PRIVATE CAPTAIN by Marty Crisp

PRIVATE CAPTAIN

A Story of Gettysburg
Age Range: 10 - 14

KIRKUS REVIEW

After his father's death, 12-year-old Ben feels he must bring his big brother Reuben back from the war to help his mother. It's an adventure from the first as he must sneak out at night, and finds all too soon that his younger cousin Danny is as insistent about coming along as is Reuben's dog, Captain. Danny adds a fourth to the expedition when they come across a wild-eyed cow—frightened and unhappy about both the war and not having been milked. The narrative blends cannon shots, rifle sniping, and death with mundane details of two boys struggling to find their way toward the Union troops through Pennsylvania countryside. The pace is somewhat slow, which helps to bring readers slowly to accept the true horrors of war that the boys find when they end up in Gettysburg at the worst possible moment. At first, death is offstage, but gradually the author brings it closer and closer until readers, along with Ben, begin to believe in the inevitability of finding Reuben dead. Adults are kind and indulgent for the most part, which seems unlikely, but given the somber story and the suspense of knowing the boys are headed toward a battle, it works. Sturdy, unadorned historical fiction. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: March 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-399-23577-9
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Philomel
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 2001




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