by J. Scott Fuqua
Website: You think history is boring? Baltimore kid Daniel does–until a chance encounter with a magical talking raven named Calvert sends him flying back to 1814, where he finds his home city under siege by a British army on the verge of defeating the United States of America in the War of 1812.
Amidst the fire of muskets, the thunder of cannons, and the dark approach of the British armada, Daniel discovers just what it took for a young nation to endure the Battle of Baltimore. He witnesses firsthand the bombardment of Fort McHenry.
First Sentence: Daniel searched up through the bright Baltimore sky, Where a raven curled in front of the sun.
Synopsis: Daniel read the first paragraph of his history report on the War of 1812; a paper he decidedly failed. As Daniel worried about the punishment he would receive, a black raven glided onto the bench next to him. The raven spoke, throwing Daniel off-guard.
“I’m a raven.”
“A raven? Like the football team?”
The bird cleared his throat. “Like the bird. Name’s Calvert.”
Calvert and Daniel spoke about Daniel’s history paper, which Calvert called criminal. “Can I try to change your mind about the war?” In an instant, they were off, flying into the battle at Baltimore in 1814. Calvert tells Daniel the United States might be beaten. Daniel becomes worried about America’s fate, paying attention to everything around him. They swooped in the Battle of North Point, the bombardment of Fort McHenry, and the Battle of Baltimore.
This war “will determine America’s future. Who know’s Daniel? When I deliver ya back home, the country of America might not exist.”
Daniel wondered if he’d have a British accent like Harry Potter. Still, he did not want to be anything but American—he understood what that meant. As time went on, Daniel got a glimpse of Commodore John Rodgers, commander of the USS President and Francis Scott Key, author of “Defence of Fort McHenry,” today called “The Star Spangled Banner.” Then Daniel saw the redcoats heading back to their warships, defeated.
For any child bored or uninterested in history, a ride on Calvert’s back will quickly change their mind. Calvert takes Daniel back into history, showing him it is more than a classroom assignment or pages in a book. History is alive with its past determining our future. Daniel was excited about seeing the War of 1814, though he was terrified at several battles that America would lose. Apparently, he did not read his history book or he would have known the outcome.
I really like Calvert the Raven in the Battle of Baltimore. Never liking history myself, I found the descriptions of each battle thrilling. Cannons bomb Fort McHenry, whose own weapons cannot reach the cannons, yet, in the end, the fort remains standing and in the hands of America. If I had had a raven like Calvert showing me history as it unfolded, I would love history and passed each course with ease. There is much humor from Calvert, which I thoroughly enjoyed.
Mr. Fuqua brings the War of 1814 alive. Kids, especially boys, will love this first book in a planned series called Flying through History. Calvert the Raven in the Battle of Baltimore is a book every elementary and middle grade school library should stock. The well-researched book has great writing and exact, colorful watercolor illustrations, many of which could enhance any history book. Children interested in history, or battles in particular, will love Calvert the Raven in the Battle of Baltimore. Teachers will also love the book, and the series, which I hope Mr. Fuqua has the time to continue.
Released March 4, 2013
Ages: 6 to 9
© 2013 by Bancroft Press, used with permission
Text & Illustrations: Copyright © 2013 by J. Scott Fuqua
BOOK WILL BE DONATED TO THE LOCAL PUBLIC LIBRARY
- An Interview with J. Scott Fuqua (beyondthecarseat.com)