State and Provincial Reading Lists:
Reading Measurement Programs:
John Peters (Booklist, Aug. 1, 2003 (Vol. 99, No. 22))
The winning premise of this epistolary Civil War tale should hook plenty of readers. Inspired by her love of horses and her friend Isaac's facility for drawing them, 11-year-old Kentuckian Sallie Burd asks both Union and Confederate generals to describe their favorite steeds, and then compiles a book of their responses. In letters to her older brother, William, a Union soldier, Sallie describes her project's progress, as well as keeping him up to date on local events and conditions; William in turn provides vivid, sometimes poignant, reports on camp life and his state of mind. By war's end, Sallie has received 13 answers--ranging from Stonewall Jackson's affectionate tribute to his Little Sorrel ("When we pause in our marches, Sorrel lays himself down like a dog") to Sheridan's quiet praise for his Rienzi. There's a note from a wounded veteran rebuilding his life with a horse's help. Drawing many, perhaps all, of her anecdotes from historical records, Denslow opens an inviting window to the past with these consistently short, simply written missives and appreciations. Category: Books for Middle Readers--Fiction. 2003, HarperCollins/Greenwillow, $15.99, $16.89. Gr. 4-6.
Diane Frook (Children's Literature)
In this Civil War-era novel, Sallie Burd, a horse-loving 11-year-old from Kentucky, decides, with the help of a friend, to create a book about the war generals' horses. The book unfolds in the letters Sallie and her brother William, who is fighting for the Union cause, write to each other over a four-year period. The plot is relatively thin--the biggest question being whether Union General Ulysses Grant will respond to Sallie's query about his horse--but this doesn't lessen the impact of the book, which records the myriad, sometimes mundane, details of living, and quietly honors the daily existence that makes a worthwhile life. With the exception of a brief discussion of slavery, the politics of the war are largely ignored; instead this novel is a reminder of a time when an army general would answer a little girl's letter, a time when America had a certain gentility and accessibility that it has since lost. Also, unlike stories that celebrate unequivocally the love affair between girls and horses, this one deftly mixes love for the animals with their necessary practical nature in an 1860s rural culture. This book is to be recommended for its moving, but never sappy, look at one family's life during this time. 2003, Greenwillow Books/HarperCollins Children's Books, $15.99. Ages 8 to 12.
Kirkus (Kirkus Reviews, August 1, 2003 (Vol. 71, No. 15))
An epistolary tale offers young readers insight into life during the Civil War. Sallie, 11, loves horses, and her best friend Isaac loves to draw. So, they decide to make a book, using letters from Civil War generals telling about their horses and featuring Isaac's illustrations. Sallie begins writing to the generals and her brother William, in the Union army, assures her in one of his revealing letters from the front that the generals will write as a diversion, to keep from going mad. Sure enough, Sallie and Isaac begin receiving responses. General Robert E. Lee writes about Traveller, Stonewall Jackson about Little Sorrel, and several other generals respond, too. By story's end, their book about horses is done, Sallie has grown up, and William has returned home. The original premise works well, telling an appealing story with plenty of details about farm life, war, and the place of horses in the Civil War era. (note to readers, afterword) 2003, Greenwillow/HarperCollins, $15.99. Category: Fiction. Ages 7 to 11. © 2003 Kirkus Reviews/VNU eMedia, Inc. All rights reserved.
Rebecca N. Jones (The Lorgnette - Heart of Texas Reviews (Vol. 16, No. 3))
In this novel of the War Between the States, Denslow tells the story in letterform as her young heroine, Sally, converses with her brother, William, while he is fighting in the army. The story takes place in Kentucky and centers on the idea that Sally is putting together a book about horses. She writes to many of the generals on both sides of the war and asks them to tell about their horses. She takes their let-ters, includes pictures drawn by her friend Isaac, and makes a book. As the letters go back and forth between brother and sister, the reader sees the book develop and the war take place. This is an interesting book that views the war through the eyes of an energetic young girl. It would be a good addition to any social studies classroom and would be especially enjoyed by horse-lovers. Fiction. Grades 2-5. 2003, Greenwillow Books, 134p., $16.89. Ages 7 to 11.
Lisa A. Hazlett (VOYA, April 2004 (Vol. 27, No. 1))
Eleven-year-old Sallie loves horses as does her brother, William, a soldier in the Civil War. This admiration leads to Sallie's war contribution: She creates a book about warhorses by writing to various generals and asking about their mounts. Received letters will become the book's text, with her friend Isaac providing drawings of each animal. The siblings' series of exchanged letters make up this novel, and through them readers follow the book's progress, read the generals' responses, and learn of Sallie's and William's daily lives and losses both during and after the war. The generals' letters are especially poignant, as all communicated love and admiration for their horses. Ironically the novel's accuracy regarding form and content also produces its main flaw: insufficient Civil War details. Letters would be too brief to contain full explanations of events that the youth experience, and William would likely allude to some aspects of soldiering rather than provide grisly details to his beloved younger sister. Slavery, states' rights, Lincoln's assassination, and other key items are mentioned only briefly in the missives. Middle school readers might require more information to read between the lines of William's missives. They will also wonder about Sallie's book, still unfinished at the novel's end. Appendixes with war events and biographies of the generals and their horses might have been helpful. It is also unclear whether Sallie's book has any historical basis. VOYA CODES: 3Q 2P M (Readable without serious defects; For the YA with a special interest in the subject; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8). 2003, Greenwillow, 136p., $15.99 and PLB $16.89. Ages 11 to 14.
|Language||Call Number||LCCN||Dewey Decimal||ISBN/ISSN|
|English (eng)||PZ7.D433 Al 2003
0066238099 (lib. bdg.)