I first learned about Kate Warne, the first female detective hired by the famous Pinkerton Detective Agency, in Kate Hannigan’s middle grade novel, The Detective’s Assistant. That was a fun novel based on her life, but now there is an awesome picture book biography that not only talks about Warne’s life, but can get kids excited about detective work and all of the creativity that it entails – Kate Warne, Pinkerton Detective.
Marissa Moss does an excellent job of looking at how Kate Warne got her job at the Pinkerton Detective Agency and just how unusual that was in 1856. When Kate Warne applied for a job with the Pinkerton Agency, Pinkerton assumed she wanted to cook or clean, but he agreed to try her out as an agent. Assigned to a tough case with high stakes, Warne went undercover and not only found the stolen money, she got almost all of it returned.
Warne knew that her femininity was actually her biggest asset. She understood that the simple fact that she was a woman would make her an unusual spy. She also knew that other women would confide in Warne in ways that they wouldn’t with a man, based on the social norms of how men and women interacted. Moss then utilizes Warne’s first case as an example of exactly how she achieved her goal.
The Pinkerton Detective Agency had a special role in our history and would later be put in charge of the first Secret Service Detail. But it was the Adams Express Case, which Kate played a vital role in, that put them on the map.
This book is an enticing read filled with great illustrations by April Chu. A great start at looking at strong women in history as well as the role of the Pinkerton Detective Agency changing the face of law enforcement.
Every Wednesday I try to post a non-fiction picture book as part of the Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy. There are truly so many amazing nonfiction picture books being published these days, it can be hard to contain myself sometimes. Make sure to check out Kid Lit Frenzy and the linked blogs to find some more fabulous books!