Thursday, February 3, 2011

Book Review: The Flag Maker by Susan Campbell Bartoletti; illustrated by Claire A. Nivola

The story of the flag that came to be known as The Star-Spangled banner, told from the perspective of the flag maker's daughter.

The prose is poetic. Ms. Bartoletti inserts snippets of phrases from Francis Scott Key's poem into the text, and it was fun to watch my girls make that connection as we read. Here is an example from the book:
Evening came.
The sky darkened with storm.
Rain fell.
Soon thunder and lightening joined the cannon and rockets.
Ships and fort and sky boomed and flashed together.
Each time the sky lit up, Caroline saw that her flag was still there.
At midnight, the bombing stopped.
One minute.
Ten minutes.
An hour, and all was still.
Included at the end is an author's note, which my children insisted on reading. (I've trained them well.) She lists some excellent sources that we will be taking advatage of to learn more about the subject. The author tells at the back of her book that her inspiration for this story came from seeing the flag displayed in the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. She says, "Awestruck, I wondered whose hands had sewn such an enormous flag. When I learned that a thirteen-year-old girl named Caroline Pickersgill had helped her mother, Mary, sew the flag, I wanted to tell their story." And she has, beautifully.

I love the illustrations by Claire A. Nivola. I think they fit the story perfectly. They remind me of early American sewing samplers.

This book was a definite hit with my three girls and it was a treat to read aloud. Even my three-year old listened intently to the story, and pointed out various things in the illustrations. We liked it so much we purchased it for our own library.

Educational Themes: War of 1812, Battle of Baltimore (1814), Star-Spangled Banner, America's History, Stories about real people

1 comment:

  1. Bartoletti has written some great non-fiction books. I can relate to her feeling about seeing the Star-Spangled Banner at the Smithsonian!