NONFICTION

Anna Strong: A Spy During the American Revolution

Abrams. Mar. 2020. 40p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781419734199.
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PreS-Gr 3–General George Washington was looking for new and inventive ways to beat the British during the Revolutionary War. He decided to use spies. Basing the book’s narrative on primary source materials, Marsh describes the role of Long Island native Anna Smith Strong as a spy in the Culper Spy Ring. Strong utilized her family’s elevated place in society, her skills as a socialite, and her family farm’s physical location to work in her favor to gather and pass information from the British to the Patriots. Meanwhile, male spies (including her husband Selah) were caught, imprisoned, and sometimes even hanged. Strong had to be very careful. Green’s illustrations complement the story with scenes of Strong among the British, clearly listening, and show number codes like the ones the Culper Ring used in their messages. The illustrations have a “spyglass” perspective and include lots of floral patterns to camouflage the protagonist into the scenes. Additional material covers more information about the Culper Ring Code Book, how to make invisible ink, Marsh’s research notes about how historians came to believe Strong was a spy, an artist’s note about the illustrations, and a bibliography.
VERDICT A spirited book about a lesser-known historical figure. Recommended for elementary school and public libraries.

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