire skirt and bodice to give the baby access. Does it show that I have a breastfed baby right now?

Unlike in Felicity's Surprise, Annabelle doesn't help finish Felicity's Christmas dress.

That's the skinniest pregnant horse I've ever seen. (when Penny's collapsed on her side)

I wonder where Jiggy Nye got his dinner clothes. Did he have an impeccable suit that just needed some dust brushed off it or something? Laundry took forever back then, not to mention the great condition his clothes are in. Maybe he borrowed some from Mr. Merriman.


Felicity Merriman - Shailene Woodley
Ben Davidson - Kevin Zegers
Grandfather - David Gardner
Mr. Merriman - John Schneider
Mrs. Merriman - Marcia Gay Harden
Mr. Cole - Bruce Beaton
Rose - Robinne Fanfair
Marcus - Rothaford Gray
Elizabeth Cole - Katie Henney
Annabelle Cole - Juliet Holland-Rose
Lady Templeton - Lynne Griffin
Jiggy Nye - Geza Kovacs
Nan Merriman - Eulala Scheel
Polly Merriman - Genevieve Harvey
Miss Manderly - Janine Theriault
Catherine - Melody Johnson

Characters not specified: Harry Crane, Peter Crockett, Jean Daigle, Craig Eldridge, Sterling Jarvis, and Simon Rice (Crane or Crockett must be William; Eldridge, Jarvis, and Rice are too old)


Lady Margaret's Ghost

Published in 2009; author Elizabeth McDavid Jones; illustrator Jean-Paul Tibbles


Felicity's father receives a shipment of heirloom items from his late cousin. Among them are items that belonged to his wife, Lady Margaret, who died years before following the difficult delivery of a stillborn boy. It's said that her ghost followed her widowed husband even across the Atlantic to the American colonies, and might still follow where her heirloom items go. Felicity's nervous about the house now being haunted, but there's not much time to worry now: It's Publick Times in Williamsburg, which means the town is bursting at the seams with visitors who have come to take in the sights and sounds of what is sort of an ongoing, all-town fair.

Felicity's mother and siblings are gone to visit a relative, so Felicity is in charge of running the household. A crabby neighbor lady comes in the mornings to help, who enjoys criticizing everything Felicity does. Felicity is glad to escape for a horse race that Penny's in. She's sure Penny will win, but while she watches with Elizabeth and a young orphan named Anne, Penny stumbles and slows down. She finishes the race, but far behind the lead horse. Ben can't figure why until he unsaddles her: there are sharp burrs biting into her skin under the saddle blanket. Neither he nor Felicity have any idea how it happened; Felicity is sure the blanket was clean, there are no burr-bearing plants on their property, and Ben didn't let Penny near any shrubs.

It's only the next when Penny is worse that they start to learn what happened. Another racer, Dawson, has been given a temporary job at the Merriman store, which is almost too busy with Publick Times, and he knows not only a special medicinal salve but also that Anne was collecting burrs and tried to pickpocket him. He suspects, from the bruises on her arm and the way she talked about her guardian to Felicity, that she's being forced to partake in criminal activity and being abused. She's likely the cause of Felicity's missing necklace (a keepsake from her mother) as well.

Before Felicity can be happy about the salve healing Penny so well, more things go missing: the ring of keys that allow access to various areas of the house like the linen closet and the cabinets where spices, sugar, or wine are kept...and Lady Margaret's things. At first Felicity suspects the neighbor, who "conveniently" didn't show up for work that morning. But after finding out that she's suffered a devastating stroke, Felicity feels guilty for suspecting her. It doesn't make sense to suspect a burglar, since other valuable items were left behind. Maybe Dawson? Perhaps...perhaps Lady Margaret's ghost? To make matters more confusing, the keys mysteriously reappear, and Felicity also finds her necklace in the cellar while she's preparing dinner (which causes her to reflect that she may have judged Anne too harshly; clearly the necklace simply fell off). But some of the food as well as some candles and a blanket have gone missing now. Felicity tries desperately to understand--at least she figures she can eliminate the ghost since ghosts don't eat if they exist--when she returns to the kitchen to find the missing heirlooms! Now she wonders if it is the ghost, trying to drive her crazy.

Elizabeth talks Felicity out of believing in ghosts, at least for the moment. Looking at things a little more rationally, the girls decide that Dawson is the most likely suspect. They confront him in the Merrimans' store, only to be chagrined when they find out the truth. He was orphaned in London, and pressed into service on a British Navy ship. He escaped when the ship docked in Virginia, and has confided his story in Mr. Merriman. That explains his sometimes shifty behavior. His being an orphan reminds Felicity and Elizabeth about Anne, the orphan girl they met at the race. They inquire with the local minister to see if he knows who took her in and he does, and he also answers some questions they have about ghosts (he thinks ghosts are at least possible and that Felicity's theory they exist because they have unfinished business makes sense). Anne's guardian is a Mr. Yancey, who owns one of the best horses in the race, and had seemed concerned that Penny might beat his horse.

Felicity decides that she'll take care of at least the ghost right away. She stays up late until she notices something ghostly: candlelight in the silent, dark hallway. When she goes to confront the ghost, she's stunned to see Anne! It turns out that she's been stealing from the Merriman house under threat of beatings from the Yanceys (she also gathered the burrs for Mr. Yancey, but didn't know that he meant to use them to hurt Penny). But then she decided anywhere would be better that living with the abusive, manipulative couple, and hid in Felicity's house to return the items--including the necklace--and take some supplies, like food, candles, and blankets, to make an escape. Felicity convinces Anne that her father can help her plight, and she stays through breakfast. Indeed, Mr. Merriman is friendly with an excellent lawyer who can bring charges against Mr. Yancey (I think Mrs. Yancey should be charged, too). And Felicity suggests that Anne could apprentice with a local dressmaker who's looking for young girl to hire. Anne loves that idea, and even if it fails, the church can find her a guardian who will actually take care of her and love her. Mr. Merriman offers Dawson a junior apprenticeship, and he grateful but refuses, instead wanting a job on the sea--of his own choosing, that is. Even the crabby neighbor is recovering well, and has asked for some of Felicity's recipes.

