Cover image for Wheel of the moon
Wheel of the moon
Forrester, Sandra.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : HarperCollinsPublishers, 2000.
Physical Description:
167 pages ; 22 cm
In England in 1627, newly-orphaned Pen Downing leaves her country village for London where she is abducted and sent to Virginia to work as an indentured servant.
Reading Level:
670 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 4.8 5.0 44838.

Reading Counts RC 6-8 5.3 10 Quiz: 24445 Guided reading level: NR.

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Juvenile Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



When Pen's mother dies and har home is taken away from her, Pen ventures alone to London. With only a few pieces of clothing and a large supply of determination, she sets out to find a life for herself in the big city.

But London in 1627 is no place for a country girl on her own. So Pen is glad when a band of orphans takes her in, but the security of friends and shelter doesn't last long. Every day orphans faced the threat of being kidnapped and sent against thier will to Virginia to work as indentured servents. Soon Pen and her friends are captured and thrown in a foul, rat-infested pit of a jail. Then one day Pen is shackled and sent on a crowded ship to the colonies. What future awaits her in this strange new plce called Virginia.

Award-winning author Sandra Forrester has written a compelling account of one girl's struggle for freedom in a harsh system that left little hope for orphans. Readers will root for Pen, a strong, truly, likeable character with nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Books for the Teen Age 2001 (NYPL)

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Gr. 5^-8. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, thousands of British young people were kidnapped and transported as indentured servants to America. This vivid docunovel tells the story of 14-year-old orphan Pen, who is captured on the streets of London, held in a crowded prison, then crammed into a ship for Virginia, where she is sold at auction for seven years' servitude. She finds a kind mistress and, eventually, a safe home, but many of her friends are not so lucky. A lot die on the voyage over or suffer disease and brutality in America. The facts are authentic, including the white settlers' racism about native "savages," and Forrester's style is clear and direct. The fast-paced adventure will grab readers, and teachers may want to discuss it in American history classes. --Hazel Rochman

School Library Journal Review

Gr 6-9-After the death of her mother, Pen, 14, escapes from the village where she has grown up and is now kept as a servant and goes to London to find a way to survive. She falls in-literally-with a group of orphans who live in an abandoned house and work at various jobs-running errands; juggling and performing; or, in Rose's case, as a prostitute-to buy food. The group is eventually captured and loaded on a boat headed for Colonial Virginia to work as indentured servants. Several of the young people die on the crossing, but Pen and a few others survive and are purchased by residents of Jamestown. The teen finds the work hard but is befriended by her master's young sister-in-law who then asks for Pen and Rose's indentures as a wedding present. When Bram, who is loved by both girls, escapes from his hard, unfeeling master, Pen must decide whether to run away with him and Rose or to make a life with her new friends. Forrester has written a good, clear story about a time period not generally mentioned in history texts, and her characters are believable and sympathetic. This title is sure to strike a chord with historical-fiction buffs.-Lisa Prolman, Greenfield Public Library, MA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.