Steve Sheinkin’s obvious passion for his topic is evident in The Notorious Benedict Arnold: A True Story of Adventure, Heroism & Treachery. His enthusiasm has paid off because the book won the 2011 Boston Globe–Horn Book Award for Excellence in Children’s Literature in the nonfiction category and it has been nominated for a Cybils award in the MG/YA nonfiction category.
Starting off with a grim scene of a man about to be hanged (which those unfamiliar with Benedict Arnold’s life may assume to be his hanging since his name is synonymous with “traitor”), Sheinkin jumps back in time and tells Benedict Arnold’s life story in chronological order. And what a swashbuckling story it is, with high-stakes adventure, dark deeds, and power struggles galore. Putting a brilliant but flawed man in the context of the turbulent times that swirled around him, this book is a fast and powerful read. In tone and pace it gallops ahead like a thriller.
The book includes several maps that help visualize the action, particularly of some of the critical battles. As to be expected because Sheinkin has added many new tidbits to the story, the source notes are extensive. Although the reading level is appropriate to middle grades, some of the battle scenes may be too intense for sensitive advanced readers.
Once again showing how biographies written for children and young adults can add significantly to literature, The Notorious Benedict Arnold is a thrilling addition to any library shelf.
Reading level: Ages 11 and up
Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Flash Point; 1 edition (November 9, 2010)
Nonfiction Monday is a blogging celebration of nonfiction books for kids. We invite you to join us. For more information and a schedule, stop by the new Nonfiction Monday blog to see who is hosting each week.
This week’s post is at Charlotte’s Library.