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The Scarlet Stockings Spy

By Trinka Hakes Noble
Sleeping Bear Press
P.O. Box 9187
Farmington Hills, MI 48333-9187

Most of the time when a picture book crosses my desk it is for much younger children and does not have a powerful message. The Scarlet Stockings Spy is absolutely for all ages and does have a powerful message! My children ages 7-11 have all enjoyed it and I found myself moved and teary at the end of it. Trinka Hakes Noble knows how to tell a good story!

Set in the time of the Revolutionary War when Philadelphia was occupied by British forces, we meet young Maddy Rose. She must help her mother as she makes fabric to support their family. Her father had been killed in a battle the previous year and her older brother enlisted with Washington’s army and has been camped outside the city. What is different about Maddy is that she is also the Scarlet Stockings Spy. She watches the harbor and reports to her brother via the laundry line. If she hangs her scarlet stockings one way it means a certain type of ship is in the harbor. If she hangs it another, it means potential trouble for Washington’s army!

The illustrations, by Robert Papp, are gorgeous and richly detailed. He has brought us to the Colonial days through his lovely work. Not only are the clothes, scenes, and homes in beautiful full-color, the facial expressions are charming and real. His use of light, especially moonlight, is breathtaking. It could be used as a separate study altogether and you could certainly use his work for an example in your art lessons.

I do not want to give away the story because it is a special one. The family has already sacrificed so much for the freedom of the colonies—for their own freedom. Will they have to sacrifice more? Will Maddy’s fiery patriotism last through the difficult times the war is sure to bring? Will she be caught as a spy? You will have to read it and find out.

There are few hardback picture books that I would recommend you buy for your Revolutionary War history study, but this would be one of them.
-Product Review by Kate Kessler, Product Reviews Manager, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, LLC, June, 2006

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