Anna Strong and the Revolutionary War Culper Spy Ring

illus. by Laura Terry. 96p. Workman. (A Spy on History Book). Apr. 2019. pap. $9.95. ISBN 9781523502165.
Gr 3–6—This new title in the series introduces young readers to the American Revolution, the Culper Spy Ring, and one of its intrepid but little-known members, Anna Strong. In the village of Setauket on New York's Long Island Sound, British soldiers lived among local residents, often harassing them and forcibly taking what they wanted. Wary but defiant, a small group of trusted acquaintances formed the Culper Spy Ring, devised a numeric code for communicating vital information about British military plans, and secretly delivered their intelligence to General George Washington. After her outspoken husband was imprisoned on a British ship, Strong sent their older children to safety in Connecticut while she stayed in Setauket to protect their family property. From her "house at a high point on the coast," she signaled meeting times and locations to fellow spies using her laundry—a black petticoat and six handkerchiefs. Feisty and quick-witted, Strong also prepared large merchandise lists that required regular trips into New York City for intelligence gathering. Thanks to Strong and the Culper Ring, a British attack on the arriving, supportive French fleet was averted, and the treasonous plan of General Benedict Arnold was revealed. Lively text, a mix of font styles, and black-and-white illustrations enhance readability. Adding further appeal, this interactive book includes embedded clues and codes along with spycraft tools to help readers decode a final, secret message from Anna. A helpful historical note and a brief bibliography are appended.
VERDICT Young readers will admire Anna Strong's resourceful and courageous efforts to help the Patriot cause. In addition, readers will gain insight on multiple Revolutionary War issues: Loyalist and Patriot viewpoints on independence, the oppressive proximity of British soldiers in local communities, and George Washington's desperate need for secure, timely intelligence. Highly recommended.

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