Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Nurse, Soldier, Spy: The Story of Sarah Edmonds, a Civil War Hero” as Want to Read:
Nurse, Soldier, Spy: The Story of Sarah Edmonds, a Civil War Hero
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Nurse, Soldier, Spy: The Story of Sarah Edmonds, a Civil War Hero

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  572 Ratings  ·  113 Reviews
This fast-paced, high-energy picture book tells the true story of Sarah Emma Edmonds, who at age nineteen disguised herself as a man in order to fight in the Civil War. She took the name Frank Thompson and joined a Michigan army regiment to battle the Confederacy. Sarah excelled as a soldier and nurse on the battlefield. Because of her heroism, she was asked to become a sp ...more
Hardcover, 48 pages
Published March 1st 2011 by Harry N. Abrams
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Nurse, Soldier, Spy, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Nurse, Soldier, Spy

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
May 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing
If I want to depress myself on a given day I'll compare the list of biographical subjects that kids in school are handed to pick and choose from with the biographical subjects that I had to pick and choose from when I was a kid some twenty odd years ago. It's disheartening. Essentially, it's the same list. Teachers always include Edison, Einstein, Washington, Tubman, Keller, etc. Once in a while someone will fall out of favor (Benjamin Banneker) to be replaced with someone new (Matthew Henson) b ...more
Dov Zeller
Nov 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is a great picture book, well researched with fantastic illustrations, describing the civil war experience of a person who was born female and lived as a guy during the civil war (and perhaps beyond). There were many female-born people who "passed" as men in order to fight during the civil war, and it is likely some of them were people who would today identify as trans, transgender or transmasculine.

What sets Frank Thompson aka Frank Thompson/Sarah Edmonds apart from others in similar shoe
Danielle Harriger
Aug 29, 2012 rated it liked it
Biography PB 10: I would recommend this book because I think it tells of a unknown, yet courageous person in history that has a valuable story to tell. I appreciated that the book highlighted the value of persistence (as she was turned down initially be recruiters) because children can take away the idea that if they work hard at something, they can succeed despite hardship. I think the story of Sarah Edmonds has a strong message about standing up for what you want even in the face of diversity, ...more
What an amazing woman! Such an amazing life! What she did after the war is just as amazing as what she did during it! I really want to read her book, as well as those others published about her! Read for Info Books for Youth for grad school.
Margaret Chind
Apr 01, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Margaret by: Laura Mihalick

Originally posted on Creative Madness Mama. 

Recommended to Margaret by: Laura Mihalick
Read in November, 2011 — I own a copy

Nurse Soldier Spy Civil War Hero Children's Book Review

When I wanted to get information together to join a descendants group, my father, the genealogist, insisted that I join through a woman. I have no doubt that he would be delighted with the idea of this book. Though my descendant group was back to the revolutionary war I am certain anyone who could claim descendancy to Sarah Edmonds would be as proud as I am to my Sarah Butle
Mar 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The authors Marissa Moss and John Hendrix in this very engaging picture book "Nurse, Soldier, Spy. The story of Sarah Edmonds, a Civil War Hero" present an extraordinary life story of the woman who “discovered the freedom of taking big strides unhindered by heavy skirts”. It tells the story of Sarah Emma Edmonds who is the first and only documented woman to become a soldier in the Civil War. Dressed like a man and pretending to be a man she showed courage and bravery but also emotional and physi ...more
Aug 05, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ncbla, strong-women
Filled with lively pen and ink illustrations, hand-drawn typography, and an engaging text, this story of Sarah Edmonds, a woman who disguised herself as a man to avoid an arranged marriage, follows Sarah as she enlists in the army during the Civil War as a private. Not only did she fight alongside the men who became her friends, but she also carried some of them from the battlefield and nursed them. Eventually, Sarah became a spy, slipping behind the Confederates' lines in order to bring back in ...more
May 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
I give the story itself 5 stars but I'm not too fond of the bobble-head look of the art and give that 2.5 stars so that averages out to be about 4 stars.