Satisfied with the resolution of everyone's problems, Felicity polishes the heirlooms, thinking to herself that if they're haunted, she's okay with a family ghost, because she thinks Lady Margaret would be happy to see her things being used and enjoyed by her relatives.

Looking Back

The historical section has some of the same information about Publick Times as Felicity Takes a Dare, and also talks about the punishments a thief might face, from being literally branded with a T on the palm or forehead to being hanged (presumably for grand theft?). It also talks about the plight of orphans. Orphaned children with no family to take them in often had to work at poor houses, slaving away under miserable conditions. Some lucky few might be apprenticed as sort of an indentured servant. Boys were more likely to be picked up for apprenticeship, as there were more trades available for them, but some girls could learn to be seamstresses or weavers.


This book is dedicated to "Lynne Garcia, who helped my lost boy find the light."

Felicitiy's family lives on Duke of Gloucester Street.

Buttermilk is described as rich, cool, and sweet. Hmm, sweet. Not in my experience. I'm deciding the text should be describing egg nog instead. Which I now want. And which won't be in stores until late November.

Ben, while an apprentice, is not an orphan. Most apprentices weren't; he's from a well-off family, which is why Annabelle has pursued him in the past.


Peril at King's Creek

Published in 2006; author Elizabeth McDavid Jones; illustrator Jean-Paul Tibbles


When Felicity's grandfather died, he left his plantation to her family. They're at the plantation now, aside from Felicity's father who is minding the store. The Wentworths, long-winded loyalist neighbors, come to visit one day and bring their friend Mr. Haskall. Felicity thinks he looks familiar, but can't place him, and dismisses the notion when he says he's never been south of Baltimore before. He's friendly enough, and develops a good rapport with Felicity, Nan, and William. Mr. Haskall is very interested in botany like Felicity's grandfather was, and also horses, so they have lots to talk about.

Things aren't all smooth sailing, though. A neighbor's horse has gone missing, most likely stolen. And different patriot plantations have been raided by British troops. Felicity is glad to have the distraction of Mr. Haskall to keep her mind off the worries. He's quite the conversationalist, good at listening to people and drawing out details of their stories. But he never reveals anything about himself. Felicity doesn't think anything is strange about that until Ben comes to visit and also recognizes Mr. Haskall. And he knows where he's seen the man before: guarding the governor's mansion, in a British uniform. Is Mr. Haskall a spy?

Felicity sneaks into Mr. Haskall's study early one morning, before dawn. She sees the notebooks he's been sketching his botany notes in, but when she opens them, they're maps of the patriot plantations in the area, including her family's, King's Creek. Maps that look like guides for raiding. She also finds a note about a rendezvous the next day. With this information, Felicity is sure she can catch Mr. Haskall red-handed. She feigns an illness and asks in a note for Mr. Haskall to take Penny for a ride in the morning, knowing he'll be needing to make his rendezvous appointment, and alerts Ben and her father to intercept him.

But Mr. Haskall sends a reply that he'll take Penny for a ride before breakfast, too early for him to be caught. Felicity amends her plan, waking early and hiding in the barn, waiting for him to come. He does, and steals the most valuable horse in the barn, rather than taking Penny. So it seems he truly did consider Felicity a friend: he left her treasured horse behind. But that also means Felicity can ride Penny, who's faster than the other horse, to pursue Mr. Haskall. She soon catches up to him, and he leaves his horse, bolting into the woods. Knowing her late grandfather's horse will instinctively head for home, Felicity rides Penny through the woods, determined to find Mr. Haskall. She does...just as he's talking with her father (who of course doesn't know who he is; they've never met). When Mr. Haskall sees her, he turns to flee again and she shouts that he's the spy. After her father and Marcus give a quick chase, he's caught. At Felicity's urging, they search him and find the maps he's made.

Felicity is relieved to have saved the plantations from raids, but also deeply hurt at how she's been used and betrayed by the man she thought was her friend. Crying, she tells her father how manipulated she feels, and he agrees that this is a confusing time for everyone. People who had been friends are now divided by where their political loyalties lie. He reassures her that she's done a good thing: Mr. Haskall will get a fair trial, and people's homes and livelihoods will be spared.

Looking Back

The historical section gives a brief overview of the events leading up the signing of the Declaration of Independence and talks about how some people fought with means other than weapons. Women weren't allowed to serve in the military (a few did sneak in disguised as men), but some worked as spies. Others stayed at their homes but still acted in the service of independence. For example, one woman saw that British troops had an opportunity to harvest her family's wheat field, and rather than let them have that advantage yet unable to harvest it herself, she burnt the crop. By doing more for themselves, women planted the seeds that would later start the campaign for women's rights.


This book is dedicated to "Tristan William Jones, who joined our family the writing of this book and made us all wonder how we'd ever lived without him."

This book takes place in June 1776.

Felicity's father still does work for the Patriot army, but the book indicates that it's not a fulltime endeavor.

I can't help but think that if Mr. Haskall is found guilty of espionage, the sentence will be pretty harsh...


Traitor in Williamsburg

Published in 2008; author Elizabeth McDavid Jones; illustrator Jean-Paul Tibbles


When another Williamsburg shopkeeper, Mr. McLeod, is accused of loyalty to the British crown, Mr. Merriman steps in to defend him. Mr. McLeod is especially grateful, as Mr. Merriman risks his own reputation in standing by a Scottish immigrant. It's not long before a mob kidnaps/arrests Mr. McLeod, intending to tar and feather him (something I didn't realize until I was in high school could be fatal). Mr. Merriman stops them, but in doing so becomes a target for the same anger. While the mob itself disperses, Mr. McLeod is found guilty of being a British sympathizer (there's not really any due process; it's a brief show trial) and his property is seized and sold. A man who once competed with Mr. Merriman for Mrs. Merriman's hand buys the McLeod store. Soon after that, a publication comes out insinuating that Mr. Merriman and Mr. McLeod are working together to betray the Patriot cause. It's signed "Mr. Puller," a name Felicity and her father are sure is fake. Who is Mr. Puller, and what does he have against the people he unjustly accuses?

