Patience Wright, America’s First Sculptor and Revolutionary Spy by Pegi Deitz Shea, illustrated by Bethanne Andersen

by Sandy on June 22, 2007 · 3 comments

in Children's Book Reviews, Reviews

American Sculptor and Revolutionary Spy

Photo from

Review by Sandra Horning

Both my 4 and 8 year old sons were taken with Patience Wright, America’s First Sculptor and Revolutionary Spy. What child doesn’t love a good spy story? And what a story it is!

Born to a Quaker family in 1725, Patience grew up in the American colonies and showed a talent for sculpting clay at a young age. In mid life she began to sculpt wax and her reputation for creating life-like sculptures grew. As a result her work was desired by many prominent Americans. Her success led her to open a studio in London. As a well-known artist, she had many political figures among her customers, including the king and queen.

When the American colonies started revolting against England, Patience was suddenly in an important position, as she was friendly with both English and colonial leaders. As Patience worked with some of her English customers, she led them to reveal secret information. Then Patience wrote this information down and hid it in the hollow busts of her sculptures that were going to America. Thus, she became a spy.

The realistic gauche-and-pastel illustrations of wax figures and early America bring the text to life. My younger son kept asking which illustration is the sculpture and which is Patience. This is a fun read for young historians, with additional information about Patience and the revolutionary war included at the end. But historian or not, if you haven’t heard of Patience Wright, this is a must read about an extraordinary woman. Questions about wax sculpting and spying are sure to go on for several days.

Ages 4-9


1 Daisy June 27, 2007 at 11:10 am

I love stories about important women in history. Thanks for sharing this review!

2 Margie2007 August 1, 2007 at 11:19 am

That story is wonderful. My girls love it!

3 doubletroublemommy August 10, 2007 at 1:37 pm

just found your site for the first time- i’m a mom of identical twin girls age 4 and a newborn. i can’t believe i’ve never come across it before. my blog is called 3 wild monkeys and it’s at visit us sometime!

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