Sophia's War: A Tale of the Revolution

Sophia's War: A Tale of the Revolution

4.3 22
by Avi
     
 

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Lives hang in the balance in this gripping Revolutionary War adventure from a beloved Newbery Medalist.

In 1776, young Sophia Calderwood witnesses the execution of Nathan Hale in New York City, which is newly occupied by the British army. Sophia is horrified by the event and resolves to do all she can to help the American cause. Recruited as a spy, she…  See more details below

Overview

Lives hang in the balance in this gripping Revolutionary War adventure from a beloved Newbery Medalist.

In 1776, young Sophia Calderwood witnesses the execution of Nathan Hale in New York City, which is newly occupied by the British army. Sophia is horrified by the event and resolves to do all she can to help the American cause. Recruited as a spy, she becomes a maid in the home of General Clinton, the supreme commander of the British forces in America. Through her work she becomes aware that someone in the American army might be switching sides, and she uncovers a plot that will grievously damage the Americans if it succeeds. But the identity of the would-be traitor is so shocking that no one believes her, and so Sophia decides to stop the treacherous plot herself, at great personal peril: She’s young, she’s a girl, and she’s running out of time. And if she fails, she’s facing an execution of her own.

Master storyteller Avi shows exactly how personal politics can be in this “nail-biting thriller” (Publishers Weekly) that is rich in historical detail and rife with action.

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Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
Gr 5–9—Sophia Calderwood, 12, and her parents live in British-occupied Manhattan, 1776; her brother William has joined the rebel army. Masquerading as Tories, the Calderwoods are able to stay in their home, but are forced to house British officers. Their first boarder is handsome Lieutenant John André. He captivates Sophia, despite her hatred for the enemy and her anger when he refuses to aid her beloved brother, now in British hands. William dies amid the horrifying conditions of a prison ship and Sophia vows vengeance. Three years later, she joins the Culper spy ring and is placed as a maid in General Henry Clinton's headquarters. André, now a Major, is also stationed there, but fails to recognize her due to the years that have passed. Sophia's subterfuge uncovers his plot with Benedict Arnold to surrender West Point to the British. Her enduring affection for André sets up the novel's central conflict: to save her country, Sophia must betray a man she cares for, knowing her deceit will cause his death. Sophia's War is outstanding historical fiction, bringing to dramatic life the human story behind extraordinary events. The climax is a seamless incorporation of hard fact with thrilling espionage as Avi juxtaposes scenes of André and Arnold's attempt to meet against Sophia's efforts to stop them. Rich in period detail, the atmospheric prose vividly re-creates old New York and allows readers to experience Sophia's conflicting emotions. A glossary clarifies 18th-century terms; in an author's note, Avi reflects on historical fiction.—M. Kozikowski, Sachem Public Library, Holbrook, NY
Publishers Weekly
Newbery Medalist Avi (Crispin: The Cross of Lead) channels the mood, language, and danger of the Revolutionary War in this seamless blend of history and fiction, set in British-occupied New York City. Twelve-year-old Sophia Calderwood idolizes her older brother, William, a fervent Patriot soldier who has gone missing after the Battle of Brooklyn. In the first half of the book, Sophia’s desperate search for William leads her to several deplorable prisons where rebels are being held. The second half takes place when Sophia, now 15, becomes a spy who uncovers the truth about Benedict Arnold. The book is chockful of fascinating historical details, including the conditions for those stranded in New York and the failed meetings between Arnold and John André, his (real-life) British contact. Avi doesn’t sugarcoat the brutal realities of war as Sophia races to find help intercepting John André, who was also a boarder in her home years earlier and her first crush, in this rich, nail-biting thriller. A glossary of period terms and an author’s note are included. Ages 8–12. (Sept.)
November/December 2012 - Horn Book Magazine
"Avi's setting is impeccable (especially the descriptions of the prisons where rebel soldiers were kept); the intrigue on the home front, real; and the tension of living in enemy territory, intense."
From the Publisher
* “The book’s riveting opening scene, in which Sophie watches as Nathan Hale is hanged as a spy, foreshadows the danger she knowingly accepts by engaging in espionage. Few historical novels are as closely shaped by actual events as this one during the last 100 pages. Working within the bounds of credibility, Avi manages to keep the fictional narrator on the scene for a good deal of the action and uses real moments to bring the imagined story to its dramatic heights. A glossary of eighteenth-century terms and an author’s note are appended. Pair this intriguing historical novel with Sheinkin’s The Notorious Benedict Arnold (2010).”

