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A Ballad of the Civil War
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About the Author

Mary Stolz published her first book for young people in 1950 with Ursula Nordstrom and never looked back. Since then, she has written more than sixty books, been published in nearly thirty languages, and received two Newbery Honors (for Belling the Tiger and The Noonday Friends). The Bully of Barkham Street is the sequel to A Dog on Barkham Street (also available from HarperTrophy). Ms. Stolz lives on the Gulf Coast of Florida. Sergio Martinez was born and lives in Mexico City. He illustrated Weapons & Warfare by Milton Meltzer. His paintings have been exhibited in galleries around the world.

Reviews

Elaborating on an old Union army song she heard as a child, Stolz (Go Fish) crafts a slender but emotionally charged story of twins who grow up to fight on opposite sides in the Civil War. Raised in Virginia, the boys follow identical paths until their ninth birthday, when the 14-year-old slave who has been their companion since birth is banished from the "Big House" to the slave quarters for being "uppity." Tom chafes at the injustice and learns to disapprove of a society in which people are bought and sold "like they were crockery"; Jack, on the other hand, unquestioningly accepts the traditional order of things. In four brief, moving chapters, Stolz sheds light on some of the factors that led to the Civil War, creating in Tom a personable spokesman for the Union cause. Her pellucid, descriptive prose delivers a bite-size piece of history that is well-suited as a jumping-off point for further discussion. Illustrated with black-and-white drawings. Ages 8-10. (Nov.)

"Realistic and poignantly drawn....A good choice for introducing historical fiction."--" School Library Journal

Gr 4-7‘From the poignant words of a Civil War ballad, Stolz has fashioned a short yet moving tale of twin boys who grow up on a Virginia plantation and, as young men, choose opposing sides in the war. On their ninth birthday, Tom decries the banishment of Aaron, a young slave who has been their constant companion, to the fields because the interracial friendship is deemed no longer appropriate. Jack, caught up in the day's festivities, quickly forgets the boy who once saved his life. He dreams of the day when he can ride into battle on a real horse, instead of on the hobbyhorses that the twins have received as birthday presents. When Jack's is broken, kindhearted Tom makes room on his saying, "He'll go just as well with two." Ten years later, Jack wears a Confederate uniform while Tom makes his solitary way to join the Union Army. On his 21st birthday and now a lieutenant, he spies a wounded Confederate soldier by the roadside. He hopes that it is Jack, but it is not. Nevertheless, he treats the man like a brother, hoisting him onto his own horse, repeating the childhood refrain, "He'll go just as well with two." Though the plot is simple and the characters are uncomplicated, both are realistic and poignantly drawn. Fine-quality, pen-and-ink artwork appears throughout. A good choice for introducing historical fiction.‘Peggy Morgan, The Library Network, Southgate, MI

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