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By the Light of Fireflies

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Sybil Ludington believes in the legend of fireflies—they appear when you need them most. But it's not until her family is thrust into the dangers of the Revolutionary War, and into George Washington's spy ring, that Sybil experiences firefly magic for herself—guiding her through the darkness, empowering her to figure out who she's supposed to be and how strong she really is—as she delivers her imperative message and warns against a British attack.

BY THE LIGHT OF FIREFLIES is the captivating tale of a young girl's journey as a daughter, a sister, a friend, a spy, and eventually a war hero, completing a midnight ride that cements her place in history as the "female Paul Revere."

186 pages, Paperback

First published November 2, 2021

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About the author

Jenni L. Walsh

11 books344 followers
Jenni L. Walsh spends her days knee deep in words in Philadelphia’s suburbia. Beyond words, Jenni is a mama (of a soulful eight-year-old, a dinosaur-loving six-year-old, and three needy furbabies), a wife, a Philly and 'Nova sports fan.

But where did it all begin? Jenni spent her early years dabbling in various forms of writing and with her nose in a book. Her writing chops first began to develop through one-page stories. Never fail, the storyline followed the same progression: girl meets boy, girl marries boy, girl and boy have baby. That's it.

Now Jenni has moved on to stories with a bit more depth and, for the mamas, Side by Side is a historical women's fiction story of America’s most infamous crime spree of Bonnie and Clyde told in the raw and honest voice of the woman who lived it, Bonnie Parker. In Becoming Bonnie, a prequel set in the Roaring Twenties, a picture of Bonnie's earlier life, before and while she meets Clyde, is brought to life. Jenni's third historical women's fiction book A Betting Woman takes us to the California gold rush, featuring a little known woman from history, Eleanor Dumont, but who is largely remembered by the moniker Madame Moustache. In The Call of the Wrens, Jenni introduces readers to the Women's Royal Naval Service (the Wrens), who carried wartime secrets on their shoulders as motorcycle dispatch riders during both world wars. Jenni's next historical novel will release in November 2023.

For the kiddos, Jenni's debut middle grade books, She Dared, features true stories from women who, at a young age, accomplished daring feats of perseverance and bravery. She is also the author of I Am Defiance, inspired by a real-life resistance group, known as the White Rose. Jenni has contributed Hettie and the London Blitz: A World War II Survival Story to the Girl's Survive series. Revolutionary War hero Sybil Ludington, who is often known as the "female Paul Revere," is brought to life in By the Light of Fireflies, Jenni's first historical novel with a touch of magical realism. Jenni's newest historical novel for young readers, Over and Out, is a thrilling and fast-paced espionage and escape story that is inspired by real stories of life in East Berlin during the Cold War.

Learn more about Jenni and her books at jennilwalsh.com and @jennilwalsh on social media.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 62 reviews
Profile Image for Darla.
3,149 reviews446 followers
October 24, 2021
If you haven't heard of Sybil Ludington yet, this is your chance. At the age of sixteen, she rode her horse forty miles in a circuit to help muster the Patriots in neighboring villages. Her ride was three times the length of Paul Revere's ride AND she never got captured. I had heard bits and pieces about her over the years and was so glad to see this book was coming out. It is historical fiction, but based on facts with some magical realism (fireflies) to up the enchantment level. Sybil's father was Colonel Henry Ludington. When General George Washington asked Colonel Ludington to assist him by putting together a spy ring, Ludington recruited his two oldest daughters (tweens) to work for him. He started by having them write with their eyes closed to learn to use invisible ink. In addition to the exciting spy bits, there is much here about family love and sibling support. It was such a treat to spend time with Sybil and her family. I will definitely be recommending this book to middle grade readers at my library.

