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Sarah Emma Edmonds Was a Great Pretender: The True Story of a Civil War Spy (Carolrhoda Picture Books)

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3.76 of 5 stars 3.76  ·  rating details  ·  103 ratings  ·  37 reviews
Sarah Emma Edmonds started pretending at a very early age. Her father only wanted sons, so Sarah pretended to be one. Unlike most kids, though, Sarah never really stopped pretending. In 1861, during the U.S. Civil War, Sarah pretended her way into the Union Army, becoming a male nurse named Frank Thompson. Being a nurse didn't quite satisfy "Frank," though. She wanted to k ...more
Library Binding, 32 pages
Published April 1st 2011 by Carolrhoda Books (first published August 1st 2010)
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Community Reviews

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Bri  Ahearn
Most children love pretending and make an enjoyable game out of it. From cats in the jungle to doctors to pirates, anything goes when it comes to imagination. But Sarah Emma Edmonds, a young girl growing up in Canada took her pretending to a whole new level, infiltrating the Confederacy, posing as various people, all without revealing her cover to anyone while in the army.

Carrie Jones is the author of the bestselling Need series, but this April she debuts her new picture book from Carolrhoda Boo
...more
Dolly
Jan 13, 2013 Dolly rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: parents reading with their older children
I love finding stories about interesting women for our girls. Not only did this book give us a glimpse into life before and during the Civil War, it also showed us how one woman made her place in American history, even if she had to do it by pretending to be a man.

This is such a fascinating story, and the illustrations are wonderful, too. The story offers a lot of details about Sarah's life, but isn't overwhelming or boring. In fact, the narrative is written with subtle humor and in such a way
...more
babyhippoface
Wow. This woman was a spitfire. Sarah Emma Edmonds grew up in the 1860's with a verbally abusive father who was never happy with her, no matter how hard she tried to please him. She thought he wanted a boy, so she tried to be a boy. He still wasn't happy. So Sarah left home. She heard that Union troops were needed, so she dressed as a boy, took the name Frank Thompson, and volunteered.

Sarah Emma/Frank wanted more excitement, so she volunteered to be a spy for the Union. She colored her skin dar
...more
Kelly
Guess what? I'm about to review a book I read on Net Galley. How cool is Net Galley? So. Cool. (As long as, y'know, the publishers give you permission to read the books you want to read so you can review them. But I digress.)

The full title of today's book is Sarah Emma Edmonds Was a Great Pretender: The True Story of a Civil War Spy, and it's by my good friend Carrie Jones. Yes, that Carrie Jones - the one who wrote Tips on Having a Gay (ex)Boyfriend, Love (and Other Uses for Duct Tape) and Girl
...more
Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
This picture book tells the story of Sarah Emma Edmonds, a Canadian girl who came as a teenager to the U.S. and, pretending to be a boy named Frank Thompson, became a Union soldier in the Civil War as well as a spy. It's an amazing story that made me want to read some of the adult biographies of her that have been written recently, as well as her published memoirs, quotes from which are sprinkled throughout the book. A picture at the end of the book shows the real Sarah when she was posing as Fr ...more
Nick
This juvenile biography is short and informative, but with factual errors which slightly mar its usefulness. Unfortunatly, her full name, the military unit she served in, and maybe even her date of birth are incorrect in the book. [There's a conflict between the book and her obituary about her date of birth, but various sources also are confused about this.] With those all wrong, it's difficult to assume that the rest of the information is correct.
Mark Oldroyd's illustrations are very good, and
...more
Raina
This is a story which needs to be told. Sarah Emma Edmonds was a spy for the Union during the Civil War. The Union Army knew her as a man, and she took on a series of roles which crossed both race and gender lines in order to gain information for her side. The illustrations are slightly impressionistic images of Edmonds in her various roles as well as more generalized frames of the period. Some may find problems in the thesis of the text. Jones repeats over and over that Edmonds was pretending t ...more
Laura
Very clearly laid out and written. I will definitely take a look at the actual copy of this book since I doubt that the black and white images on my e-reader do it justice. That's an impressive feat, to make me interested in reading it again just to see the differences from the electronic galley. Sarah Emma Edmonds is a pretty cool chick, and both boys and girls will love her story. The danger and adventure is kept without bringing the entire story into too dark territory. I have to assume that ...more
Sarah Sammis
Feb 11, 2013 Sarah Sammis rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Sarah by: Carrie Jones
I have been interested in the American Civil War since high school. I like reading about it, whether it's fiction or nonfiction. As soon as Carrie Jones announced her nonfiction picture book biography of Sarah Emma Edmonds called Sarah Emma Edmonds Was a Great Pretender, I immediately added it to my wishlist.

Using simple, straightforward language, Carrie Jones outlines Sarah Edmond's childhood and early adulthood. Jones explains that Sarah's father wanted a son and she did her best to pretend to
...more
Mandy
My children and I recently read Carrie Jones's book, Sarah Emma Edmonds was a Great Pretender. I have to admit that I wasn't overly enamoured by either the writing nor the illustrations. However, the story of Sarah Emma Edmonds is fascinating.

