A Spy Called James

Anne Rockwell (Author) Floyd Cooper (Illustrator)
Available

Description

Told for the first time in picture book form is the true story of James Lafayette--a slave who spied for George Washington's army during the American Revolution. But while America celebrated its newfound freedom, James returned to slavery. His service hadn't qualified him for the release he'd been hoping for. For James the fight wasn't over; he'd already helped his country gain its freedom, now it was time to win his own.

-- "Journal"

Product Details

Price
$17.99  $16.55
Publisher
Carolrhoda Books (R)
Publish Date
November 01, 2016
Pages
32
Dimensions
9.5 X 0.4 X 11.1 inches | 0.95 pounds
Language
English
Type
Library Binding
EAN/UPC
9781467749336

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About the Author

Anne Rockwell (1934-2018) has written numerous books for children, including At the Beach and The First Snowfall, both illustrated by Harlow Rockwell.
Award-winning author and illustrator Floyd Cooper is the illustrator of over ninety childrens books. He has received the Coretta Scott King Honor Award three times and the Coretta Scott King Award for Illustration in 2009 for The Blacker the Berry. From the Land of Milk and Honey was nominated for a 2013 NAACP IMAGE AWARD for literature, and These Hands was awarded the 2012 Sankei Award in Japan for outstanding illustration. Floyd currently resides in Easton, Pennsylvania, with his wife, Velma, and two sons, Dayton and Kai.

Reviews

"Rockwell's detailed yet accessible text is perfectly matched with Cooper's exceptional oil paintings in this picture book biography. Using a muted color palette and done in a grainy style, the art imparts a sense of historical drama in each spread and expertly draws readers into James Lafayette's remarkable story. Rockwell wastes no words, beginning right away with General Cornwallis's defeat at the Battle of Yorktown and his discovery that a guide for the British army was in fact a double agent, a slave working as a spy for the Americans. (Rockwell discloses enough background information on the Revolutionary War to keep kids grounded.) Students will learn that although James provided an invaluable service to the Americans, he was denied his freedom after the war ended until a letter from General Lafayette intervened (back matter notes that James petitioned for his freedom on his own and was initially denied by the general assembly). In a triumphant last spread, the former spy, now James Lafayette, appears at the forefront of a landscape with bold red text proclaiming, 'James Lafayette was finally free.' VERDICT: A profoundly successful work. Pair this with Stephen Krensky's Hanukkah at Valley Forge and Laurie Halse Anderson's Independent Dames: What You Never Knew About the Women and Girls of the American Revolution for a well-rounded, multicultural look at the American Revolution."--starred, School Library Journal

--Journal

"Rockwell (Hey, Charleston!) delivers a striking portrait of James Lafayette, an African-American spy critical to the outcome of the Revolutionary War. Enslaved by a Virginia farmer and known only as James, he worked with the French general Marquis de Lafayette (whose surname James later adopted) in exchange for freedom. Pretending to be a runaway slave, James infiltrated British troops, and 'information he passed to Lafayette allowed the colonial army to trap Cornwallis at Yorktown.' The succinct narrative explains a complicated wartime story using a conversational tone (General Lafayette is 'the French general with names to spare'). Cooper's (Ira's Shakespeare Dream) appealing oil-and-erasure illustrations affirm his skill as a gifted portrait artist. Settings recede into the background as close-ups of James, George Washington, Charles Cornwallis, and others bring emotion to the tale, revealing feelings of dejection, pride, and determination. Final pages and an author's note explain how James continued to fight for his freedom several years after the war and how Lafayette aided him in securing it."--Publishers Weekly

--Journal

"Two years prior to the close of the Revolutionary War, an enslaved man in Virginia named James asks to help defeat the British by becoming a spy in exchange for his freedom. Working under the command of General Lafayette, James infiltrates General Cornwallis' troops by posing as a runaway slave and eventually becomes a double agent. Although Cornwallis surrenders, and the U.S. wins the war in 1783, James does not receive the freedom he expected, and three years pass before Lafayette wrote a certificate declaring James' independence. Rockwell's engaging narrative shines a light on the little-known story of a key African American player in a pivotal moment in American history. Rockwell's engaging, straightforward paragraphs are well matched by Cooper's stunning, soft-focus oil paintings, which add drama, thanks to the figures' expressive faces, from James' sly, knowing glances to the reader to his deflated aspect after the injustice of being denied what was promised him. With a compelling story and appealing artwork, this inviting foray into American history will catch the attention of many readers."--Booklist

--Journal