Thank you to Wyatt-McKenzie Publishing and NetGalley for a DRC in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Lindsay Currie.
Author 9 books624 followers
April 25, 2021
Wow. Jenni Walsh does it again! Another pitch-perfect MG historical with a heroine you can't help but root for. I'd never heard of Sybil Ludington prior to this book and I'm stunned! Thank you, Jenni, for introducing me to such a brave figure in history!
Profile Image for Jenni Walsh.
Author 11 books344 followers
April 23, 2021
Unbiased 😉 rating by the author. And also a few words:

It was truly an honor to write this novel about Sybil Ludington, a little known Revolutionary War heroine. She's often known as the "female Paul Revere" but she rode twice as far, was half Paul Revere's age, and completed her own midnight ride all by herself. Mic drop.

This feat was so spectacular and unbelievable that some people believe her ride was nothing more than a story. But I believe that Sybil accomplished something magical, just like the Sybil in my story believes in the magic of fireflies, and that on April 26, 1777 she truly made a daring ride to warn of an attack by the British.

I also had the opportunity to expand on Sybil's story. She was more than the "female Paul Revere." Sybil was a spy (yes, for George Washington!), a sister (sooo many siblings), a daughter, a friend, and someone who broke the mold for young girls of her time. I hope you enjoy Sybil's story as much as I enjoyed writing it!

##

Actual unbiased review from Publishers Weekly, selected as an Editor's Pick ⚡️:

Walsh (I Am Defiance) again brings a powerful woman from history to life with this middle-grade adventure featuring 16-year-old Revolutionary War hero Sybil Ludington. Based on true events, By the Light of Fireflies takes on George Washington’s inner spy ring in the heat of the battle between Patriots and Loyalists, spotlighting the role that young Sybil played during an all night, 40-mile ride through colonists’ territory to muster the militia against an impending British attack. In Walsh’s spirited depiction, Sybil is a courageous, quick-thinking Patriot who dreams of growing up to be something more than a farmer’s wife–and realizes that ambition is within her reach through the fight to advance the revolutionary cause.

Sybil’s father, Henry Ludington, is a Loyalist captain in name only and spends his free time helping Patriots spy on the British. When pressures mount, he enlists Sybil and her sister, Rebecca, to help decipher code written with invisible ink on letters bearing crucial information about the British army, its troops, and their planned maneuvers. This opportunity is a dream come true for Sybil, who idolizes Paul Revere and hopes for her own chance to prove her mettle–a chance that emerges when she gets asked to ride all night in a terrifying crusade to save her family and her country. “I didn’t realize it was weird for me to want to be brave or daring or courageous like a man was,” she memorably declares.

Walsh’s easy, flowing prose breathes life into colonial America. Readers will find themselves in the thick of the Revolutionary War as well as eighteenth-century living: Walsh uses period appropriate language (“Mama shook her head bigly”) and detail, such as a family strategy game of “Nine Man’s Morrice in the parlor,” to capture the feeling of the past, and her handling of the long ride is crisp and suspenseful. History-minded young readers will be roused by this stouthearted protagonist’s unflinching dedication.

Takeaway: Middle-grade historical fiction fans will be swept up in the bravery of one young woman’s fight to save her country against a British attack.
Profile Image for Jennifer.
3,428 reviews44 followers
October 14, 2022
A quick read about the real-life Sybil Ludington, daughter of Patriot Colonel Henry Ludington. She made a "midnight ride" like Paul Revere only it was 3 times as long, she was alone the entire time, and she didn't get caught! A true American Hero of the Revolutionary War. Sybil is obviously very impressive, the story itself was just okay. I almost gave up on it about 30 pages in, it just was not grabbing my attention. However, it turned out to be a fun story. If you enjoy historical fiction or middle grade adventure, give this one a try.
Profile Image for Daniele Kasper.
Author 2 books296 followers
May 10, 2021
Listen, my readers, and you shall hear of the midnight ride of..... Sybil Ludington? The tale of the often unknown hero of the Revolution, By the Light of Fireflies weaves history and a touch of magic to bring middle grade readers the story of Sybil and her own nighttime ride to change the tide of the war. Sybil was only sixteen when she made her own incredible journey, typically overshadowed by Paul Revere's famous ride thanks to the poem. Sybil's ride was a tremendous feat not only for a teenage girl at that time but also for the difficulties she faced. Walsh weaves a beautifully written tale of Sybil and her family through the war. Her father is involved with General Washington and his spies, trying to defeat the British. This puts the family at risk from the Redcoats and there are several close calls that made me hold the book with white knuckles. Sybil is a role model for young girls who dare to dream big and wish to make a difference in the world that so often holds them back. The book, told from Sybil's perspective, is detailed and full of insights into Sybil's home life and her thoughts as her family navigates a world torn apart by war and the fight for freedom. Sybil's father tells her the legend that fireflies are magic. Sybil calls upon them during the story to help her in times of need. Then her father needs her to take a twenty to forty mile ride in the rain in the middle of the night to alert the militia to Redcoat activities and prepare for battle. She calls upon the strength of the fireflies and her horse Star to help her complete the overwhelming challenge. Will the fireflies answer her call? Walsh's tale sets the scene, drawing the reader into the time of the Revolution with period appropriate language and beautiful scenes and descriptions of Sybil's life. The scenes of her ride are full of action and suspense making for a gripping read about a fascinating figure in history. Readers are sure to fall in love with this book. I was given an advanced read copy of this book through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Susan.
923 reviews27 followers
November 14, 2021
Advanced Reader’s Copy provided by NetGalley and Wyatt-Mackenzie Publishing in exchange for an honest review.

