Reviews for Sophia's War : A Tale of the Revolution
Booklist Reviews 2012 August #1
*Starred Review* In 1776, 12-year-old Sophia and her parents live in British-occupied New York City. When John André, a charming English officer, is quartered in their home, Sophia idealizes him. But after he refuses to help her brother, a captured American soldier who later dies on a squalid prison ship, her opinion changes. Sophia becomes a spy in 1780 and discovers André's plot to capture West Point with the help of the traitorous American general Benedict Arnold. Unable to pass along the information through the usual channels, she travels northward on her own, hoping to alert the American forces to Arnold's treachery. The book's riveting opening scene, in which Sophie watches as Nathan Hale is hanged as a spy, foreshadows the danger she knowingly accepts by engaging in espionage. Few historical novels are as closely shaped by actual events as this one during the last 100 pages. Working within the bounds of credibility, Avi manages to keep the fictional narrator on the scene for a good deal of the action and uses real moments to bring the imagined story to its dramatic heights. A glossary of eighteenth-century terms and an author's note are appended. Pair this intriguing historical novel with Sheinkin's The Notorious Benedict Arnold (2010). Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2013 Spring
The British take control of New York City in 1776; several years later, Sophia Calderwood takes a job surreptitiously as a spy and discovers Benedict Arnold's plot to turn West Point over to the British. Avi's setting is impeccable; the intrigue on the home front, real; and the tension of living in enemy territory, intense. An author's note distinguishes fact from fiction. Bib., glos.
Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2012 #6
When the British take control of New York City in 1776, life changes for young Sophia Calderwood. Her brother is missing in action on the rebel front; her wounded father is out of work; and the family is forced to billet a British officer, the dashing John Andre, who touches her girlish heart but never changes her loyalty to the American cause. Several years later, when asked to take a job ostensibly as a maid but surreptitiously as a spy, Sophia agrees, only to discover Andre and Benedict Arnold's plot to turn West Point over to the British. Up until this point Sophia has done what's been asked of her, from finding work to searching for her brother. But when she undertakes a harrowing trip to West Point to deliver her message, she develops real grit and determination. The impact of that change, however, is lessened by the reader's knowledge of the story's outcome and by its reliance throughout on standard tropes of romantic historical fiction. Still, Avi's setting is impeccable (especially the descriptions of the prisons where rebel soldiers were kept); the intrigue on the home front, real; and the tension of living in enemy territory, intense. An informative author's note clearly delineates fact from fiction. betty carter Copyright 2012 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.
Kirkus Reviews 2012 August #1
During the American Revolution, Sophia becomes a spy for the patriots, but will she have the courage to relay vital information? Despite the threatening beginning--Sophia witnesses Nathan Hale's hanging--readers never doubt Sophia's success because she shares her story in retrospect, lessening the tension. Instead, her "war" is internal: The man she ultimately exposes is John André, a British officer she adores. Descriptions of the British occupation of New York City and the horrific conditions for prisoners of war are shocking. Children will be morally outraged on Sophia's behalf when her rebel brother dies in prison. Thus, they may find it difficult to empathize with Sophia's passion for André, and all but the most romantically inclined may find Part One: 1776 (September 1776-January 1777), during which 12-year-old Sophia's love blooms, slow-moving. Although Sophia feels betrayed when André does not help her brother and later, when at age 15 she begins to spy on André, is incensed that he does not recognize her, her feelings remain conflicted. Part Two: 1780 focuses on these experiences. The action picks up when Sophia travels north alone in an effort to thwart André's collusion with Benedict Arnold. However, while readers will appreciate Sophia's reluctance to condemn anyone to death, her melodramatic wavering over André becomes tiresome. Recommend this to sentimental youngsters or as a supplemental text. (glossary of 18th-century words, author's note) (Historical fiction. 9-13) Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
Library Media Connection Reviews 2013 March/April
The novel takes place in British-occupied Manhattan and is based on thoroughly researched historical fact. Sixteen-year-old Sophia, a Patriot, is enlisted to spy as a house servant at British headquarters. Here she discovers that Major André is scheming with Benedict Arnold to hand West Point over to the British. Circumstances force her to try to stop this from taking place. Young readers will need some perseverance to absorb all the historical detail that slows the early chapters, but the uncertainty about who to trust, as well as horrifying descriptions of conditions on the prison ships, will draw them in. The action picks up when the author alternates Sophia's account with glimpses of what is actually happening. The book is enhanced by a glossary of colorful eighteenth-century vocabulary and an author's note about its historical basis. Jan Aldrich Solow, A. Scott Crossfield Elementary School, Herndon, Virginia [Editor's Note: Available in e-book format and paperback.] RECOMMENDED Copyright 2012 Linworth Publishing, Inc.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2012 August #2
Newbery Medalist Avi (Crispin: The Cross of Lead) channels the mood, language, and danger of the Revolutionary War in this seamless blend of history and fiction, set in British-occupied New York City. Twelve-year-old Sophia Calderwood idolizes her older brother, William, a fervent Patriot soldier who has gone missing after the Battle of Brooklyn. In the first half of the book, Sophia's desperate search for William leads her to several deplorable prisons where rebels are being held. The second half takes place when Sophia, now 15, becomes a spy who uncovers the truth about Benedict Arnold. The book is chockful of fascinating historical details, including the conditions for those stranded in New York and the failed meetings between Arnold and John André, his (real-life) British contact. Avi doesn't sugarcoat the brutal realities of war as Sophia races to find help intercepting John André, who was also a boarder in her home years earlier and her first crush, in this rich, nail-biting thriller. A glossary of period terms and an author's note are included. Ages 8-12. (Sept.) [Page ]. Copyright 2012 PWxyz LLC
School Library Journal Reviews 2012 October
Gr 5-9--Sophia Calderwood, 12, and her parents live in British-occupied Manhattan, 1776; her brother William has joined the rebel army. Masquerading as Tories, the Calderwoods are able to stay in their home, but are forced to house British officers. Their first boarder is handsome Lieutenant John André. He captivates Sophia, despite her hatred for the enemy and her anger when he refuses to aid her beloved brother, now in British hands. William dies amid the horrifying conditions of a prison ship and Sophia vows vengeance. Three years later, she joins the Culper spy ring and is placed as a maid in General Henry Clinton's headquarters. André, now a Major, is also stationed there, but fails to recognize her due to the years that have passed. Sophia's subterfuge uncovers his plot with Benedict Arnold to surrender West Point to the British. Her enduring affection for André sets up the novel's central conflict: to save her country, Sophia must betray a man she cares for, knowing her deceit will cause his death. Sophia's War is outstanding historical fiction, bringing to dramatic life the human story behind extraordinary events. The climax is a seamless incorporation of hard fact with thrilling espionage as Avi juxtaposes scenes of André and Arnold's attempt to meet against Sophia's efforts to stop them. Rich in period detail, the atmospheric prose vividly re-creates old New York and allows readers to experience Sophia's conflicting emotions. A glossary clarifies 18th-century terms; in an author's note, Avi reflects on historical fiction.--M. Kozikowski, Sachem Public Library, Holbrook, NY [Page 123]. (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.