Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Scarlet Stockings Spy

The Scarlet Stockings Spy

Trinka Hakes Noble
Illustrator:  Robert Papp 
Historical Fiction Picture Book  Series
For ages 6 to 8
Sleeping Bear Press, 2004   ISBN: 1585362301

It is a very unsettled, unhappy and worrisome time for the people of Philadelphia. Everyone is pretty sure that the British were going to attack but no one knows when. There are many who try to guess and there are others, spies, who try to find out when the British might arrive. One of the spies is a most unlikely person, a small girl who proudly wears red stockings and who lives with her mother in a modest little house near the harbour. Maddy's father died fighting for the patriots in Princeton and now her brother Jonathan is also in the army.

Maddy considers herself a "Patriot rebel from head to toe" and she not only wears the clothes to prove it but she also finds a way to help her brother and their cause. Maddy uses the washing hanging on the line to send signals to her brother to tell him what kind of ships have come into the harbour.

Then, at last, on September 11th, 1777, the British attack and the air around Philadelphia reverberates with cannon fire. On this night Maddy has the most important washing line message of all to pass on to her brother. The question is, will he be able to come and collect the information for the good of the patriot cause?

Beautifully written with great sensitivity and imagination, this powerful story about patriotism, loss, and courage will touch the hearts of its readers. Readers can see how a child might need to take on demanding and dangerous responsibilities in times of trouble and how war sometimes calls on people to make great sacrifices.

Beautiful warm paintings capture Maddy's courageous and spirited personality, perfectly complimenting the text.