FICTION

Kate Warne, Pinkerton Detective

illus. by April Chu. 44p. bibliog. Creston. May 2017. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781939547330.
COPY ISBN
Gr 1–3—Moss (America's Tea Parties: Not One but Four!) has created another engaging U.S. history volume for children. Moss focuses on the dramatic career of Kate Warne (1833–68), a woman who successfully joined the Pinkerton Detective Agency. Warne overcame stereotypes and social expectations by becoming the first female detective in the United States. With wit and subterfuge, she played a critical role in bringing to justice Nathan Maroney, who stole $40,000 from an Adams Express Company railroad car. This is an exciting mystery, complete with buried money, clandestine handoffs, and courtroom surprises. The book uses fictionalized yet believable dialogue to move the narrative along. Moss appends an informational page on Warne's life. Because this work deals with complicated concepts, such as embezzlement and deception, adults may have to explain a few points to young readers and listeners. Chu has a gift for smooth shading and creating simple yet expressive facial features. The abundant earth tones are accented by strong reds and blues, a dress or uniform standing out from the background. The attention to period hairstyles and dress is also particularly noteworthy. Pair this latest with Moss's Nurse, Soldier, Spy: The Story of Sarah Edmonds, a Civil War Hero for a dynamic portrait of women in early U.S. history.
VERDICT A smart, clever look at a real-life 19th-century female detective—perfect for interactive storytimes with small groups.

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