The Portsmouth Alarm

December 1774

By Terri A. DeMitchell
(Mayhaven Publishing, Inc., Paperback, 9781932278927, 162pp.)

Publication Date: January 2013

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The Portsmouth Alarm: December 1774 centers on three teenage friends in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, on the eve of the American Revolution. Each of them is forced to make choices about personal and family loyalties, choices that will affect the rest of their lives.

At the outset, Paul Revere has created panic by riding into town and claiming British regulars (soldiers) are on their way to seize the colony’s gun powder stored at Fort William and Mary. Is it true? Is Revere lying for his own interests? Or is the colonial governor who insists calm really just playing for time until the troops arrive?

In an atmosphere of fear and rumor, decisions must be made from which there might be no turning back. Schoolmates Joseph Reed, Jack Cochran and Andrew Beckett must each decide for themselves what is true, what is right, what must be done, and most important—who they will choose to be in life.

About the Author
A former elementary school teacher, college lecturer, and lawyer, DeMitchell has a Master of Education degree from Harvard, a Master of Arts degree from the University of California, Davis, and a law degree from the University of San Diego, School of Law. In addition to writing mysteries and historical fiction for young readers, she regularly publishes papers on legal issues affecting the teaching profession.

DeMitchell lives in New Hampshire with her husband and enjoys walks along the shore she knows so well. Her exciting and entertaining books are meticulously researched for historical accuracy, portraying both their characters and events with a lifelike complexity that evades simple interpretations.

Praise For The Portsmouth Alarm
Kirkus Reviews
NOVEMBER 24, 2012
“A worthwhile read that personalizes the conflict that led to the American Revolution.” — Kirkus Reviews
DeMitchell’s YA historical novel is based on American Revolutionary Paul Revere’s legendary ride to Portsmouth, N.H.
When Revere set out to warn the citizens of Portsmouth, N.H., that British regulars were already on their way to Fort William and Mary on New Castle Island to seize the store of gunpowder, many in New Hampshire and Massachusetts immediately responded. . . .DeMitchell states most of the characters, save for Beckett and the supporting character Joseph Reed, are based on actual people, though the account is fictionalized. Whatever liberties she might have taken with the history, DeMitchell has a talent for the small details that result in a vivid story. Readers feel the rush of the icy Piscataqua River as Beckett tries not to fall off the edge of a barge full of people and the strain of physical work. The story also avoids easy characterizations of heroes and villains; Beckett and Cochran are simply kids trapped in extraordinary circumstances. Gov. Wentworth could easily have been the scapegoat as a native New Hampshire man taking orders from the crown, but he comes across fully rounded. He, too, is trapped as he tries to stay loyal to the king while avoiding violence and advancing free trade in the colonies. DeMitchell’s aim is to provoke thought about the incidents that led to war. Beckett and Cochran feel like real people with real needs rather than handy political constructs or symbols. . . " — Kirkus Reviews

DECEMBER 3, 2012
“DeMitchell has done her homework.” – J. Dennis Robinson
HISTORY MATTERS J. Dennis Robinson
“DeMitchell reminds us that these were confusing and frightening times when only about a third of the population was in favor of a break with Mother England…DeMitchell has done her homework. A former elementary school teacher, college lecturer, and lawyer, she strikes a neat balance between defining the heady times and reporting the action. Why has Paul Revere come 60 miles from Boston in the worst of winter weather? Can the governor control the increasingly riotous citizens? Who really owns the gunpowder and the guns – King George or the people of New Hampshire? Is the raid an act of patriotism or mob rule?
DeMitchell wants young readers to make up their own minds.”
- J. Dennis Robinson; Author/Historian
Read Robinson’s complete review and background on the story at

The Bowed Bookshelf
DECEMBER 26, 2012
“DeMitchell conveys a marvelous sense of place and time, for even today we are able to visit the buildings she speaks of and can immediately connect to the cold and windy weather.”
- The Bowed Bookshelf: Thoughts on new books, publishing industry
“This novel is an aid for young adults (ages 10-16) to understand the complexity of the issues facing residents in pre-revolutionary America. The drama is quite close and clear to the reader, and gives one a strong sense of history. It could be a useful teaching tool in conjunction with a classroom curriculum module and I thrill to think of the fabulous field trips that can be taken in conjunction with studying this period of history.”
Read the entire review at The Bowed Bookshelf.

Foster’s Daily Democrat
DECEMBER 10, 2012
“Seacoast author rekindles the sparks that set off the American Revolution”
Terri A. DeMitchell, author of the award-winning Olde Locke Beach Mystery series, based in the New Hampshire Seacoast region, has turned her talents in research and curriculum design to write an historical novel for young adults ages 10—16 that explores the origins of the American Revolution right here in New Hampshire.
“Facing challenges and handling conflict help to define our character. I am interested in exploring how children and young adults respond to these situations and develop resilience in the face of adversity and define their value system. I look for issues that can be viewed in multiple ways, ones where there are not easy or right and wrong answers. Then I develop strong characters to deal with those conflicts” DeMitchell said. “In particular, in The Portsmouth Alarm, all three viewpoints, patriot, loyalist, undecided, were common and valid ways of viewing the issues that led to the Revolutionary War.”
DeMitchell is the author of the Olde Locke Beach Mystery Series for children, the first of which, You Will Come Back, won the Mayhaven Award for Children’s Fiction. The second, Jigsaw, was a finalist for the New Hampshire Literary Award for Outstanding Children’s Fiction.
Read the complete article on The Portsmouth Alarm at Foster’s Daily Democrat.

Thomas F. Kehr
Author of “The Seizure of His Majesty’s Fort William and Mary”
“A highly readable treatment of the ill-understood events surrounding the raids on Fort William and Mary; events that marked the opening of one colony’s armed rebellion against British authority. Although The Portsmouth Alarm is a fictionalized account of the little-known story of the raids, it encapsulates the events better than do many historical treatments . . .
The opening of the American Revolution was by its nature a confused affair, involving deep and sometimes conflicting emotions. It has often been claimed that one third of America was for the Revolution, one third was against it and one third was essentially undecided . . . DeMitchell’s book takes her readers into that world and, through her three main characters – Joseph Reed, Jack Cochran and Andrew Beckett – explores each of the three perspectives with sensitivity and an eye to historical accuracy . . . DeMitchell makes The Portsmouth Alarm a fine springboard for discussion. Her characters’ competing views effectively demonstrate why the situation in America at the beginning of the Revolutionary War has sometimes been called “the perfect crisis.”

Joseph J. Onosko
Ph.D., Associate Professor, Social Studies Theory & Methods, Department of Education, University of New Hampshire.
“DeMitchell’s riveting account of the Portsmouth rebellion invites readers to wrestle with the full spectrum of views on the appropriateness of this act of civil disobedience, as experienced by three teenagers whose personal relationships and lives will be forever altered. Social studies and language arts teachers committed to citizenship education through the analysis of public issues will appreciate the author’s detailed, eminently fair, and complex treatment of a most controversial event.”

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