Title: The Matchlock GunThe Matchlock Gun
Author: Walter D. Edmonds
Illustrator: Paul Lantz
Pages: 62
Recommended Ages: 8-12
Star Rating: ★★★★★


The Story.

The matchlock gun is a very special gun. It has a huge bell mouth that roars like a cannon when it is fired and the gun itself is longer than a tall man. It is much too heavy for Edward to carry, but he is proud of it. He is proud because it belonged to his Great-Grandfather Dygart who purchased it in Bergom op Zoom before he traveled to settle in America. But even though it is a beautiful gun, neither he nor his father had ever shot it because it is such an impractical weapon.

Edward’s papa is a Captain in the Guilderland militia which protects the Dutch and English settlers from the attacks of wild Indians. One day he is called away to the north to protect the people there, and Edward is left alone with his pretty Dutch mother, Gertrude and his chubby little sister, Trudy. As the day progresses Edward and his mother become uneasy.

What if Indians manage to slip through the militia and attack their house while papa is still away? How can they defend their house, when the only weapon they own is… the matchlock gun?


An absolutely fantastic story. I am amazed at the amount of character development Walter D. Edmonds managed to pack into a 62 page children’s book. Despite the brevity of the story, I truly felt acquainted with the characters at the end of the tale.

Edward is the main character of this story and a fine hero he is. He is a sensitive boy who admires his father and loves his mother. Though only ten, he proves himself a mainstay to his mother, aiding her swiftly and with intelligence. His courage at the end of the book is a fine example of a boy learning to play the man.

Trudy and her continual crow “Bergom op Zoom!” is quite hilarious. Her roly-poly antics, often occurring during otherwise intense moments, provided much amusement to me.

Gertrude impressed me. I don’t mean that flippantly – Gertrude impressed me. She is a beautiful example of a feminine, loving wife who tended her children with skill but who was also quite ferocious  when circumstances required it. Her strategy for defending her home demonstrated ingenuity and her tenacity in executing it demanded great fortitude. She was a great character.


Concerns are minimal. It is stated once that Edward says something ‘scornfully’ to his little sister. She’s too little to really notice.

Trudy tries to back-talk her mom, but Gertrude quickly shuts her down.

Several references are made to the fact that Gertrude and her mother-in-law do not get along with each other.

Conclusion. Probably what I love most about this story is the courage that exudes from it. Edward, Gertrude, Trudy, all of them faced tough circumstances, but they had the spirit to persevere through them.

Review © 2012 Laura Verret

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