The story of the flag that inspired the national anthem, from its commissioning through its construction by Mary Pickersgill to its current place at the Smithsonian.
Though the subtitle and cover feature Mary Pickersgill, Hartland’s book is really about the flag itself. The story covers how America came to be at war, how Pickersgill’s shop came to sew the flag, how Francis Scott Key wrote “The Star-Spangled Banner,” and how the flag was preserved and is currently displayed. Hartland’s gouache, folk-art–style illustrations provide a nice amount of detail, with much for readers to linger over and admire, though the playful pennant advertising crabcakes is likely anachronistic. Working to make the book accessible to readers, Hartland takes great care to explain why flags were so important in a time before telephones, but she fails to provide context as to why sewing a large flag would take such an effort. Though she is unnamed, close readers of history will appreciate the inclusion of the white woman’s oft-excluded indentured black servant, Grace Wisher. (Pickersgill’s history as a slave owner goes unmentioned, however). Perhaps the most fascinating part of the book is what actually happened to the flag after the war, and a lovely two-page spread outlines the process in a series of paneled illustrations.
A surface-level introduction. (author’s note, source notes, bibliography, further reading, timeline.) (Informational picture book. 6-8)