Most people in America know the name Paul Revere and his famous midnight ride to warn about the British. But a name that has been mostly lost to history is Sybil Ludington. Sybil made her own midnight ride in what is now Putnam County, NY to rally her father's troops and warn that the British were burning Danbury, CT. But she rode three times the distance that Revere did (about 40 miles), she rode by herself (Revere started his ride with two other people), and she was never caught (Revere was). Oh, and Sybil was just a young teenage girl. WHY do we not learn about her?! Her ride is much more impressive than Revere's.

Walsh's novel is historical fiction, imagining what the Ludington's life was like and what led up to Sybil making that midnight ride. This is a great middle grade novel to introduce readers to Sybil - and to also have a discussion about the limitations women faced during that time period (well and what limitations they experience now). There's a magical element with the fireflies and how Sybil finds Star, but that just adds to the story.

And check out that cover! It's gorgeous. I hope that novels like this encourage historians to do more research on the stories like Sybil's that have been partially lost to time so that we can learn more about them.
Profile Image for Potterhead Aanya.
Author 2 books54 followers
June 8, 2021
This book in 3 words, ‘inspirational’, ‘magical’ and ‘powerful’!
The author wrote the book in such a heartfelt way, describing each detail that you can see and feel it, the way she describes the terror, it’s as if you are there around 250 years ago, reliving what the war hero Sybil Ludington might have lived on the famous night in which she saved the day ( or night xD).
The magical part has to be how the fireflies guide her, how Sybil believes in them is so touching!!!
And the book in itself which follows Sybil’s story is so inspirational, it shows that even in the 18th century when there were so close minded people, Girl Power still existed and girls are just as powerful (if not more as boys).
Like I am still speechless at how the author has described the story so well!!!!

My rating definitely 5 out of 5!!
Profile Image for Emily.
Author 1 book573 followers
October 27, 2021
I was excited to read a story about a girl hero of the Revolutionary War. There isn't a lot of information about Sybil Ludington, beyond that she rode to alert her father's militia on a ride that was twice as long as Paul Revere's. So the author had to do quite a lot to flesh out this story.

I felt that Sybil's age wasn't clear throughout the story - she is a teenager for most of the book, but she feels more like a 12-year-old in her speech and mannerisms. Also, this is more of a horse book than I was expecting and unfortunately, horses are not my thing. However, I bet that the horse element will really appeal to some middle-grade readers! I also really liked how Sybil and her sister helped their father run his spy ring. The coding was really interesting. It would be fun, while reading this story, to invent your own secret code and pass coded messages back and forth!

