From School Library Journal
Starred Review. Grade 3–6—Fradin's account of the Aaron Burr/Alexander Hamilton feud makes compelling, child-appropriate reading. The author vividly shows how some aspects of politics have not changed over the past 200 years, including negative campaigning and smear tactics. The account is short and fast moving with Fradin choosing key points in Hamilton's and Burr's lives that illustrate how they arrived at the duel. Describing events from their difficult childhoods, their service as aides to George Washington, their work as lawyers in New York and in positions in federal government, the author demonstrates that both men were to blame for the situation. His focus remains consistent in leading up to their final confrontation in 1804. Beginning with an arresting close-up perspective of Burr's dueling pistol on the front cover, the illustrations capture attention and convey details of the topic. The characters' expressive faces add emotion to the facts. Rendered in watercolor and gouache with pen-and-ink accents, the pictures are realistic, but not in a photographic sense. Incorporating primary sources in a dramatic style, Duel!
presents a gripping view of men revered by history but not really known.—Lucinda Snyder Whitehurst, St. Christopher's School, Richmond, VA
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*Starred Review* Fights are always attention getters, so even children who don’t know much about Aaron Burr (third vice president of the U.S.) and Alexander Hamilton (a signer of the Constitution) will be hooked by this dramatic picture-book account of their deadly quarrel. Not that Fradin makes the duel heroic in any way; in fact, he plainly states that both men were at fault. What the two had in common was a difficult childhood, and the book’s opening pages, illustrated with stirring paintings, tell the stories of the boys, alone and desperate. Both men also took part in the American Revolution; battle scenes show each engaged in combat. When Fradin deals with the divisive politics, Day’s ink, watercolor, and gouache illustrations ably show the body language as the enemies furiously confront one another, stalk off angrily, and fume alone—until their secret fight becomes public. Then comes the duel itself. Tension builds for several pages before Hamilton is shot (he dies the next day), leaving Burr in disgrace. The words and art humanize the history for children, who will welcome the bibliography that can lead them to more facts. Grades 3-6. --Hazel Rochman