Author and Illustrator: J. Scott Fuqua
Like a lot of kids nowadays, I used to think history was irrelevant and a real snore. As an adult, I wish I’d paid more attention in history class. And, I wish I’d had J. Scott Fuqua’s bright and brilliant new book, Calvert the Raven in The Battle of Baltimore. It’s fun, it’s interesting, and it definitely takes the boredom out of learning about America’s past.
The story opens with a relatable conflict. Daniel thinks history is dull, and the report he wrote on the War of 1812 reflects his attitude. Unfortunately, the teacher did not find that amusing. At the top of his paper, she wrote, “Terrible!” Consequently, Daniel is afraid of what his parents will say when they see it. Will they put him on TV and computer restrictions? As Daniel is contemplating the situation, a raven named Calvert swoops down and offers to give him a ride back in time, back to the Battle of Baltimore.
Temporarily turned into a miniature boy, Daniel rides on the raven’s back through the battle. Talk about having a bird’s eye view! High above a fleet of warships, they watch the British bombardment of Fort McHenry. They see American soldiers hiding behind trenches and barricades as the British approach. They hear muskets popping. Daniel learns that Commodore John Rodgers, a brilliant strategist and captain of the USS President, captured 23 British ships.
The battle rages on, and it looks like the Americans might lose. As bombs continue to explode above the shoreline, a gentleman without a uniform stands up on one of the smaller ships. He peers through a spyglass. He looks very serious.
Finally, he spots what he is looking for; and turning to a man behind him, he shouts, “It’s still there! Somehow, the flag is still there!” The man is Francis Scott Key, and he writes a song called, “Defence of Fort McHenry,” which later becomes “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
Each page of the story is accompanied by a full-sized illustration. These colorful paintings are magnificent, bringing each scene to life for young readers.
J. Scott Fuqua is both the author and illustrator. He’s the recipient of three Maryland State Arts Council writing awards and the author of several award-winning YA and children’s novels—quite an accomplishment for someone who struggled with dyslexia throughout his school years and was scared of books!
This is the first book in the Flying Through History series. Although children are the target audience, this peek at history is equally enjoyable for adults. I see this as a good addition to the classroom library and book report list, as well as a worthwhile book for parents to read aloud and discuss with their children.
Follow Here To Purchase Calvert the Raven in the Battle of Baltimore: Flying Through History