The brutal conflict of the American Civil War has brought forth some of the best writing in children’s literature. Since so many wonderful picture books and chapter books have been written to commemorate the 150th Sesquicentennial, parents and history buffs have a wide selection to choose from for their children. The writers of this column have selected and reviewed the following books published during the 2013 year.
Daugherty, James. (Reprint 2013). Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. Chicago, ILL:
Albert Whitman Company Publishers. Hardcover. $14.59. Grades: 1+.
Many historians believe that the Gettysburg Address is one of the most influential speeches in America. Abraham Lincoln wrote it at a crucial period in his presidency and in United States history. The book is a fresh new edition for the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address. Words of the Address are accompanied by lush mural illustrations.
Harness, Cheryl. (2013). Mary Walker Wears the Pants: The True Story of the Doctor, Reformer, and Civil War Hero. Illustrated by Carlo Monlinari. Berkeley Heights, NJ: Albert Whitman & Company. Hardcover. 32 pages. $12.23. Grades: 1+.
Mary Edwards Walker was an unconventional woman for her time. She was one of the first women doctors in the country, she was a women’s activist, and she wore pants. When the Civil War began, Mary wanted to serve her country as a surgeon in the Union army, but was rejected. Later, she became a commissioned surgeon. As a result of her bravery during the Civil War, Mary is the only woman ever to earn the Congressional Medal of Honor. Harness tells the story of a remarkable woman who challenged traditional roles. Monlinari’s illustrations are gorgeous to say the least and really enhance this jam-packed book of history.
Horres, Russell. (2011). Jack the Cat that Went to War. Illustrated by Kate Sherrill.
Charleston, SC: High Battery Press. Hardcover. 41 pages. $24.95. Grades 2+.
The author tells the story of Jack, a most unusual cat. Horres takes readers back to a period in history when Americans were at war each other. Young readers will journey with Jack as he joins the Confederate army at Ft. Sumter. Sherrill uses beautiful color
illustrations to bring the story to life with historical accuracy. Children will delight in learning history through the eyes of Jack.
Krull, Kathleen. (2013). Louisa May’s Battle: How the Civil War Led to Little Women. Illustrated by Carlyn Beccoa. London, England: Walker Books for Young Readers. Hardcover. 32 pages. $11.46. Grades: 1+.
Krull has captured the story of Louisa May Alcott who is best known for penning Little Women. In the beautifully illustrated book, the author makes readers aware of the experience that influenced Alcott’s writing the most – her time as a nurse during the Civil War. Alcott helped care for soldiers’ wounds and wrote letters home for them.
Lyons, Kelly Starling. (2013). Hope’s Gift. Illustrated by Don Tate. New York: Putnam Juvenile Publishers. Hardcover. 32 pages. $13.25. Grades: 2+.
Lyons has written a delightful story of a young girl whose father leaves to join the Civil War. Hope, her brother and her mother wait for over a year for him to return home. But, a conch shell that her father left with them constantly consoles them. The sound that came from the shell was the sound of freedom. Hope’s father returns home and there is a happy ending. Tate’s illustrations are not only gorgeous, but capture the emotions of Hope.
Metzer, Steve. (2013). Lincoln and Grace. Illustrated by Ann Kronheimer. New York: Scholastic. Paperback. 32 pages. $6.95. Grades: 1+.
Could you picture Lincoln without a beard? Probably not. Metzer shares a delightful story of a young girl, Grace Bedell, who was able to convince Lincoln to grow a beard. Kronheimer’s delightful illustrations make this book come to life.
Ford, Carin T. (2013). The Civil War’s African-American Soldiers Through Primary Sources. Berkeley Heights, NJ: Enslow Publishers. Hardcover. 48 pages. $23.93. Grades: 3+.
Ford has written a well-research book about the Civil War. The author shares the reasons for African-Americans to fight, the all black regiments, the treatment of the African-Americans, and the obstacles they had to overcome to be considered equal to white soldiers. The book contains beautiful paintings as well as authentic photographs of African-American soldiers. At the end of the book, the author has included a list of vocabulary, timeline of events, a list of book for further reading, and Internet sources for further research.
Ford, Carin T. (2013. The Emancipation Proclamation, Lincoln, and Slavery Through Primary Sources. Berkeley Heights, NJ: Enslow Publishers. Hardcover. 48 pages. $23.93. Grades: 3+.
