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When Washington Crossed the Delaware: A Wintertime Story for Young Patriots

When Washington Crossed the Delaware: A Wintertime Story for Young Patriots

4.1 11
by Lynne Cheney, Peter M. Fiore (Illustrator)

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Now in paperback, Lynne Cheney’s dramatic and New York Times bestselling account of a great leader’s patriotic feat.

Christmas night, 1776, was a troubled time for our young country. In the six months since the Declaration of Independence had been signed, General George Washington and his troops had suffered defeat after defeat at the


Now in paperback, Lynne Cheney’s dramatic and New York Times bestselling account of a great leader’s patriotic feat.

Christmas night, 1776, was a troubled time for our young country. In the six months since the Declaration of Independence had been signed, General George Washington and his troops had suffered defeat after defeat at the hands of the British. It looked as though our struggle for independence might be doomed, when Washington made a bold decision. He would lead the main body of his army across the Delaware River and launch a surprise attack on enemy forces.

Washington and his men were going against the odds. It seemed impossible that the ragtag Americans could succeed against the mightiest power in the world. But the men who started across the icy Delaware loved their country and their leader. Under his command they would turn the tide of battle and change the course of history.
Now in paperback for the first time, this story of the military campaign that began on Christmas night in 1776 will teach readers about the heroism, persistence, and patriotism of those who came before them.

Editorial Reviews

The Barnes & Noble Review
Lynne Cheney makes a departure in her picture book presentation of American history, this time teaming up with illustrator Peter M. Fiore for a dramatic, engrossing recount of George Washington's crossing of the Delaware. Coupling lengthy descriptions of events and notable quotes from Washington and other personalities of the time, Cheney relays the crucial point during the American Revolution when the war began turning in Washington's favor. Beginning in November 1776 and quickly following with the general's Christmas journey across the river, Cheney and Fiore wonderfully take readers through legendary waters as we learn about the condition of Washington's army and how they stealthily made their way from Pennsylvania into New Jersey. From there, the author tells of the Battle of Trenton and the daring retaking of Princeton, rounding out the book with a lesson for audiences and a list of sources. An excellent message about courage, smart thinking, overcoming odds, and, of course, an important piece of American history, Cheney and Fiore's book makes an inspiring read that should make children appreciate freedom itself and the struggle to win it. Fiore's large, dark-hued illustrations show striking images of troops and the wintry northeastern landscape, packing a punch that's additionally strengthened by map endpapers and a short introduction by the author. A look at America's past that reminds us of freedom's ring. Shana Taylor
Publishers Weekly
Cheney (A Is for Abigail) serves up an inspiring slice of U.S. history in this account of a pivotal event in the American Revolution. With a generous smattering of quotes from primary sources, the author describes Washington's crossing of the ice-encrusted Delaware River on Christmas night, 1776, as he led 2,400 men from Pennsylvania into New Jersey and defeated British-hired Hessian soldiers at the Battle of Trenton. At times, the narrative awkwardly jumps ahead (in the midst of the surprise attack on Trenton, the author intersperses biographies of 19-year-old Capt. Hamilton and then 18-year-old Lieut. James Monroe). But if the leaps slow the momentum somewhat, these facts will nonetheless fascinate readers, as will some of the more familiar-undeniably powerful-details (e.g., many of the American troops taking their prisoners back over the river to Pennsylvania "marched without shoes and left bloody footprints in the snow"). The author underscores Washington's charisma, bravery and brilliance as a military tactician with examples of how he rallied his exhausted troops for a subsequent, successful surprise attack on British General Cornwallis's army in Princeton on January 3. Fiore's (Touching the Sky) midnight landscape of the lone British soldier keeping watch on the fires of the surreptitiously vacated American campground underscores the dramatic strategy. The multi-textured, effectively shadowed oil paintings simultaneously capture both the dire circumstances and elegance of the soldiers, and deftly do justice to this history-altering event. A source note cites the references to the elucidating quotes from Washington and others. All ages. (Oct.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Washington's famed crossing of the Delaware is a treasured part of American history that gets a beautifully packaged presentation here. It's undeniably cheering in a dark and discouraging world to read of Washington's bold and daring maneuver to surprise the enemy and save the hopes of his struggling young country. Cheney's account, meticulously documented, is a bit flat in its narration. While each page includes a stirring quotation from a historical source, it would have been stronger to have integrated these directly into the text. Better to hear Martha Washington's grandson recounting that a watching officer, "horror-struck at the danger of his beloved commander, . . . drew his hat over his face that he might not see [Washington] die," than to hear Cheney's pedestrian report: "Once the two sides started firing, it seemed impossible that [Washington] would survive." The book in the end belongs to Fiore, whose large, dramatically composed paintings dominate each double-page spread with their own vivid retelling of this crucial turning point in American history. 2004, Simon & Schuster, Ages all.
—Claudia Mills
School Library Journal
Gr 2-4-Cheney chronicles the general's courageous leadership in the Battles of Trenton and Princeton, including his famed crossing of the Delaware River on Christmas 1776. The story is clearly told, although the organization falls apart slightly in the second half. Primary quotes decorate each page, adding visual interest but occasionally disrupting the flow of the narrative. Done in oil paints on canvas, the large, dramatic illustrations create a sweeping feel that captures the mood of the text. While the picture-book format necessitates some simplification of the events, the account is accurate and interesting. A source page cites only the quotes used, and not the information presented, and the book's preface includes the recommendation that grandparents share this book with their grandchildren at Christmastime, which needlessly excludes those "young patriots" who do not celebrate Christmas. This title is more straightforward, but less comprehensive, than Louise Peacock's Crossing the Delaware: A History in Many Voices (Atheneum, 1998). Cheney's offering makes an adequate supplement to history collections, and will appeal to families wishing to read inspirational picture books about America's past.-Suzanne Myers Harold, Multnomah County Library System, Portland, OR Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books
Publication date:
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
10.00(w) x 10.00(h) x 0.20(d)
Age Range:
7 - 9 Years