Booklist, August 1, 2012, *STAR

* “Newbery Medalist Avi (Crispin: The Cross of Lead) channels the mood, language, and danger of the Revolutionary War in this seamless blend of history and fiction, set in British-occupied New York City…. The book is chockful of fascinating historical details, including the conditions for those stranded in New York and the failed meetings between Arnold and John André, his (real-life) British contact. Avi doesn’t sugarcoat the brutal realities of war…in this rich, nail-biting thriller.”

Publishers Weekly, August 13, 2012, *STAR

November/December 2012 Horn Book Magazine
"Avi's setting is impeccable (especially the descriptions of the prisons where rebel soldiers were kept); the intrigue on the home front, real; and the tension of living in enemy territory, intense."
January 2013 Book Links
"Newbery Honor-winning author Avi offers a gripping view of the Revolutionary War through the eyes of a 12-year-old spy.... With language drawn from the period (and appended in a glossary) and historical events forming the tight framework of the tense, imagined drama, Avi offers an action-filled novel with wide classroom appeal."
Kirkus Reviews
During the American Revolution, Sophia becomes a spy for the patriots, but will she have the courage to relay vital information? Despite the threatening beginning--Sophia witnesses Nathan Hale's hanging--readers never doubt Sophia's success because she shares her story in retrospect, lessening the tension. Instead, her "war" is internal: The man she ultimately exposes is John André, a British officer she adores. Descriptions of the British occupation of New York City and the horrific conditions for prisoners of war are shocking. Children will be morally outraged on Sophia's behalf when her rebel brother dies in prison. Thus, they may find it difficult to empathize with Sophia's passion for André, and all but the most romantically inclined may find Part One: 1776 (September 1776-January 1777), during which 12-year-old Sophia's love blooms, slow-moving. Although Sophia feels betrayed when André does not help her brother and later, when at age 15 she begins to spy on André, is incensed that he does not recognize her, her feelings remain conflicted. Part Two: 1780 focuses on these experiences. The action picks up when Sophia travels north alone in an effort to thwart André's collusion with Benedict Arnold. However, while readers will appreciate Sophia's reluctance to condemn anyone to death, her melodramatic wavering over André becomes tiresome. Recommend this to sentimental youngsters or as a supplemental text. (glossary of 18th-century words, author's note) (Historical fiction. 9-13)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781442414433
Publisher:
Beach Lane Books
Publication date:
09/25/2012
Sold by:
SIMON & SCHUSTER
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
320
Sales rank:
86,756
Lexile:
730L (what's this?)
File size:
4 MB
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt


1

IN THE MOMENTOUS year of 1776, on the twenty-second of September, my mother and I were rushing back to the city of New York. New York was where I was born, and where I had lived peacefully until just a few weeks before, when we had fled in fear for our lives. The war for our country’s independence had come to our door.

First, my brother, William, along with thousands of other patriot soldiers, ferried across the East River to the village of Brooklyn to defend the city from a British attack. Alarmed by the danger, my father warned us we might have to leave. And indeed, the Americans lost that battle and retreated through Manhattan as Great Britain gained complete control of the city.

But there was no news of William.

Desperately worried, I could only hope he was still with General Washington’s army, and not taken prisoner. At times—though no one spoke it—we feared he had he been killed.

Too frightened to wait until we could find out, Father had said we must leave our house. It was a wise decision. Soon after British troops occupied New York, a fire erupted and destroyed many buildings. But since we had taken flight to a friend’s farm north of the city, we lacked information about our home’s condition. Knowing that everything we had—money and possessions—might have been consumed in the fire, much of our lives was in awful derangement. After some days passed, Father and Mother decided that we must go home—if we still had one—and try to reclaim our lives.

Not sure how secure the way would be, Father made the decision that Mother and I, being females, should travel first. It was his belief that English soldiers would not harm a mother and child. “Are they not,” he said, “our kinsmen and a civilized people?” Moreover, we would travel on a Sunday, Lords Day. Surely, all would be peaceful. As soon as Father determined that the roads were not dangerous for him, he would follow.

