Saturday, October 16, 2010
Book Review: The Ride: The Legend of Betsy Dowdy, by Kitty Griffin, illustrated by Marjorie Priceman (Atheneum Books, 2010)
Looking for stories with girl power to share with your class or children? Look no further than The Ride: The Legend of Betsy Dowdy, a new picture book by Kitty Griffin about a heroine of the American Revolution.
While no proof of the truth of Betsy Dowdy's tale exists, the story of the 16 year old's 51-mile wild ride has been told for more than two centuries in North Carolina.
According to tradition, Betsy rode through the freezing December weather on her sturdy pony Bess to warn General Skinner and his militia that the British had landed and were after their ponies and supplies. This version of the tale is exuberantly illustrated by two-time Caldecott-honor winner Marjorie Priceman. The illustrations, with their vibrant colors and swirling, expressionistic lines, portray the excitement and panic of Betsy's experience riding through the night, crossing rivers and woods in her bright red cloak.
In a recent interview, Griffin notes that it doesn't matter to her whether Betsy was an actual historical figure or not. "My goal was to show a strong girl doing the one thing she could to help save what she loved and make it an entry point to the American Revolution (for young children), said Griffin. "The fact that her story has survived, for me, that makes it real," she added. This dynamic picture book would be a terrific read-aloud for teachers doing units on the American Revolution, women's history, or for parents to enjoy at home with their children.