Illustrations by John Hendrix
Publisher: Harry N. Abrams
Release Date: March 1, 2011
At the age of nineteen, Sarah Emma Edmonds disguised herself as a man in order to fight in the Civil War. As Frank Thompson, she fought the Confederacy. First a soldier, then a battlefield nurse, Sarah was as brave as any man and she kept her secret well. After showing considerable bravery, Emma was recruited to become a spy. Disguising herself as a black man, Sarah crossed enemy lines. What she discovered was that if people ignored you as a woman, they ignored slaves even more. She found out who had been leaking information to the confederates. Eventually, Sarah had to return to her skirts and feminine ways, but soon everyone knew of Sarah's adventures through a book she had written.
As with the Ballots for Belva, I sought out this book because there is apparently a good deal of women's history that I am unfamiliar with. Don't worry, I have been reading "grown-up" books as well. As a child one of my favorite "characters" to play was Belle Starr the female outlaw. It wasn't because I thought that being an outlaw was good, but rather because she was one of the few women that I was aware of that had done more than sew, wear dresses, and make babies. (to be fair, Belle made babies too and wore dresses) I would have been beside myself to find out that someone like Sarah Emma Edmonds existed.
I absolutely love that someone wrote a book about this woman. I love that picture book biographies, and biographies in general are beginning to expand beyond the basic list of more famous people like Einstein, Mark Twain, and Helen Keller. Moss does such a good job of telling Sarah's story with the care of someone who is revealing a secret. As a child, the image I had regarding women and their roles in society were very limited. I am so happy to see that authors are pushing against that and providing young readers with a broader perspective of the world.