So it was that before dawn on Sunday morning, Mother and I, full of disquietude, set out to walk the twelve miles to the city. With me clutching Mother’s hand tightly and barely looking up, we took the road called Harlem Lane. I may have been willowy for my twelve years of age, and my name was Sophia (the Greek word for “wisdom”), but you could just as well have called me “Frightened” and been done with it. In truth, as we hurried along, all my thoughts were on William. He must come home!

It was late morning when we reached the outskirts of New York. By then my wood-soled shoes were soaking wet, my ankle-length linsey-woolsey dress was mud spattered, and the laces of my bonnet—a mobcap—would not stay tied.

As we approached a ripe apple orchard, we observed a group of red-coated British soldiers, armed with muskets and bayonets, marching toward us. By their side, a drummer boy beat slow swinking strokes. An officer, a heavy, sweating man with a nose as bright red as his hair and uniform, strode along in high, black jack-boots. Following him was a Negro. His slave, I supposed.

In the middle of the soldiers was a man whose hands were tied behind his back. Looking to be in his mid-twenties, and some six feet in height, he was considerably taller than the soldiers who surrounded him. Dressed in civilian clothing, he wore no jacket and had a white muslin shirt open at the collar. His light brown hair was arranged pigtail-style. In the slanting morning light, I noticed his blue eyes. I will admit, I thought him handsome.

The young man walked with a dignified bearing, but his face was anything but serene. Rather, he bore a look of pale, raw intensity, with a gaze that appeared to be on nothing and everything at the same moment.

“What are they doing with that young man?” I said in a low voice to Mother.

She squeezed my hand, and in as fearful a voice as I had ever heard her utter, she said, “I think they are about to hang him.”

Openmouthed, I watched as the men approached an apple tree upon which a ladder leaned. From a stout branch, a noose hung. Just beyond gaped an open grave, with a grave digger standing by, shovel in hand. We stopped and, along with a few other citizens, watched.

When the officer shoved the prisoner to the foot of the ladder, I heard the young man say, “May I have a . . . Bible?” His voice, low and steady, broke on the last word.

“No Bibles for damned rebel spies!” the officer shouted as if he wished us onlookers to hear. “Hoist him,” he commanded.

Three redcoats, their faces blank, stepped forward. Two grabbed the young man’s arms as if to restrain him, though I saw no attempt to break free. Would that he had! The third soldier placed the noose round the prisoner’s neck and forced him up the ladder steps, even as another drew the rope tight under his chin.

As they did these things, each beat of the pulsing drum stabbed my heart.

Mother covered her lips with her fingers.

“Do you wish to confess?” the officer shouted.

I think the youth replied, but I was so appalled, I could not comprehend his words. In fact, such was my distress that I cried, “Have pity, sir. For God’s sake!”

The officer glared at me. “Be still, missy, or you’ll come to the same fate!”

I shrank behind Mother but peeked round to watch.

The officer turned back to his soldiers and shouted, “Swing the rebel off!”

One of the soldiers kicked the ladder away. The young man dropped. I gasped. His neck must have broken, for he died in an instant. Perhaps that was God’s mercy. Sometimes a hanging is nothing but slow strangulation.

Mother, pulling my hand, said, “Sophia! Come!” Sobbing, I stumbled away.

Later we learned that the young man’s name was Nathan Hale. Over time, his death proved of greater consequence than his life. Without any doubt, it altered the history of my country as it altered mine. Indeed, what I had just witnessed was the beginning of my extraordinary adventures.

I shall tell you what happened.

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What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
* “The book’s riveting opening scene, in which Sophie watches as Nathan Hale is hanged as a spy, foreshadows the danger she knowingly accepts by engaging in espionage. Few historical novels are as closely shaped by actual events as this one during the last 100 pages. Working within the bounds of credibility, Avi manages to keep the fictional narrator on the scene for a good deal of the action and uses real moments to bring the imagined story to its dramatic heights. A glossary of eighteenth-century terms and an author’s note are appended. Pair this intriguing historical novel with Sheinkin’s The Notorious Benedict Arnold (2010).”

