A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Sophia's War by Newbery Award-winning author Avi is a historical novel set during the American Revolutionary War and involves Benedict Arnold's betrayal. The focus is on 12-year-old Sophia's resolve to help bring the war to a close by spying for the American side. She watches a hanging in the first chapter, a character is shot by British soldiers, and another dies due to the deplorable conditions of the British prisons. It's an absorbing novel that makes history come alive. But the old-fashioned tone of the writing may prove somewhat difficult for readers inexperienced with historical fiction.
What's the story?
In 1776, 12-year-old Sophia has long considered herself devoted to the American patriot cause and is outraged when she watches young Nathan Hale hanged. But when the British capture her soldier brother, her anger at his treatment inspires her to dive directly into the conflict by becoming a spy for the American side. At 15, Sophia is hired as a servant in a British general's house, where she is reintroduced to John André, her parents' former tenant and long the object of Sophia's unrequited infatuation. Sophia secretly gathers information about André 's correspondence with American General Benedict Arnold, and when she learns that Arnold intends to hand West Point over to the British, she realizes that only she can prevent this catastrophe.
Is it any good?
In Avi's SOPHIA'S WAR: A TALE OF THE REVOLUTION, Sophia's narrative voice and language are authentic to the times, so the writing can seem somewhat stiff and dry. Sophia spends much of the first part of the book pining over John André, the British soldier who lives in her family's home, but Sophia herself is a compelling character, and the historical events she sees and participates in make the story move quickly, especially during the climactic chapters when Sophia sets off on a journey across New York to prevent Benedict Arnold's betrayal of his country. Although Arnold may be known to young readers by name, this fictionalized account of how he conspired with the British and almost surrendered West Point to them will make this period of history come alive.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Sophia goes to great lengths to find her brother in prison. Have you ever gone out of your way to help a sibling or family member? What did you do?
What other stories can you think of -- in books, movies, or TV shows -- that gave you a good picture of life in a different time? How is a historical novel different from the history you read in school?
Sophia travels on foot to deliver an important message in person. How do you think this situation might have turned out if Sophia and the other characters had access to today's technology?
- Author: Avi
- Genre: Historical Fiction
- Topics: Adventures, Brothers and Sisters, Great Girl Role Models, History, Misfits and Underdogs
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Beach Lane Books
- Publication date: September 25, 2012
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 12
- Number of pages: 302
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
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