Sarah Edmonds' story is a fascinating one, as interesting as Mary Walkers' tale set around the same time. I think Edmonds' adventures were actually more dangerous and therefore exciting to read.
Aug 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A great introduction into a life we don't hear enough about--Sarah Edmonds, a woman who chose to live as a man before and during the Civil War. Cited for bravery, she was asked to spy on the South, and did so successfully. This short book chronicles her story, but she wrote her own.
Erin Wilson
Mar 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Drop any knowledge you thought you had on the Civil War. Did you know that there were women fighting? YES, women!! The intriguing stories of the hundreds of women who disguised themselves as men to fight in the Civil War are becoming more known through biographies just like this one. This book is centered around Sarah Edmonds who fled to Canada dressed as a man to escape an arranged marriage. She bravely enlisted in the Union Army to fight in the Civil War, and made a name for herself as a marks ...more
This fast-paced, high-energy picture book tells the true story of Sarah Emma Edmonds, who at age nineteen disguised herself as a man in order to fight in the Civil War. She took the name Frank Thompson and joined a Michigan army regiment to battle the Confederacy. Sarah excelled as a soldier and nurse on the battlefield. Because of her heroism, she was asked to become a spy.

Colorful and eye-catching style throughout the book. Very interesting - and as always be sure to read the author's note at
Michelle Christensen
Very well-done by the authors.

But, in this day of mixed up genders, I'm not sure how I liked this life-story. Sarah Emma Edmonds certainly did some remarkable things while disguised as a man. Her story as a nurse and spy for the Union Army was fantastic. And, it's true, I don't appreciate life as a woman in the 1800s. But I'm more inspired by women who accomplish great things while staying true to themselves.
Heather Gunnell
Sep 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Staff Pick

The story of Frank Thompson/Sarah Emma Edmonds is a remarkable one. Sarah lived and fought as a man because of the freedom such a life gave her. As a soldier she held many different jobs, including the difficult and demanding jobs of nurse and spy. Read all about this amazing woman.
Alexia Powell
Oct 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: readit
soldier, woman, spy, nurse, civil war, president, recruiter, bloody, battle
Shane Monroe
Nov 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: t-l-307
This was a wonderful book about a very important woman that too little is known about. I had never heard of Sarah Edmonds before and was shocked to read about her life. A must-have for an older elementary classroom. Historical Fiction. 2011.
Dec 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
Review originally posted on Children's Atheneum

At the age of nineteen, Sarah Emma Edmonds disguised herself as a man in order to fight in the Civil War. As Frank Thompson, she fought the Confederacy. First a soldier, then a battlefield nurse, Sarah was as brave as any man and she kept her secret well. After showing considerable bravery, Emma was recruited to become a spy. Disguising herself as a black man, Sarah crossed enemy lines. What she discovered was that if people ignored you as a woman,
May 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Luann by: JLG
This is a fascinating account of the life of Sarah Emma Edmonds. I don't believe I had ever heard of her before, but she was quite the hero! She had been disguising herself as a man for three years before the Civil War started, so she was very good at it when she signed up to fight as a soldier for the North. This includes details of her work as a nurse and her first mission as a spy. I would have continued to enjoy this even if it had gone on and on with details about her life - it all sounds f ...more
Excellent historical novel for teens based closely on the memoirs and U. S. military documents about Sarah Emma Edmonds, the first woman to acquire (by her own petition!) military recognition, pension, and honors. To escape oppression and an arranged marriage to an elderly man, she left home the only way possible at the time: dressed as a man. She began to appreciate all the freedom that life afforded her, including the ability to work. From there, she joined the army to defend the Union when th ...more
Nicki Marek
Nov 12, 2013 marked it as to-read
Shelves: biographies
I think that this text would be beneficial to use as in social studies and reading unit. It's important for students to use reading as a basis to learn social studies, and to use nonfiction text as a means to help reading. This text includes humorous illustrations, as to support the text and reader to help visualize what it might have been like in the past. Also, this text could be used to introduce people who were important in our history that aren't always recognized. This book would be good t ...more
Megan Moriarty
"Nurse, Soldier, Spy" is an excellent book that provides children with a look at what the Civil War was like. It is about a woman, Sarah Edmonds, who disguises herself as a man to fight in the war. Besides being an excellent soldier, she was an excellent nurse who saved many lives. When a chaplain saw how good she was at being a nurse, he recommended her for a spy job. She was very sneaky and was able to report back to Union generals what the Confederate troops were up to. If it weren't for Sara ...more
Frank Thompson had a distinguished career as a Union soldier. He fought in some of the most important battles of the Civil War, trained and served as a nurse on the front lines, and wore many disguises as a spy for the Union army. But Frank Thompson had an even deeper secret. He was really Sarah Emma Edmonds, a Canadian farm girl who had disguised herself as a man and run away to Michigan to escape an arranged marriage. For three years she lived and worked as a man before enlisting in the Union ...more
Aug 12, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: history, juvenile-nf
Same illustrator, John Hendrix, as Abe Lincoln Crosses a Creek, with its characature-type illustrations, and key phrases hand lettered in large, fancy font. "You there, boy!" Hendrix helps tells the story with his clever use of full color and subdued figures woven together, especially the page with the map where she is crossing over to Canada. One illustration may need explanation as to why a log is in the cannon holder rather than a cannon. Some vocabulary may need explanation, such as ramparts ...more
Apr 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
The story of Sarah Edmonds is a fascinating one for many reasons. She escaped an arranged marriage by disguising herself as a man and crossing from Canada to the U.S., ending up in Michigan in time to fight in the Civil War. Her lack of facial hair made her look even younger, so her first effort to enlist was refused, but later she managed to serve, under the name Frank Thompson. Then, as Frank, "he" became a nurse and a spy, an ongoing master/mistress of disguise, crossing enemy lines as everyt ...more
The whole time I was reading this book I thought, "Man, this illustrator isn't being very kind to Sarah Edmonds here. She really looks like a man." I was a little distracted because of this while reading, but the story did manage to regain my attention and drew me in. It is really a very good story and nicely written. The best part about it is that it is true. At the end, I read the author's note and saw the picture of her. She did look like a man. Actually, a very attractive man.

That author's
Rosa Cline
Jan 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
This was a very well written book on the life of Sarah Edmonds who lived her life as a man so she could be 'free' of an arranged marriage and life in Canada. She put on pants and cut her hair and came to the states then later joined the Civil War. There she fought and worked just like a 'man' but at times even tougher. (Including helping treat injured solders when it often took 'men' with strong stomachs to do that job.) She was commended by her work and was put in a position as a spy. She dress ...more
Mary Ann
At age nineteen, Sarah Edmonds disguised herself as a man and joined the Union Army to fight in the Civil War. She took the name Frank Thompson, and headed off to battle the Confederacy with her Michigan regiment. Frank, as Sarah was known, was an outstanding soldier, brave and true, risking his/her life to help others.

My students loved the way Hendrix showed the battle scenes, using both color and dramatic lines to bring readers right into the scene. Hendrix also makes the words pop out from th
Dec 09, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: biography
Although the main character, Sarah Emma Edmonds, is a fascinating subject who had a number of adventures, the writing leaves something to be desired. The author tells the story too quickly at times, and the sentence structure can be distracting. However, the biographical information is novel and interesting; I had not heard of Sarah Edmonds before reading this book. At nineteen she cut her hair, dressed in men's clothes, and came to the United States from Canada to escape an arranged marriage. S ...more
Janet Frost
This rating might be closer to 2.75. But I can't seem to bring it up to 3. I was really looking forward to this book. I had seen the Illustrator interviewed and was fascinated by his art. Also, it fit my passion for historical medical/nursing content. I don't know why, but it left me slightly disturbed. It felt so weird that this woman was able to pass as a man so completely. I found myself staring at the illustrations trying to see the woman in there. There were also a couple of real photos of ...more
Apr 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
Clear writing, well-paced, bold illustrations, and typography from Civil War posters, tell the story of Sarah Edmonds who disguised herself as a man to join the Union Army during the war as a soldier, trained and served as a nurse, then became a spy by changing her appearance again to look like an African American and slip into the Confederate Army ranks. Fascinating photos of Sarah as a woman and a man are included in the backmatter along with an informative approx. 1,000 word Author's Note, an ...more
Karen Arendt
Jan 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing
An interesting pictue book biography about a woman named Sarah Emma Edmonds who dressed as a man to fight in the civil war. The illustrations are very detailed and colorful. The illustrator, John Hendrix, also illustrated Abe Lincoln Crosses a Creek and uses the same style of illustration. The author's note at the back of the book provide additional information about Sarah after the war ended until she passed away. A good choice for younger students about adventure and being strong enough to do ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Tillie the Terrible Swede: How One Woman, a Sewing Needle, and a Bicycle Changed History
  • The Daring Nellie Bly: America's Star Reporter
  • A Nation's Hope: The Story of Boxing Legend Joe Louis
  • The Watcher: Jane Goodall's Life with the Chimps
  • Irena Sendler and the Children of the Warsaw Ghetto
  • Now & Ben: The Modern Inventions of Benjamin Franklin
  • Pablo Neruda: Poet of the People
  • Mermaid Queen: The Spectacular True Story Of Annette Kellerman, Who Swam Her Way To Fame, Fortune  Swimsuit History!
  • Sarah Emma Edmonds Was a Great Pretender: The True Story of a Civil War Spy
  • Noah Webster and His Words
  • Basketball Belles: How Two Teams and One Scrappy Player Put Women's Hoops on the Map
  • Daredevil: The Daring Life of Betty Skelton
  • Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers' Strike of 1909
  • Louisa May's Battle: How the Civil War Led to Little Women
  • Elizabeth Leads the Way: Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the Right to Vote
  • Those Rebels, John  Tom
  • Frederick's Journey: The Life of Frederick Douglass
  • The House Baba Built: An Artist's Childhood in China
Who is Marissa Moss anyway?

I’ve been making children’s books for a looooong time. I sent my first picture book to publishers when I was nine, but it wasn’t very good and they didn’t publish it. I didn’t try again until I was a grown-up and then it took five years of sending out stories, getting them rejected, revising them and sending them back over and over until I got my first book. Now I’ve pub
More about Marissa Moss

Nonfiction Deals

  • A Guide to the Present Moment
    $7.99 $2.99
  • Hunting Eichmann: How a Band of Survivors and a Young Spy Agency Chased Down the World's Most Notorious Nazi
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Breaks of the Game
    $11.99 $2.99
  • Soul Keeping: Caring For the Most Important Part of You
    $9.99 $1.99
  • How Soccer Explains the World: An Unlikely Theory of Globalization
    $8.24 $1.99
  • Dry
    $9.99 $3.99
  • Animal Liberation: The Definitive Classic of the Animal Movement
    $17.99 $1.99
  • The Measure of a Man
    $8.74 $1.99
  • Recovery: Freedom from Our Addictions
    $13.99 $2.99
  • 100 Days of Real Food: How We Did It, What We Learned, and 100 Easy, Wholesome Recipes Your Family Will Love
    $8.99 $1.99
  • Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls: A Handbook for Unapologetic Living
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity
    $13.99 $2.99
  • Best Friends: The True Story of the World's Most Beloved Animal Sanctuary
    $14.99 $1.99
  • Let. It. Go.: How to Stop Running the Show and Start Walking in Faith
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis
    $9.24 $1.99
  • The Earth Shall Weep: A History of Native America
    $17.99 $1.99
  • Crown of Blood: The Deadly Inheritance of Lady Jane Grey
    $17.48 $1.99
  • The Story of Sushi: An Unlikely Saga of Raw Fish and Rice
    $12.49 $1.99
  • The Noticer Returns: Sometimes You Find Perspective, and Sometimes Perspective Finds You
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Scar Tissue
    $11.99 $2.99
  • Running with Scissors
    $9.99 $3.99
  • The Black Hole War: My Battle with Stephen Hawking to Make the World Safe for Quantum Mechanics
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Notes on a Banana: A Memoir of Food, Love and Manic Depression
    $11.99 $1.99
  • The Warrior Elite: The Forging of SEAL Class 228
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Lunch in Paris: A Love Story, with Recipes
    $9.99 $2.99
  • And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Vegetable Butcher: How to Select, Prep, Slice, Dice, and Masterfully Cook Vegetables from Artichokes to Zucchini
    $22.95 $1.99
  • Facing Your Giants: The God Who Made a Miracle Out of David Stands Ready to Make One Out of You
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Fat Girl Walking: Sex, Food, Love, and Being Comfortable in Your Skin...Every Inch of It
    $8.99 $1.99
  • The Egg and I
    $9.99 $1.99
  • The Secrets of Happy Families: Improve Your Mornings, Rethink Family Dinner, Fight Smarter, Go Out and Play, and Much More
    $12.74 $1.99
  • Just Another Kid
    $7.99 $1.99
  • The Second World War
    $12.99 $3.99
  • Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World
    $9.99 $1.99
  • The Price of Privilege: How Parental Pressure and Material Advantage Are Creating a Generation of Disconnected and Unhappy Kids
    $11.24 $1.99
  • I Am Not Myself These Days (P.S.)
    $13.24 $1.99
  • In the Beginning...Was the Command Line
    $9.49 $1.99
  • Starvation Heights: A True Story of Murder and Malice in the Woods of the Pacific Northwest
    $11.99 $2.99
  • The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying
    $11.99 $1.99
  • The Toltec Art of Life and Death
    $11.49 $1.99
  • Put Your Dream to the Test: 10 Questions to Help You See It and Seize It
    $9.49 $2.99
  • The Diva Rules: Ditch the Drama, Find Your Strength, and Sparkle Your Way to the Top
    $17.99 $2.99
  • A Brief History of Time
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Honest Truth About Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone--Especially Ourselves
