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Mary Ames's picture book An ABC for Baby Patriots (1899) has been persistently read as a quaint curio of imperialist propaganda. Sustained analysis of the verse and illustrations, however, reveals that it is a subtle, sophisticated critique of the very imperial ideology that it has so long been charged with promoting. Appealing both to adult and child readers, it is part of the 1890s satirical tradition. Acknowledging the text's complexity and contextualizing it alongside Ames's corpus and other representative period texts encourages scholars to reconsider how children's literature and juvenile forms have been appropriated for imperial ends.