With a bit of detective work, Felicity and Elizabeth find that "puller" is a term for type of worker involved in printing, and that the paper the publications are on came from the mill of the man who bought the McLeod's house. After some more sleuthing and some trickery, they're able to determine that a Mr. Capps, who's on the Committee of Safety (a group that watches for Loyalist subterfuge) is Mr. Puller, and that he's falsified Mr. Merriman's ledger to make it appear that he's aiding the British. His nephew works as an apprentice to a printer, so when Mr. Capps's store was having financial trouble he concocted the scheme to essentially steal Mr. McLeod's store, and when that was bought out from under him, he set his sights on the Merrimans' store. But while they know who the real criminal is, they need to be able to prove it. With some help from Ben and Mr. Capps's apprentice, they find several receipts like the ones used to "prove" Mr. Merriman was selling supplies under the table to the British, which shows that Mr. Capps has been framing people. Furthermore, he's gotten the receipts straight from the British themselves!

With Ben's help, Felicity is able to show the evidence at her father's trial, and things are set right. Mr. Capps's apprentice even finds a new job: he replaces Mr. Capps's nephew at the printing press.

Looking Back

In 1775, the Continental Congress convened in colonial America. The Congress started actions against British, including mandating a boycott on British goods. In a time before instant communication, it was difficult to enforce such a boycott, so communities elected a Committee of Safety to be sure everyone was in line with the boycott. Storekeepers were often caught up in the zeal of the Committees, similar to the way the Red Scare of the 1950s made people sees Communists around every corner. People accused of breaking the boycott were in danger of being tortured or even killed by unruly mobs. Of course, there were mobs of Loyalists as well as mobs of Patriots, so being on the wrong side of either was bad news. Scottish immigrants were considered particularly suspect, and they along with many Loyalists fled to Canada to escape the danger.


This book is dedicated "in memory of Lance Corporal Jason Scott Daniel, a brave Marine who served his country well." Rest in peace, LCpl. Semper fi.

Despite being published two years after Peril at King's Creek (the next review), this book takes place a few months before.

Felicity's family has the same rule mine does when playing games: winner picks up.

There's mention of a woman who's just had a baby being sick with "childbirth fever." I wonder if that's puerperal fever, a potentially deadly infection that used to plague new mothers. It's rarely seen nowadays, because we now know that obstetricians should wash their hands between patients. Doctors would sometimes even go straight from an autopsy to attending a birth with filthy hands. Midwives made it a habit to wash their hands and their patients had a far lower incidence of the fever. Once we came to understand germs, the reason for the correlation was clear.

I wonder if Felicity would have been allowed to testify in court, being not only female but barely eleven years old. Women couldn't vote in the US until under a hundred years ago, so it wouldn't surprise me.


Felicity Discovers a Secret

Short story collection published in 2006; author Valerie Tripp; illustrator Dan Andreasen, Susan McAliley, or Philip Hood


Felicity is out racing through the streets, spinning along her toy hoop, when she slips in a mud puddle, dirtying the linens a neighbor had set out to dry. The neighbor is Mrs. Burnsie, who takes in washing to earn a living. She has a reputation for being stubborn and mean. Embarrassed and contrite, Felicity offers to help clean the things for Mrs. Burnsie. While doing so, she learns that part of the reputation is well-deserved: Mrs. Burnsie has very specific ways of doing things and refuses to try any others. But she can be very nice. Felicity notices a few things around the house that are out of place for Mrs. Burnsie's fussiness: some embroidery is upside-down relative to the rest of the work, her apron is inside-out, her hair is messy, and the lavender she puts in the loads of laundry is just about run out. Felicity can at least help with that last bit, and the next day brings some fresh-cut flowers from her garden. She surprises Mrs. Burnsie, who was bent over her embroidery so close to the work that Felicity thought the woman had fallen asleep. Suddenly, Felicity understands: Mrs. Burnsie has poor eyesight! She brings a pair of glasses from her father's store, and urges Mrs. Burnsie to try them on. Despite being initially reticent about change, Mrs. Burnsie acquiesces, and is stunned at the difference the lenses make. She promises Felicity she'll go buy a pair, and thanks her for her friendship.

Looking Back

The historical section gives an overview of the history of corrective lenses. They were relatively uncommon until the invention of movable type in Middle Ages, when the sudden widespread availability of reading materials encouraged more people to learn to read. Glasses started out as lenses held in front of the face on posts or in fans or other handles, like opera glasses. By Felicity's time, glasses were held on with straps or pieces that went over the ear or on the temples. Benjamin Franklin invented bifocals in the 1700s, and in the 1800s, contact lenses were invented. Hooray for peripheral vision!


Felicity's a little ruder and more thoughtless with her speech than usual, but it's to advance the plot ("Why is this flower embroidered upside-down?" "Well, my mother does it this way...").

I have atrocious vision. If I couldn't use corrective lenses, I'd be legally blind. But I'd never make most of the mistakes that Mrs. Burnsie does. The way she's described bent over her work, she seems near-sighted rather than far-sighted, which makes no sense for embroidery something the wrong way. And you can still feel the hems of clothes and the way your hair is in order to put yourself together right. The lavender's the one that makes sense, because if her eyesight's like mine she'd just seen a purple-ish blur and might not notice how low her supply is. Not recognizing Felicity would be a good one, too; or if she's supposed to be far-sighted she should have been holding her embroidery further away from her face.


Changes for Felicity

Published in 1991; author Valerie Tripp; illustrators Dan Andreasen, Luann Roberts, and Keith Skeen


It's a confusing time for Felicity. The colonies are full of tension as the unrest toward the king grows stronger, her horse Penny is expecting a foal, she discovers that Penny's former owner Mr. Nye is gravely ill in debtor's prison (and back then prisoners or someone who cared about the prisoner had to pay for medical attention, so he's not get better) and she doesn't want to feel sorry for him but Elizabeth urges her to have pity...and then Elizabeth's father is arrested for being a Loyalist. Felicity's grandfather is visiting, and petitions an influential politician to release Elizabeth's father. Her grandfather is also ill, and gets steadily worse. While he's successful in his errand, it strained him. He dies in the night, not long after Felicity spent time reading to him to help him sleep. She's angry and devastated because of the loss, but her mother gives her comfort. She reminds Felicity that changes will always happen and focusing on the bad things will only make her miserable, but she can look forward to new exciting changes and fondly remember the past. She counsels Felicity that there's nothing wrong with missing people when they die, but it's useless to wish that things never change. She reminds Felicity that not even death can end the love she and her grandfather shared.

