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Write On, Mercy: The Secret Life of Mercy Otis Warren
     

Write On, Mercy: The Secret Life of Mercy Otis Warren

by Gretchen Woelfle, Alexandra Wallner (Illustrator)
 

Growing up on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, Mercy Otis Warren was fortunate to go to school with her brother. When she married Patriot James Warren, Mercy wrote in secret—poetry, plays, and about the events of her time. She wrote of the people she knew, including George Washington and John and Abigail Adams. It wasn’t until Mercy was older that her literary

Overview

Growing up on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, Mercy Otis Warren was fortunate to go to school with her brother. When she married Patriot James Warren, Mercy wrote in secret—poetry, plays, and about the events of her time. She wrote of the people she knew, including George Washington and John and Abigail Adams. It wasn’t until Mercy was older that her literary life became known, with the publication of her three-volume history of the American Revolution. This is the first picture-book biography of an intrepid woman chronicler.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Growing up on Cape Cod, Mercy Otis (1728–1814) preferred listening to her father’s stories about his work as a member of the colonial House of Representatives to cooking or sewing. Writing poetry and “fiery pamphlets about ‘natural rights’ for men and women,” Warren was active throughout the Revolutionary War, attending meetings for patriots who were planning the Continental Congress, as well as writing political plays and later the History of the Rise, Progress, and Termination of the American Revolution. Woelfle’s sturdy writing outlines the course of Warren’s life as a wife, mother, and activist. Wallner’s bright gouache illustrations have an unadorned style well-suited to the period. End pages include a time line of Warren’s life, a note about the “separate spheres of influence” of men and women at the time, and a painting of Warren by John Singleton Copley. Ages 8–up. Illustrator’s agent: Libby Ford. (Mar.)
Children's Literature - Paula McMillen
Although young readers may not recognize the name Mercy Otis Warren, she is brought to life in this brief illustrated biography by an author and illustrator who are both veterans in publishing historically based books for young readers. Drawn in large part from primary source materials, including the letters of Mercy Otis Warren, this story recounts the work of an intelligent educated woman who sought to make a difference when women were still effectively barred from participation in political life. Encouraged by her father and later her husband, Mercy read widely and was passionate about the revolutionary politics in which the men of her family were involved during the latter part of the 18th century. She also wrote and published poems and plays which appeared anonymously in broadsheets and newspapers of the time; eventually she completed a three-volume history of the Revolutionary War which was published in 1805—finally under her own name! Excerpts from her writings are interspersed with the storyline. An author's note about Mercy, a copy of her portrait by renowned painter John Singleton Copley, a timeline and an excellent list of readings and sources follow the text. This would be a very accessible accompaniment to discussions about the war, about the evolution of women's rights in the United States and even about the importance of civic participation. Reviewer: Paula McMillen, Ph.D.
School Library Journal
Gr 2–5—This picture-book biography tells Warren's story and shows the state of women's education and opportunities in Colonial and Revolutionary America. Born to a relatively progressive family, a fact frequently noted, Warren was educated at home and grew up with an interest in politics and in writing. As an adult, she became involved in politics through her writing, publishing political poems, essays, and, finally, a famous history of the American Revolution. Painterly images in soft colors dominate the book, and all of the pictures focus primarily on people, such as Warren herself, her family, her husband, and fellow writers and revolutionaries. Quotes from her writings and those of her contemporaries are highlighted throughout. This is a good introduction to one woman's life, and the place of her life in history, supplemented by quite a bit of back matter. Great for reports and background information on an important but oft-overlooked early American figure.—Heather Talty, formerly at Columbia Grammar & Preparatory School, New York City
Kirkus Reviews
Move over, Thomas Paine! Revolutionary War writer and activist finds fame! First biography for young readers published! Mercy Otis of colonial Massachusetts did not attend college but studied at home with her father's encouragement. After her marriage to James Warren, she began writing and joined the political discussions about breaking ties with Great Britain that were held in her home. As open rebellion grew closer, she wrote political plays, albeit unsigned. When fighting broke out, Warren began an ambitious project--a history of the American Revolution, concentrating on "radical thoughts and bold actions." It was published in 1805 under her name. Woelfle's lively and informative style keeps the narrative flowing. Wallner's gouache paintings are colorful and spirited, with a good mix of full-page scenes and close-ups of prominent figures. In a nice touch, Mercy Otis Warren's Copley portrait hanging in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts is reproduced. Decorative inserts excerpt her writings and those of her father and her husband. It is usually Abigail Adams who gets the nod whenever women of colonial and revolutionary-era America are mentioned, so this title certainly fills a niche. A solid addition to the canon. (author's note, timeline, bibliography, websites) (Picture book/biography. 6-10)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781590788226
Publisher:
Highlights Press
Publication date:
03/01/2012
Pages:
40
Sales rank:
375,130
Product dimensions:
10.20(w) x 10.10(h) x 0.60(d)
Lexile:
HL860L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 - 11 Years

Meet the Author

Gretchen Woelfle has published fiction and nonfiction for young readers. Jeannette Rankin: Political Pioneer won the 2008 Once Upon A World Award from the Simon Wiesenthal Center/Museum of Tolerance and was named a Notable Social Studies Trade Book by NCSS and a Booklist Top Ten Youth Biography. She lives in Los Angeles, California.

Alexandra Wallner has written and illustrated award-winning children's picture-book biographies of famous writers, artists, and historical figures, focusing on their childhoolds. She lives in Mexico.

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