Awards and Reviews

Marissa Moss

Professional Awards, Recognition, & Reviews


Sydney Taylor Honor Book, Best Nonfiction 2022 School Library Journal, Chicago Public Library Best Informational Books for Older Readers, Kirkus Best Middl-Grade Books, 2023 Texas Topaz Nonfiction Reading List, Starred Reviews from Booklist, Kirkus, and Publishers Weekly, The Woman Who Split the Atom: The Life of Lise Meitner


Best Nonfiction Books Evanston Public Library and New York Public Library, ALA Notable Book, Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People, CCBC Choices, Bank Street College of Education Best Children’s Book of the Year, Excellence in Graphic Literature Award, Starred Reviews from Publishers Weekly and School Library Connection, The Eye That Never Sleeps: How Detective Pinkerton Saved President Lincoln.


Anne and Robert Cowan Writer’s Prize, Last Things: a Graphic Memoir of Loss and Love

Amelia Bloomer List, Kate Warne, Pinkerton Detective

Publishers Weekly Best Books of 2018, The Eye That Never Sleeps: How Detective Pinkerton Saved President Lincoln


Nominee for California Young Reader Medal Award, Barbed Wire Baseball

2017 Graphic Medicine, best graphic novel in JAMA, Last Things

Great Group Reads Selection by the Women’s National Book Association, Last Things

Indie Picks Selection in May of 2017, Last Things

Junior Library Guild Selection, Kate Warne, Pinkerton Detective


Winner of the Museum of Tolerance 2014 Once Upon A World Children’s Book award, Barbed Wire Baseball

Nominee for 2015 Beehive Award from the Children’s Literature Association of Utah, Barbed Wire Baseball

Nominee for 2015 Towner Award, Washington State Student Award for Informational Text, Barbed Wire Baseball

Finalist for South Carolina, Children’s Choice Award, Barbed Wire Baseball


ALA Notable Book for 2014, Barbed Wire Baseball

Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People, 2014, Barbed Wire Baseball

Asian/Pacific America Awards for Literature, Honor Book, Barbed Wire Baseball

Finalist, Northern California Book Reviewers’ Award, Mira’s Diary: Home Sweet Rome

Gold Medal, California Book Award, Barbed Wire Baseball

IRA Teachers’ Choices 2014, Barbed Wire Baseball

Nominee for 2014-2015 Horned Toad Children’s Choice, Barbed Wire Baseball


Junior Library Guild Selection, Barbed Wire Baseball

Booklist’s Top 10 Sports Books for Youth:2013. Barbed Wire Baseball

California Reading Association Eureka Honor Book, 2013, Barbed Wire Baseball

Starred Review, Publishers Weekly, 2013, Barbed Wire Baseball


Silver Medal, California Book Award, A Soldier’s Secret

Starred Review, Publishers Weekly, A Soldier’s Secret

“Moss returns to the subject of her 2011 picture book Nurse, Soldier, Spy with a captivating piece of YA historical fiction based on the daring life of Civil War heroine Sarah Emma Edmonds. Sarah is raised on a farm by her abusive father, and she runs away before he can marry her off. Out of necessity, Sarah assumes the identity of a man, Frank Thompson, working as a traveling book salesman, among other odd jobs. At 19, she volunteers for the Union Army of the Potomac, with the aim of gaining the power and independence she’s been denied. Sarah is grateful for the camaraderie and sense of purpose the army provides her, but she is surrounded by suffering and death. Her duties as a nurse, soldier, mail carrier, spy, and writer require her to don many isolating masks and to endure a long-unrequited love. Writing in a sharp-witted, picaresque style, Moss gives Sarah a candid and perceptive voice. Historical materials including letters, photographs, and a timeline further enrich an epic as adept at depicting Civil War horrors as it is at exploring the politics of gender.”

Starred Review, Kirkus, A Soldier’s Secret

“A female Civil War soldier is brought alive for readers. Though 19 years old, Frank Thompson is rejected the first time he tries to join the Union Army: He looks too young. Three months later, the conscriptors aren’t so picky, and Frank signs on as a “nurse,” a mostly untrained orderly who pulls injured soldiers off battlefields, holds them down during amputations and writes to their loved ones if they die. With his stamina, determination and genuinely caring nature, Frank excels, and he is soon given riskier duties: first, postmaster, responsible for carrying mail to the front lines; second, spy, where Frank proves a master at disguise. And no wonder: Frank is a woman. Sarah Edmonds, Canadian by birth, first passed for a boy to escape her abusive father and an arranged marriage; after the war, she became the only female to receive a soldiers’ pension. Moss’ moving first-person narration, based largely on Edmonds’ own autobiography and other first-person documents, shows Frank gradually finding in her war comrades the close-knit and loving family she never had, while becoming increasingly valued for her courage and compassion. Moss convincingly but never gratuitously portrays the gore, horror and boredom of war. An intimate look at a soldier’s life from a compelling, historical perspective. (author’s note, thumbnail biographies, timeline, bibliography)”

