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The story of Hans and his sister's participation in a skating competition is interwoven with their class reading of
_The Hero of Haarlem_ (the boy who saved his country by plugging a dike with his finger).
Somehow poplular myth has transferred Han's name to the dike boy.
Southworth considered Ishmael to be her best work.
It's inspirations to wisdom and goodness were drawn from the real life examples of the heroes and statesmen of the American Revolution.
The novel tells the story of Ishmael, born into poverty and virtuously climbing to success.
In his day E. P. Roe was a bigger seller than Mark Twain.
"In the Opening of a Chestnut Burr, Mr. Roe has made a marked advance upon his two previous stories.
He has already exhibited a remarkable power of description, which in this volume he uses with good effect in the scenes of
fire and shipwreck. It is thoroughly religious, thoroughly Christian both in tone and teaching."
-- Harper's Magazine. (a contemporary review)
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