The British are coming—again!
When lowly clerk Stephen Pleasonton receives a note from his boss, Secretary of State James Monroe, everything changes. It’s 1812, and Washington, D.C., is at risk from the British—even though the U.S. military doesn’t seem to think so—and Pleasonton has been instructed to “remove the records,” meaning that he should save the original documents that helped the United States develop as a nation. Exaggerated but appealing illustrations show the sequence of events while descriptive, action-filled text narrates the tale. Fotheringham’s drawings have the look of old-time editorial cartoons, and the text pops with strategically placed emphases. While the story itself may be a mere footnote to history, it inadvertently reveals how the world has changed (paper documents and records being much less the norm today) and seeks to convey the awe many feel in regard to primary sources and artifacts. A reminder of a more innocent age when patriotism was taken for granted, this rollicking tale gives a nice sense of the time period. It also emphasizes how the actions of a less-than-famous but determined individual can have great effect and demonstrates that each person’s role in history—even one that focuses on packing up government files and papers—is important.
Budding historians as well as those unfamiliar with history will both enjoy this pleasant, fast-moving selection. (endnotes, timeline, bibliography) (Informational picture book. 5-10)