Our Flag Was Still There: The True Story of Mary Pickersgill and the Star-Spangled Banner by Jessie Hartland is a fun historical fiction story that mixes facts with a little mythology. We see how the famous flag of Francis Scott Keyes poem was made: by a seamstress, her daughter, nieces, mother and a black, female, indentured servant. We see how it was raised over the fort to scare off a British attack (that never happened). And later on, we see the battle that it became famous for.
Bizarre, folk-art and humorous moments illustrations that will not be for everyone, decorate the story. These flying hats, cannons in a really bad positions (relative to the man standing behind it), men stirring the vats in the brewery, the ships during battle, fires scattered around the fort and more take on a small, but important piece of American history.
The tone of the story is almost conversational. Hartland makes a story that you can easily understand. This piece of Americana is aimed at the older child (5 to 8) but could be adapted for the 9 to 10-year-old as well. Learning about how a thirty feet tall and forty-two feet long flag came to the Smithsonian in Washington, DC. A journey that started in 1812 went onto to the 20th century when a poem was set to music and our national anthem was born to today.
(The pice of the Star-Spangled Banner that is presented was heard in Robert Mitchum’s voice by my internal ear!)