PHOEBE AND THE GENERAL by Judith Berry Griffin


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Phoebe is the actual thirteen-year-old daughter of Samuel Fraunces, the black owner of the still standing Fraunces Tavern frequented by George Washington, and the General is no other than our first Commander-in-Chief himself. And in this sidelight on history Washington is saved from an assassination attempt by the alert Phoebe, who is sent to be his housekeeper, enjoined by her father to act as a spy, and luckily on hand when one of the General's bodyguard sprinkles poison on his snowpeas. Samuel Fraunces, it seems, was worried all along about a planned attempt on Washington's life, but why he confided in a little girl instead of the intended victim is not explained. And the irony of black people supporting a freedom fighter who kept slaves can only be mentioned ruefully in passing along with Fraunces' vague hope for ""someday. . . ."" But the human-scale heroics, the choice of Margot Tomes as illustrator, and the dedication to Jean Fritz are indication enough of Griffin's aspirations, and of course being young, black, female, and Revolutionary will help Phoebe along--even though Tomes puts little action or imagination into these pictures and Griffin lacks Fritz's leavening touch.

Pub Date: March 21st, 1977
Publisher: Coward, McCann & Geoghegan