Nominee for Amelia Bloomer Project Selection, 2012, A Soldier’s Secret

Nominee for California Young Reader Medal, 2012, Nurse, Soldier, Spy

Junior Library Guild Selection 2012: A Soldier’s Secret

Nominee for the 2012-2013 Great Lakes Great Book Award, Nurse, Soldier, Spy

Nominee for the 2014 Louisiana Readers Choice Award, Nurse, Soldier, Spy

CCBC Choices 2012 List, Nurse, Soldier, Spy

2012 IRA Teachers’ Choices reading list, Nurse, Soldier, Spy

2012 NCSS-CBC Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People list,

Nurse, Soldier, Spy


Wall Street Journal, Review: The Bravest Woman in America

“In Marissa Moss’s telling, and with Andrea U’Ren’s rich, color-soaked illustrations, Ida’s good cheer, moxie and resourcefulness evoke the work ethic of her time as much as her own intrepidness.”

New York Times Sunday Book Review: Daphne’s Diary of Daily Disasters, The Name Game and Daphne’s Diary of Daily Disasters, The Vampire Dare

“Unconventionally designed books appeal as well — say an ersatz journal filled with just the sorts of notes and sketches the young reader could imagine making herself. . . The young diarist is highly opinionated and readers will enjoy her impressions of everything from bad teachers to eccentric flavors of ice cream.”

Pennsylvania School Librarian Association’s Top 40 List, The Pharaoh’s Secret

Junior Library Guild Selection, The Bravest Woman in America

Junior Library Guild Selection, Nurse, Soldier, Spy

Starred Review, Publisher’s Weekly: Nurse, Soldier, Spy

“In one of two noteworthy picture-book biographies of this Civil War figure out this spring (the other being Carrie Jones’s Sarah Emma Edmonds Was a Great Pretender), Moss and Hendrix focus on Edmonds’ life as a young adult, as she assumes the identity of Frank Thompson and volunteers to join the army as a private. Disguised as a man, Edmonds fought at the Battle of Bull Run and elsewhere, and eventually further disguised herself as a black slave in order to spy on Confederate forces. Hendrix’s (John Brown: His Fight for Freedom) artwork is, as usual, a showstopper, and his bold caricatures, dominated by midnight blues and sunset golds, convey Edmonds’s strength and determination; brief quotations in massive type streak across certain spreads, delivering emotional wallops (“You there, boy! Who do you belong to?” booms a Confederate soldier, upon finding Edmonds in her slave disguise). For her part, Moss (Sky High: The True Story of Maggie Gee) delivers a riveting narrative, making it clear that Edmonds was fighting for more than one kind of freedom. Ages 8–12.”

New York Times Book Review: Nurse, Soldier, Spy

“Nurse, Soldier, Spy” tells the fascinating story of another nonconformist, the cross-dressing Civil War hero Sarah Emma Edmonds, who, under the name Frank Thompson, joined the Union Army at age 19, becoming a battlefield nurse (“something only men with the strongest stomachs did”) and later a spy. Moss, best known for her winning middle-grade series, Amelia’s Notebook, is a lively prose writer, and Hendrix’s illustrations inject humor into what is actually a serious, if somewhat improbable, subject.

Edmonds’s life story (described in an 1865 memoir, “Unsexed; Or, the Female Soldier”) will appeal to a wide range of readers — girls hungry for heroines, Civil War buffs, adventure story lovers. The only question is for what age. Moss treats Edmonds almost as a transgendered man, calling her “Frank” throughout the story — though still using the feminine pronoun. It’s a decision that may confuse less sophisticated readers (and perhaps merits the publisher’s recommended age range of 9 to 12, though the book would otherwise work well for 7-year-olds). Refreshingly, however, “Nurse, Soldier, Spy” doesn’t shy from historical specificity, naming battles and addressing issues like desertion and treason.”

