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Deborah Zink (Children's Literature)
Coiled by time and the battle at Bull Run, these are separate monologues from folks whose lives were forever altered by the Civil War. Together the eight fictional accounts from Southerners and the eight from Northerners tell a whole story of pain, loyalty, and disillusionment. This unforgettable lesson encourages youngsters to approach a situation with the knowledge that there are more than two sides to each story; there are as many accounts as there are witnesses. This book will provide insight as well as fine material for student drama. 1994, HarperCollins, $14.00, $14.89 and $4.95. Ages 10 up.
CCBC (Cooperative Children's Book Center Choices, 1993)
Sixteen voices are commandingly woven into a fascinating, fast-paced account of the Civil War battle of Bull Run. Blending humor, excitement and danger with a grim depiction of war, Fleischman moves in and out of the lives of characters who represent diverse backgrounds, experiences and points of view: north, south, black, white, male, female, military, civilian, etc. Among them are southern colonel Oliver Brattle, whose passion for battle has long ago died; Lily Malloy, the anxious sister of a northern soldier; and Gideon Adams, who "passes" for white in order to fight for the North. Each of the sixteen characters speaks in separate chapters that advance the story while remaining firmly rooted in the experience of the individual. The action begins in the days and weeks preceeding Bull Run, and advances up to and through the disastrous battle, when lives are changed forever. Chapter headings identifying each speaker are enhanced by David Frampton's woodcuts, unique for each character, which further distinguish the shift from one distinctive voice to the next. The author has provided a listing of the various characters and the pages on which they speak at the end of the book so that the work may be easily adapted for the stage or readers' theater. Honor Book, 1993 CCBC Newbery Award Discussion. CCBC categories: Fiction For Children; Fiction For Teenagers; Historical People, Places And Events. 1993, HarperCollins, 104 pages, $13.89. Ages 11 and older.
Kirkus (Kirkus Reviews, 1993)
Using a montage of characters in the manner of Spoon River Anthology, a fine novelist and poet offers 60 vignettes from 16 contrasting individuals who describe experiences from Fort Sumter to Bull Run. Coming from both North and South in equal numbers, the narrators include a colonel and a general (the only historical figure here); a Mississippi slave who hopes the state of Virginia will offer a chance for her to escape her master and for a free black man who passes as white to join an Ohio regiment; a southern matriarch who prays for the survival of her daughters' husbands and a Minnesota Irish lass who, in the end, mourns the death of a brother who ran away to war to escape their abusive father; a filer boy and a rough Arkansan who's in the cavalry because his passion is horses; a photojournalist; and an ironical coachman, who drives congressmen and their wives out from Washington to sip champagne and view the battle. Bringing a poet's skill to crafting a unique and believable voice for each, Fleischman selects telling incidents to reveal character and to evoke the early course of the war and its impact on ordinary people--some beginning with dreams of glory, all forced to endure the grim reality. He also suggests the possibility of staging the work or performing it as "readers' theater"--a demanding endeavor that could be well worth the effort. An unusual, compelling look at the meaning of war, the Civil War in particular. Maps and illustrations not seen. 1993, HarperCollins, $14.00; PLB $13.89. Starred Review. © 1993 Kirkus Reviews/VNU eMedia, Inc. All rights reserved.
Publishers Weekly (Publishers Weekly)
Like a Shaker cabinetmaker, Fleischman creates stories of deceptively simple design (his books are characteristically slim, his prose as taut as a violin string) that resonate with grace and beauty. His distinctive style has seldom been more effective than in this powerful and poignant account of the first major battle of the Civil War. Reminiscent at times of the technique used to remarkable effect in the acclaimed PBS-TV series The Civil War , the novel relies on individual voices to give a human face to history. The result is at once intimate and sweeping, a heartbreaking and remarkably vivid portrait of a war that remains our nation's bloodiest conflict. In a series of snapshot-like first person accounts, 16 characters (all fictional excepting Gen. Irvin McDowell) from all walks of life--male and female, black and white, Northern and Southern--trace their thoughts, emotions and experiences, from their first bright hopes through the brutal reality of battle. Lily Malloy watches her beloved 17-year-old brother run off to fight for the Union. In Cincinnati, Gideon Adams, a light-skinned African American, dons a disguise and enlists, fearing discovery at every turn. Eleven-year-old Toby Boyce fakes ``Dixie'' on the fife and his audacity convinces the Confederate recruiter to let him join the band. Virginian Flora Wheelworth nurses both Rebel and Yankee in her home near Manassas. Like a fugue, the voices appear, retreat, reappear and blend, gathering momentum and intensity as the current of events pulls the characters inexorably toward the bitter clash by the quiet Virginia stream. Fleischman's artistry is nothing short of astounding. With a few swift strokes of the pen, he creates characters readers care about, and with whom they can sympathize, regardless of their loyalties. Typically deft with a metaphor, here he soars: ``the slimmest of smiles fled his lips, like a snake disappearing down a hole.'' He even manages to inject dry humor into what on the whole is an unflinching look at a grim subject, as when Toby Boyce boasts of his skill on the fife, remarking that he finished ``not . . . much behind the others on most of the pieces and well out in the lead on `Dixie.' '' This is a tour de force that should not be missed. Children's BOMC selection. Ages 10-up. (Feb.)
