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THE FLAG MAKER by Susan Campbell Bartoletti


by Susan Campbell Bartoletti & illustrated by Claire A. Nivola

Age Range: 7 - 9

Pub Date: April 22nd, 2004
ISBN: 0-618-26757-3
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Based on both historical sources and a bit of speculation, Bartoletti recreates the construction of the immense “garrison” flag that (probably) flew over Fort McHenry, was immortalized by Francis Scott Key, and was sewn by Mary Pickengill, a Baltimore businesswoman. She had help from her 12-year-old daughter Caroline, and likely, though no evidence survives, also from relatives, a slave, and a free black employee. Bartoletti relates the tale from Caroline’s point of view, beginning with the flag’s commission, ending with the long, stormy night during which it withstood those storied rockets and bombs, and capped by a detailed explanation of the limited historical record, along with facts about the flag. Nivola illustrates it all in restrained, neatly drawn scenes, either of focused-looking women hard at work, or wide, white, tidy Baltimore streets, with the distant fort visible in the background. As inspiring as it is elegantly turned out, this will add unusual dimension to a famous episode in our national story. (Picture book/nonfiction. 7-9)