Fuse #8 Review of the Day: Nurse, Soldier, Spy

“If I want to depress myself on a given day I’ll compare the list of biographical subjects that kids in school are handed to pick and choose from with the biographical subjects that I had to pick and choose from when I was a kid some twenty odd years ago. It’s disheartening. Essentially, it’s the same list. Teachers always include Edison, Einstein, Washington, Tubman, Keller, etc. Once in a while someone will fall out of favor (Benjamin Banneker) to be replaced with someone new (Matthew Henson) but that’s just the way of things. How I long for the day when the core biographical subjects are thrown out the window and kids can take full advantage of the range of amazing stories in their libraries’ biography sections. That’ll be the day when a kid has an assignment to find a historical female hero who fought in a war and I can hand them Nurse, Soldier, Spy: The Story of Sarah Edmonds, a Civil War Hero. Until then, I’ll just have to hawk the book on its own merits. Fortunately, this is not too terribly difficult to do.

I’m sure you’ve all heard stories of those women who cut their hair, donned men’s clothes, and joined the armed forces during the Civil War. Many a woman did this, but few were as brave and inventive as Sarah Edmonds. Having run away from home at the age of sixteen to escape an arranged marriage, Sarah had been living as a man for three years when she returned to Michigan to join the Union cause. On the field she proved a brave nurse, soldier, and eventual spy. When told to spy on the enemy, Sarah became a believable black male slave and managed to extract some much needed information across enemy lines. An Author’s Note at the end explains how the rest of Sarah’s life went and how she became “the only woman invited to join the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR), the association for Civil War veterans of the Union Army.”

Marissa Moss is best known for her Amelia’s Notebook series, an early chapter book grouping of titles that served as the precursor to the current Diary of a Wimpy Kid journal boom we’re now in. I was under the distinct impression that fiction was Ms. Moss’s one and only bag, and this feeling was helped in no small part by the biographical sketch of her that appears on this title’s bookflap. Dig a little deeper, however, and you see that Ms. Moss has a longstanding appreciation of history that has manifested itself in a variety of different ways over the years. Penning everything from historical novels like Galen: My Life in Imperial Rome to a journal series of different young American girls to other picture book biographies of too little lauded souls like Ida Lewis, Maggie Gee, Jackie Mitchell, and Harriet Quimby, it’s clear that Sarah Edmonds is just the latest in Moss’s series of discoveries.

As any author of picture book biographies knows, you have decide right from the start how much of your subject you’re willing to reveal. Do you want to encompass a person’s entire life from birth to death or would you rather take a slice of their life and blow it up as representative of who they really were? Both techniques have their advantages and disadvantages, but in the case of Ms. Edmonds, Moss took the road less traveled. Though Edmonds had a hugely exciting life that ended with her burial in a cemetery reserved for Civil War veterans (the only woman to have that honor) Moss pinpoints the moment in the woman’s life that contains the greatest dramatic flair. So it is that we see Edmonds enlist, fight, rescue, spy, and save the day in the end. Along the way she uses sources like Edmonds’ own diary to allow her to say what Sarah feels or thinks at one moment or another. I’ve a real pet peeve of children’s biographies that just assume that they know what their subjects were thinking from one moment to the next. However, if you’ve that person’s diary in hand then you’re clearly not making up those emotions. You’re merely quoting what they say they felt.

I’ve seen a lot of picture book biographies of too little known heroes in my day, but I’m fairly certain that this title marks the first time I’ve ever seen a Bibliography equally split between the author’s sources and the illustrator’s. In fact, the endmatter of Nurse, Soldier, Spy is remarkable in and of itself. Between the Author’s Note, the Artist’s Note, the Glossary, the two Bibliographies, photographs of the real Sarah Edmonds, and the Index, it seems petulant to ask for more. Still, I was a little surprised not to see a rudimentary Timeline anywhere in the front or back. School assignments where kids have to select their subjects and write about them usually ask that the kids refer to the Timelines of their subjects. Not having one in this book may, unfortunately, limit its school use, which is a crying shame because unless a kid knows to check the tiny type on the publication page, there’s no other way for them to figure out facts like the one stating that Sarah Edmonds was born in 1841.

John Hendrix is the kind of illustrator you don’t forget easily. He started out slowly, illustrating books like Abe Lincoln Crosses a Creek then sort of burst full-throttle onto the scene with his infinitely gutsy John Brown: His Fight for Freedom. With this, his third Civil War nonfiction picture book, Hendrix’s challenge was not dissimilar from that of Ms. Moss. He needed to figure out how much to show, in addition to WHAT to show. For Sarah herself he only had a couple photographs to work off of. On top of that, he explains in his Artist’s Note that every detail, from the soldier uniforms to the split-rail log fences had to be accurate to the times. Working with pen and ink and fluid acrylic washes, Hendrix fills his pages not just with images of the action, but also with an eclectic typography that’s worth a second and third glance. Some of Ms. Moss’s words sit lank upon the page, but other times Hendrix takes particular care to make them pop. Not even the lettering was allowed to be out of synch with the times, though. Nope, Hendrix takes his hand-drawn letters from the illustrated letterforms found on broadside posters from that era. So in a sense, Hendrix is utilizing the same method of advertising and promoting of the war effort to advertise and promote Sarah Edmonds herself. I love watching how Hendrix uses these words too. Sometime a person’s sentences will burst out behind them, trailing off the page, as with a confederate soldier who challenges Sarah at the start. Other times they float above in space, drawing attention to themselves. Whatever the case, they’re eye-popping, imaginative, and necessary.

