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A Ballad of the Civil War Hardcover – October 1, 1997


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 680L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 64 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers; 1st edition (October 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060273623
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060273620
  • Product Dimensions: 0.1 x 0.1 x 0.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,777,633 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

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.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 20, 1999
Format: Paperback
A story of twin brothers fighting on opposite sides in the civil war. Addresses slavery from a child's viewpoint, then from an adult's viewpoint. This historical book has good black and white illustrations. Excellent book and I would recommend it for the 1st through 4th grades, as well as teachers and parents.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 10, 2003
Format: School & Library Binding
I must say that I am well read. I have read many books by many great authors--Cooper, both Brontes, Austen--and yet I find myself coming back to this ballad. I read this when I was in fifth grade, and liked it, but didn't care for it overmuch. Previously this year I found myself faced with a challenge. My english teacher wanted each class member to read something they liked, a poem, a song, part of a book, etc. to the class. I couldn't think of anything. I was searching through my mind trying to think of what I could read, then I thought back to my fifth grade teacher, and remembered this ballad. I read it to my class, and nearly everyone had misty eyes. This is the most touching poem I have yet to see. Each time I read it I get chills down my back. Background information on the Civil War is a good idea. I hope in time you readers who were "board, bord" or bored with this book will be able to realize how touching this really is.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 13, 1999
Format: Paperback
Imagine if you had a brother,and you and he were fighting on different side of the Civil War! One of you is fighting for African Americans and one is not. Tom and Jack Rigby are in this situation in A Ballad Of The Civil War, by Mary Stolz. The story of the brothers begins on a Virginia plantation before the Civil War. Tom and Jack Rigby are raised on the plantation. Their friend, Aaron, who is a young slave, is four years older than they are. He has watched out for them growing up. On their ninth birthday, Tom becomes upset when Aaron is taken away from them and sent to work in the fields. The brothers separate when they grow up and become soldiers. Tom leaves home to join the Union Army. Jack stays in the South to join the Confederate Army. Will they ever fight face to face in the same battle? This is a good book for people who want to learn some of the reasons why we had the Civil War. The author gives lots of details to explain how the brothers grow up to believe in different things. This is an excellent book for young people who have an interest in history.
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Format: Paperback
I haven't tried this book on my grandson yet, but I read all the books I give him and I read this. Twice in two days. It's a moving book set in the ante-bellum South and briefly in the Civil War, but it is not about slavery or about the Civil War. It is a book about the ties that bind us in love and friendship and the differences in attitudes and allegiences that tear us apart. It's a book about missing loved ones and the shadows and silhouettes that take us momentarily back to a treasured memory. It might be a great book for a kid who has gone through some sort of family estrangement either from a divorce or from a parent quarrelling with a sibling or grandparent.
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Format: Paperback
This book of historical fiction about the Civil War for young readers opens in 1862 with 21-year-old Tom Rigby, a Union Cavalry officer, riding his horse through a storm back to camp. The sight of a wounded Confederate soldier by the side of the road, who might be his twin brother Jack, leads into the history of the brothers' relationship. The boys had grown up on a plantation in Virginia and were given a personal slave named Aaron, who was a few years older than they were, as a christening present. However, on their ninth birthday, Aaron, who had become their friend, was sent out to work in the fields for being too "Uppity." As a result of this experience, Tom became very troubled by all the problems that he saw with slavery, but Jack continued to support their rigid father's views.
Eleven years later, when the Civil War erupted, Tom decided to join the Union army, while Jack enlisted in the Confederate army. The story then returns to that day when Tom finds the wounded Southern soldier who makes him think of Jack. What will Tom do? The author wrote that her grandfather and great-uncles fought for the North in the Civil War and brought back stories and songs with them that were passed down through the family to her. One of those ballads, about two little boys who played soldier and then grew up to fight on opposite sides during the Civil War, was sung so often that she remembered the words by heart, and it gave her the idea for the book.
I really like historical fiction, and this is a wonderful chapter book for children that should help them to appreciate the fact that some people could not defend a person's right to own other people and to understand that sad era that ended in the "brothers' war." It has four chapters with a prologue and a closing author's note.
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