After the funeral, Felicity finds her new normal. The absence of her grandfather isn't all that's changed. Elizabeth's father is free now, but he's leaving for New York to lessen the risk of being arrested again. Elizabeth, Annabelle, and their mother will stay in Virginia to keep up the property, so Felicity's friend will still be around, but much busier that before. The girls decide to go back to visit Mr. Nye, both now of the mind that life is too short to hold grudges. But he's been released! Felicity and Elizabeth had left a basket of medicine for him, which helped him heal, and Felicity's grandfather gave him money to pay him for Penny. He used the money to pay his debt. Felicity is certain now that Mr. Nye won't try to stake a claim to her beloved horse.

Shortly after, Penny goes into labor. There's a problem with the birth, and Felicity's father and their slave Marcus are both gone. Felicity knows who can help: Mr. Nye was renowned for his knowledge of animals before he became an alcoholic. She rushes to his house, and he tells Felicity that he knows she and Elizabeth left him the medical supplies, and that her grandfather gave him the money. He agrees to help, considering it payback for their good deeds. With his help, the foal is born safely. Felicity names him Patriot.

When Felicity's father returns, he informs the family that he and Marcus will be commissary agents in the Patriot Army, delivering supplies to the fighting forces. Felicity offers him Penny to help with the work, and will help man the store while he's on his errands. Together, everyone will do their part to help.

Looking Back

When the Revolutionary War began, the effects were felt far and wide. Men were separated from their families--patriots because of joining the Patriot Army, loyalists because of fleeing to England to escape imprisonment. In either case, women often stayed on the family property to tend the land and save their claim to it. They had to work hard keeping their families fed and clothed with limited supplies and without the help they were used to, as even male slaves were fighting in the war.


This book is dedicated to "my husband Michael and my daughter Katherine, with love."

Mr. Nye turned to alcohol following the death of his wife.


Felicity's New Sister

Short story collection published in 2006; author Valerie Tripp; illustrator Dan Andreasen, Susan McAliley, or Philip Hood


Felicity's been feeling extra cooped up this winter: she's been having to help her mother more since the new baby is due soon. When a neighbor suggests that Felicity, her mother, and her siblings could use a break at her grandfather's plantation, the family agrees and they set out, despite the concerns Rose (the cook, who has helped Mrs. Merriman deliver her babies) has that the baby will come sooner than expected. They set out in on a rainy day, and soon the horse and carriage go off course, crashing into a stream bank. Everyone gets out safely and takes refuge in a nearby empty cottage, but Mrs. Merriman is feeling contractions. As Rose tends to her laboring mother, Felicity has to brave the storm to get Rose's bag from the wrecked carriage. But soon everyone's efforts are rewarded: Mrs. Merriman delivers a healthy baby girl. Felicity suggests the name Polly, should for polliwog, as the baby was nearly born in a stream. As she bonds with her baby sister, Felicity's attitude toward the responsibilities of being the eldest changes for the better.

Looking Back

The historical section is about the traditions surrounding new babies in the colonial America. Many of the traditions are still familiar today, like welcoming parties, gift giving, and christenings. Others are outdated, like putting babies in corsets to encourage good posture or using wheeled walkers (dangerous nowadays; too easy for a baby to go down the stairs). Most babies then were born at home with the help of a midwife or female relatives. Upper class women rested for a week or more, up to a month, while slaves and lower-class women went back to work sooner. Of course, all babies were cloth diapered, but the diapers had to be fastened with straight pins. Safety pins weren't invented until the next century.


Felicity's dad isn't mentioned at all in this book.

Haha, the neighbor lady tells Mrs. Merriman that right after the crash is a bad time to have a baby and she should just wait. Obviously she's never had a baby! She does have the humility to admit when she's wrong though, and seems to be a kind, if misinformed, woman.

Felicity was born early too, as revealed in Happy Birthday, Felicity!

One of my friends had a baby eight days after my second was born. We both had midwives attend our labors, but I was at a hospital and used an epidural, while she had a home birth. Another friend had a baby about a week and a half before my second, and she used a birth center. I'm very happy that we have a nice variety of choices for childbirth, at least in my area.


Very Funny, Elizabeth!

Published in 2005; author Valerie Tripp; illustrators Dan Andreasen and Susan McAliley


Ten-year-old Elizabeth has been picked on her sixteen-year-old sister Annabelle all her life. Annabelle always tries to be proper, but is actually stuck-up, and chides Elizabeth for the slightest imagined faults. But now that Elizabeth is friends with Felicity, she's discovered the strength to stand up for herself. She and Felicity even play jokes on Annabelle. When a letter arrives from a wealthy family in England suggesting Annabelle marry into it, Elizabeth is at first taken aback by the sudden changes this would entail (Annabelle would move to England and possibly never see her family again), but then thinks it might be a good opportunity for some practical jokes.

Elizabeth and Felicity say that their teasing is always for a good cause, like to help Annabelle be less snobbish. And the younger girls think it's odd than a lord would come all the way from England to find a wife. What's wrong with him that he can't find one in England? They bring up the "fact" (see below) that marriage is forever--she can't divorce if the marriage turns sour. However, it is a desirable marriage from the viewpoint of colonial America: Annabelle would be marrying up to a higher social class, and with the worsening political tensions, England might be a safer place to live.

The lord and his sister arrive a short time later, and Elizabeth soon sees that while the lord isn't a cruel man and might be quite kind, he's under his sister's thumb, and she's enough of a snobbish bully to make Annabelle look like Miss Manderly. The sister spends the better part of a week giving Elizabeth and Annabelle lessons in how to act properly among aristocracy. Elizabeth plays little jokes on Annabelle like putting a live spider on her toast to make her scream, in order to get Annabelle to realize that the sister would be an awful person to put up with (an unmarried woman, she would live with the lord and Annabelle). But the engagement is set, and even worse, Elizabeth's parents tell that she will go along to England as well! She protests and reveals the pranks she pulled in hopes that her parents will change their minds, but they're too concerned for her safety to let her stay in the colonies. She and Felicity scheme to disrupt the engagement party, which will be held that night, to prove that Elizabeth is too rough for England. They pack the sister's tall wig with snowballs.