Overall, I think this would be a nice extra to add to your Revolutionary War studies, particularly if you have a child who loves horses!
Profile Image for Kaitlyn.
33 reviews7 followers
September 8, 2021
Thank you NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for my honest feedback.
4/5 stars
This is a fantastic middle grade historical fiction book about the Revolutionary War and the girl who rode farther than Paul Revere. The author does a great job of developing her characters as well as pacing the story. The book is a good length for this age group and there is enough action and suspense to keep kids/tweens interested. The author does a great job of making the main character easy to relate to as well as bringing historical figures to life. I highly recommend this for upper elementary/middle school.
Profile Image for Michele.
11 reviews
October 17, 2021
Who knew that a 16-year old girl made a daring midnight ride more difficult - and equally important - than the ride we all know about by Paul Revere? Sybil Ludington is an inspiration to brave girls everywhere who love their family, their country, and want to make a difference. I loved learning about someone I had no idea existed. This book was a delightful introduction to Sybil Ludington's life with a fairy-tale like bent. Not too long and with a character like Sybil, this book should capture the interest of even a more reluctant reader. And the magic of the fireflies is just the right touch for a MG reader. I'm looking forward to sharing this MG selection with my 4th and 5th grade students.

#NetGalley #ByTheLightofFireflies #historicalfiction
Profile Image for Daniel.
2,340 reviews35 followers
December 18, 2021
This review originally published in Looking For a Good Book. Rated 4.0 of 5

Sybil Ludington was a teenage Revolutionary War hero. Sometimes referred to as the "female Paul Revere." In Jenni L. Walsh's By the Light of Fireflies, we come to know Sybil's story in this Middle Grade/YA historical fiction novel.

When Sybil was a child, her father would tell her that fireflies were magical and would help her in a time of need if she called for them to help.
Sybil's father, Henry Ludington, is a Loyalist helping the Patriots spy on the British. As his workload grows, he enlists his daughters, Sybil and her sister Rebecca, to join him in his spy work. They work deciphering code written in invisible ink. These messages have important information about British troops and their locations and plans. As the British step up their plans to take control of the Colonies, the Ludington work also picks up.

One night, in the middle of the night, Henry asks his daughter to ride on her horse for 20-40 miles to warn the rural militias of impending British action and to be prepared for war. It's a dark night and Sybil is nervous, but she knows how important this is, so she calls for the fireflies to help light her way. But that old story is just an old myth, right?

I'll admit right now that my knowledge of Revolutionary War history doesn't extend much beyond whatever I learned in middle school and - no shock here - Sybil Ludington was never a part of that education.

I really liked reading Sybil's (and Henry's) story. Because of our middle school education, we tend to know how important the Revolutionary War was to the forming of our country. We know the names of George Washington and Paul Revere and maybe a few others, but there were SO many people who risked their lives by working against the British crown toward independence. Sybil's is probably just one of many stories that we could read about this great event. But that Sybil was a teenage girl makes this engaging and empowering to young readers.

The firefly aspect is cute and Walsh ties it in nicely, but it does feel just a little forced. The historical aspects of the story flow so nicely that Sybil's calling out to the fireflies for help near the end almost diminishes her own strength in the heroic act she performs.

Looking for a good book? By the Light of Fireflies by Jenni L. Walsh provides an empowering history lesson while thrilling young readers with action and spy intrigue.

I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Tonja Drecker.
Author 3 books174 followers
February 14, 2022
Life during the Revolutionary War comes across with an amazingly, natural flow thanks to a girl, who packs a little spunk, tons of bravery, and a tiny pinch of magic.

Sybil knows her father is in a dangerous spot as an ex-officer for His Majesty's army, who in reality, supports the rebel cause. She wishes she could help, but isn't even allowed to take her own siblings to school without being accompanied by her friend, who is a boy. She's as good as him, although her mother insists Sybil needs to keep her head where it belongs and settle into her life as the girl she is. But when her father requests her help in building a spy ring, she finds herself caught up more and more in the revolution. Soon, she'll need to step past traditional roles to save those things she cares about most.

This is a short book and very well done. It starts out with a grabbing scene as Sybil's family is again being threatened by the British supporters, and her father is forced to make a difficult choice. But her life doesn't center only around this cause. The author lets Sybil live as a girl with a bit of spunk would, during the time frame. Her problems are relatable, despite the time difference, and her decisions and concerns are easy to understand. The author presents her in such a natural manner allowing Sybil to be a normal girl.

