The Scarlet Stockings Spy (Written by: Trinka Hakes Noble; Illustrated by Robert Rapp)
February 17, 2009 in Books With Social Studies Content, Creative Writing activities, Elementary Educators, Noble, Trinka Hakes, Picture Book, Rapp, Robert, Research Ideas Tags: books about the Revolutionary War, picture books about America's history, Revolutionary War, Robert Rapp, The Scarlet Stockings Spy, Trinka Hakes Noble
Reviewed by Margo Dill, www.margodill.com, email@example.com
Picture book for 1st grade through 5th grade students
Young girl as main character
Rating: Perfect book to go along with any unit on American history. The text is beautiful and the pictures are fantastic!
Short, short summary: Maddy Rose lives in Philadelphia in 1777. Her father was killed in a previous battle, and her brother is a member of George Washington’s army. Maddy Rose and her mother are seamstresses, but Maddy Rose is also a spy, helping out her brother. Her job is to check out the ships that are in the harbor and hang up her clothes on the clothesline in a certain way to report on the ships. On her clothesline, a petticoat means a friendly vessel, and her scarlet stockings hung in a certain way mean enemy ships. Her brother, Jonathan, then reads her secret code and reports back to the army, so they can be prepared for the British. One day, the British start firing on Philadelphia, and this is when Maddy Rose’s life changes. But she is a brave girl during a turbulent time, and this story is one of courage and hope when our country was founded.
So, what do I do with this book?
1. Trinka Hakes Noble includes a lot of details about living in Philadelphia during the Revolutionary War. She mentions geographical facts as well as historical facts such as the Boston Tea Party and Battle of Princeton. Your students can “take notes” while they read this historical fiction book. Even though the book is fiction, there are several “real” facts in the book. Once your students make a list of facts, ask them to choose one and do some research to find out more about this event or way of life.
2. Robert Rapp’s illustrations in The Scarlet Stockings Spy are absolutely wonderful, and they need special attention paid to them. In the illustrations, your students can learn about the type of clothing worn during the late 1700s as well as the cobblestone streets, housing, toys, soldier uniforms, ships, lamps (light), and the American flag. Ask your students to study one illustration that is their favorite and write a descriptive paragraph about it. They could even make up what the people in the picture are thinking or what they are getting ready to do next. Each illustration is like a beautiful painting you could hang in your house, so spend some time on them.
3. Ask students to write a letter to Jonathon from Maddy Rose. (Students are pretending to be Maddy Rose, or they can also pretend to be Johnathon writing to Maddy Rose.) Include details in the letter that set it back in the 1700s during this turbulent time. What might Maddy Rose say to her brother in a letter? Would she write in code? Would she include details about her everyday life, working as a seamstress?
If you have used this book in your classroom, please leave a comment here and let us know about it! For more information on children’s books, please check out this blog: Children’s Book Reviews and Then Some.