Abraham Lincoln once said, “If Slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong.” When he made this statement, many people in the South did not agree. When Lincoln became president in 1861, the conflict over slavery became a war. Although the Civil War was fought to reunite the Union, the President saw a greater need: ending slavery forever in the America. In striving to fulfill this goal, Lincoln wrote the Emancipation Proclamation. Included in the book are several primary sources such as photographs, documents, and maps that engage the reader in research. A glossary, books for further reading, Internet sources, and timeline of events complete this delightful book.
Ford, Carin T. (2013). Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and the Battle of Gettysburg Through Primary Sources. Berkeley Heights, NJ: Enslow Publishers. Hardcover. 48 pages. $23.93. Grades: 3+.
The book is one in a series on a specific topic or issue of the American Civil War. This book examines the Battle of Gettysburg, including the events leading to the battle, important people involved, the aftermath of the Civil War, and President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. Ford used several primary document such as photographs, maps, and documents throughout the book. A glossary, books for further reading, Internet sources, and a time line of events are included at the end of the book.
Ford, Carin T. (2013). An Overview of the American Civil War Through Primary Sources. Berkeley Heights, NJ: Enslow Publishers. Hardcover. 48 pages. $23.93.
An Overview of the American Civil War Through Primary Sources was the first book written by Ford on the War. Ford shares with the reader the causes of the conflict, background on the Union and Confederacy, the major battles and important historical figures, and how the Union won the war. The book was well researched and is based on primary sources. The author has included a glossary, books for further reading, Internet sources, and a timeline of events.
Ford, Carin T. (2013). The Underground Railroad and Slavery Through Primary Sources. Berkeley Heights, NJ: Enslow Publishers. Hardcover. $23.93. Grades: 3+.
The author has written a well-researched, crafted book on the Underground Railroad and slavery. Ford examines the creation of the Underground Railroad in the United States, including slavery in early America, the difficulty daily life of a slave, and the courageous people who helped slaves escape to freedom. The book contains gorgeous illustrations and authentic photographs of slavery. Included in the book is a glossary, books for further reading, Internet resources, and a timelines of events.
Ford, Carin T. (2013). Women of the Civil War Through Primary Sources.
Berkeley Heights, NJ: Enslow Publishers. Hardcover. $23.93. Grades: 3+.
This is another book in a series written by Ford on a topic of the Civil War. In this book, Ford explores the lives and roles of women during the Civil War, including nurses, spies, soldiers, as well as the daily life and work on the home front of women. Beautiful illustrations and authentic photographs of women during the Civil War really bring history to life. The book includes a glossary, a list of books for further reading, Internet sources, and a timeline of events.
Fradin, Dennis Brindell and Judith Bloom Fradin. (2013). The Price of Freedom: How One Town Stood Up to Slavery. Illustrated by Eric Velasquez. London, England: Walker Children’s Books. Hardcover. 48 pages. $13.95. Grades: 2+.
The authors tell a poignant story of John Price, a slave in Kentucky, who took a chance at freedom by crossing the frozen Ohio River into Ohio one January night in 1865. Though the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 was fully enforced in every state of the union, the townspeople of Oberlin, Ohio, believed that all people should be free. Price started a new life in town-until two slave catchers apprehended him. When the citizens of Oberlin heard of the capture, they banded together and demanded Price’s release in a dramatic showdown. Velasquez’s dramatic mixed media and oil paintings help the reader understand the emotions of John Price. The front cover highlights John surrounded by his friends while the back cover illustrated a betrayal, with a hand dropping a gold coin into another hand. The end pages show a dark, quiet view of the river sets the stage fro the conflict. The final image is an 1859 large-scale photo of the Rescuers ten in the courtyard of the jail.
Gentry, Nancy. (2013). Rebel in Petticoats. Franklin, TN: O’More Publishing Company. Paperback. 284 pages. $13.00. Kindle edition. $4.99. Grades: 5+.
In 1861, ten-year-old Rachel Franklin and her family are pulled into the middle of the Civil War. Before the war the biggest concern of Rachel was using proper manners and controlling her jealousy towards her brother Bud’s sweetheart, Suzanna Wade. Now Rachel and her mother must pick cotton, tend to wounded soldiers, and wait for letters from loved ones. One night Rachel must deliver a message for Papa to save the lives of several men, she learns the meaning of bravery.
Hartmetz, Richard S. (2013). The American Civil War. Lexington, KY: Starry NIght Publishers. Paperback. 382 pages. $14.00. Grades: 5+.
Hartmetz provides readers with concise historical facts about the personalities, battlefields, women, children, horses, music, mascots, weapons, flags and more of the Civil War. The author includes primary documents such as photographs, documents, and maps. At the end of the book, the author includes a list of movies about the Civil War, a lengthy glossary, children’s books for further reading, and a wonderful list of Internet sources.
