From School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-Jeremy and Dulcie quickly learn the truths of Civil War battle. Although Jeremy, an indentured servant, is technically required to receive food, clothing, and an education in return for his work, he often finds himself hungry, barefoot, and out of school. Eager to join the war effort, he flees the misery of Old Silas's neglect, has a brief stint as a paper boy, and joins the Union Army as a drummer boy. Dulcie, a young slave in Georgia, escapes and nearly drowns, but is rescued by Jeremy and Charlie, a young Confederate soldier whom Jeremy has befriended (an author's note following the story explains that this was not unheard of at the time). The Peace Society, a clandestine organization of pro-Union Confederate soldiers, becomes a surprising and important force in the three characters' lives. This is a fair and informative look at the role of young people in the conflict. The depictions of medicine and nursing are grim and believable, and the cruel treatment of slaves is evident, although graphic descriptions are kept to a minimum.-Jennifer Schultz, Fauquier County Public Library, Warrenton, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Itching to join the Union army as a drummer boy, Jeremy talks his way into a New York regiment, though he is much too young to enlist. As he and his messmates march through Tennessee and Georgia, he slowly gains their acceptance. Along the way, he also strikes up an uneasy acquaintance with a young Confederate soldier and befriends Dulcie, an 11-year-old escaped slave, whose story is sometimes told in parallel with Jeremy’s. Gradually, his dreams of glory fade as he finds that war is not what he expected and, often, people are not what they seem. With graphic scenes set on the battlefield and in the field hospital, the story is more realistic than most Civil War novels for young people. Despite deaths, amputations, and moral ambiguities, the writing does convey a sense of idealism and purpose or, perhaps, multiple purposes for the various well-drawn characters. Schwabach’s research is evident in details of the story as well as the appended historical notes and source bibliography. Grades 5-8. --Carolyn Phelan