Booklist August 1, 2012, *STAR

* “Newbery Medalist Avi (Crispin: The Cross of Lead) channels the mood, language, and danger of the Revolutionary War in this seamless blend of history and fiction, set in British-occupied New York City…. The book is chockful of fascinating historical details, including the conditions for those stranded in New York and the failed meetings between Arnold and John André, his (real-life) British contact. Avi doesn’t sugarcoat the brutal realities of war…in this rich, nail-biting thriller.”

Publishers Weekly, August 13, 2012, *STAR

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Meet the Author

Avi is the author of more than fifty books for children and young adults, including the 2003 Newbery medal winner Crispin: The Cross of Lead. He has won two Newbery Honors and many other awards for his fiction. He lives with his family in Denver, Colorado. Visit him at Avi-Writer.com.

Brief Biography

Date of Birth:
December 23, 1937
Place of Birth:
New York, New York
Education:
University of Wisconsin; M.A. in Library Science from Columbia University, 1964
Website:
http://www.avi-writer.com

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Sophia's War: A Tale of the Revolution 4.3 out of 5 based on 1 ratings. 22 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was an interesting book on the betryal of Benedict Arnold and the Britsh Amy's leader, John andr¿. Avi made up a female character, Sophia Calderwood, and told the story from her point of view. I expected more action, not feelings and how Sophia felt towards John Andr¿. It was a short book (256 pgs)and is worth the money. I also reccomend Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson. Chains is longer and interesting.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is a historical fiction walkthrough of a girl named Sophia. Her brother is in the army, but something horrid happens, followed by something that would change Sopia's life forever. Being a patriot, when a certain soilder starts living in her house, Sophia can only pray for her family's saftey. I do not own a copy, beacause we are reading it in school. I hope you enjoy this book, Axolotl lover579 P.S. this book is a real cliff hanger!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I simply loved this book! I would recomend it to any one who likes history, and who get get through some boring parts. A few parts of the book where kind of gory so be forewarned! If you do not like stuff about wars then this is not the book for you! I hope that you consider this book. I also hope that this reveiw was usefull.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I couldn't put it down!!!!! This book is about a young girl named Sofia Calderwood who lives in New York during the revelution. Her older brother is in the American army. Then, a British officer by the name of John Andre moves in to her house.Soon, Sofia finds out that her brother has been captured and put in a prison, but Andre refuses to help. Will Sofia find a way to save her brother? What will she do if he dies?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is really good and i have not even gotten to page 29 yet its deserves a newbarry award
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My teacher is reading this book to our class. This book is so good. I totally recommend this book!!! 100% awesome!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is great. I love it. I read it for school and it was so cool. If anyone is looking for a good revolutionary war book then you should read sophia's war!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The age group is 5th grade-10th grade
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book! It would be a great read for you if you like historical fiction or anything on the american revolution. Ithink that Avi is a great author because his books are always interesting and he gives somethig that sort of makes tou feel as if you were in Sophia Calderwood's shoes. Avi makes his characters very realisctic. Its almost like you can realte to them and you understand them. In this book Sophia calderwood is living in Newyork with her family. Newyork has been captured by the brittish. Sophias brother is a patriot soilder and gets captured by the brittish and taken prisoner. Sophia goes to wirk as a maid at general clintons home.(A brittish general). She soon uncover a plan to give West Point over to the brittish for a large sum of money and a battle. But sophia finds out and soes eveerything that she can to prevent the meeting from taking place. I loved this book. You are a great author avi. I would recomend this book to you.If you like avi writing or if you just like historical fiction. The end!
Anonymous 6 months ago
Avi truly wrote an amazing book. I really enjoyed reading it. It has adventure and some sadness. It gives good details on what life was like for Sophia and her family. I recomend it to all. It was amazing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Kay, so it was cool and all but the main thing that was wrong was that there wasn't really enough action. If you read this make your headline Tori Kelly
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This goes out to all the people who think this book was great or good. Well i have not been able to finish it yet but so far it is amazing!!! And if you agree then pat your self on the back.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
So far this is a really good book and I am only chapter 8, only 62 chapters to go!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a great thriller
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sophias War is areally good book in the revoloutianary, but I AM surprised that she is not in history books. My favorite character is Sophias mom.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good fast read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Want to read it . Is it good
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Too much about sophias feelings. No action or anything ijteresting. No one cares that he has a school girls cruh bon jihn ande. This book sucks. Dont read it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What is the age group i must know make your headline Michael Jackson if your nice ofen to answer.