Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Valley Forge

Valley Forge

Richard Ammon
Illustrator:  Bill Farnsworth 
Nonfiction Picture Book
For ages 9 to 12
Holiday House, 2004   ISBN: 978-0823420162

The cause of the American Patriots was not looking promising. General Howe had taken Philadelphia and General Washington's army was defeated in both Germantown and Brandywine in the winter of 1777. Washington decided that he would winter his army near an old ironwork called Valley Forge which was located near the Schuylkill River in Pennsylvania.

Conditions in General Washington's army were not good. The soldiers had very little to eat, inappropriate clothing for the fiercely bitter winter cold, snow and ice, and many had inadequate shelter. As a result, many of the men got very sick and not a few died. Still, the men worked together to improve things as best they could. They had drill practice and they tried to keep busy.

While his men suffered Washington wrote to Congress asking for help. He corresponded with his friends and comrades making plans for the future. He also spent time with his officers and they became a close knit unit which would work very well together in the months ahead.

This excellent account of what took place during the winter months of 1777 and 1778 is interesting and, at times, very moving. The author provides plenty of information about the events that led up to this time and he also describes the events that followed, thus putting the Valley Forge period clearly into its historical context.

In addition to the narrative about the events that took place before and during the Valley Forge period of the revolutionary conflict, the author has also included boxes on several of the pages which provide further information about some of the characters in this conflict. Rich atmospheric paintings on every double-page spread capture the hardships, the high points, and the low points of this period in American history.

A 'Time Line' at the beginning of the book gives a clear picture of the entire Revolutionary War from the Boston Tea Party to the surrender of the English at Yorktown.