Meet the Author

Lynne Cheney is the author of the New York Times bestsellers America: A Patriotic Primer, A Is for Abigail: An Almanac of Amazing American Women, When Washington Crossed the Delaware: A Wintertime Story for Young Patriots, A Time for Freedom: What Happened When in America, and Our 50 States: A Family Adventure Across America. With a Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin, she is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and a former chair of the National Endowment for the Humanities. She and her husband, former Vice President Richard B. Cheney, have two daughters and six grandchildren.

Greg Harlin is an acclaimed artist and illustrator. His books for children include Dangerous Crossing, Paul Revere’s Midnight Ride, Mississippi, and Hanukkah at Valley Forge, winner of the 2007 Sydney Taylor Book Award. He has spent much of his twenty-eight working years recreating history through his paintings. His work has appeared in many national magazines, including National Geographic, National Park Service publications, and Kids Discover magazine, and has received award recognition from the Society of Illustrators and American Illustration, among other entities. He lives in Annapolis, Maryland.

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When Washington Crossed the Delaware: A Wintertime Story for Young Patriots 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is great for children to learn about Washington in our history of the United States. They can so much in this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I'm so happy to see such a beautiful book educating America's young minds about our fascinating history. My children love the story and the beautiful paintings by Peter Fiore that accompany Mrs. Cheney's prose. I'm sure we will enjoy reading this together for many years to come. I've bought a copy for everyone in my family!
Guest More than 1 year ago
My six year old daughter loves this book. The illustrations are perfect and the story brings the 'crossing' to life. So many times the facts get in the way of the story. The author, bogged down in the facts tells a dry story lacking the emotional impact the events deserve. Lynne Cheney captures the spirit and awe of this event but in language that children and adults alike can respond. No one who reads this will walk away unmoved.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Had to read for school. Thought it was ok, but was dissapointed
WordsofTruth More than 1 year ago
When our youngest received this as a Christmas gift he would hardly put it down. He considers himself a young patriot and eagerly reads history, especially anything about George Washington. Not only is the text engaging, the pictures truly impart the feel of what that night might have been like.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Our entire family loves this book. We are homeschoolers and used this book when studying the American Revolution. The paintings are absolutely wonderful. After reading each page we discussed the paintings. We also liked the quotes found on each page. This is a definite must in any library!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Good for ages 5-10. Great for Christmas and for all of the holiday season. If our schools had more books like this instead of rewritten history our children would learn to respect the sacrifices made that make this a great country. All my kids enjoyed this and their friends too. The illustrations are fantastic. I also enjoyed Mrs. Cheney's other fine books.
Guest More than 1 year ago
What a delightful and inspiring book for patriots of all ages! Mrs. Cheney's retelling of Washington's battleplan for Trenton was full of insights into the personal lives of those who were there. The beautiful illustrations captured the spirit of patriotism in fine detail. It was wonderful to have the suggestion of planning a time at Christmas to read the story aloud as a family tradition. The listeners in our library will be challenged to become the patriots we need for the 21st century.
Guest More than 1 year ago
My son thoroughly enjoys this book, from the artwork to the story itself. This book helped initiate him into the passion that is America's history. I hope Mrs. Cheney writes more of these fine books.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Lynne Cheney is not the author to tackle issues of 'heroism, persistence, and patriotism.' Her writing is much more suited to her past steamy sex potboilers than her attempts to illuminate or empower our nation's children with information regarding our history. Crafting a book about history for children that does not present a biased view is a difficult challenge, one Cheney fails to meet in 'When Washington Crossed the Delaware.' It's a thinly veiled partisan political pitch disguised as history for children.