An introduction describing some of the causes of the Revolutionary War and a timeline beginning with the Boston Tea Party and ending with Cornwallis's surrender set the stage for the details about Valley Forge that follow. Each spread discusses one time period (ranging from one to three months) between September 1777 and June 1778. Quotations from the diaries of various soldiers give authenticity to the text. Some pages have inserts with additional information about people that are mentioned. "Washington's Rules of Civility" are especially interesting. The full-color paintings which appear along side each page of text provide vivid, detailed illustrations of the soldiers and the hardships they endured. A man standing guard in the snow with rags wrapped around his feet, a strip of cloth holding his hat on, and a frayed blanket pulled around his body leaves a lasting impression of the conditions experienced at Valley Forge. A bibliography and notes appear at the end of the book to aid young researchers. 2004, Holiday House, Ages 9 to 14.
Phyllis Kennemer, Ph.D.
Gr 3-6-Featuring large, dramatic paintings, this book presents a clear look at the events at Valley Forge. An introduction sets the scene, mentioning only one cause for the Revolutionary War: taxation without representation. Next, a time line notes important war dates and deals specifically with Valley Forge, even giving the temperature on selected days. Two-page sections cover the American occupation of the area from September 1777 to June 1778. The left-hand side contains text, while masterful impressionist oil paintings appear opposite. Most of the book is devoted to the harsh living conditions and coping mechanisms adopted by the American troops. A sample entry, "January 1778: The Army," discusses the number of men, the average age of the soldiers, and their ethnic and occupational diversity. The corresponding illustration shows a determined African-American soldier. Sidebars discuss important personalities of the period and highlight specific events at Valley Forge. Although much of this information is available within broader works on the Revolution, this slim volume with its engaging artwork helps revive a legendary period in American history and present it to children who might be intimidated by longer books. Louise Peacock's Crossing the Delaware (Atheneum, 1998), which recounts the Battle of Trenton from several viewpoints and is also beautifully illustrated, is the perfect companion volume.-Lynda Ritterman, Atco Elementary School, Waterford, NJ Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Noting that the Continental Army's winter at Valley Forge has become "a saga wrapped in myth and legend," Ammon uses a mix of primary and secondary sources to separate fact from fiction. In topical passages, between accounts of Washington's appointment as commander-in-chief and the army's June 1778 march to the battle of Monmouth, the author chronicles Washington's effective style of leadership, introduces Lafayette and Von Steuben, and describes how the ragged, ill-supplied troops survived disease, privation, and dreadful weather to emerge as a cohesive, trained fighting force. He includes a snatch of song, highlights the soldiers' ethnic and cultural diversity, and even mentions camp followers. But the value of his account is not enhanced by the illustrations; instead of period images, modern views of the site, or even a map or two, Farnsworth's full-page paintings offer generic, idealized, heroically posed figures, usually in static compositions, that provide more of a patriotic backdrop than a sense of time or place. This could supplement, but not replace, Richard Conrad Stein's Valley Forge (1985), or Libby Hughes's more detailed Valley Forge (1998). (Picture book/nonfiction. 7-9)