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Review of Long May She Wave: The True Story of Caroline Pickersgill and Her Star-Spangled Creation

Long May She Wave: The True Story of Caroline Pickersgill and Her Star-Spangled Creation
by Kristen Fulton; illus. by Holly Berry
Primary    McElderry    40 pp.
5/17    978-1-4814-6096-5    $17.99
e-book ed.  978-1-4814-6097-2    $10.99

Caroline Pickersgill grew up around industrious women: her widowed mother ran a successful flag-making business from their Baltimore home, and her grandmother sewed George Washington’s first flag during the Revolutionary War. During the War of 1812, thirteen-year-old Caroline helped stitch her first flag: the one that would fly at Fort McHenry and be “so large that the British could see it from miles away.” When the fort was attacked by the British on September 13, 1814, the flag remained flying even after the battle smoke cleared. Caroline’s flag — immortalized in the Francis Scott Key poem that became our national anthem — today resides in the National Museum of American History in Washington, DC. Fulton’s rhythmically paced prose text subtly echoes lines from Key’s poem as it chronicles the real-life events; occasional (and sometimes distracting) onomatopoeia (“BANG! BOOM!”) and sewing movements (“Over, under”) appear in larger font. Berry’s collaged block prints with colored pencil are visually striking in their contrast of thick black lines with bold patriotic colors and their varied use of perspective to showcase the production of and historic moment for this famous flag. Key’s poem is appended, as are sources and an author’s note (including a somewhat perfunctory shout-out to Grace Wisher, an African American indentured servant Caroline’s age who also worked on the flag, mentioned briefly in the text).

From the May/June 2017 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Cynthia K. Ritter About Cynthia K. Ritter

Cynthia K. Ritter is associate editor of The Horn Book Guide. She earned a master's degree in children's literature from Simmons College.

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