Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Betsy Ross and the American Flag

Betsy Ross and the American Flag

Kay M. Olson
Illustrator:  Anna Maria Cool , Charles Barnett III , Sam Delarosa 
Nonfiction Graphic Novel  Series
For ages 8 to 10
Capstone Press, 2005   ISBN: 978-0736849623

Elizabeth, or Betsy as she was called, was the daughter of a Quaker and she was brought up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Like all Quaker children Betsy was educated and when she was twelve she went to apprentice in an upholstery shop. There she met John Ross and later, Betsy married John, the two of them setting up their own shop together after their marriage.

Betsy and John were living in turbulent times for many of the American colonists were tired of being ruled, and taxed, by the faraway English King. They wanted to have more freedoms and finally there came a time when the Americans had to take up arms against the British. One of the men to do this was John Ross. Unfortunately John was killed in 1776 but Betsy kept the shop going, something most women of that time would not have dared to do.

It is said that one day George Washington came to Betsy’s shop and asked her to create a flag for the new democratic United States of America. No one is really sure if this story is true but what we do know is that Betsy was a true patriot and that two of her three husbands died fighting for the cause. Though she may not have designed and created the first American flag, it is very likely that Betsy, who was so skilled with a needle and thread, made many of the now familiar flags for her fellow countrymen and women.

The author of this excellent “Graphic Library” title beautifully weaves together what we do know about Betsy Ross and what we cannot be sure about. She provides her readers with a lively story and plenty of information. The reader can then decide for his or herself whether the legend is just a legend, or whether Betsy really did make George Washington’s first stars and stripes flag. Full page comic book style artwork makes this book easy to read and a perfect fit for readers who prefer illustration rich books.