By the Light of Fireflies: A Novel of Sybil Ludington

Wyatt-MacKenzie. Nov. 2021. 188p. Tr $22. ISBN 9781954332126.
Gr 5-8–Sybil Ludington, a young girl growing up in colonial America, wishes she were a boy. Her father, a leader in New York State’s early efforts for independence, inspires her with stories about Paul Revere’s ride and the night when a cloud of fireflies guided him out of the woods and into safety. As the oldest child in a large growing family, Sybil’s future appears limited to marriage and family, doing much the same work she currently does now. But circumstances change. First, one night when she can’t sleep, a swarm of fireflies guides Sybil to a young abandoned foal. Fortunately, her parents allow her to keep the horse and she names him Star. Then, the fight for American independence becomes more organized and dangerous. Sybil’s father has a bounty offered by the British on his head, so he must elicit the help of Sybil and her younger sister Rebecca to become spies in the colonial network. The girls ride patrols with Star, decode secret messages, and send messages via laundry and lamp light. One night, Sybil rides 40 miles with Star, summoning troops to report for duty before a major battle. She completes the journey, proving that not only men and boys can serve their fledgling democracy. Loosely based on historical writings and a 1907 memoir, Walsh creates a riveting story that reminds young readers that the quest for independence often meant life-threatening dangers for both the colonial militia and their families. The description of secret communication codes, such as invisible ink, and historical facts about the American Revolution, make this a book that young readers will enjoy.
VERDICT With short chapters, a suspenseful plot, and a variety of real-life historical characters, this book is perfect for younger readers. Libraries looking to update their historical fiction collections related to the American Revolution will want to consider this title.

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