Welcome back to Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers.
As we creep ever closer to the new year, I thought today would be a good moment to take a look back in history with a Kids Fiction title from an author giving new voices to our past. Her name is Bobbi Miller and for those of you that have yet to make her acquaintance, I do suggest you correct that situation sooner as opposed to later. I've featured her work right here on a few occasions and I must say, the most recent releases have certainly not left me wanting. Big River's Daughter was a big hit on my radar and today's featured title is a close second. Ladies and gents, allow me to introduce today's book of choice...
About the book...
Pickett's Charge, the suicidal assault led by Robert E. Lee on the last day of the Battle of Gettysburg, was a valiant effort but stunning defeat for the Rebel army. It serves as the powerful climax of this Civil War novel, told from the viewpoints of three girls.
Twelve-year-old Annie Gordon, disguised as a boy, sells herself as a substitute soldier and joins the Portsmouth Rifles of the 9th Virginia Infantry as they march north to Gettysburg. In Gettysburg lives fourteen-year-old Tillie Pierce, the frivolous daughter of a local merchant whose romanticized notion of war is immediately disabused when the fighting begins. Also in Gettysburg are Grace Bryan and her father, who refuse to flee with the other free blacks who fear that the rebels will arrest them as fugitive slaves.
Let me start with this....I am not a huge fan of Historical Fiction as a whole, but there are some works that I fancy, and this author's last two releases were both in the "favored" category.
Here we have a particular point in history explored from the eyes of three brave young ladies. They were in very different situations, though all within spitting distance of each other, and they experienced the tragic affair on many levels. Young Annie Gordon impersonated a soldier to escape the life she was dealt, gaining herself freedom (for a time) that was more than hard won. Tillie Pierce is the snotty girl one loves to loathe and yet when war lands at her feet, she picks up the pieces to assist in setting things right once again, even if it does take a few hard knocks to bring it out of her. Grace Bryan is perhaps the one that had the most to fear being African American at the time. Though born free, she could have easily been mistaken for a runaway slave on the color of her skin alone and was forced to hide just as those that truly were. Each young lady began their journey with gentle yet fierce souls and ended them with more life experience than one should have at their age (let alone any age).
I have to say, the author really manages to get you into the action. You are right there on the field as Annie marches into battle. You shiver in terror as you hide away at Ms. Mary's with Grace, Sorry, and Weezy; your fate determined by the lack of evidence found regarding your existence. You ride the emotional highs and lows as Tillie finds her heart, realizes that the enemy is not what she imagined, and makes haste to have the fallen's families know of their great sacrifice. Upon reading the letter to home from one of these gals, I myself shed a few tears.
In the end, it's a powerful telling of a most tragic event in our histories that sheds some light on the somewhat unknown roles that women played in it. With characters you come to know and love, you'll root for them straight till the end. It's a great way for younger readers to interact with history in a way they were not anticipating. The author's note portion at book's end connects the dots between fact and fiction while providing additional options for further exploration reading wise. (Nice touch!) Recommended read for Kids Fiction fans of all ages. History can be tragic but it is something we can learn from in the hopes of providing a better tomorrow, today.
Special thanks to author Bobbi Miller for the signed (and personalized!) review copy. (THANK YOU!) For more information on this title as well as her full body of works, be sure to seek her out online. This title was released earlier this year via Holiday House Books, so be on the lookout for it on a bookstore shelf or virtual retailer of your choosing. ALSO, for those of you that are educators or perhaps thinking of exploring the book further with your own children, there is a FREE Educator's Guide on the publisher's site. Be sure to check it out!
Until next time....HAPPY NEW YEAR...and happy reading!