Sarah Emma Edmonds Was a Great Pretender

Sarah Emma Edmonds Was a Great PretenderSarah Emma Edmonds started pretending at a very early age. Her father only wanted sons, so Sarah pretended to be one. Unlike most kids, though, Sarah never really stopped pretending. In 1861, during the U.S. Civil War, Sarah pretended her way into the Union army, becoming a male nurse named Frank Thompson.

Being a nurse didn’t quite satisfy “Frank,” though. She wanted to keep her fellow soldiers from getting hurt. So when the Union army needed a spy, she leapt at the chance. While still pretending to be Frank, Sarah also pretended to be a male African American slave, a female Irish peddler, and a female African American laundress. She slipped behind enemy lines time after time, spied on the Confederate army, and brought back valuable intelligence to the Union. Sarah was not only good at pretending; she was also very brave.

Later in life, Sarah Emma Edmonds wrote a book to tell her story. She explained, “I am naturally fond of adventure, a little ambitious, and a good deal romantic.” She was also truly a great pretender.


This book exists thanks to the AMAZING illustrations of Mark Oldroyd and awesome editorial prowess of Andrew Karre of Lerner. It was a super thrill to be able to work with the kind and caring people at this publishing company. They rock the house down. Plus, they care about kids.

What People Are Saying:

Jones makes a confident departure from her bestselling YA novels with an entertaining and powerful Civil War–era story about living by one’s own rules….Jones delivers her story with the assuredness of a natural storyteller.- Starred Review from Publisher’s Weekly

Dramatic illustrations and carefully-selected vignettes make this informative biographical account of an unusual Civil War soldier accessible to young learners.Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children

Jones does an excellent job at minimal text throughout the biography. It’ll keep children interested in this woman’s fascinating story – Bri Meets Books