The Town That Fooled the British

A War of 1812 Story
K-Gr 2—Determined to destroy the shipbuilding abilities of the new United States, the British fleet is moving up the Maryland coastline, attacking seaside towns. Receiving word that St. Michaels is the next target, the local militia mobilizes, including young Henry's father. Once his mother and sister are settled and in hiding, the child convinces his mother to allow him to take lanterns to his father on the front. It is then that he comes up with the idea to hang many lanterns high in the trees. With the town enshrouded in heavy fog and rain, the canons aim for the lights and miss hitting St. Michaels's homes and businesses. The uneven text includes plenty of sound effects, but the choppy sentence structure detracts from the drama. Robert Papp uses light in the illustrations to highlight his figures and make them almost glow. The striking illumination is appropriate for a story in which the lights themselves help save the town. The artist effectively captures the urgency and determination of his characters even in the dim night scenes. Not a high priority purchase for every library, but this book will be of interest to children who live near or visit St. Michaels.—Lucinda Snyder Whitehurst, St. Christopher's School, Richmond, VA
St. Michaels, Maryland, a shipbuilding community on the Chesapeake Bay, is targeted by the British Navy during the War of 1812. While bringing a message to his soldier father, young Henry Middle makes a tactical suggestion that saves the town. Though the text is overwrought and the illustrations are uneven, the book effectively highlights how one child's act can make a difference.

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