Betsy Hearne (The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, March 1993 (Vol. 46, No. 7))
In a sequence of sixty one- to two-page narratives, fifteen fictional characters (and one real general) recount their experiences during the Civil War. A few encounter each other, most meet unawares or not at all, but they have in common a battle, Bull Run, that affects-and sometimes ends-their lives. The writing is clean and the idea clear, but too many tracks muddy the water. Some individuals appear three times, some six, but the broad interspersion makes the identity of each difficult to remember and the development of various scenarios hard to follow. The advantage of such a large cast is, of course, the broadly represented range of society, from a bewildered general to a photographer who gets involved in the fighting to a slave determined to follow her freedom where it leads her. Students who perform the work on stage or as readers' theater, which is suggested in an endnote, will have the advantage of visual portrayals to help sort things out, and any reader will find an absorbing amount of information personalized in these all too brief accounts. Ad--Additional book of acceptable quality for collections needing more material in the area. (c) Copyright 1993, The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois. 1993, Geringer/HarperCollins, 104p, $13.89 and $14.00. Grades 5-7.
Kem Knapp Sawyer (The Five Owls, May/June 1993 (Vol. 7, No. 5))
Bull Run is a collection of vignettes from the lives of those who fought the first Battle of Bull Run on July 21, 1861. The voices that speak to us, and there are sixteen of them, are not easily forgotten. Their words will pull at your heart and echo in your ears. They tell the story of a nation divided in two, families split apart, and bodies dismembered. The general and the foot soldier, the photographer and the courier, the freedman and the runaway slave, the doctor and the cannoneer--all converge on Bull Run for the first major battle of the Civil War. Fleishchman's brilliant portrayal of this moment in time is nothing short of a tour de force. The voices may sound dissonant at first, but a common thread soon emerges. Men and women from the North and South hear the call to battle. Caught in the fever of the moment, they share in the excitement, but the expectations they hold and the dreams they have are lost. Gideon Adams, an African American, wants to join the army, but is told that "It's a white man's war." Flora Wheelworth tends to the sick and dying; she saves locks of hair from the dead soldiers to send to their families. Dr. William Rye operates without chloroform on men, "fanning clouds of flies" from their wounds. He takes some consolation in knowing that those who have died "hadn't lived to maim and murder countless other men in battle." Lily Malloy's brother, defying their father, runs off in the middle of the night to enlist. He never returns, leaving Lily with "a great hatred for the stream called Bull Run." Each character is introduced by one of David Frampton's beautifully executed woodcuts. Frampton has chosen a clever, striking symbol for each of the sixteen characters--a hat for Gideon Adams, who wants to hide his hair so he can pass as white; a spool and needle for Flora Wheelworth, who sews shirts by the score for the soldiers; a fife and bugle for Toby Boyce, the eleven-year-old who is "desperate to kill a Yankee" but is too young to carry a gun and joins the band instead. All sixteen woodcuts, appearing on the cover like squares of a patchwork quilt, hint at the richness and diversity of the characters within. A note at the end of the book makes the excellent suggestion that this work be performed as a readers' theater. I cannot think of a better way to make the characters come alive. With Fleischman's ear for language and his ability to capture an individual in a few brief pages, Bull Run, read aloud, will offer a fresh perspective on the Civil War and the many lives touched, hardened, or crushed by battle. 1993, HarperCollins, $14.00. Ages 10 up.
|Language||Call Number||LCCN||Dewey Decimal||ISBN/ISSN|
|English (eng)||PZ7.F59918 Bu 1993
0060214465 : $18.75 (Can.)|
0060214473 : $14.00 (lib. bdg.)