Cover image for The flag maker
The flag maker
Bartoletti, Susan Campbell.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Boston [Mass.] : Houghton Mifflin, [2004]

Physical Description:
32 pages : color illustrations ; 25 cm
Relates events of the 1814 Battle of Baltimore as seen through the eyes of twelve-year-old Caroline Pickersgill, who had worked with her family and their servants to sew the enormous flag which waved over Fort McHenry.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 3.3 0.5 77919.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
E356.B2 B37 2004 Juvenile Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
E356.B2 B37 2004 Juvenile Non-Fiction Childrens Area-Biography
E356.B2 B37 2004 Juvenile Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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Here in lyrical prose is the story of the flag that inspired Francis Scott Key to write the words that became the national anthem of the United States. This flag, which came to be known as the Star-Spangled Banner, also inspired author Susan Campbell Bartoletti, who, upon seeing it at the Smithsonian Institution, became curious about the hands that had sewn it.
Here is her story of the early days of this flag as seen through the eyes of young Caroline Pickersgill, the daughter of an important flag maker, Mary Pickersgill, and the granddaughter of a flag maker for General George Washington's Continental Army. It is also a story about how a symbol motivates action and emotion, brings people together, and inspires courage and hope.

Author Notes

A former 8th-grade English teacher, Susan Campbell Bartoletti writes fiction and nonfiction for all ages. Black Potatoes is the winner of the ALA Sibert Award for Best Information book, the NCTE Orbis Pictus Award for Distinguished Nonfiction, and the SCBWI Golden Kite Nonfiction award. She lives with her family in Moscow, PA.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Gr. 1-4. In this accomplished work of picture-book nonfiction, Bartoletti explores a hallowed event in U.S. history: the British attack of Fort McHenry in 1813 and the celebrated resilience of its garrison flag. She finds a fresh way into this oft-told story by focusing on 13-year-old Caroline Pickersgill, who assisted her mother in the creation of the fort's immense American flag, the very one that hangs in the Smithsonian today. Caroline is older than most picture-book protagonists, but the real draw here isn't the girl: it's the 30-by-42-foot flag she helps sew, so big that it spilled over their laps and lay in folds on the floor and had to be moved to a warehouse for completion. Once the flag is finished, Bartoletti writes feelingly of the talismanic comfort it provides when Caroline glimpses it from afar during the British attack. The book's resonance owes as much to the delicate watercolors as to Bartoletti's controlled storytelling; Nivola's tidy, tranquil interiors serve as a ringing counterpoint to the chaos in the background. Bibliographic sources and Flag Facts, including an acknowledgment that some historians question whether the garrison flag or a smaller storm flag flew during the battle, demonstrate the attention to detail that earned Bartoletti the 2002 Sibert Medal for Black Potatoes. --Jennifer Mattson Copyright 2004 Booklist

School Library Journal Review

K-Gr 2-A fictionalized story of a historical event. During the War of 1812, the American army commissioned a local widow, flag maker Mary Pickersgill, to create an extravagantly large flag to be flown over Fort McHenry near Baltimore's harbor; the flag still exists and now rests at the Smithsonian. By relating events from the point of view of 12-year-old Caroline Pickersgill, the action becomes more immediate to youngsters. According to letters of the time, quoted in the end material, the woman was helped by her daughter and perhaps others (though the assistance of Caroline's grandmother, cousins, and a servant and slave is undocumented). The flag, which took six weeks to complete, was 30 feet by 42, weighed 80 pounds, had stripes 2 feet wide, and stars measuring 2 feet from point to point. Whether it flew over the fort during the bombardment that inspired Francis Scott Key to write "The Star Spangled Banner" is a matter of debate among scholars; the author's note suggests that, in fact, a smaller, less expensive storm flag may have been used. This slender story seems oddly incomplete in this telling; it is unclear if the British even continued their invasion. Capable if wispy illustrations in a folk-art vein (although, surely, young girls wore stockings with their shoes in those days) offer panoramas of the harbor and Baltimore. This book should be complemented by more academic materials in a school setting.-Dona Ratterree, New York City Public Schools (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.