During the party, the snow starts to melt and water flies around the room, propelled by the momentum of the dancing. The sister rushes upstairs in embarrassment, and the Coles follow with the lord. Elizabeth reveals the scheme, and the sister berates her and forbids her from coming to England. Then the lord steps in, saying he's through being bullied by his sister: he doesn't want to marry Annabelle, or anyone. Instead he wants to join Patriot army! He asks Annabelle her forgiveness, and she is only too happy to accept, for while she thinks she could grow to love him, she could never abide living with his sister. Annabelle even thanks Elizabeth for her pranks.

The next morning things are back to normal between the sisters, but at least Elizabeth can stay in Virginia.

Looking Back

While Annabelle seems young to be considering marriage by today's standards, it was commonplace for young women to marry in their late teens back in Felicity's time. Marriages tended to be more of a business arrangement than for love, especially among the upper classes. Men and women could expect to be married by their early twenties, and people who didn't marry were generally considered untrustworthy. Some single people could still make a living and be respected by their communities, like the character of Miss Manderly in the Felicity books, but it was rare.


This book is dedicated to "Sally Woods, with love and thanks for her information and inspiration."

Elizabeth is short for her age, while Felicity is tall for her age.

Yes, there was divorce in England in the 1700s. Ever heard of the Church of England? It separated from the Catholic Church in the 1500s over a variety of things, one of them being whether the king of England had the authority to dissolve marriages. It wasn't as easy to divorce then as now, but it was possible.


Felciity Saves the Day

Published in 1991; author Valerie Tripp; illustrators Dan Andreasen, Luann Roberts, and Keith Skeen


Felicity and her siblings are visiting their grandfather at his plantation to escape the summer heat of Williamsburg. They have a wonderful time, aside from having to be stiffly proper for visitors. One couple in particular, the Wentworths, take up a lot of time. Mrs. Wentworth blusters on and on about many topics, often her distrust and disdain of the Patriots. During one such visit, Felicity's grandfather rescues her from awkwardness and boredom by inviting her to accompany him and Mr. Wentworth to a horse seller. Felicity is stunned to see none other than Penny there for sale. She's wild and thin, but recognizes Felicity and calms down when she approaches the horse. Beneath her un-groomed hide, she's healthy. Felicity's grandfather buys the horse (and some others for his plantation) on the spot. Penny will have to stay at her grandfather's, but Felicity is thrilled to be able to enjoy her in the summer, and to know that her horse is safe.

While on a ride with Penny, Felicity finds a note...left for her by Ben. With the map he drew, she finds him nearby. He's run away from his apprenticeship agreement to join the Patriot army that George Washington is starting. But he's injured his leg, and can't seek help for fear of being caught. At first Felicity balks at the idea of keeping his secret, but he reminds Felicity that he kept her secret about Penny last fall. So Felicity agrees to help him, and starts treating his leg. She doesn't stop herself from pointing out that while Ben is right to stand up for what he believes in, he's going about it the wrong way. He didn't ask her father for permission, assuming he wouldn't give it, and now he's hiding from everyone. What will he do when he meets an enemy?

Before she can get through to him, her father places a notice in the newspaper offering a reward for Ben's return. She gives Ben a map and directions to Yorktown, where the army is forming, and supplies. But just after she's sent him on his way, a pair of bounty hunters tell her grandfather that they're searching for Ben...right where Felicity sent him. She rushes out on Penny as a storm gathers, desperate to find Ben before the bounty hunters, who had all but promised to rough him up. With Penny's speed and stamina, she finds Ben and convinces him to come clean, stressing that what he's done is dishonest and cowardly. He agrees and returns to the plantation with her. Felicity's father is there in the morning, and after a long talk with Ben, he agrees to let Ben join the Patriot's army AFTER he turns 18, two years from now, assuming there is still such a thing. He'll still have one year left of his apprenticeship contract, and Felicity's father excepts Ben to return to complete it. Both Felicity's father and grandfather express how impressed their are with Felicity's determination and integrity. In fact, Felicity's grandfather says that with Jiggy Nye in jail and Penny so spirited, perhaps the horse should return to Williamsburg with Felicity. Naturally, Felicity agrees.

Looking Back

Most people in Felicity's day didn't partake in much travel. It wasn't as easy to get places back then, without decent roads or fast transportation. But some of the better-off town dwellers had family in the country, where they could get away for a time. In Felicity's case, the place in the country was a plantation staffed by slaves.


This book is dedicated to "the staffs of the Pleasant Company and of Colonial Williamsburg, with thanks."

Slaves show up quite often in the background of Felicity books, which is consistent with her time and class. I wonder if the slave characters in her books influenced the decision to make the next American Girl one who escaped slavery (Addy, next month's focus).

Blackberries are mentioned again, but this time they're maturing at the right time (mid to late summer). Felicity and her grandfather also talk about medicinal herbs, which is pretty interesting to read.

Felicity's mother in pregnant, due in winter.

The grandfather in the book is Felicity's mother's father.

I hope Felicity's grandfather made sure her parents were okay with bringing home another horse before giving her the animal.


Happy Birthday, Felicity!

Published in 1991; author Valerie Tripp; illustrators Dan Andreasen, Luann Roberts, and Keith Skeen


Felicity is excited about her upcoming tenth birthday. Her grandfather is coming to visit, so she and her mother plan a small party, basically a fancy lunch with her family and Ben. Her grandfather arrives with gifts for the children: a lamb and their late grandmother's guitar. Both are intended to help them, especially Felicity, demonstrate that they can be responsible. They name the lamb Posie, because of its preference for sitting in the flower bed. Felicity is especially excited about the guitar, as Annabelle has started music lessons with Miss Manderly. Felicity can't help but feel jealous and impatient to start learning to play music too.