The details and information surrounding the time are dribbled in bit by bit, never breaking the flow of the tale. It allows the reader to sink in without feeling as if they are being taught. The tale grabs as the danger of the situation becomes more and more obvious. There's never a boring moment, but then, the book isn't long enough for there to be either. And that's also a huge bonus, since it never drags or bogs down. Still, dates, events, and important individuals are mentioned and weave in and out through the tale. The reader does learn about the history, gets a feeling for the situation, and connects with the events through the eyes of someone their age. But then, even as an adult, I enjoyed the story.

I do recommend this one, and not only for libraries or the homeschooling crowd. It's an enjoyable read for anyone who doesn't shy from a little adventure.
Author 1 book44 followers
September 30, 2021
Sybil Ludington is the daughter of a farmer and, born in 1761, she is destined to become nothing more than a farmer’s wife. But Sybil dreams of bigger things, especially when her father shares exciting stories about the brave men who are fighting for her country’s independence. In Ludington family lore, fireflies have appeared at important moments to signal both opportunity and danger. When fireflies lead Sybil to an orphaned horse, the course of both her own future and that of the United States is forever altered.

Based on the true life of Sybil Ludington, this historical fiction novel deftly combines the limited information available about Sybil’s brave actions with the magic of fireflies. The author has carefully researched the time in which Sybil lived, and facts about the American Revolutionary War are woven into the fabric of this story, educating readers while entertaining them. Concise chapters and expert pacing keep the story moving forward as Sybil’s tale unfolds.

As the oldest of her many siblings, Sybil has a great deal of responsibility around the farm, but she dreams of more. Even though it is atypical of the time period, circumstances arise that permit Sybil the opportunity to act in ways usually only boys are allowed to do. Sybil’s bravery and intensity are compelling, especially as she finds herself thinking far ahead of the time she was born into. Rich relationships with friends and family round out the story, and readers will be magnetically drawn to each of the primary characters in this novel.

An author’s note at the end of the book details what is true and what has been fabricated for the sake of fictional storytelling. Though relatively little is known about Sybil Ludington’s life, painstaking care was given to ensure as much of her truth was included in the novel as possible. Beautifully executed, this story will have readers on the edges of their seats, curious to learn more about this unexpected heroine and the time in which she lived. This is a highly recommended addition to historical fiction collections for middle grade readers.
Profile Image for Misty  Miller.
37 reviews1 follower
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April 23, 2021
By the Light of Fireflies adds a unique female perspective to a time in our county's history that has been dominated by male voice. As the oldest of eight children, Sybil Ludington struggles to find her place in her family and in the world as a whole. In the turbulent time of the Revolutionary War, Sybil works with her father and others to play in instrumental part of the war efforts for the Patriots. This is a dangerous job for all, but being a girl makes this even more of a struggle. Jenni Walsh spins an engaging tale, artfully mixing historical fact with fiction that keeps the reader riveted from the first word to the last. Sybil's tale is one that was lost for a time, but thanks to Walsh, her heroic effort is not forgotten. For all of the young ladies who feel closed in by societal norms, Sybil is refreshing female role model by living her dreams while still remaining respectful and loyal to her family and cause! from the first word to the last. Sybil's tale is one that was lost for a time, but thanks to Walsh, her heroic effort is not forgotten. For all of the young ladies who feel closed in by societal norms, Sybil is refreshing female role model by living her dreams while still remaining respectful and loyal to her family and cause!
Profile Image for Melanie Dulaney.
1,294 reviews57 followers
June 18, 2021
Author Jenni Walsh, with her penchant for historical fiction featuring strong women, has created another winner for the middle grade audience. This fast-paced narrative with a lower page count than some of her other works, making it much more accessible for those with a shorter attention span, but with plenty to offer students looking for depth of character and plot. The story of Revolutionary War heroine Sybil Ludington is known, but details are scarce. Walsh takes the bare bones of her epic ride to call Patriots to arms and fills in a likely scenario that will have many searching for more information! Teachers and librarians should consider other books on the topic such as Sybil’s Night Ride (Winnick), Sybil Ludington’s Revolutionary War Story (Marsico), and graphic novel The Horse-riding Adventure of Sybil Ludington, Revolutionary War Messenger (Amstel). The Liberty Kids video, episode 23 & 24 is listed as including Sybil’s solitary ride that exceeds that of Paul Revere, but it is not the featured content. Highly recommended for libraries with a readership in historical fiction or a following of authors such as Jennifer Nielsen, Alan Gratz, and Marsha F. Skrypuch. Thanks for the print ARC to sharing group #BookAllies, Jenni!!!
Profile Image for Sirah.
980 reviews6 followers
August 8, 2021
As the oldest child in her family, Sybil has a lot of responsibility and very little time to herself. Torn between believing in her dreams, making her parents proud, following the rules, and ensuring none of her siblings eclipse her, Sybil finally finds something that can be her very own: a gentle horse she names Star. Amid all her other concerns, the American Revolutionary War brings new concerns. Since her father is a colonel and the leader of a spy ring, enemies are constantly threatening Sybil's family like wolves. Sybil's courage is sorely tested when the big night of her famous ride arrives and she proves that she was meant for great things.

