Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Town that Fooled the British: A War of 1812 Story

The Town that Fooled the British: A War of 1812 Story

Lisa Papp
Illustrator:  Robert Papp 
Historical Fiction Picture Book  Series
For ages 8 to 12
Sleeping Bear Press, 2011   ISBN: 978-1585364848

It is a hot summer day in St. Michaels, a small river town in Maryland that is “tucked along the banks of the Chesapeake Bay.” Henry comes running down the dusty street and he has an important message to deliver. “The British have captured the river!” Henry cries out when he gets to his father’s shop.

Until now St. Michaels has been safe, and its shipbuilders have continued to build the ships that have gone to war against the British. Now, the British are determined to destroy St. Michaels and other towns that build war ships for the Americans.

Henry is eager to help his father in the fight to come, but instead he is told to go home to help his mother prepare for evacuation. When he gets there, his mother explains that they will not be evacuating after all. Henry’s mother is a skilled nurse, and her abilities may be needed in the days to come.

Henry offers to take some lanterns to his father, and when he gets to where the militia are gathering, he suggests that they hang the lanterns in the trees to fool the British into firing at the lanterns instead of firing at the town and the shipyards. General Perry Benson likes the idea, and soon the trees are full of lanterns. Will the trick work? Will the British be deceived?

Based on the true story of what happened in St. Michaels during the War of 1812, the story in this picture book will give young readers a real feel for what it would have been like to be in St. Michaels on the night it was attacked by the British. Told from the point of view of a young boy, the story is well written, and it shows to great effect that history can be interesting.

This is one of the book in the Tales of Young Americans series