Eager to show off the guitar, Felicity takes it to Miss Manderly's (for tuning) and then to Elizabeth's. Without permission--she was supposed to leave it in the parlor. When she's at the Cole house, some British soldiers come to visit Mr. Cole, and in the awkwardness of the political situation, Felicity leaves the guitar there. She quickly goes back to retrieve it, and overhears the soldiers discussing a plot to steal gunpowder from the armory later that night (the real-life Gunpowder Incident of 1775). She rushes home, and her mother catches her with the guitar, the strap torn. She's scolded harshly, and told to ask her grandfather for forgiveness. She does, and is sent to her room. But she knows she has to tell her father what she overheard. Her parents don't believe her and her grandfather, a loyalist, is even more upset. Felicity retreats to her room in tears.

Still, she knows she has to tell someone. Virginia's militia needs to be able to defend itself, and the governor is going to just take their supplies without permission or pay. She slips out of her room to tell Ben, and together they enlist the help of Isaac, a free black man who's a drummer in the militia. The three of them keep vigil at the armory, watching for signs of theft. A little after midnight, they see British soldiers secreting away the gunpowder. Isaac sounds the alarm and soon all of Williamsburg sees the duplicity of the governor. Felicity's father is in the gathering crowd, and takes Felicity and Ben home. The next morning Felicity wakes, reflecting on the events of the previous night and the fact that it's her birthday. Soon her father comes to get her. He reassures Felicity that while she still was wrong in taking the guitar, it's clear that she does try to do the right thing and is trustworthy. She's back on good terms with her parents, and her grandfather. There will be some tension among the adults after the raid, but Felicity's birthday celebration is on as planned, and she's able to enjoy her special day with her family.

Looking Back

The historical section in this book is about growing up in Felicity's time. Most families had more children than Felicity's, although about half of colonial children died before the age of six. The children that did grow up would have different experiences based on the societal class of their families. Upper class children like Felicity would do pretty much what Felicity does in the books: take lessons in being gentlemen or gentlewoman, and learn how to manage homes (boys might be apprenticed or attend college). Lower classes had to work more, and slave children, as one might expect, would be forced to work from a young age.


This book is dedicated to Ann, Bobby, Katie, and Sarah.

Felicity is happy her birthday is in the springtime because of the association with new life. Since it's spring, she suggests the serve blackberry, raspberry, and peach tarts. Those all mature in the summer to autumn. But maybe she means to use preserved fruit.

Elizabeth has blue eyes.

I'm annoyed with the Looking Back part for being so judgmental about the high child mortality rates. Yes, germ theory wasn't really grasped yet, but the parents were trying their best. And the children died of diseases like smallpox because vaccines weren't invented yet. People then didn't have the luxury of living in a time when smallpox is extinct and we can vaccinate to prevent other horrific illnesses.


Felicity's Valentine

Short story collection published in 2006; author Valerie Tripp; illustrator Dan Andreasen, Susan McAliley, or Philip Hood


Felicity and Elizabeth are excited about Valentine's Day. Miss Manderly is having them practice their handwriting skills, and Elizabeth takes the time to write Felicity a poem about how grateful she is for their friendship, to F. M. from E. C. Concerned that Miss Manderly will scold them for not taking their work seriously, the girls hide the note quickly. But when one of the men in town stops by with a delivery, a gust of wind sends papers flying, and the Valentine slips out of Felicity's pocket. To make matters worse, Miss Manderly's first name is Frances (F. M.) and the initials of the man who stopped by are E. C (Everard  Chelton). The next lesson, Miss Manderly asks Felicity and Elizabeth to deliver a letter to Mr. Chelton. The girls notice a folded note in Miss Manderly's pocket labelled "A Valentine from E. C. to F. M."  Miss Manderly thinks the valentine poem Elizabeth wrote was for her, and is now going to embarrass herself by sending her own back to him! Although...they would make a good couple...Felicity and Elizabeth deliver the letter as asked, but first make a point of talking up the many wonderful things about Miss Manderly to Mr. Chelton. Mr. Chelton reads the note, and declines to have Felicity and Elizabeth carry back a reply: he'll do that himself, in person! The girls are pleased with their success playing Cupid. However, there's one more twist: the next time they're at Miss Manderly's, they see the valentine Elizabeth wrote, peeking out from under a rug where it was blown in the first place. Mr. Chelton and Miss Manderly were already sending valentines to each other!

Looking Back

Paper was expensive in Felicity's day, so Valentine cards were especially precious. People took great care to make them by hand, cutting fancy shapes, drawing picture, and writing verses. Valentine cards weren't sold commercially, but people could purchase books of things to write in cards or even publish in newspaper (using code names for both recipient and sender). If people wanted to send Valentines or other mail to people in the same town, they would often send servants to do the errand. Mail going further away went in the care of postmasters, who would deliver the letters to central locations in towns, often taverns. There were no stamps; instead the recipients had to pay to get their mail. Most of the time Valentines between courting men and women were delivered by hand, as they were very private and sometimes even on the level of marriage proposals.


There's a bit of subplot that Annabelle is staying home from lessons because she's convinced she will have throngs of gentlemen callers delivering Valentines. She doesn't, of course.


Felicity's Surprise

Published in 1991; author Valerie Tripp; illustrators Dan Andreasen, Luann Roberts, and Keith Skeen


It's December, and as Christmas celebrations get underway, Felicity receives a stunning invitation: she, Elizabeth, and Annabelle have been asked to a dance lesson at the governor's palace! Miss Manderly arranged it for them. Felicity is worried that her parents' political views will cause trouble (Elizabeth and Annabelle's parents are loyalists), but her father and Miss Manderly assure her that because she was invited and she knows her manners well, things will be fine. Her father is even hopeful that this offer of civility between the governor's children and the colonists' means that the colonists can work out their difference with the king without war. Ben thinks Felicity shouldn't go at all because it would imply loyalty to the king, but Felicity prepares to go with her parents' blessing.

She's still nervous though, more so when she infers from conversation with Elizabeth that her church dress won't be fancy enough for the lesson, which will almost be like a ball. When she and her mother go out shopping for some new lace or other additions to dress up her gown, Felicity sees a doll wearing a gorgeous blue dress. The store owner explains that he adapted a pattern that the governor's wife was wearing, and he has a pattern that would work for Felicity and some beautiful blue silk that will compliment her complexion and red hair perfectly. It's a complicated pattern, but Felicity's mother works hard while Felicity helps out more with chores so her mother can focus on the dress. She makes good progress, but comes down with a serious illness just after Christmas (still before the dance). She's too ill to get out of bed, much less finish the dress. As time goes on, she's still very weak and feverish, and struggling to breathe. Felicity pours herself into taking care of her mother and keeping her brother and sister from worrying too much. All her efforts are focused on doing whatever she can to help her mother get well.

