From School Library Journal
Grade 4-7?From the poignant words of a Civil War ballad, Stolz has fashioned a short yet moving tale of twin boys who grow up on a Virginia plantation and, as young men, choose opposing sides in the war. On their ninth birthday, Tom decries the banishment of Aaron, a young slave who has been their constant companion, to the fields because the interracial friendship is deemed no longer appropriate. Jack, caught up in the day's festivities, quickly forgets the boy who once saved his life. He dreams of the day when he can ride into battle on a real horse, instead of on the hobbyhorses that the twins have received as birthday presents. When Jack's is broken, kindhearted Tom makes room on his saying, "He'll go just as well with two." Ten years later, Jack wears a Confederate uniform while Tom makes his solitary way to join the Union Army. On his 21st birthday and now a lieutenant, he spies a wounded Confederate soldier by the roadside. He hopes that it is Jack, but it is not. Nevertheless, he treats the man like a brother, hoisting him onto his own horse, repeating the childhood refrain, "He'll go just as well with two." Though the plot is simple and the characters are uncomplicated, both are realistic and poignantly drawn. Fine-quality, pen-and-ink artwork appears throughout. A good choice for introducing historical fiction.?Peggy Morgan, The Library Network, Southgate,
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Kirkus Reviews
Stolz (Coco Grimes, 1994, etc.) fleshes out--barely--a sentimental Civil War ballad about brothers who share a hobby horse, and years later, another steed in the aftermath of battle. Tom Rigby's excitement as he awakens on his ninth birthday changes to outrage when he learns that the slave Aaron, a companion to him and his twin for most of their lives, has been summarily ``sent to the quarter'' by their father to be a field hand. Although he listens reluctantly to the warnings of the household slaves (who maintain that making a fuss will only endanger Aaron), Tom defiantly gives his birthday toys away to the slave children. He has an argument with twin Jack, who echoes their father's advocacy of slavery, although the rift isn't wide enough to prevent him from sharing his hobby horse when Jack's breaks. Twelve years later, Tom--a Union officer--recalls that time as he offers a ride to a wounded Confederate soldier who only looks too familiar. Stolz focuses more on her characters' emotional states than on plot or background detail, and readers who are less familiar with the era will wonder why Aaron was sent away, and why the slave children have to hide their new toys from the overseer. Paul Fleischman's Bull Run or Gary Paulsen's Nightjohn (both, 1993) afford more insight into the realities of slavery and of what Stolz calls ``this brothers' war.'' (b&w illustrations, not seen) (Fiction. 9-11) -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.