cover image The Ride: The Legend of Betsy Dowdy

The Ride: The Legend of Betsy Dowdy

Kitty Griffin, illus. by Marjorie Priceman, S&S/Atheneum, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-4169-2816-4

A folk heroine from the Revolutionary War, crimson cape swirling behind her, races across the pages of this thrilling historical tale. The year is 1775, and teenage Betsy Dowdy secretly sets off on an all-night horseback journey to alert colonial militia to the British advance upon her North Carolina island home. Most spreads depict Betsy atop her horse, Bess, dashing through dark marshlands or dense forests. Swirls of deep royal and swaths of magenta evoke the eerie nighttime setting ("Through the trees Betsy saw moonlight reflect off a pair of staring eyes. She gripped the hilt of her knife. Was it a bear?"). Griffin's (The Foot-Stomping Adventures of Clementine Sweets) direct yet descriptive narrative recounts the calamities that befall Betsy, while the characters' cartoon styling lessens the tension. Priceman's (How to Make a Cherry Pie and See the U.S.A.) trademark free-flowing lines speed the story's momentum, with winding ribbons of color pulling Betsy—and readers—along a treacherous path. Author notes remind that this is only a legend, but on these pages, the perilous ride and courageous girl who undertook it feel very real. Ages 4–8. (Aug.)