Happy Book Birthday: POLLY SUMNER: Witness to the Boston Tea Party Plus Giveaway

You all know how much I love to welcome new books to the world. And it’s always an especially joyful celebration when it’s a story I got to see early on…and even had the pleasure of being part of the early path to publication. Back in 2019, a Boston writer reached out to me with a wonderful manuscript about a doll that sailed to America in 1773. Sitting in the window of a Boston shop and then owned by a young girl, this doll observed the activities that led up to the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the Revolutionary War. And the most amazing thing about this TRUE story is that the doll is still in existence – on display at the Old State House in Boston. As soon as I read the manuscript, I knew this was a story kids would love to hear and I encouraged Rick Wiggin to keep going. I’m happy to say that he did…and today we are singing a very rousing Happy Book Birthday to POLLY SUMNER: Witness to the Boston Tea Party, written by Richard C. Wiggin, illustrated by Keith Favazza, and launching from Lawley Publishing.

Here’s a little bit about the book from the Amazon sales page:

Can a fashion doll from England find friendship and happiness in colonial America?

When a beautiful doll, Polly Sumner, lands in Boston on a ship loaded with tea, she discovers growing discontent among the colonists over English taxes. One night, she has a front row seat for a parade of colonists, disguised as Mohawk Indians, heading to the docks to dump the tea. Trouble was brewing! When war breaks out, Polly struggles to understand why and how it will affect her. As she watches events unfold, she learns all about the meanings of liberty and patriotism. Swept up in events that change the course of history, she becomes a part of that history herself, in this unique tale of friendship and adventure.

This is the story of Polly Sumner, a real doll that will capture the heart and imagination of any child, and acquaint the young reader with important Revolutionary history, and the founding ideals of liberty and justice for all.

Portrait of Mrs. John Williams (Polly Sumner) who bought the doll.

I’ve always loved history…when I was a kid, I read the Encyclopedia Britannica for entertainment. And for me, seeing these incredible photos and knowing that this precious doll is still in existence just makes me very happy! I’m so grateful to Rick Wiggin for writing this story!

One really interesting fact about this book is that the manuscript started out as a picture book manuscript. But the editor/publisher felt that the wealth of information to be shared required more detail – more words – a chapter book. And so, it was back to the drawing board to fashion chapters and make sure that each would engage the readers and encourage them to turn the pages to find out what happened next! Rick is a wonderful writer and he did it! Of course, once the story was acquired, there was more revision…as Stephen King says, “Writing is rewriting!” And now we have a book that would have been one of my favorites as a kid – I was a sucker for anything historical…and I think teachers will love it, too. The book will align well with elementary school curriculums.

Little Annie Williams Langley (circa 1882), one of the many little girls in the Williams family who owned the Polly Sumner doll.

Thanks to Rick, I’ve been invited to attend the launch event in Boston on April 19th – which is the true Patriot’s Day. I’ll be part of the panel along with Rick, the illustrator, and a historian. And what luck…my son will be visiting from Chicago and he’s going to accompany me! We’ll have some time to walk around – Boston is one of my favorite cities – and then meet up with the author and illustrator and their families and stroll over to the Old South Meeting House. Here is the link in case any of you are local to Boston and want to pop in to say hello. It’s a free event, but please register: https://www.revolutionaryspaces.org/sumner-book-launch/

Can a fashion doll from England find friendship and happiness in colonial America? Revolutionary Spaces is honored to host the Polly Sumner: Witness to the Boston Tea Party Book Launch on Wednesday, April 19 at the Old South Meeting House.

Author Richard C. Wiggin will read excerpts from his new children’s book, which tells the story of Polly Sumner, a real doll that arrived in Boston aboard one of the Tea Party ships 250 years ago. Beautifully illustrated by local artist/illustrator Keith Favazza, this book is both a heartwarming tale and an educational primer for kids. Following the reading, Revolutionary Spaces will host a panel discussion with Wiggin, Favazza, historian Dr. Robert Allison, and author Vivian Kirkfield. Guests will also have the opportunity to purchase a copy of Polly Sumner: Witness to the Boston Tea Party and have their book signed by the author.