Although we don't know much about the real Sybil Ludington, this book takes some fanciful liberties while still holding onto what facts have been preserved. Bits of adventure pepper the story, keeping everything swimming along, but the chapters are short and manageable, perfect for middle elementary readers. Admittedly, I wouldn't mind if I never read another historical fiction wherein the female protagonist complains that she isn't allowed to do something that boys are allowed to do, but other than that one personal pet peeve, I found this book an engaging and pleasant read.
Profile Image for Eileen.
1,822 reviews70 followers
October 19, 2021
I really loved this story, and even more so when I learned it was based on a real historical figure, Sybil Ludington. Although there is very little documentation or details known, the author was able to incorporate what she could find and historical details from other people to create her fictional Sybil Ludington. This is a middle school book, but I really enjoyed getting to know this girl who was unusual for her time. Her midnight ride was absolutely thrilling and it had my heart beating faster. I have never heard of this woman, but I'm glad this author wrote this book the share her story. While she is often known as the female Paul Revere, as the author points out, he should have been called the male Sybil Ludington because she rode her ride alone (he started his ride with two other people), she was half his age, and she traveled 3x's the distance. And she did it without being captured. But she was also female, which probably explains why there wasn't much said about her ride. Whether this story is 90% true, 75% true, 50% true, or even 10% true, I hope it inspires the imaginations of many young girls who are told they can't do something because they're "only" girls.

I received an advance review copy from NetGalley for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.
Profile Image for Sophie.
133 reviews1 follower
April 22, 2021
This was a fine middle-grade story based on a Civil War hero I'd never heard of. I was interested to learn about Sybil Ludington, who completed a longer midnight ride than Paul Revere had, at half his age, by herself. That being said, none of the characters really grabbed me, as they all felt a little one-dimensional. Saying that this is a middle-grade book doesn't excuse that, as I've read a lot of middle-grade stories where I really got attached to and enjoyed the characters. The writing style and language used was also a little confusing. I know the author, in the author's note, said that she used some anachronistic words for the point of storytelling, but I felt like not only the way Sybil talked, but also the way she thought, was much more like a girl of today than a girl of the late 18th century, regardless of older words like "supped" and "clothier" being thrown in sometimes. That last bit is likely a personal preference, though, and not an issue I imagine most readers in the middle-grade age range would have.

