Reading Measurement Programs:
Jessica Becker (Children's Literature)
In this incredibly compelling work of historical fiction, readers experience the Civil War in Hagerstown, Maryland through the eyes of Amelia. Amelia is a young woman coming of age, grappling with complicated issues with courage, dignity, and an ambitious feminism that is inspiring. Rinaldi's historical characters are interwoven with all the important people and events of the war, bringing the time period and tragedy to life. In no way a romanticized portrayal, this story of a young woman and her town leaves the reader with a much deeper understanding of a war that gripped our country, left no one untouched, and left the face of our nation permanently changed. 1999, Scholastic Press, $15.95. Ages 13 up.
Publishers Weekly (Publishers Weekly)
In this novel inspired by the Confederate ransom of Hagerstown, Md., Rinaldi's (The Coffin Quilt) backdrop is as compelling as ever, but the narrator's undeveloped character lessens its intensity. The story begins in 1861, as 11-year-old Amelia Grafton relates the Civil War's impact on her sharply divided yet tightly linked town: "Mama and I were Southerners, but not Rebels. We were for the Union, but not the Yankees. You have to be from Maryland to understand it." When Amelia's actions inadvertently contribute to the demise of her friend's father, a Confederate-sympathizing newspaperman, and his printing press, Amelia vows to remain neutral which, unfortunately, translates as a rather passive recounting of events through most of the novel. Among the book's strengths are some riveting characters both real (Generals Lee and Custer make cameo appearances) and imagined (e.g., the fictional Jinny Pearl shoots a Rebel soldier after he attempts to rape her and disguises herself as a man to enlist). The pace picks up in the last quarter of the novel when, in 1864, Confederate General McCausland threatens to burn Hagerstown unless its citizens pay an astronomical ransom, and Amelia must finally choose sides. However, readers will likely find the unfolding of Amelia's outfoxing of the general implausible (she applies white paint to alter the ransom order) and may not stay with the book long enough to witness the highly personal price of this war. Ages 10-14. (Nov.)
Connie Russell (The ALAN Review, Winter 2000 (Vol. 27, No. 2))
Amelia's Maryland town is split by allegiance to the Confederacy or the Union. After Amelia carries a story to the town's newspaper editor, there are consequences that make Amelia vow not to take sides in the war. That decision is difficult to keep as her family and friends take sides. When a Confederate general threatens to burn the town if a ransom isn't met, Amelia must get involved. Ann Rinaldi brings history to life again as she builds a story around the ransom of Hagerstown, Maryland, which took place in 1864. Young readers will find themselves caught up in the events of the Civil War battles and the characters in this book. Genre: Civil War. 1999, Scholastic Press, $15.95. Ages 9 to 12.
Mary Arnold (VOYA, December 1999 (Vol. 22, No. 5))
Through the mystery of an altered document and young Amelia Grafton, the reader is taken back to the Civil War and Hagerstown, Maryland. Historically, Maryland occupied a difficult but crucial position, pro-Union but also home to many Southern sympathizers. This community strife is reflected in Amelia's decision to maintain personal neutrality, even while her Unionist father must flee the city during one of the three invasions by Lee's army. Amelia's older brother is a Federal soldier, but her youngest brother, Schuyler, is dazzled by the chance to meet General Lee and ride the legendary Traveller. Amelia's mother and Aunt Lou, the family servant, offer food and first aid to soldiers from both sides. These elements should make for an exciting story, but there is distance over depth in the tone, and it feels like a costumed history lesson. There is no sense of the agonized indecision and confusion that a girl on the cusp of adolescence, caught in a maelstrom of conflict, would be feeling. With a mix of ideologies and issues including women's rights, freedom of the press, and abolition, there is a tendency to teach facts rather than let the story divulge them. This is not the Rinaldi book to capture new readers, but her fans will likely check it out. VOYA CODES: 3Q 4P M J (Readable without serious defects; Broad general YA appeal; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9). 1999, Scholastic, 272p, $15.95. Ages 11 to 15.
|Language||Call Number||LCCN||Dewey Decimal||ISBN/ISSN|
|English (eng)||PZ7.R459 Am 1999
0590117440 (alk. paper)|