Felicity's father notices how hard she's been working, and on New Year's Day he gives her a present: the doll from the shop that Felicity admired. But now the doll reminds Felicity of how she thought the dress was her priority, not the people she loves. She gives the doll to Elizabeth, who agrees only to keep it for Felicity until Felicity is ready to have it again. Felicity also tells Elizabeth that she won't be able to attend the dance after all, not with her mother so ill and the dress unfinished.

But January 7, the day of the dance, Felicity's mother is stronger, and finally truly on the mend. And Felicity finds the finished dress and the doll waiting for her on her bed. Ben even offers to escort her to the dance, now agreeing with her father that Christmas is a time to hope for peace. It turns out that he and Elizabeth coordinated getting the dress pieces out of the house, and Elizabeth, Annabelle, and their mother finished the dress. Felicity has a wonderful time at the ball, taking in everything so she can share the memories with her mother.

Looking Back

Christmas in Felicity's time had a lot of familiar customs, like parties and church services. But it was more an adult celebration than one for children. At that time, children were more often treated like little adults. It wasn't later centuries that kids were allowed to act like kids, and Christmas was a good time to shower them with attention without spoiling them. (I gleaned that last bit from my History of Christmas DVD)


This book is dedicated to Alice Martin Tripp.

Miss Manderly has got to be the most caring teacher in the history of ever. She's always making all her students feel important.

The Christmas season didn't end on January 6, past tense. It DOES end on January 6. At least on the liturgical calendar, anyway. The twelve days of Christmas are from Christmas to Epiphany.

The book makes a big deal of how complicated the dress pattern is. But my mom sewed me a dress to match my Felicity doll's for Christmas when I was a kid, and she said it wasn't too hard (picture on my December 25, 2013 post). But Mom had a sewing machine and is very talented with needle arts. And she wasn't deathly ill.

Oh, funny. I have an episode of Friends on in the background and Chandler just told Monica she needs to "settle" before leaving a poker game. She says, "Settle what?" and he says. "The Jamestown colony of Virginia."


Felicity's Dancing Shoes

Short story collection published in 2006; author Valerie Tripp; illustrator Dan Andreasen, Susan McAliley, or Philip Hood


Felicity's lessons are now focused on dancing. Although Felicity is confident with many coordinated movements like horseback riding or climbing, she finds the dainty work of dancing difficult. It doesn't help that Annabelle continues being harshly critical of her. Despite Miss Manderly's insistence that the ability to dance lies solely in the feet (tee hee), Felicity convinces herself that she needs dancing shoes. She ruined her own by being careless with them, but she's able to borrow Nan's in exchange for teaching Nan dance steps. With the lighter shoes, Felicity finds it much easier to dance, although Nan's are a tight fit. After a few weeks, Felicity's mother finds out that she been using the shoes of her three-years-younger sister and puts a stop to it. With a heavy heart, Felicity trudges to the next dance lesson in her old, clunky shoes. But all the dancing with Nan has improved Felicity's so much that she doesn't even make a single mistake! Felicity happily recalls what Miss Manderly says: "Gracefulness is in the foot, not the shoes."

Looking Back

Like the historical segment of Felicity Learns a Lesson, this one is about the type of education an upper class girl would have had during the late 1700s in the United States. It gives some more information about the priority that dancing would have had in the southern colonies. There, knowing how to dance was very important to be properly cultured. Balls were a huge social event. By contrast, many people in the northern colonies saw dancing as highly inappropriate, shocking, or even sinful.


There's a character named Mr. Halibut. I've never heard that as a last name. There are a few entries for it as a name on Ancestry.com, and apparently a Navy ship and a submarine have been named the USS Halibut, but they were named after the fish.

While music lessons were popular for girls, instruments like the French horn and violin were discouraged. It was considered unladylike for a woman to purse her lips or stretch out her neck.


Felicity Learns a Lesson

Published in 1991; author Valerie Tripp; illustrators Dan Andreasen, Luann Roberts, and Keith Skeen


Now that Felicity is getting closer to her tenth birthday, her parents agree that she should learn proper manners. She starts lessons with Miss Manderly, a gentlewoman in town. Felicity is reticent at first, imaging the lessons will be mind-numbingly boring, but goes along with it to please her parents. She's pleasantly surprised to find that the lessons are interesting and enjoyable. A pair of sisters who recently moved from England take the lessons with Felicity. The older sister, Annabelle, is stuck-up and looks down on Felicity for being a colonist and shopkeeper's daughter, despite the fact that Felicity's father is one of the most important people in Williamsburg (and the fact that she's never met Felicity). The younger sister, Elizabeth, is Felicity's age and much more agreeable. She's quieter and shyer than her sister, too. Felicity and Elizabeth become fast friends.

While this is going on, Felicity overhears bits and pieces of gossip about colonial anger over the rising taxes on tea and other aspect of English rule. She's confused about what's really happening. After Annabelle expresses her horror at the perceived uncouthness and ungratefulness of the Boston Tea Party, Felicity asks her father to explain the politics of the events to her. He lays out the facts about the colonists feeling taken advantage of, but won't tell Felicity what to think. She has to decide for herself whether the king is mistreating the colonists or if the colonists are wrong. Even after he signs a pledge to stop selling tea in his shop, he insists that Felicity must make up her own mind.

