Cover image for Boston Jane : an adventure
Boston Jane : an adventure
Holm, Jennifer L.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : HarperCollins, 2001.
Physical Description:
273 pages ; 22 cm
Schooled in the lessons of etiquette for young ladies of 1854, Miss Jane Peck of Philadelphia finds little use for manners during her long sea voyage to the Pacific Northwest and while living among the American traders and Chinook Indians of Washington Territory.
Reading Level:
690 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 4.9 8.0 53469.

Reading Counts RC 6-8 5.9 15 Quiz: 28219 Guided reading level: U.

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
X Young Adult Fiction Young Adult
X Young Adult Fiction Young Adult
X Young Adult Fiction Young Adult

On Order



Sixteen-year-old Jane Peck has ventured to the unknown wilds of the Northwest to wed her childhood idol, William Baldt. But her impeccable training at Miss Hepplewhite's Young Ladies Academy in Philadelphia is hardly preparation for the colorful characters and crude life that await her in Washington Territory.

Thrown upon her wits in the wild, Jane must determine for herself whether she is truly proper Miss Jane Peck of Philadelphia, faultless young lady and fiancee, or Boston Jane, as the Chinook dub her, fearless and loyal woman of the frontier.

An exciting new novel from Jennifer L. Holm, author of the Newbery Honor Book Our Only May Amelia.

Author Notes

After graduating from Dickinson College, Jennifer L. Holm became a broadcast producer of television commercials and music videos for numerous companies including Nickelodeon, MTV, American Express, Hershey's and Huggies. Her first book, Our Only May Amelia, was a 2000 Newbery Honor Book. Both Penny from Heaven and Turtle in Paradise were Newbery Honor recipients in 2007 and 2011, respectively. She is also the author of numerous series including Boston Jane, Babymouse, and The Stink Files, which she writes with her husband Jonathan Hamel. Her title, The Fourteenth Goldfish made The New York Times Best Seller List in 2014.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 5-8. The author of Our Only May Amelia (1999) offers another intrepid heroine in this appealing historical novel. Motherless Jane Peck has grown up as a tomboy with her father in 1850s Philadelphia. At the urging of her father's apprentice, William, on whom Jane develops a crush, she begins attending Miss Hepplewhite's Young Ladies Academy, where she studies etiquette, embroidery, and the management of servants in the hope of becoming the sort of woman of whom William will be proud. Later, despite her father's protests, she travels halfway around the world to Shoalwater Bay in Washington Territory to marry William. Unfortunately, her betrothed is nowhere to be found, forcing Jane to bunk with a motley assortment of traders and adventurers while she spends her meager funds tracking down wandering Will. She quickly learns that her finishing-school skills are useless on the frontier, and much of the story's humor derives from Jane's determined efforts to reconcile the precepts she has been taught with the demanding realities of pioneer life. Strong characterizations, meticulous attention to historical details (especially concerning the Chinook Indians), and a perceptive understanding of human nature make this a first-rate story not to be missed. --Kay Weisman

