MAY 22:

  • Happy birthday Ruth Young (Who Says Moo) and Nancy Krulik (How I Survived Middle School series).
  • It’s the birth date of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930), Sherlock Holmes, and Arnold Lobel (1933-1987) Frog and Toad.
  • In 1906, the Wright brothers are granted a patent for their “Flying-Machine.” Read My Brothers’ Flying Machine: Wilbur, Orville and Me by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Jim Burke, and Airman by Eoin Colfer.
  • In 2002, a Birmingham, Alabama, jury convicts a former Ku Klux Klan member of the September 15, 1963 murders of four girls in the bombing of a Baptist Church. Read The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis, Birmingham, 1963 by Carole Boston Weatherford, and Birmingham Sunday by Larry Dane Brimner.

In England, May has been designated Local and Community History Month to “increase awareness of local history, promote history in general in the local community, and encourage all members of the community to participate.” This is such a great concept that I want to advocate that we celebrate local history month in America as well. All of us live in communities rich with history—we just have to champion it.

That message lies at the heart of the book of the day, Candace Fleming’s Imogene’s Last Stand. Imogene Tripp, the heroine, lives in Liddleville, New Hampshire, a town so small it “wasn’t even a speck on the state map.” Imogene loves history, and she constantly quotes from great historical speeches. As a kindergartner, she used show-and-tell to deliver the words of important women from the past. When older, she discovers the Liddleville Historical Society, an old house filled with antiques, “unloved and unwanted until Imogene pushed open its creaky front door.” After restoring the society to order, Imogene discovers that the mayor intends to tear the building down—but unfortunately for him, Imogene proves a worthy opponent, one who repeats John Paul Jones’s line “I have not yet begun to fight!

As Imogene works to have the house declared a national landmark, the book emphasizes that important events in history often occur in the smallest of towns. Although it addresses the serious topic of historical preservation, the book is executed with humor and panache. This picture book combines a delicious text made even funnier by Nancy Carpenter’s energetic pen-and-ink illustrations. She expands the role of Imogene’s father—we see him supporting his daughter, taking her on motorcycle trips, up in an airplane, and finally putting himself in stocks along with her to keep the house from being demolished.

As Imogene says of her own adventure—“That was totally fun!” Celebrate local history by sharing this great read-aloud book with budding historians. After you do, you will probably agree with the words of an eight-year-old boy who loved the book—“Wouldn’t it be great if everyone had at least a little Imogene in them?”

Here’s a page from Imogene’s Last Stand:

Originally posted May 22, 2011. Updated for .

Tags: History, Politics, Social Conscience
Instructional materials from TeachingBooks.net for Imogene’s Last Stand


  1. Joy Chu says:

    This book has it all:

    – A character who’s an original, charming with a can-do attitude and purity of heart

    – She’s a chip-off-the-old-block: Dad’s a historian who’s made important event alive for his daughter

    – There’s an implied subplot (maybe) involving Dad and another character who supports the cause

    – Nancy Carpenter’s drawings breathe life into the characters and the look of the town. Couldn’t stop looking at them.

    – Love the surprise visit from the President.

    – All the historical tidbits along the way.

    – Great story-telling!

  2. Beth Redford says:

    Sounds like a great literature tie-in for my grade four students doing local history projects. Can’t wait to share it!

  3. Michelle M. says:

    That is a good topic for a book. We should also celebrate that month here in the US. Civic pride is important for children too!

  4. Anita says:

    Thanks everyone for the comments. I just heard from John Schumaker, @MrSchuReads, that he read the book aloud this week at his school — to great success. This is a great read aloud!

  5. suzi w. says:

    i cannot wait to find this book on my library’s shelf. thanks, anita, for sharing titles new and old.


  6. Rebecca says:

    This is a terrific one – I read it to my kids last year and they demanded to visit “places in Boston that were history” so they could be like Imogene! I was more than happy to comply!

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