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1.0 1
Kids Fiction 1304
A lesson on historical research, mostly
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Reader reviewed by Allison Fraclose

From the moment that Peggy McAllister heard about the Rattletop Award for eighth graders showing excellence in social studies, shes been determined to win it. Her social studies teacher, Mr. Pettibone (or Prissybone, as Greatgramps calls him), has required that everyone complete a research paper on one Great American, and they can choose to enter that paper in the contest. Peggy knows that she must do something extraordinary for this award, so she picks the most obscure female name on the provided list.

Mr. Pettibone insists that Peggy will never have a chance at the Rattletop, since so little is known of Molly Pitcher that she may even be a myth. Now even more determined to succeed, Peggy digs into the legend behind the woman who manned the cannon after her husband fell in the Revolutionary War. With the enlisted help of her retired detective Greatgramps, his eccentric historian friend, and a network of librarians, Peggy takes a methodical look at multiple sources and leads, giving the reader an educational tour of the process of historical research.

Although we read this story from a first-person perspective, I closed the book feeling like I still hardly knew the main character. The focus on research method tends to drown out the rest of the story, and I would have loved to see more of Peggys emotions, especially those involving situations other than her research investigation.

Thus, I believe this novel might make a good primer for students about to embark on their own extended project. The insight presented on research processes is rather thorough, and would stimulate a child who may have difficulty finding a place to start.
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