Publisher's Weekly Review

Holm (Our Only May Amelia) returns to the frontier (by way of Philadelphia) in this fast-paced second novel about a blossoming society lady who must surrender etiquette in order to survive. The enormously likable and irrepressible 16-year-old narrator Jane recounts her childhood crush on her father's apprentice William, which caused her, at age 11, to trade her tomboyish spitting and cherry pie-eating for proper deportment and embroidery lessons at Miss Hepplewhite's Young Ladies Academy. As Jane makes her way to the Oregon territory to marry William, Holm humorously juxtaposes Miss Hepplewhite's lessons with the reality of life at sea and on the frontier in 1854. Such advice as travelers must "dress plainly and pack lightly" does not seem to apply: Jane reflects, "She had been rather remiss in mentioning any hints on killing fleas, avoiding rats, bathing with seawater, or being seasick." The plot thickens when she meets Jehu, an officer on the ship and discovers that William has departed for a project with the governor. Jane (named Boston Jane by the local Chinook Indians) must share a cabin with unkempt, tobacco-chewing men and make herself useful by cooking, washing and mending rather than supervising servants or pouring tea. The developing love triangle (with Jehu and William) takes a back seat to Holm's credible portrait of Jane's budding friendships with the Chinook and pioneers, and the series of challenges that transform her into the outspoken, self-reliant young woman readers will long remember. Ages 10-up. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 6-10-Jane's doctor father has allowed his motherless daughter the freedom to do what she wants without restraints of propriety and etiquette. She enjoys a life unusual for a well-bred girl of Philadelphia in the 1840s. However, when she is 11, her conversations with a young medical student result in her decision to enroll in an academy for young ladies and learn to behave in a proper manner. William leaves Philadelphia for the Washington Territory and when Jane turns 15, he asks her to join him there as his wife. Jane and Mary, one of the servant girls, board the Lady Luck for the treacherous and unpleasant trip to the far northwest. Mary dies en route and the indomitable Jane must face the unknown alone. Things get worse when she arrives. William is off negotiating Indian treaties, there are no white women in the settlement, and she must share lodgings with men who have little knowledge of cleanliness and even less about how to treat a "lady." In the spirit of Avi's The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle (Orchard, 1990), the strong, believable protagonist proves her mettle in the way she handles the adversities she meets. The author's portrayal of pioneer/Chinook relationships is sympathetic as the young woman finds true friendship with them. The only jarring note is the use of Mary's ghost to let Jane know that she is making a mistake in upholding her loyalty to shallow, stuffy William. It is an unnecessary device that adds little to an exceptionally good book. As a storyteller, Holm is superb.-Janet Hilbun, formerly at Sam Houston Middle School, Garland, TX (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Papa always said you make your own luck.   But after being seasick for five months, two weeks, and six days, I felt certain that luck had nothing to do with anything aboard the Lady Luck , a poorly named vessel if ever there was one. I had just spent the morning of my sixteenth birthday puking into a bucket, and I had little hope that the day would improve. I had no doubt that I was the unluckiest young lady in the world.   It wasn't always this way.   Once I was the luckiest girl in the world.   When I was eleven years old, in 1849, the sea seemed to me a place of great wonder. I would lie on my four-poster bed in my room overlooking the street and pretend I was on one of the sleek ships that sailed along the waterfront, returning from exotic, faraway places like China and the Sandwich Islands and Liverpool. When the light shone through the window a certain watery way, it was easy to imagine that I was bobbing gently on the waves of the ocean, the air around me warm and sweet and tinged with salt.   We lived on Walnut Street, in a brick house with green shutters, just steps from the State House. Heavy silk drapes hung in the windows, and there was new gas lighting in every room. When the lights were on, it glowed like fairyland. I believed it to be the loveliest house in all of Philadelphia, if only because we lived there.   And my father was the most wonderful father in Philadelphia--or perhaps the whole world.   Each morning Papa would holler, "Where is my favorite daughter?"   I would leap out of bed and rush to the top of the stairs, my feet bare, my hair a frightful mess.   "She is right here!" I would shout. "And she is your only daughter!"   "You're not my Janey," he would roar, his white beard shaking, his belly rolling with laughter. "My Janey's not a slugabed! My Janey's hair is never tangled!"   My mother had died giving birth to me, so it had only ever been Papa and me. Papa always said that one wild, redheaded daughter was enough for any sane man.   As for my sweet papa, how can I describe the wisest of men? Imagine all that is good and dear and generous, and that was my papa.   Papa was a surgeon, the finest in all of Philadelphia. He took me on rounds with him to visit his patients. I was always proud to hold the needle and thread while he stitched up a man who had been beaten in a bar brawl. Or I would sit on a man's belly while Papa set a broken leg. Papa said a man behaved better and didn't scream so much when a little girl was sitting on his belly.   I was the luckiest girl. From the Trade Paperback edition. Excerpted from Boston Jane: An Adventure by Jennifer L. Holm All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.