Johnson, Lois Walfrid. (2013). Escape into the Night. Chicago, IL: River North Publishers. Paperback. 221 pages. $8.09. Kindle edition. $5.19. Grades: 5+.
Her aunt in Chicago raised Libby Norstad, 12, until she is reunited with her father, the captain of a Mississippi River steamboat. During her first trip with him, she finds that she must come to terms with her beliefs about slavery. Caleb, the captain’s boy, is her teacher, and Jordan, a runaway slave, offers her a real life lesson in being a conductor on the Underground Railroad. The plot is fast paced and has well-developed characters, and wonderful dialogue. The book is full of interesting historical facts.
Massey, Ellen Gray. (2013). Papa’s Gold. Fayetteville, AR: Pen-L Publishing Company. Paperback. 194 pages. $11.97. Grades: 4+
Massey has written a wonderful story about a family who escape from Confederate held Tennessee to a new home in Missouri. George and Sarah Patterson, spirited young twins, find themselves facing mysteries and mishaps, and they must use all of their intelligence to keep their family safe and sound.
McConaghy, Lorraine and Bentley, Judy. (2013). Free boy: A True Story of Slave and Master. Seattle, Washington: University of Washington Press. Paperback. 104 pages. $14.21. Kindle edition. $9.99. Grades: 4+.
Free Boy is based on a true story of a 13-year-old slave who escaped from Washington Territory to freedom in Canada on the West’s underground railroad. James Tilton, a surveyor-general in the 1850s arrived in Washington Territory with his household including young Charles Mitchell, a slave. McConaghy and Bentley share the exciting story of Charlie’s escape in 1860 on a steamer bound for Victoria with the help from free blacks. The authors’ admirable primary-source research results in a context-rich story that sheds a light on racial attitudes and Civil War politics in Washington. The book includes a prologue, epilogue, and bibliography of sources.
O’Connor, Jim. (2013). What Was the Battle of Gettysburg? Illustrated by James Bennett and John Mantha. New York: Grossett & Dunlao. Paperback. 128 pages. $5.39. Kindle edition. $5.99. Grades: 3+.
The vivid black-and white illustrations throughout the book bring the Battle of Gettysburg vividly to life. Beginning with “Four score and seven years ago . . .” Abraham Lincoln’s wonderful speech commemorating the three-day battle that became the turning point of the Civil War, the book shares the events in a simple manner.
Ruby, Lois. (2013). Rebel Spirits. Bel Aire, CA: Point. Hardcover. 304 pages. $11.42. Kindle edition. $10.43. Grades: 5+.
The author has written a haunting story of a young girl, Lori Chase, who moves to Gettysburg and besieged by a ghost. It seems that everyone in Gettysburg is obsessed with the bloody Civil War battle, and soldiers who died in the house haunt the old inn that Lori’s parents operate. Lori meets a solider named Nathaniel Pierce. His soul cannot rest because he was murdered. She begins to investigate the age-old mystery, and learns many shocking secrets.
Tarshis, Lauren. (2013). I Survived the Battle of Gettysburg, 1863. New York: Scholastic. Paperback. 112 pages. $4.99. Kindle edition. $3.82. Grades: 2+.
Tarshis has written the story of Thomas and his little sister, Birdie, who has fled the farm where they were born and raised as slaves. They followed the North Star, looking for freedom, and soon met a Union soldier. Everything changes for the two children. Corporal Henry Green brings Thomas and Birdie back to his regiment where they feel at home. The regiment is called to battle in Pennsylvania. Will the children be able to survive the battle?
Wade, Mary Dodson. (2013). Amazing Civil War Nurse: Clara Barton. Berkeley Heights, NJ: Enslow Publishing Company. Paperback. 24 pages. $6.95. Grades: 1-2.
Wade has written an entry-level biography of Clara Barton and the American Red Cross. The book includes gorgeous oil paintings and colorful photographs of events occurring during her life as compared to the present. The end of the book includes a list of vocabulary words, a timeline of Clara’s life, a list of books for further reading, and Internet sources.
Washington, Booker T. (2013). Up From Slavery. Seattle, WA: Tribecca Books/A tributary of amazon.com. Paperback. 156 pages. $7.77. Grades: 5+.
Up From Slavery is the 1901 autobiography of Book T. Washington detailing his slow and steady rise from a slave child during the Civil War, to the difficulties he overcame to get an education at Hampton University, to his work establishing vocational schools. He reflects on the generosity of both teachers and others who helped in educating blacks and Native Americans.
– By Dr. Judy Pierce and By Dr. Pam Jukes, Western Kentucky University