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BETSY ROSS by Becky White


by Becky White & illustrated by Megan Lloyd

Age Range: 4 - 7

Pub Date: Sept. 15th, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-8234-1908-1
Publisher: Holiday House

A historical fable, told in very few words, prettily illustrated and rather wonderful in its elegant brevity—except there is almost no evidence to support the Betsy Ross myth.

The text is minimal and often rhymes: “Betsy ripped. / Rip, rip. // Seven rich, / Crimson strips.” Betsy Ross is shown cutting and dyeing and pinning this country’s first flag, with its 13 alternating red and white stripes and its blue field behind a circle of 13 stars. Lloyd has used fabric appliqué sewn and fused, stamping and stitching to make the illustrations, lovely in their simple graphic shapes and clean design. Her illustrator's note explains her fascinating process. An author’s note simply says, “According to legend,” and goes on to cite the stories of George Washington’s pencil sketch for the first flag and Betsy’s change of his six-pointed star for her five-pointed one but does not explain that there is no historical evidence for any of it. The Betsy Ross legend did not appear until late in the 19th century, nearly 100 years after the supposed events. Ross was, however, an upholsterer, and such folk did indeed make flags and other items. An appendix illustrates how to make a five-pointed “Betsy Ross Star” with one cut on a properly folded piece of fabric or paper.

A bit of bibliography and a stronger admission that this is not history (or herstory) but legend would make this a stronger book. (Picture book. 4-7)