While at this program, view a stunning reproduction of the Polly Sumner doll, made possible through the generous support of Richard C. Wiggin and Agnes Connors. On display for a limited time starting in April 2023, the Polly Sumner doll can tell her stories just in time for the 250th anniversary of the Boston Tea Party! Associate Director of Collections Lori Erickson will be on hand to talk with guests about the reproduction and original doll, which is currently part of Revolutionary Spaces’ expansive collection. A letter-writing station will also be available for guests to send fan mail to Polly Sumner.

This program is free and open to the public. Doors will open at 6:00 pm and the reading will begin at 6:30 pm. A station with light snacks, cookies, and “Polly Punch” will be provided. For more information about Polly Sumner: Witness to the Boston Tea Party, visit: pollysumner.com.
Here’s a little bit about the author:

  • RICHARD C. WIGGIN is a historian, former Executive Director of The Bostonian Society (now Revolutionary Spaces), and former Captain and Historian of the Lincoln Minute Men. His award-winning book, Embattled Farmers: Campaigns and Profiles of Revolutionary Soldiers from Lincoln, Massachusetts, 1775-1783 (Lincoln Historical Society, 2013), chronicles the American Revolution through the experiences of 256 soldiers from a single New England farming community. As a living historian and battlefield volunteer at Minute Man National Historical Park, Wiggin appears regularly in school classrooms and enjoys speaking before civic and historical groups. He has organized and conducted scores of public ceremonies and written audio tours for Minute Man National Historical Park and Boston’s Freedom Trail. His articles have appeared in Alaska MagazineThe Boston GlobeCivil War CourierThe Lincoln Review, and American Ancestors.
And a little bit about the illustrator:
  • KEITH FAVAZZA has created countless illustrations for many of the world’s leading publishing houses. In creating the drawings for this book, he walked where the early American Patriots walked, studied eighteenth-century life, and climbed on board a replica of a Boston Tea Party ship. Minutes away from Griffin’s Wharf, where Polly arrived, is another wharf where Keith’s grandfather captained his fishing vessel in Boston’s North End. Keith lives in historic Plymouth, a vibrant coastal town where many of his public art pieces can be found on the waterfront. He has a passion for gardening, cooking, and of course, drawing.
The book is available at:
Or order from your local indie bookstore.
Please remember to ask your library to order the book for their collection!
And don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered in the giveaway! I’ll be buying a copy at the event just for the lucky winner. Maybe you can tell us your favorite period in history…or your favorite historical personage…it could be someone like Amelia Earhart or Thomas Edison.
I hope you all have a super week!

15 thoughts on “Happy Book Birthday: POLLY SUMNER: Witness to the Boston Tea Party Plus Giveaway

  1. I don’t know that I have a favorite period in American History…I enjoy them all! I cannot wait to read this book. I love the subject matter and am intrigued by the way it morphed from picture book to chapter book. I would have LOVED to come to this event (I live just outside of Boston) but I will be away on vacation with my family.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I am working on a book about a doll collector from the early 1900s and can’t wait to read this one! My subject would’ve been so excited for this book too.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. My favorite time period in American history is the time of the Revolutionary War and the beginnings of our nation. I’ve visited Philadelphia twice and am since in awe of the history everywhere in just that one city.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I was born and spent my early years in Natick, MA, so this book really caught my eye. I also remember a book from my childhood called Memoir of a London Doll that I loved. I’m excited to read about Polly! Congratulations, Rick!


  5. RICHARD & KEITH: What a WONDERFUL way to help kids learn about history–through a doll’s eyes! SUCH a fun take, and that SHE REALLY DID EXIST . . . WOW! I LOVE the pics of her! CONGRATS on your book, and THANK YOU for the INSPIRATION to find unique ways of bringing history ALIVE through our stories.


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