The universe likes to present unique children’s books in pairs. That is why you’ll see two picture book biographies of Jane Goodall come out at the same time or two about Althea Gibson. In the case of Ms. Edmonds, hitherto unknown to schoolchildren nationwide, this book by Ms. Moss comes out in tandem with the Carrie Jones title Sarah Emma Edmonds Was a Great Pretender: The True Story of a Civil War Spy. So should you wish to bulk up your knowledge of this fine and outstanding individual, you have multiple options with which to do so. Regardless of what other books exist out there on the subject, however, this Moss/Hendrix title is a must-read and a must-add to any biographical collection. It’s got war. It’s got guts. It’s got heroism. And it’s got a woman that boys and girls alike will find fascinating.”


TriState Young Adult Review Group Books of Note 2010, The Pharaoh’s Secret

Booklist Top Ten Biography in 2010, Sky High: The True Story of Maggie Gee

Amelia Bloomer Project Selection, Sky High: The True Story of Maggie Gee

Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People, Sky High: The True Story of Maggie Gee


Starred Review, Booklist, Sky High: The True Story of Maggie Gee

“Prejudice is an issue that might have been the underpinnings of the story, but instead it’s a subject that never overshadows Maggie’s love of flight. Based on interviews with Gee, this has a lovely, personal feel to it. “


International Reading Association Teachers’ Choices for 2005-2006, Mighty Jackie: the Strike-out Queen

Nominee for the 2006 Bill Martin Jr. Picture Book Award, sponsored by the Kansas Reading Association, Mighty Jackie: the Strike-out Queen

2005-2006 Louisiana Young Readers’ Choice Award Master List, Mighty Jackie: the Strike-out Queen

Chickadee Award Master List for 2005-2006 in the state of Maine, Mighty Jackie: the Strike-out Queen

2006 Washington Children’s Choice Picture Book Award Master List, Mighty Jackie: the Strike-out Queen


ALA Notable, Mighty Jackie: the Strike-out Queen

Starred Review, Publishers Weekly, Mighty Jackie: the Strike-out Queen

Starred Review, Booklist, Mighty Jackie: the Strike-out Queen

Top Ten Sports Books of the Year, Booklist 2004, Mighty Jackie: the Strike-out Queen


Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People, CBC, Galen, My Life in Imperial Rome

LA Times Bestseller List, Max’s Log Book


Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People: National Council for the Social Studies — CBC Joint Committee: Brave Harriet, (Simon & Schuster), Rose’s Journal (Harcourt)

Starred Review, Booklist, Brave Harriet

Books for Youth Top Ten Women’s History Booklist, Brave Harriet

Children’s Choices, Children’s Book Council, Oh Boy, Amelia


Society of School Librarians International Honor Books, Hannah’s Journal

Best Children’s Books of the Year, Bank St. College, Hannah’s Journal

Sugarman Family Award for Jewish Children’s Literature: Hannah’s Journal

National Parenting Publications Gold Award, Amelia’s Moving Pictures (Video)

Parent’s Guide Children’s Media Award, Amelia’s Moving Pictures (Video)

ALA Notable Video, Amelia’s Moving Pictures (Video)

Starred Review, Publisher’s Weekly,Amelia’s Moving Pictures (Video)

Parent’s Guide Fiction Award, Oh Boy, Amelia


Society of School Librarians International Honor Books, Rachel’s Journal

ABC Booksellers Choices, Rachel’s Journal

San Francisco Chronicle Bestseller List, Dr. Amelia’s Boredom Survival Guide


ABA Pick of the List, Amelia Hits the Road

San Francisco Chronicle Bestseller List, My Notebook with Help from Amelia


ABC Booksellers Choices: Amelia’s Notebook


ABA Pick of the List, Amelia’s Notebook

Starred Review, Publisher’s Weekly, Amelia’s Notebook

Child Study Children’s Book of the Year, In America

Notable Trade Book in Field of Social Studies, Children’s Book Council, In America


Notable Children’s Trade Book in Field of Social Studies, National Council of Teachers of Social Studies, Regina’s Big Mistake

Reading Rainbow Featured Book, Regina’s Big Mistake

Storytime Featured Book, Regina’s Big Mistake