Non-Fiction Monday: The Flag Maker

This is the story about the making of the iconic flag that flew over Fort McHenry and inspired Francis Scott Key to write our National Anthem. The story is told from the perspective of Caroline Pickersgill, the 12 year old daughter of Mary Pickersgill,the woman primarily responsible for making the flag. I was fascinated with the idea that a 12 year old was part of this historic undertaking and I think it made the story much more accessible and interesting to my boys. I’ve always loved old quilts. I think I like that they hold in them the stories of people who aren’t mentioned in history books. And that as ordinary objects they are still beautiful. The flag isn’t ordinary and this particular flag is certainly not ordinary but I like that this book focuses on the makers instead of the songwriter or soldiers at the fort, and also shines a light on historical figures otherwise forgotten.

The book isn’t complete, it doesn’t really tell the full story of the battle or the story of why this particular flag became such an icon. However, an added note at the end does go into more details including a mention that the flag that we think of as THE FLAG (the one in the Smithsonian) may not have actually been flown over Fort McHenry during the battle and that Francis Scott Key might have been gazing a a smaller storm flag. This is the kind of detail that is really important for some people for full accuracy so it’s nice it’s included.

The illustrations by Claire Nivola also deserve a mention. Done in a folk-art style of painting they add a certain loveliness to the story. And I didn’t know this before I visited Amazon but the author, Susan Campbell Bartoletti, is also the author of one of my favorite picture books from last year.

Nonfiction Monday is hosted this week at Ana’s NonFiction Blog.

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