Thanks to NetGalley and Wyatt-MacKenzie Publishing for the eARC in exchange for my honest review.
Profile Image for Maggie.
922 reviews
May 30, 2021
Young readers are going to enjoy this story of Sybil Ludington, a spy during the Revolutionary War. Colonel Ludington, Sybil’s father, is part of George Washington’s spy ring and trains his two oldest daughters, Sybil and Rebecca, to decode and code secret messages. As the war progresses and threats to Patriots become more dire, Sybil takes on more of a role to keep the family safe by patrolling the family’s property. Fortunately, Sybil has her own horse, Star, and together they make a team as capable as Paul Revere. The ultimate test comes the night the British troops set fire to Danbury. Colonel Ludington’s men must be notified. Sybil and Star are the only ones available to make the dangerous ride, alone, in the dead of night, during a rain storm. Will they make it? Sybil has trained Star and has prepared for this Revere like mission. With the aid of fireflies helping to light her way, Sybil and Star complete their mission and her father’s men march on to Danbury. Readers will enter a world where a young girl and her horse play a role in the fight for independence teaching what it means to be “Sybil Strong.”

I received an advanced copy of this book from NetGalley.
Profile Image for Traci.
503 reviews7 followers
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October 4, 2021
It's 1777 and sixteen year old Sybil Ludington is frustrated because being female, means that choices about her future are very limited. Everyone expects her to be a farmer's wife like her mother but Sybil knows that future will not make her happy. She wants to have adventures like her hero, Paul Revere.

But even though she has been patrolling her family's property for years and has helped her father, a revolutionary general, run a spy ring, she still isn't allowed off the farm by herself. Then one night her father receives intelligence that British troops are advancing. The men in his command are spread out across the Connecticut countryside tending their farms. Someone has to make the 40 mile ride at night, in the rain to sound the warning. When no one else can go, Sybil is asked to make the ride.

This book isn't just a well-researched historical fiction, there is also a bit of magical realism.
This book explores timeless themes like family relationships & courage while giving the reader a peek into the world of a young girl growing up during the Revolutionary war. I think this book will appeal to a variety of readers and I look forward to recommending it.
Profile Image for Vera.
292 reviews
October 27, 2021
Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for giving me the opportunity to read an ARC of By the Light of Fireflies!

This is a truly amazing middle-grade historical fiction novel about Revolutionary War hero Sybil Ludington. It tells the story of young Sybil growing up in a Patriot family at the start of the Revolutionary War and gives a harrowing account of her historic ride to rouse the local militia to fight against the British. It also paints a beautiful portrait of her relationship with her family, especially her father, Colonel Ludington, and her sister, Rebecca. The story is beautifully told, and the characters all had so much depth to them. The author also incorporates a small element of magical realism, the appearance of fireflies at crucial moments in the story, to add to the enchantment and beauty of the story. I loved the way the author portrayed such strong female characters and showed how even young girls can be instrumental in major world events. I think it is so important for young girls to have such strong role models!!

This is an amazing book for all ages, middle grade and up, to read and enjoy! Highly recommend!!
21 reviews
June 21, 2021
I had the opportunity to read this while teaching the American Revolution with my 4th graders. I loved the way By the Light of the Fireflies weaves details from this historical event into this narrative tale. The persistence of Sybil to defy the odds and expectations of that time period is why Sybil’s tale of her midnight ride should be known by students everywhere. I really liked the way Jenni Walsh portrayed Sybil as a strong female character. It was fascinating to read about her involvement in her father’s secret spy ring and the description of the family dynamics in this time period. The description of the ride itself is action packed and will keep readers quickly turning the page to see what happens. In my 4th grade class, my students wanted to discuss why her story wasn’t as well known as Paul Revere’s tale. They felt her story was more significant.

We are eager for this book to release because we are including it in our historical fiction unit next year. It is a must read for fans of historical fiction and the American Revolution!
Profile Image for emyrose8.
3,409 reviews15 followers
September 16, 2021
Okay, lots of thoughts... First, I'm glad I kept reading. The first 25 pages didn't hook me. The writing was more telling than showing, and the characters seemed too modern. Also, the characters seemed juvenile for their ages; I kept picturing Sybil and Rebecca as 10-12 year-olds instead of teenagers. But, like I tell my students, you have to give a book 50 pages before deciding to abandon it, so I kept reading.

Somewhere around pg75 I stopped paying attention to the writing style and got hooked by the story. Probably around the time we move from backstory/set up to main action. This book is clear that it is heavily fictionalized (due to lack of historical documentation), but it's based on a real 16 year old who rode an even more extensive ride than Paul Revere, and the author did a lot of research to make it as historically accurate as she could. In the end, a solid three stars.