Before she has a chance, it's time for another lesson with Miss Manderly, and it's Annabelle's turn to serve tea. Felicity is nervous: should she accept or refuse the tea? Annabelle makes the decision for, explaining to Miss Manderly with dripping sarcasm that she purposely neglected to fill Felicity's teacup because Felicity, being a colonist, would simply dump the tea on the carpet. As Annabelle scolds Felicity, it's clear that Elizabeth told Annabelle about the pledge Felicity's father made. Furious, Felicity storms out of the lesson and back home. Her mother calms her down, and encourages Felicity to not give up on Elizabeth: surely Elizabeth doesn't think so poorly of her as Annabelle, even if Elizabeth didn't stand up to her sister. It's harder for Elizabeth to stand up to Annabelle than it is for Felicity. Heeding her mother's words, Felicity returns for the next lesson, and finds that Elizabeth does indeed still want to be friends, and even stands up to her sister when Annabelle chides her for complimenting Felicity's stitching on her sampler. That day, it's Elizabeth's turn to serve tea. Felicity turns her cup upside down and politely refuses the tea, with Miss Manderly complimenting her manners.

Looking Back

An American girl growing up in Felicity's time couldn't expect the sort of education one does today. Their lessons were mostly guided toward the proper running of a household, entertaining, and manners. While there is use for many of the skills Felicity would learn (cooking's a nice thing to know how to do), things like reading and math wouldn't be featured so much. Some people even considered reading to be a waste of time for a lady. Boys, on the other hand, might be apprenticed to a trade or even attend colleges as they grew older. That is, of course, if families could afford to educate their children. Children of poorer families had to focus on helping with subsistence farming and whatever else their families needed to do to survive.


This book is dedicated to Elizabeth and Sasha. I wonder if the character Elizabeth was named for the one in the dedication (Sasha doesn't seem like a colonial name).

Felicity describes Annabelle as a snob, a word which seemed too modern for the 1700s. So I looked it up, and snob dates from the 1820s, and was first used in England.

One of the lessons Felicity has involves "homework" of inscribing an invitation. She practices the lettering over and over. Given the expense of paper in 1774, her family is clearly well-off (that, and they have at least two slaves; one in the store and a cook, Rose).

So...next lesson it would be Felicity's turn to serve tea, right? I wonder how she'd handle that. Serve coffee, maybe...that's what the colonists started drinking instead of tea!


Meet Felicity

Published in 1991; author Valerie Tripp; illustrators Dan Andreasen, Luann Roberts, and Keith Skeen


Felicity Merriman has a generally happy life in colonial Virginia: she enjoys spending time in her father's store (although as she grows older she's being encouraged to let his workers do that and go be more lady-like), her mother keeps a comfortable home, and she likes being with her little siblings, her sister Nan and her brother William. Most of all, she loves horses. When she hears that the town drunk/tanner Mr. Nye has a new horse, she can't wait to go see it. Rumor has it that Mr. Nye works his animals to death, so Felicity must move quickly. She gets her chance when she accompanies her father's apprentice, Ben, to make a delivery to Mr. Nye. The horse is a beautiful chestnut mare, but Mr. Nye mistreats her horribly, making her wild and vicious. Felicity is sure she could convince the horse to be gentle...if only she could get close enough. She's especially motivated when she hears Mr. Nye yelling to the horse that he'll give her to anyone who can ride her.

For the next few weeks, Felicity sneaks out in the wee hours of the morning to visit the horse, which she named Penny, for the copper color of her coat and for independence. Gradually the horse come to trust her, and finally Penny lets Felicity ride her. They start slow, but gradually the two work together perfectly. It's about this time that Ben realizes where his missing breeches have gone: Felicity has been using them to ride Penny. Ben agrees to let her keep them for a little bit longer, but soon she'll have to reveal what she's doing. She brushes and curries Penny's coat until it shines, and rides the horse to her father's store. She tries to explain to her stunned parents that the horse is hers now, since she can ride it. When Mr. Nye comes raging to the scene, her father has to explain that it was an idle promise; Felicity does not own the horse. Worse, Mr. Nye says that because of Felicity's duplicity, he won't even consider selling the horse to the Merrimans.

Felicity and Ben know that Mr. Nye will kill the horse with abuse and neglect. But they can't find a way to buy it from him; he won't sell Penny now. Felicity borrows Ben's breeches one last time, and rides Penny into the woods, where she was found in the first place, and sets her free. It's better for her to be a stray horse than live a short, cruel life with the eventuality of a painful death.

Looking Back

The historical section talks a lot about the fashions and pastimes of the wealthy in Felicity's day. With her father being a respected shopkeeper, Felicity would have been upper-class. It contrasts Felicity's experiences with those of the lower classes; like the back-breaking labor endured by apprentices like Ben in the hopes of a a better life one day...and that endured by people like Marcus, a slave who works at the Merriman store.


This book is dedicated to Kathleen and Granger Tripp, the author's parents.

Felicity Takes a Dare

Short story collection published in 2006; author Valerie Tripp; illustrator Dan Andreasen, Susan McAliley, or Philip Hood


Felicity and her little sister and brother (Nan, six, and William, three) are enjoying the spring fair. Felicity is most excited to see the racehorses. They're more skittish than the farm horses she's used to, but her grandfather has taught her how to be around horses, so she's not worried and keeps a respectful distance with her siblings. But being only nine, she lets herself get riled up when a group of boys starts teasing her and dares her to go up to one of the horses. Heeding her grandfather's instruction, she goes into the pen and is able to successfully get a horse to literally eat out of her hand. Just as she's about to head back out, a gunshot is fired off to start a footrace. The horse panics and kicks Felicity, breaking her arm. She's able to get out of the pen safely, and sends Nan to get their mother. Fortunately, it's a simple break. The apothecary makes a house call and sets her arm, then applies leeches to drain the "extra" blood so it will heal faster. Felicity is ashamed that she let herself be dared into doing such a foolish thing, but her mother assures her that as long as Felicity learns from her mistakes and continues to mature, she turn out just fine. Encouraged, Felicity feels well enough to sit in a chair by her window and watch the fireworks with her mother.

Looking Back

The fair that Felicity visited took place during Publick Times. When Virginia's highest court held session, there were so many visitors to Williamsburg that the city would be bursting at the seams with fairs, races and other contests, plays, and even extravagant balls at the governor's house.


I remember reading this as an article in the American Girl magazine. The Looking Back section in that one was about leech use in medicine; how maladies were thought to be caused by an excess of blood. I specifically remember the part that headaches were treated with leeches up the nose.

Leeches are making a small, specific comeback in medicine. They can be used to treat particular types of swelling. Maggots--grown in sterile environments--are also useful in certain types of wound debridement.