⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ The Clothesline Code Written by Janet Halfmann and Illustrated by Trisha Mason [with teaching ideas]

Publication Date: February 1, 2021 | Reading Age: 6-11

Happy Friday! Hope y’all are having a great day!

I am excited to share Janet Halfmann‘s latest book: The Clothesline Code. Illustrated by Trisha Mason, this nonfiction text shares a story with which I was unfamiliar.

Quick Summary. Lucy Ann and Dabney Walker are former enslaved people in Virginia during the Civil War. Dabney is in the intelligence unit of the Union Army, and he learns about the ways the Union uses flags to send messages. When he shares this with his wife Lucy Ann, she concocts a risky plan to send signals via laundry as a spy in the Confederate headquarters.

Critique. This story speaks to the power of humanity, the innovativeness of those who want to make changes. I appreciated the way Mason’s watercolor illustrations complemented Halfmann’s text. The text’s length would make for a long read aloud.

Teaching Ideas. Here are a few teaching ideas for the text:

(1) Ask students what they know about spies in the Civil War, and use this book to offer one presentation of how spies operated in the war.

(2) Use The Clothesline Code as a mentor text for having older students do primary and secondary research on a subject and then turning it into an accessible book for younger students.

(3) This is a great book club read for the upper elementary classroom.

An eye-opening story about bravery, The Clothesline Code earns four stars. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


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