Nurse, Soldier, Spy: The Story of Sarah Edmonds, a Civil War Hero

Overview

This fast-paced, high-energy picture book tells the true story of Sarah Emma Edmonds, who at age nineteen disguised herself as a man in order to fight in the Civil War. She took the name Frank Thompson and joined a Michigan army regiment to battle the Confederacy. Sarah excelled as a soldier and nurse on the battlefield. Because of her heroism, she was asked to become a spy. Her story comes to life through the signature illustrations and design...

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Nurse, Soldier, Spy: The Story of Sarah Edmonds, a Civil War Hero (PagePerfect NOOK Book)

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Overview

This fast-paced, high-energy picture book tells the true story of Sarah Emma Edmonds, who at age nineteen disguised herself as a man in order to fight in the Civil War. She took the name Frank Thompson and joined a Michigan army regiment to battle the Confederacy. Sarah excelled as a soldier and nurse on the battlefield. Because of her heroism, she was asked to become a spy. Her story comes to life through the signature illustrations and design of John Hendrix and the exciting storytelling of Marissa Moss.

Praise for Nurse, Soldier, Spy
“The incredible story of how Sarah Edmonds becomes Frank Thompson is full of adventure, bravado and pathos. Spirited pen-and-ink drawings, full of period detail and war action always focus on the intriguing Frank…” –San Francisco Chronicle

“Readers won't stop until the last page of Marissa Moss' exciting Civil War story about Sarah Edmonds' life as a man in the Union Army. Vivid illustrations by artist John Hendrix match Moss' exciting account of Sarah's life in the Army.” –Sacramento Bee 

“Hendrix's artwork is, as usual, a showstopper, and his bold caricatures convey Edmonds's strength and determination. Moss delivers a riveting narrative, making it clear that Edmonds was fighting for more than one kind of freedom.” –Publishers Weekly, starred review

The focused view makes the book accessible for children. The pen-and-ink with acrylic wash illustrations are full of vibrant detail. Hendrix presents a meticulous view of military life, including army camp layouts and fortifications. Hand-drawn typography highlights important or humorous points in the text and adds even more visual interest.” –School Library Journal

“Hendrix’s art emphasizes the horror and drama of war. Using hand-lettered text reminiscent of broadsides of the time, he visually shouts danger to the reader when tension is the highest.” –Horn Book

“In ink-and-wash illustrations, Hendrix again displays his knack for visual narrative. The aerial view of Edmonds approaching the Confederate camp is particularly effective. This large-format picture book illustrates Edmonds’ courage and determination while conveying a good deal of information in a highly readable way.” –Booklist

“Admirable and enlightening. Moss is a lively prose writer, and Hendrix’s illustrations inject humor into what is actually a serious subject.” –The New York Times

“Boldly illustrated. The text is full of interesting details. This book strikes a fine balance which conveys the horrors of the Civil War without portraying too much blood and violence for elementary readers. A very useful and researchable picture book.” –Library Media Connection, starred review

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In one of two noteworthy picture-book biographies of this Civil War figure out this spring (the other being Carrie Jones's Sarah Emma Edmonds Was a Great Pretender), Moss and Hendrix focus on Edmonds' life as a young adult, as she assumes the identity of Frank Thompson and volunteers to join the army as a private. Disguised as a man, Edmonds fought at the Battle of Bull Run and elsewhere, and eventually further disguised herself as a black slave in order to spy on Confederate forces. Hendrix's (John Brown: His Fight for Freedom) artwork is, as usual, a showstopper, and his bold caricatures, dominated by midnight blues and sunset golds, convey Edmonds's strength and determination; brief quotations in massive type streak across certain spreads, delivering emotional wallops ("You there, boy! Who do you belong to?" booms a Confederate soldier, upon finding Edmonds in her slave disguise). For her part, Moss (Sky High: The True Story of Maggie Gee) delivers a riveting narrative, making it clear that Edmonds was fighting for more than one kind of freedom. Ages 8–12. (Mar.)
School Library Journal
Gr 1–4—As a teen, Sarah Emma Edmonds ran away from home to avoid an arranged marriage. To make her journey safer, she left Canada for Michigan dressed as a man. She quickly decided that she liked the freedom it gave her and became traveling salesman "Frank Thompson." When the Civil War began, she enlisted as a soldier and eventually became an army nurse and a spy. Moss targets a short period in Edmonds's life in this picture-book biography, covering her enlistment and first spying assignment. The focused view makes the book accessible for children, but the tradeoff is that readers only learn the full scope of her accomplishments from a densely written author's note. Much of the story is told through dialogue. Moss acknowledges Edmonds's autobiography as a source, but quotations are not directly attributed. The pen-and-ink with acrylic wash illustrations are full of vibrant detail. Hendrix presents a meticulous view of military life, including army camp layouts and fortifications. Hand-drawn typography highlights important or humorous points in the text and adds even more visual interest. Carrie Jones's Sarah Emma Edmonds Was a Great Pretender (Carolrhoda, 2011) takes a wider perspective, covering the woman's childhood through her Civil War experiences and beyond. Although both books have a similar format, they highlight different elements of Edmonds's story, and could be used effectively in conjunction with one another.—Lucinda Snyder Whitehurst, St. Christopher's School, Richmond, VA
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780810997356
  • Publisher: Abrams, Harry N., Inc.
  • Publication date: 3/1/2011
  • Pages: 48
  • Sales rank: 253,006
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: AD820L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 9.20 (w) x 11.20 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Marissa Moss has written and illustrated many books for children, including the popular Amelia's Notebook series and her middle-grade novel The Pharaoh's Secret. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. John Hendrix teaches illustration at Washington University. He lives in St. Louis.
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 8, 2011

    welcome addition to Civil War reading lists

    Did you know that during the American Civil War, hundreds of women secretly disguised themselves as men to help fight on both sides? One of them was named Frank Thompson. Only her real name was Sarah Emma Edmonds. She had begun dressing as a man at age sixteen and lived on the run, escaping from Canada to the United States in order to escape an arranged marriage. At age nineteen, Frank decides to enlist in the Union Army during the Civil War. At first, Frank is rejected as being too young but on the second try is accepted as a private into Company F, Second Michigan Volunteer Infantry of the Army of the Potomac.
    Frank can outshoot and outride many of the country boys, but due to her small boots other soldiers call her "our little woman." Little do they know! Then after serving as a nurse in the battles of Bull Run, Fair Oaks, and Williamsburg, Frank is recruited as a spy. She darkens her skin with silver nitrate, dons a wig, dresses up like a freed slave, and makes her way to the nearby Confederate camp to find out the position of the Southern defenses. Will she be captured? And will her identity ever be found out? Author Marissa Moss's vivid storytelling join with illustrator John Hendrix's slightly caricatured but accurately detailed drawings to chronicle the work of this unsung hero of the American Civil War. Or is it heroine? In either case, Nurse, Soldier, Spy is a welcome addition to the reading lists of youngsters who are studying about the Civil War.
    The Author's Note at the end tells about the odd circumstances which happened to Frank/Sarah in 1863 and led to her leaving the army with a dishonorable discharge. It also records how Sarah went on to marry and then decided to write a book about her exploits and how, after several years of effort and two different acts of Congress, she became the first and only woman to be recognized as a veteran of the Civil War with an honorable discharge. A glossary which defines or describes many of the terms, places, and people mentioned in the book, a bibliography, and an index all increase the usefulness of this volume. I always enjoy reading well-written biographies, such as this one, for young people about interesting characters from history, not only those who are famous but also those who are lesser known.

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