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September 14, 2007
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Reader reviewed by Julie M. Prince

A real spitfire. Thats what Abigail Smiths father called her before he died. Now that hes gone, along with the rest of her immediate family, Abigail must find her last living relative, an uncle who is currently at war. Otherwise, shell be expected to sit around in frilly dresses embroidering and awaiting her fate.

Determined to break out of the traditional mold filled by proper young ladies in 1776, Abigail cuts off her hair, dresses in her brothers clothing, and sneaks her way onto an American ship awaiting battle with the British. Before she can locate her uncle amongst the ships, shes assigned to the Spitfire. Along with another young man, Pascal De Angelis, she is ordered to fulfill duties that would make full grown men wince.

Messner explores the good, the bad, and the ugly details of life aboard an American battle vessel during the Revolutionary War. Details that made my stomach roll would, no doubt, thrill young readers. The authors in-depth research is revealed throughout the novel, as she describes battle scenes, strategies, and even the steps involved in cannon firing.

An interesting look at Benedict Arnold in his pre-treason days rounds out the story, as we follow Abigail and Pascal on their wartime adventure.

The short, easy-to-read book is interspersed with detailed maps and sketches by Martha Gulley. A breathtaking depiction of the Spitfire by Gail Smith Schirmer graces the cover.

Lovers of historical fiction and students with book reports due soon should check out this book for sure!

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