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Old Abe, Eagle Hero: The Civil War's Most Famous Mascot Hardcover – September 1, 2010

4.3 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Hardcover, September 1, 2010
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 5 and up
  • Grade Level: Kindergarten and up
  • Lexile Measure: AD880L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 48 pages
  • Publisher: Kane/Miller Book Publishers (September 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1935279238
  • ISBN-13: 978-1935279235
  • Product Dimensions: 10.9 x 8.9 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,055,517 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By M. Tanenbaum VINE VOICE on September 27, 2010
Civil War regiments sometimes marched into battle with animal mascots; the most famous of these was a bald eagle dubbed "Old Abe" by the soldiers of the 8th Wisconsin Infantry. This "biography" of Old Abe starts with his early days, when he was hand raised by an Indian village and then traded to a farmer named Dan McCann. The eagle became a family pet, and when McCann's neighbors marched off to fight in the Civil War, McCann, who couldn't fight himself because of a bad leg, sent the eagle off to war instead. The soldiers constructed a special perch trimmed with American flags for the bird to sit on, and off he went.

Old Abe turned out to be very courageous in battle, and was an inspiration to his regiment, so much so that Southern soldiers tried to capture him. As he made his escape, Old Abe was injured, but survived the battle, flying away behind the Northern lines. The press loved the story, and soon Old Abe and his adventures were famous all over the country. Old Abe had a distinguished military career, participating in twenty-five major battles before being sent home to safety, where he was given a place of honor at the Wisconsin Capitol building. P.T. Barnum even tried to buy him, but Old Abe stayed put, visiting with the soldiers from his regiment who came to see him as well as the general public, as well as making an appearance at the Chicago World's fair.

The author, Patrick Young, is a descendent of the commander of Old Abe's regiment, and grew up hearing family stories about the eagle from his grandmother and mother. His book was originally published with different illustrations in 1965, but the text is not at all dated and offers a lively narrative, well-suited for reading aloud.
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There were a few well known regimental mascots during the American Civil War, and probably the most well known of them all was the 8th Wisconsin Infantry's eagle Old Abe. Patrick Young, great great grandson of Captain Victor Wolf, commander of Company C, 8th Wisconsin Infantry, has written a children's book about the famous bird.

Mr. Young's text follows Old Abe throughout his life, as a young eaglet raised by Native Americans, his war time experiences, and his life after the war are all detailed in the book.

The Civil War can be a tough subject to introduce young readers. The concepts of war and death are scary to many adults, not to mention children, but Mr. Young's book, with illustrations by Anne Lee, treads very carefully around these issues. Written for readers between four to eight years old, the text does not go into the complicated issues of the war, but rather treats it as a mundane event, and is not at all scary for the readers of the younger set.

Anne Lee's water color and ink illustrations are simplistically rendered with a gentle nod to the sensitivities of her young readers. Battle scenes are shown, but from a distance, and therefore do not offer any graphic depictions of war, In one close up, Old Abe can be seen dragging an unconscious soldier to safety with bullets flying through the air and explosions all around, but even this illustration does not offer graphic or gruesome images of the realities of war.

"Old Abe, Eagle Hero" never once talks down to, at, or over the heads of its young audience, though the facts of war, its causes and consequences are largely glossed over. Through Old Abe, children can be gently introduced to the Civil War, and if they have questions about the war, I'm sure their parents and teachers can and will appropriately address those issues with the children
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This is a book about my great grandfather Dan McCann's roll in American History. I bought several copies and gave them to my grandkids so that they will know their part in our family history, and their family's contribution to freedom in America. It is an easy to read book and a keepsake for us all. This book will be passed down through the generations along with the many other books we have about Old Abe and the McCann family.
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