Sarah Emma Edmonds Was a Great Pretender: The True Story of a Civil War Spy

Sarah Emma Edmonds Was a Great Pretender: The True Story of a Civil War Spy

by Carrie Jones, Mark Oldroyd
     
 

Sarah Emma Edmonds started pretending at a very early age. Her father only wanted sons, so Sarah pretended to be one. Unlike most kids, though, Sarah never really stopped pretending. In 1861, during the U.S. Civil War, Sarah pretended her way into the Union Army, becoming a male nurse named Frank Thompson. Being a nurse didn't quite satisfy "Frank," though. She

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Overview

Sarah Emma Edmonds started pretending at a very early age. Her father only wanted sons, so Sarah pretended to be one. Unlike most kids, though, Sarah never really stopped pretending. In 1861, during the U.S. Civil War, Sarah pretended her way into the Union Army, becoming a male nurse named Frank Thompson. Being a nurse didn't quite satisfy "Frank," though. She wanted to keep her fellow soldiers from getting hurt. So when the Union Army needed a spy, she leapt at the chance. While still pretending to be Frank, Sarah also pretended to be a male African American slave, a female Irish peddler, and a female African American laundress. She slipped behind enemy lines time after time, spied on the Confederate Army, and brought back valuable intelligence to the Union. Sarah was not only good at pretending; she was also very brave. Later in life, Sarah Emma Edmonds wrote a book to tell her story. She explained, "I am naturally fond of adventure, a little ambitious, and a good deal romantic." She was also truly a great pretender.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Jones makes a confident departure from her bestselling YA novels with an entertaining and powerful Civil War�era story about living by one's own rules. Realizing she would never satisfy her father's desire for a son, teenage Sarah Emma Edmonds fled from Canada to America where she assumed the identity of Frank Thompson. Edwards then joined the Union Army, first as a male nurse, then as a spy, passing herself off as a slave and, later, as an Irish peddler: "She was a woman (Sarah) pretending to be a man (Frank) pretending to be a woman (Bridget)." In Oldroyd's full-bleed spreads, characterized by strong cross-hatching and angular shapes, Edmonds's eyes twinkle with her secret knowledge, while Jones delivers her story with the assuredness of a natural storyteller. Ages 7�11. (Apr.)
School Library Journal
Gr 1�4—The cover portraits cleverly introduce the book's topic. The front shows a person in a Civil War Union uniform, winking, with one hand hidden. The back presents a rear view of the same figure but now her fingers are shown to be crossed. Below the uniform, a skirt and parasol are displayed. As a teenager in the 1850s, Edmonds ran away from her abusive father and native Canada to come to the United States. Being on her own, she found it safer and easier to dress as a man. When the Civil War began, she is quoted as saying that patriotism was her primary impulse for enlisting in the Union army as "Frank Thompson," then working as a nurse and a spy. Her practice at pretending served her well as she once again changed her name and took on various new identities behind enemy lines. Using an informal, conversational style, Jones succeeds in keeping the complicated narrative at a level appropriate for young readers. Based on Edmonds's own writings as well as secondary sources, the book presents a believable account of the woman's actions. While some speculation is included as to her motivations, the text makes clear what is known and what is not. The illustrations portray Edmonds's feelings through her expressions and provide a visual context for readers. Employing a palette heavy on blues, yellows, and greens, with white outlining for emphasis, the pictures are impressionistic with realistic details. An unusual heroine, Edmonds will capture readers' attention.—Lucinda Snyder Whitehurst, St. Christopher's School, Richmond, VA

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780761353997
Publisher:
Lerner Publishing Group
Publication date:
04/28/2011
Pages:
32
Sales rank:
554,064
Product dimensions:
9.40(w) x 11.20(h) x 0.50(d)
Lexile:
780L (what's this?)
Age Range:
7 - 11 Years

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