A Spy Called James


A Spy Called James: The True Story of James Lafayette, Revolutionary War Double Agent
by Anne Rockwell (Author) and Floyd Cooper (Illustrator)

Booktalk: Told for the first time in picture book form is the true story of James Lafayette, a slave who spied for George Washington’s army during the American Revolution. But while America celebrated its newfound freedom, James returned to slavery. His service hadn’t qualified him for the release he’d been hoping for. For James the fight wasn’t over; he’d already helped his country gain its freedom, now it was time to win his own.

Snippet: The war officially ended in 1783 with American victory, but there was no victory for James. While he received credit for his spying during the war, these activities didn’t earn James the freedom he expected. Such freedom was reserved for black soldiers in the American army, not spies.

Nonfiction Monday

It’s Nonfiction Monday!

Copyright © 2017 Anastasia Suen All Rights Reserved.

Review: Fred Korematsu Speaks Up

Last Monday, January 30th, was Fred Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties and the Constitution. I didn’t know much about Fred Korematsu’s story before reading this brand-new book, Fred Korematsu Speaks Up, written by Laura Atkins and Stan Yogi and illustrated by Yutaka Houlette. I’m so thankful, now, that I do.

I think that you will be, too.

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The book shares the story of Fred, and second-generation Japanese American living on the West Coast during World War II, when the United States forced immigrants and citizens alike into internment camps. Fred resisted the order, and was jailed. The ACLU took up his case, which he eventually lost. He lost more than just the case. Many Japanese Americans turned on him, and he was officially considered a convicted felon. More than 40 years later, the ACLU decided to try his case again after finding new documents showing that the government had lied in his original case… and this time they won, setting an important precedent going forward. Fred knew what was happening was wrong and stood up against it. He was a changemaker.

Here’s an excerpt from the main text:

Read the rest here…

Black History and the American Revolution

spy-called-jamesThere are a couple of books that came out in the fall celebrating the lives and stories of black men and women who played a role in the American Revolution. One of these was James Lafayette, whose story is told in the picture book, A Spy Called James: the true story of James Lafayette, Revolutionary War double agent by Anne Rockwell; illus. by Floyd Cooper (ages 7-11; Carolrhoda Books).

We know the names of those leaders who led our emerging country through the Revolutionary War: Washington, Marquis de Lafayette, Franklin, Jefferson… But, as Anne Rockwell writes, “America would not have won independence without the courage of thousands of people whose names never became famous.”

James, enslaved by a farmer named William Armistead, had heard that an enslaved man could win freedom by fighting for the colonies. Armistead allowed him to join Lafayette’s army where, under orders, he dressed in tattered clothing and presented himself to Cornwallis and Benedict Arnold as a runaway slave. James would gather information and sneak it back to Lafayette.

James was so good at “serving” Cornwallis that the British general asked him to spy on the Americans. And so James began the dangerous job of being a double agent.

The war officially ended in 1783, but for James there was no victory. While blacks who served as soldiers were granted freedom, James’s work as a spy didn’t earn him that reward. Eventually Lafayette heard about this gross injustice and wrote a letter to the US government. James adopted the last name Lafayette and became a farmer.

answering-the-cry-for-freedomA thicker, heavier volume includes stories of more black men and women who played a role in America’s Revolution: Answering the Cry for Freedom by Gretchen Woelfle; illus. by R. Gregory Christie (ages 9-12; Calkins Creek,)

Gretchen Woelfle has gathered 13 stories of little-known African American preachers, writers, soldiers, organizers, and enslaved workers. Some escaped to freedom with the British; others fought for freedom at home.

Stories include James (the spy), poet Phyllis Wheatley, Ona Judge who was owned by Martha Washington, and John Kizelle who escaped to Nova Scotia and later worked to end the slave trade in Africa. After reading these stories you’ll ask: Why haven’t we heard about these courageous people before?

Nonfiction Monday

It’s Nonfiction Monday!

Copyright © 2017 Sue Heavenrich All Rights Reserved. Site Meter

Into the Field Guides for Kids

I’m running behind today, but I guess it’s still Monday.

Today at Wrapped in Foil blog I’m featuring two children’s books in the  Into the Field Guide series.

The Into the Field Guides are lightweight and a perfect size to carry along on a hike. They won’t take up much room in a backpack. The guides feature color photographs and clear, simple descriptions to help youngsters learn to identify common animals, plants, and even rocks. They also include an introduction to some basic scientific concepts and facts. For example, the description of the stick insect explains how it uses camouflage to hide from predators.

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A Walk in the Woods has descriptions of animals, plants, and rocks found in Eastern deciduous forests. For example, the bird section highlights American robins, Northern mockingbirds, chickadees, goldfinches, etc.

 

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A Walk on the Beach helps young readers learn about common animals, plants, rocks, shells, and even debris found on the beach. The bird section includes information about water birds ranging from great blue herons and seagulls, to eagles and ducks.

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These field guides would be perfect to accompany the The Great Backyard Bird Count citizen science event coming up soon.

What is the Great Backyard Bird Count? Basically all people need to do is count the birds they see over 15 minutes during the weekend of the event and then report the numbers on the website. Although it is called “backyard,” people can count anywhere birds are found, including parks, preserves, or fields. There is plenty of information and instructions about getting started at the website. It is a wonderful project for kids to participate in.

Seeing Through Walls

Seeing Through Walls: Superman and the Science of Sight
by Agnieszka Biskup (Author)

Booktalk: Super-sight allows the Man of Steel to see through walls and melt metal with his baby blue eyes. But what makes sight possible? And can anyone or anything in our world do what Superman does with his eyes? Get ready to find out with the help of the Worlds Greatest Hero.

Snippet: Superman’s eyes can see through walls and shoot beams to cut through steel. Although we can only wish for these powers, our eyes do have the amazing ability to see a remarkable range of colors. In fact, most people can see about one million colors. How? It’s a tag-team combo of reflected light and the cones in our eyes.

Nonfiction Monday

It’s Nonfiction Monday!

Copyright © 2017 Anastasia Suen All Rights Reserved.

A Celebration of the Art of Beatrix Potter

Today we are highlighting the art and books of Beatrix Potter with A Celebration of Beatrix Potter: Art and letters by more than 30 of today’s favorite children’s book illustrators.

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Last year, 2016, was the 150th anniversary of Beatrix Potter’s birth. To honor her, thirty-two famous children’s book illustrators produced artwork and stories inspired by Potter’s picture books. The featured illustrators range from Lauren Castillo and Tomie dePaola to Rosemary Wells and Pamela Zagarenski. See Kelly Murphy’s website for one example.

The official word is this book is for readers grades three up. You might be skeptical, but it does have the potential to appeal to a range of ages. Younger children will be probably be captivated by the assortment of illustrations and the excerpts from Potter’s children’s books. Adults will be interested in the accompanying essays by the illustrators, as well as the historical tidbits provided as background for Potter’s books. For example, we learn The Tailor of Gloucester was Beatrix Potter’s favorite and that it was based on a true story. How fun!

A Celebration of Beatrix Potter is a treasure trove to explore, especially for readers interested in art and books. It is valuable as a resource for art and history lessons, and as a reference. But best of all it is a fitting tribute to Beatrix Potter’s genius. Check out a copy today.

Stop by Wrapped in Foil blog for activity suggestions to accompany the book.

(Wow, I had forgotten how much fun it is to review children’s books.)