Note- subplot involving fireflies that appear and communicate with her at just the right moments

Thanks Netgally for the ARC! All opinions are my own.
Profile Image for Larissa.
225 reviews
November 1, 2021
Have you ever heard the tale of Sybil Ludington? A brave young lady who followed her heart to help her father do the unthinkable. Her father asks Sybil and her sister for help with his role in the Revolution. Little does she know how invested she and how integral she will become to the Rebels cause. When she makes a mistake will it mean life or death for her family and friends? Will she be able to not only help her father but protect her family as well.

This is such a fun book and it is amazing to read a story about a lost hero of the Revolution. The fact that she is so young and is able to do so much is a true testament for her love for her family and the cause. This is a perfect book if you are looking for a strong female hero for anyone who enjoys reading about the Revolutionary War. Love the message of bravery and how even through everything Sybil faces she is able to come closer to her family.

Thank you to Wyatt-Mackenzie Publishing and Netgalley for allowing me to read an advance copy.
51 reviews3 followers
June 29, 2021
Sybil Ludington was a real hero of the American Revolution. She chafed at the restrictions keeping her from the freedoms and possibilities boys enjoyed, but when her father is charged by General Washington with establishing a spy ring, she and her sister learn to code and decipher secret messages.
At the age of sixteen, she embarks on a nighttime ride to muster her father’s troops, traveling 3 times the distance as Paul Revere and completing her ride alone. Riding through the night, she arrives home at dawn, exhausted, to find her ride was successful and her father’s regiment is surrounding her home. The author weaves magical fireflies into this historical fiction account; fireflies who guide and sustain Sybil at different points in the story.
This is an engaging story for middle grade readers and would make an excellent addition to a Revolutionary War curriculum.
Profile Image for Christie Omasta.
18 reviews
July 6, 2021
Both the title and the illustration of the cover intrigued me. I always like trying to predict why a book is its particular title and how it relates to the story. This story did not disappoint. The fireflies play a very important role in the development of this story.

Sybil aches for adventure. She feels held back by her age. This will resonate with younger readers. Sybil is invited by her father to help in the revolutionary cause for freedom. The story moved with ease, kept my interest and became so intense that I could not stop reading!

I will purchase this novel for my 4th grade daughter, as well as using it in my own classroom.

Brilliant retelling of Sybil’s story. I promise that you will stand up and cheer Sybil on throughout her nighttime adventure and gasp at the twists and turns in this story.
779 reviews4 followers
July 24, 2021
Kudos to Jenni Walsh for introducing Sybil Ludington to middle school readers. Sybil, oldest child in a family of eight, knows she is capable of much more than societal norms of the day will allow. Her father works with General Washington to help win the Revolutionary War. Her family feeds and shelters those who need it. Sybil has always believed in the magic of fireflies, that they will come when she needs them most, and help lead her way. This is put to the test one night when a message must be quickly passed to many soldiers. Sybil is up for the job, and she sets out to ride to many villages to notify the soldiers.

Many are familiar with the midnight ride of Paul Revere - few know about Sybil Ludington's midnight ride. There have always been strong women and Sybil is no exception.

I received an eARC from NetGalley and Wyatt-Mackenzie Publishing, in exchange for a review.


Profile Image for Meghan.
2,061 reviews
August 10, 2021
This book was received as an ARC from Wyatt-Mackenzie Publishing in exchange for an honest review. Opinions and thoughts expressed in this review are completely my own.

This book was a fantasy historical fiction novel that really had a new take on an historic point. This book will want to make young reader's learn about the history during the start of America and also at the same time maybe even fireflies. This story was so magical and I loved the fact that there is a female heroine encountering the acts of Paul Revere and accomplishing the tasks in the most magical way. I can definitely see this book becoming a potential candidate in future battle of the books. The children will definitely enjoy it.

We will consider adding this title to our JFiction collection at our library. That is why we give this book 5 stars.
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