Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Independent Dames

Independent Dames

Laurie Halse Anderson
Illustrator:  Matt Faulkner 
Nonfiction Picture Book
For ages 6 to 10
Simon and Schuster , 2008   ISBN: 978-0689858086

Most American children learn about the American Revolution in school. They read about George Washington and the ride of Paul Revere, they sing patriotic songs, and some children even perform in plays, donning costumes to get into character. What many American Children do not do is learn about the women and girls who played vital roles in American's fight for independence. Perhaps you think that the "dames," both young and old, just stayed at home cooking and cleaning as usual. If you do think this, then let me tell you that you are just about to find out how wrong you are.

In this spunky, vital, and entertaining picture book, you will get to meet just a few of the remarkable women who played important roles during the American Revolution. Sometimes the contribution they made was a dramatic one, and sometimes it was more subtle. For example, there was Sybil Ludington, who rode forty miles on a rainy night to warn people that the British were coming. At the other end of the spectrum, quietly and without a fuss, countless ladies wove homespun fabric and plied their needles so that their families would not be forced to buy British clothing. By helping to maintain a boycott these women did their part to put pressure on the British.

Some women took up arms to fight alongside the men or to defend their homes. Others fought back by becoming spies, by getting supplies to the soldiers, and by serving as couriers and scouts. There were also those who took care of the soldiers who were sick and injured, and those who caused a scandal when they went from door to door asking people to donate money so that the Continental Army got the supplies that they so desperately needed.

As they turn the pages of this book, read the text, look at the notes, and study the timelines at the bottom of the pages, readers will start to realize that women of all kinds served their country with courage, determination, and persistence, at a time when their help was sorely needed. This title serves as a fitting tribute to every single one of those "dames" who knitted a soldier's socks, cared for a farm, or fired a gun.

Matt Faulkner's lush and often amusing illustrations perfectly compliment the author's original text.