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THE TOTALLY MADE-UP CIVIL WAR DIARY OF AMANDA MACLEISH by Claudia Mills

THE TOTALLY MADE-UP CIVIL WAR DIARY OF AMANDA MACLEISH

By Claudia Mills

Age Range: 9 - 12

Pub Date: March 24th, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-374-37696-3
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Fifth-grader Amanda finds that exercising her writing talent helps her to cope with changes in her family. As in Being Teddy Roosevelt (2007), Mills combines the straightforward, sturdy charm of a school story with insight into family dynamics and the exploration of an intriguing historical topic—in this case, the Civil War. In the process she celebrates creativity, connection and compassion. Upset at the conflict between her parents and reluctant to reveal their separation to her best friend Beth, Amanda uses a school assignment to work out her worries and sadness. Entries in the diary of imaginary ten-year-old Polly Mason appear throughout the book, providing Amanda with the opportunity to ponder family divisions and differing points of view. These entries reflect her concerns perfectly while classroom discussions inform young readers about the many facets of the Civil War. The resolution of other conflicts (Amanda’s estrangement from Beth and her discomfort with a classmate’s casual racism) helps to soften the impact of the apparently permanent separation of her parents. Believable and appealing. (Fiction. 9-12)