Born in the mid 1800's, Sarah was born a girl, which was enough of a strike against her. At the age of 16, she ran away to the States. Unable to support herself selling door to door as a woman, she disguised herself as a man. When she heard that the Union
...more
Alice
This was a great story and an interesting book. I love the Disney Movie Mulan and this has a Mulan feel (even though Sarah was never exposed until years later when she revealed that she was Frank Thompson/Cuff/Bridget) This is a story of courage, bravery and a little stupidity (well not really but you get what I mean... I think you would have to be a little crazy to do what she did). I totally believe that if a woman can do a 'mans' job, and WANTS to do a 'mans' job, then she should be allowed t ...more
Book Chatter-Cath
I sat and read this with my 9 year old daughter and was pleasantly surprised by this beautifully written and lovingly illustrated book.
At first, I was a little taken back by the rawness of its descriptions, in particular, the fathers dislike of his daughter Sarah and thought that it might be a bit heavy handed.
Overall however, it is riveting, refreshing and carefully laid out for the younger reader. And the illustrations are beautiful in their simple realism.
My daughter thought that Sarah Emma E
...more
Angie
Sarah Emma Edmonds is a fascinating character in our history. I think her story is one that is not widely known but should be told. This book does a good job of showing her early life and her life as a spy for the Union Army. Was it the best written and illustrated picture book biography...unfortunately no. I wasn't that impressed with either the writing or the illustrations, but the subject matter itself did elevate the text to a point. The text was repetitive and I didn't feel like it did full ...more
Taneka
I have never heard of Sarah Emma Edmonds, but this picture book was a great introduction. Born in Canada, Sarah ran away from her home in Canada because she knew her father always wanted a boy and would never accept a daughter that pretended to be a boy. She sold bibles and encyclopedias but could not make a sale, because people were skeptical of a woman on her own. So she made up the alias Frank Thompson and sold more material. She signed up for the American Civil War and became a spy for the U ...more
Jennifer
My 8 year old Women's History buff was captivated by this true story. Opened a new door.
Kelly
Sarah Emma Edmonds Was a Great Pretender is a nominee for the 2013-14 South Carolina Picture Book Award.

Until I read this book, the story Sarah Emma Edmonds was unknown to me. I find it fascinating that a woman could go virtually her entire life pretending to be someone else and have no one be the wiser. While this book itself felt a little choppy and disjointed, I do appreciate that it gives young girls yet another heroine to read about. When learning about the Civil War, female heroes are few
...more
Heather
An interesting and attractive introduction to a fascinating woman. The illustrations really complement the text, and I love the one where Sarah is winking at the reader. One of my favorite pages was about Sarah pretending to be Bridget O'Shea. I love the description: "She was a woman (Sarah) pretending to be a man (Frank) pretending to be a woman (Bridget)." My only complaint was that I found the phrase "Frank-I mean Sarah" to be a bit annoying. It was funny the first time, but after that I just ...more
Jan Rue
Jun 11, 2013 Jan Rue added it
Shelves: ed-689-books
Written by Carrie Jones (2011) & illustrated by Mark Oldroyd. This tells the story of a woman who pretender to be a man and spying during the Civil War in 1861. She also pretended to be a black woman, a male nurse, female Irish peddler, and a black man. She was a great help during the war. This book would be a good one to use when studying the Civil War and strong women. There is a great author's note in the back page which gives more facts about Sarah, a photo of her and further readings.
Bvlmc Buchanan Verplanck Elementary School
Born in Canada, Sarah Emma Edmonds immigrated to the United States and spent most of her life pretending to be a boy and man named Frank Thompson. She served as a soldier, nurse and spy for the Union army during the civil war. In addition to the interesting premise of her life and her multiple roles during the Civil War, this book has appeal because it is sprinkled with some direct quotes from her writing, diaries and journals.
Angie
Interesting. But of the two I read today on this particular historical figure, I think I preferred Nurse, Soldier, Spy: The Story of Sarah Edmonds, a Civil War Hero.

This one contained less text and covered more ground. Depends on your goal for reading, I suppose.
Kate McCartney
The story of a women who knew she could play a real role in the Civil War. She disguised herself as a male soldier and went undercover for the Union to spy on the Confederates. A great story of a women who made a difference in America's history and many have never heard of her.
Christina
I liked Nurse Soldier Spy better as a biography of Edmonds, but both are excellent. Interesting to see how they focused on different aspects of her spying and life, and the illustration styles are really different.
Betsy
So glad to see this non-fiction title on the SC Children's Picture Book Award Nominee list. I can't say that I was crazy about the illustrations, but I LOVED the historical content!
Deanna
Another story about Sarah Emma Edmonds, this time by Maine author Carrie Jones. See also Nurse, Soldier, Spy: The Story of Sarah Edmonds, A Civil War Hero by Marissa Moss.
Elaine
Great book for children to read especially since it is a historical picture books about the American Revolutionary War! Illustrations ands text go hand in hand.
Linda Atkinson
What a wonderfully told story about a woman who made a profound contribution to the Union during the Civil War. Beautifully illustrated by Mark Oldroyd.
Samantha
I really enjoyed this story about a female Civil War spy. I had never heard of Sarah Emma Edmonds before, but I hope her story becomes better known!
Sarah
Meh. This book has its heart in the right place, but I think kids could handle more of historical analysis- or at least a point!
Janna Peterson
Great book to teach in Social Studies. It motivated me to want to learn more about this woman, and it will motivate students!
The Styling Librarian
Really enjoyed this book, so approachable for an initial book to read about the Civil War.
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