From School Library Journal
Grade 5-8-The tense months between December, 1860 and July, 1861 are portrayed in three related stories about three 14-year-olds caught up in the beginnings of the Civil War. Orphan Timothy Donovan counts himself lucky to have traded a dreary apprenticeship for the trim blue uniform of a U.S. Army bugler, but his comfortable post in Charleston becomes deadly when South Carolina secedes and turns rebel guns against the harbor forts. In Maryland, Joseph Schwartz, gifted son of German immigrants, is doing well as a scholarship boy at an exclusive Baltimore school. His biggest problem is hiding his working-class status from the wealthy students, until war fever and peer pressure force him to decide whether he truly believes in the Union. For Gregory Howard, national tensions are mirrored painfully within his loving family in Alexandria, VA. His father stubbornly remains a loyal Unionist while Gregory, his mother, and siblings welcome secession and despise the Federal troops occupying their city. Each story includes convincing period details, and the three protagonists emerge as credible individuals struggling to be true to themselves in times of fear and uncertainty. The author includes two short sections of historical notes that will be useful for classroom discussion and for readers curious about how much of the book is factual.Starr E. Smith, Fairfax County Public Library, VA
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Gr. 6-9. These three stories, about three different characters, take place, one after the other, at the beginning of the Civil War. The Southern states were seceding, but few people had an inkling of the long, bloody war ahead. The book begins with Timothy, a 14-year-old Union bugler stationed at Fort Sumter during its bombardment. The second story is set in Baltimore, where a mob of local secessionists attacks Northern volunteers headed to Washington. Joseph knows where he stands, but does he have the courage to tell his South-supporting classmates? When Union troops take over Alexandria and declare martial law, Gregory finds that the conflict is no longer high-minded and political, but ugly and intensely personal. Just as the country stands uneasily on the brink of war, Timothy, Joseph, and Gregory stand on the brink of manhood, and Reeder deftly shows how escalating tension and violence in the outside world push each character to examine more closely his preconceptions, his actions, and his choices. A rewarding interpretation of the nascent war, when many people expected that the first land battle would also be the last. Carolyn PhelanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved