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The Storm Before Atlanta Hardcover – December 28, 2010

4.8 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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.

From Booklist

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

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 730L (What's this?)
  • Series: AWARDS: Black-Eyed Susan Book Awards Grades 4-6 2013
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers (December 28, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375858660
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375858666
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 1.1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,308,839 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

By M. Tanenbaum VINE VOICE on January 14, 2011
Format: Hardcover
There's no shortage of historical fiction novels for children about the Civil War, but with the 150th anniversary of the outbreak of the conflict this year, this thought-provoking new novel by Karen Schwabach is a worthy addition to any school or public library's collection. The novel tells the story of ten year old Jeremy, who wants nothing more than to enlist in one of the New York regiments of the Union Army as a drummer boy and gloriously die for his country. Continually told he's too young to enlist, he goes off to find the war himself--to follow the army until they take him. Soon he joins up with the 107th New York Regiment from Elmira, takes his oath, and gets a uniform, a pair of shoes, the promise of $13 a month, and best of all, a glorious drum. Traveling to Georgia, Jeremy and the 107th become part of a new corp led by General Hooker, on the march. "They were not told where they were going or why. It wasn't a soldier's business to know that." But Jeremy can't wait to "see the elephant," as the soldiers called those who had seen action, but all they seem to do is march and wait.

We're also introduced to to two other key characters, whose lives will become intertwined with Jeremy's: Dulcie, a spunky and very bright slave girl who runs away from her cruel mistress to find the Union Army, and eventually becomes a medic for a Union field doctor, and a friendly young Confederate soldier, Charlie Jackson, just a bit older than Jeremy, who's looking to trade for coffee or anything else.

War isn't as black and white as Jeremy had imagined back home. Jeremy knows that Charlie shouldn't really be his friend, but he's hungry for company his own age.
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By Janey on October 19, 2013
Format: Paperback
Don't let this book scare you off because it's so long and thick! I'm not normally interested in boys' war stories, but I definitely enjoyed this one.

Jeremy wants to be like the hero in a song he has heard, about a boy who dies in battle and everyone surrounds him with prayers and tears. He wants to be like him, whether he dies or not! So, young as he is, he signs up as a drummer boy. Then he finds out what REAL war is.

Meanwhile, Dulcie, a slave girl who has run away, helps a doctor out on the field as a medic. Her life entertwines with Jeremy's; her wisdom counteracts his innocence.

This story is different than most war stories; it reveals several shocking discoveries about Jeremy's messmates and the "enemy" boy he has befriended.

The author writes this book in more of an informal way, which keeps it moving well. It is clean; there are very few swear words--other than "Hell-Hole," used several times--and definitely no "hell" or "damn" as most war stories use. Everything seems factually correct.

You will enjoy this story, and find it very interesting!
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Format: Hardcover
Why would a 10-year-old boy wish to die in battle? Could a life that has not yet truly begun be so easily forsaken? Jeremy DeGroot's circumstances are not ideal. His father is in jail. He is an indentured servant on the run. He is trying to support himself by selling newspapers barefoot through the cold streets of Syracuse, New York. The Civil War headlines he delivers speak of the glory and honor of death on the battlefield. He wishes to make the ultimate sacrifice in order to join their ranks. By becoming a casualty of war, he believes he will finally obtain the respect and dignity lacking in his life. Karen Schwabach demonstrates the persuasive power of propaganda on the youngest members of society in "The Storm Before Atlanta."

Upon joining the Federalist forces as a drummer boy, Jeremy befriends Charlie, a young Secesh (Confederate) soldier and Dulcie, a contraband (escaped) slave. The three resemble the dynamic of Mark Twain's memorable trio - Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn and Jim. Schwabach divides the book's focus in order to give the reader a taste of the time period from different viewpoints. Jeremy, an innocent, now has seen the elephant (witnessed the death of others during battle). Charlie, a poor Southerner, is questioning the basis of fighting so that rich plantation owners can retain their labor force. Dulcie, a newly-freed slave, is discovering the world of possibilities open to her as a paid medic for the Union forces. The shifting worldviews of such a pivotal time in American history are shown in the thoughts and actions of Federalist, Confederate and former slave. The educational value for young readers is immeasurable.

They are all heading toward the burning of Atlanta so memorably portrayed in "Gone With the Wind.
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Format: Hardcover
I've read all of Karen Schwabach's books and enjoyed each one. Excellent story lines, great characters, and intriguing historical details. If you're not familiar with her work, begin here -- you'll be glad you did!
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Format: Hardcover
Eleven-year-old Jeremy dreams of leaving Upstate New York to die nobly in battle like the famed Drummer Boy of Shiloh. He cannot remember his mother, and his father is currently a long-term guest of Auburn State Prison. He has run away from the man whose bond he was put into after his father's arrest, and ended up in Syracuse as a paper boy.

But every time he tries to join the army to be a drummer boy so that he can achieve his dream of heroic death, he is told eleven is too young. Finally, he decides to leave New York, head south and try again. This time, he succeeds in joining New York's 107th. When he finally achieves his dream, he learns that battle was not what he dreamed it to be.

He befriends a young runaway slave who has also joined New York's 107th as a medic. Dulcie's outlook on the war is very different from Jeremy's. Also eleven, she has "seen the elephant," a thing which Jeremy longs for. Highly intelligent, Dulcie understands the horrors of war, as well as the horrors of slavery, and longs to see the end of both.

Jeremy also makes friends with a young Confederate, Charlie. Charlie is two or three years older, but is always friendly to Jeremy. Jeremy learns a lot about slavery and the South from him, but Charlie as a larger secret...
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