More a history of the U.S. flag than a story of the first one, this book opens with a repudiation of Betsy Ross as the first flag's seamstress. But instead of exploring what historians say might have happened, the author recounts the myth, says "many people believe a man named Francis Hopkinson designed the first U.S. flag," and goes on to state that belief as fact: "On June 14, 1777, ‘Hopkinson's Flag' became the first flag of the United States." Strong evidence suggests Hopkinson did help design (not sew) the flag, but there is more to the story—for example, historians say there were, in fact, many "first" flags. The author does explain that different flag makers sewed their own flags in various sizes and with stars of varying shapes; but this information appears as an afterthought. The Betsy Ross myth is a fine opportunity to help students learn to read and think critically: How did the myth originate? What evidence shows it is not true? These and similar questions merited a look. The book provides some background about the Revolutionary War and includes facts about the U.S. flag up to its planting on the moon in 1969. The closing sentence—"The flag of the United States has come a long way since 1776"—will confuse readers who see that, according to this book, 1776 is when Ross did not make the first flag, and 1777 is when "'Hopkinson's flag' became the first flag." Part of the new series "Our American Story," the book has simple text for the most part, complemented by acrylic and colored pencil illustrations. A timeline, glossary, and book recommendations are included, along with a suggestion to use Capstone's "FactHound" for safe Internet sites. The glossary includesa confusing description of who fought whom during World War II. Reviewer: Paula K. Zeller
School Library Journal
Gr 3-5–These books introduce the people and events of the American Revolution, providing basic information as well as a short analysis of each event or person's importance. The books are illustrated with well-executed, full-page, color illustrations, maps, and photos. American Flag (which clearly states that the Betsy Ross story is a myth) and Paul Revere are more tightly focused and readable than the other two titles, which tackle subjects that are more difficult to cover in such brief texts. However, the books all provide accurate, clearly written information that students can use for either leisure reading or reports, and are good choices for introductory American history classes.