Skip to main content

Soldier Song: A True Story of the Civil War by Debbie Levy, illustrated by Gilbert Ford


Soldier Song: A True Story of Civil War by Debbie Levy with illustrations by Gilbert Fordreminds me of why I love (and need) non-fiction narratives. I wish it wasn't true, but my tastes in reading didn't mature and I need incentives like marvelous illustrations, superb writing and 32 page length books in order to make it through most non-fiction. Soldier Song: A True Story of Civil War delivers on all these marvelous qualities while also revealing a little know piece of history and that is also a reflection of what is best about humanity, especially in the midst of some of our worst moments.



With engaging text, Levy sets the stage, cluing readers into the details of the Civil War and the importance of the Emancipation Proclamation. Hoping to gain a "bold military victory over the rebels" a month before the Emancipation Proclamation would take effect in January of 1863, President Lincoln sends tens of thousands of troops to the Rappahannock River where they will cross and hopefully capture Fredericksburg, Virginia. While Levy keeps details of the devastating battle to a minimum, she is precise with her worlds and the losses are not forgotten. She uses excerpts from actual letters written by soldiers on both sides of the battle to help tell her story and crafts her story around a popular song of the time that somehow united both sides one crisp, cold night.


Setting the scene with details of the cold, hard, sometimes muddy ground where the soldiers on both sides of the war - and river - set up camp, Levy brings to life the long, dull time that could stretch between battles. She shares how, and which, songs called soldiers to different tasks and how the Union and Confederate sides had alternative lyrics for the song, "Dixie," something which I never knew. The song that brought the two sides together one cold winter night was, "Home, Sweet Home," a song I think I first heard in an old cartoon. The sides traded verses, the troops silent and listening, reminded of "all they hoped to see again." When the song ended, both sides cheered.

Levy ends her book in June of 1865, the war over, with a story aboard a riverboat bound for St. Louis, Missouri where soldiers from both sides are, once again, united in song. The backmatter adds more fascinating details about the Battle of Fredericksburg to the story. I especially liked the "Notable People at Fredericksburg" section and was surprised by the number of historical figures - poets, writers, artists and even Abner Doubleday, who went on to invent baseball - were there! Levy also includes a two page spread detailing the song itself, a timeline of the Civil War and a great bibliography with a "further reading" section.

Source: Review Copy



Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Made by Dad: 67 Blueprints for Making Cool Stuff - Projects You Can Build For (and With) Kids! by Scott Bedford

On his personal website, Scott Bedforddescribes himself as an "Award Winning Online Creative Professional" working within the advertising and design industry. What is more interesting (and applicable here) is how hisWhat I Made website came to be. While sitting in a Starbucks with his restless young sons, trying to enjoy his latte, Bedford created something out of coffee stir sticks that ended up keeping his boys entertained, finishing his coffee in peace and sparking (re-sparking, really) his creative drive and reminding him of the "enormous joy gained from making things, even simple things, and that this joy is not the complexity or quality of the finished project but in the process of making itself. On Bedford'sWhat I Made website, he even shares Six Cool Coffee Shop Crafts for Kidsthat you can try out next time you want to enjoy your coffee and your kids are making that difficult. I've shared two below - be sure to check out the website and see the rest!

Be…

POP-UP: Everything You Need to Know to Create Your Own Pop-Up Book, paper engineering by Ruth Wickings, illustrations by Frances Castle RL: All ages

POP-UP:  Everything You Need to Know to Create Your Own Pop-Up Book with paper engineering by Ruth Wickings and illustrations by Frances Castle is THE COOLEST BOOK EVER!!!  I know that I haven't dedicated much time to pop-up books here, but they have always held a special place in my heart, and the phrase "paper engineering" is a favorite of mine. Although I didn't know what it was at the time, I did go through a paper engineering phase when I was ten or so. I would sneak off to the back of the classroom during independent work periods and go to town on the construction paper and glue and make these little free-standing dioramas. A huge fan of The Muppet Show (the original), I reconstructed the all-baby orchestra from an episode, drawing and coloring each baby and his/her instrument then gluing them onto a 3D orchestra section I had crafted out of brown construction paper.  I also made a 3D version of Snidely Whiplash throwing Nell off a cliff with Dudley Do-Right wa…

How to Choose Age Appropriate Books for Advanced Readers

How to Choose Age Appropriate Books for Advanced Readers remains the most read post on my blog since I wrote it in 2012. Because of this, I have cleaned up this post, tightened the writing and added in any pertinent information that has come about since it originally ran. When I first started books4yourkids.com in August of 2008, I was scrambling for content, finding my purpose and my voice and not always doing my best writing. How to Choose Age Appropriate Books for Advanced Readers was one of the first articles I wrote and, as a bookseller and a book reviewer, and now as an elementary school librarian where I have gone from working with kids reading well beyond their grade level to kids reading well below, this philosophy remains my organizing principle and central focus when reading and recommending books to parents and children. 

In the interest of my mission and the attention this article continues to receive, I have updated and expanded this article and included a guide to using …