Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Francis Scott Key's Star-Spangled Banner

Francis Scott Key's Star-Spangled Banner

Monica Kulling
Illustrator:  Richard Walz 
For ages 6 to 8
Random House Books for Young Readers, 2012   ISBN: 978-0375867255

Francis Scott key was a lawyer, and he lived in Georgetown in Virginia with his wife and his eleven children. Like so many other Americans, Francis was glad that his country was now independent and free of British rule. Unfortunately, the young republic’s problems with England were not over. Disputes between the two countries escalated until the United States declared war on England in 1812.

Francis did his best to be a soldier for his country, but he was too slow and clumsy and he was sent home. Then one of Francis’ friends, Dr. Beanes, was taken prisoner by the British soldiers after their attack on Washington D.C. in 1814. Francis and another lawyer went to talk to the English General, and they managed to persuade him that the doctor did not deserve to be imprisoned. Though the doctor was released from prison, he and the two lawyers were not allowed to go free because they now knew too much about the English war plans. Instead, the three men had to stand and watch a battle that would determine a great deal. It was this battle that inspired Francis, an amateur poet, to pen a poem that would one day provide the words for the national anthem of the United States.

Every American child is taught how to sing The Star-Spangled Banner at an early age, but few of them know much about the man who wrote the lyrics. In this Step into Reading title, Monica Kulling gives her readers a picture of a kind and scholarly man who just happened to be at the right place at the right time. The author’s love of history comes through in her writing, and readers who enjoyed this title are encouraged to read the other nonfiction titles that she has written.