This beautifully illustrated book is set in Philadelphia in 1777 and stars a plucky young heroine – Maddy Rose – whose brother Jonathan has gone away to bravely fight in the war that has already claimed the life of her father. Not content to sit at home just helping her mother earn a living with sewing, Maddy Rose devises an ingenious way of communicating with her brother. Using her petticoats and stockings she spies for General Washington’s army and informs Jonathan of the location and arrangement of British ships in the harbor.
The story is well told, with simple, descriptive language, and deals with some weighty topics, such as bereavement, courage and patriotism. Moreover, this story confronts the reality of war, the tragedy of young lives lost and the persistent bravery of those who fought for independence.
The full and double-page oil painting illustrations are exquisitely detailed, and almost seem like photographs in their vividness. They work to make a story set in colonial times seem more immediate and contemporary for children and, consequently, easier for them to understand and relate to. Historical facts and information about the time period are seamlessly integrated into Maddy Rose’s story and it is definitely worth reading to older children who are beginning to learn about colonial history. It is also particularly suitable for reading in the run up to an important national holiday, such as July 4th or Memorial Day, or if your child is a fan of the “Felicity” series of “American Girl” books.
Check the WRL catalog for The Scarlet Stockings Spy.