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SARAH EMMA EDMONDS WAS A GREAT PRETENDER by Carrie Jones

SARAH EMMA EDMONDS WAS A GREAT PRETENDER

The True Story of a Civil War Spy

By Carrie Jones (Author) , Mark Oldroyd (Illustrator)

Age Range: 5 - 10

Pub Date: April 1st, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-7613-5399-7
Publisher: Carolrhoda

As far as we know, Sarah Emma Edmonds began dressing as a boy early on, in an attempt to please her abusive father, who hated girls. When she emigrated from Canada to the United States as a teenager, she kept pretending: It was easier to earn her living as a boy. When the Civil War broke out, Sarah enlisted under the name Frank Thompson and became a spy. Frank was a master deceiver: She/he portrayed a slave boy, a female Irish peddler and an African-American laundress. As Frank, Sarah braved bullets and rode through battles. Only when she became ill with malaria could she no longer pretend—but she was never discovered. Frank Thompson deserted, and a very ill Sarah Edmonds sought treatment at a private hospital. Jones, in her first departure from novels for teens, tells Sarah's story with strong simplicity, quoting at times from Sarah's own memoirs. One small quibble is that she ends the story too soon, at the close of the Civil War. An author's note says that Sarah Edmonds died in 1898 in La Porte, Texas, but gives no details of her later life. Oldroyd's illustrations convey Sarah's likeness through all her many disguises, and help readers will see her as both sympathetic and brave. Recommended, especially for middle grades studying the Civil War. (Picture book/biography. 5-10)