Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Acts of Courage: Laura Secord and the War of 1812 - Connie Brummel Crook

Title: Acts of Courage: Laura Secord and the War of 1812
Author: Connie Brummel Crook
Publisher: Pajama Press, 2012 (Paperback)
Length: 261 pages
Genre: Young Adult; Nonfiction, Historical Fiction
Started: October 20, 2012
Finished: October 22, 2012

From the back of the book:

A war fought along a vast border, pitting friends and families against each other. A secret plan for an invasion that could decide the war. This is the true story of Laura Ingersoll Secord, from her early days in Massachusetts and her family's immigration to Upper Canada to her part in the War of 1812, when she undertook a dangerous thirty-two-kilometre trek to warn the commander of an impending American attack on the British outpost at Beaver Dams.

I always liked the story of Laura Secord growing up, it isn't common to read about a woman having a major role in wars, let alone a Canadian one a couple hundred years ago. Plus nowadays I get a kick out of explaining to my students that from a historical sense she has nothing whatsoever to do with ice cream (In Canada we have Laura Secord stores that sell chocolates and ice cream in malls). Considering that this year is the bicentennial anniversary of the War of 1812, I figured this would be an appropriate read.

The one thing I liked about this book was that it incorporates just a little bit of creative tweaking against the true story of Laura Secord, creating an almost non-fiction/historical fiction hybrid (the creative additions are clearly marked in the author's note at the end, so no worries about not being able to tell the difference).

The book begins with Laura Secord as a young girl in Massachusetts shortly before her father decides to move the family to Upper Canada in order to guarantee security for them in the aftermath of the American Revolution. This part of the novel drags a little bit, but things pick up in the second half when Laura and her family are settled in Upper Canada and she begins her courtship with James Secord. The third part that follows Laura's journey to relay her message to FitzGibbon is better still, you can actually feel the tension and the urgency.

The writing is well-done, the plot flows well, and readers will actually be engaged in the historical content...take that, history textbook!

Thoughts on the cover:
I gotta admit, this could be better. The view makes me think I'm five years old staring up at a giant Laura Secord's chest, plus the artwork leaves a bit to be desired. I would've liked to see a more dynamic image, like traipsing through the woods and the swamp complete with visible injuries.

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