    $9.99 $1.99
  • All My Road Before Me: The Diary of C. S. Lewis, 1922-1927
    $10.99 $1.99
  • The Penguin Lessons
    $12.99 $1.99
  • What They Don't Teach You at Harvard Business School: Notes from a Street-smart Executive
    $12.99 $1.99
  • The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath
    $10.99 $2.99
  • Meet Me in the Bathroom: Rebirth and Rock and Roll in New York City 2001-2011
    $12.99 $2.99
  • What We Talk About When We Talk About God
    $11.49 $2.99
  • Running with the Kenyans: Passion, Adventure, and the Secrets of the Fastest People on Earth
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Pilgrim's Wilderness: A True Story of Faith and Madness on the Alaska Frontier
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Seabiscuit: An American Legend
    $12.99 $1.99
  • Factory Man: How One Furniture Maker Battled Offshoring, Stayed Local - and Helped Save an American Town
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Creating Magic: 10 Common Sense Leadership Strategies from a Life at Disney
    $12.99 $1.99
  • Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist: Unlocking the Secrets of the Last Supper
    $11.99 $1.99
  • The Power Of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life And Business
    $12.99 $2.99
  • The Storm of War: A New History of the Second World War
    $10.99 $1.99
  • The Apache Wars: The Hunt for Geronimo, the Apache Kid, and the Captive Boy Who Started theLongest War in American History
    $12.99 $1.99
  • Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention
    $10.49 $1.99
  • Requiem for the American Dream: The 10 Principles of Concentration of Wealth & Power
    $16.99 $3.99
  • Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life...And Maybe the World
    $11.99 $3.99
  • Settle for More
    $11.99 $1.99
  • The Water is Wide
    $17.99 $1.99
  • Yes Please
    $12.49 $2.99
  • Dear Madam President: An Open Letter to the Women Who Will Run the World
    $12.99 $3.99
  • The Recovering: Intoxication and Its Aftermath
    $15.99 $3.99
  • Theft by Finding: Diaries (1977-2002)
    $14.99 $2.99
  • Disrupted: My Misadventure in the Start-Up Bubble
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness
    $17.99 $1.99
  • French Kids Eat Everything: How Our Family Moved to France, Cured Picky Eating, Banned Snacking, and Discovered 10 Simple Rules for Raising Happy, Healthy Eaters
    $12.49 $2.99
  • When the Game Was Ours
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Tomorrowland: Our Staggering Journey from Science Fiction to Science Fact
    $5.99 $1.99
  • The Art of Power
    $13.99 $1.99
  • Through My Eyes
    $8.74 $1.99
  • Romantic Outlaws: The Extraordinary Lives of Mary Wollstonecraft and Her Daughter Mary Shelley
    $13.99 $1.99
  • A Brief History of Everything
    $14.99 $2.99
  • The World's Religions, Revised and Updated (Plus)
    $8.74 $1.99
  • Leonardo's Notebooks
    $11.99 $2.99
  • An American Childhood
    $10.74 $1.99
  • Making Toast
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Under the Black Flag: The Romance and the Reality of Life Among the Pirates
    $14.99 $1.99
  • Those Guys Have All the Fun: Inside the World of ESPN
    $11.99 $2.99
  • 2,000 to 10,000: How to Write Faster, Write Better, and Write More of What You Love
    $2.99 $1.49
  • Leaving Church: A Memoir of Faith
    $10.99 $1.99
  • Eating on the Wild Side: The Missing Link to Optimum Health
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Love, Ellen: A Mother/Daughter Journey
    $10.24 $1.99
  • Secret Historian: The Life and Times of Samuel Steward, Professor, Tattoo Artist, and Sexual Renegade
    $9.99 $3.99
  • Thinkertoys: A Handbook of Creative-Thinking Techniques
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Saving Alex: When I Was Fifteen I Told My Mormon Parents I Was Gay, and That's When My Nightmare Began
    $9.49 $1.99
  • Walden on Wheels: On the Open Road from Debt to Freedom
    $5.99 $1.99