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A BALLAD OF THE CIVIL WAR by Mary Stolz

A BALLAD OF THE CIVIL WAR

By Mary Stolz (Author) , Sergio Martinez (Illustrator)

Age Range: 9 - 11

Pub Date: Nov. 30th, 1997
ISBN: 0-06-027362-3
Publisher: HarperCollins

 Stolz (Coco Grimes, 1994, etc.) fleshes out--barely--a sentimental Civil War ballad about brothers who share a hobby horse, and years later, another steed in the aftermath of battle. Tom Rigby's excitement as he awakens on his ninth birthday changes to outrage when he learns that the slave Aaron, a companion to him and his twin for most of their lives, has been summarily ``sent to the quarter'' by their father to be a field hand. Although he listens reluctantly to the warnings of the household slaves (who maintain that making a fuss will only endanger Aaron), Tom defiantly gives his birthday toys away to the slave children. He has an argument with twin Jack, who echoes their father's advocacy of slavery, although the rift isn't wide enough to prevent him from sharing his hobby horse when Jack's breaks. Twelve years later, Tom--a Union officer--recalls that time as he offers a ride to a wounded Confederate soldier who only looks too familiar. Stolz focuses more on her characters' emotional states than on plot or background detail, and readers who are less familiar with the era will wonder why Aaron was sent away, and why the slave children have to hide their new toys from the overseer. Paul Fleischman's Bull Run or Gary Paulsen's Nightjohn (both, 1993) afford more insight into the realities of slavery and of what Stolz calls ``this brothers' war.'' (b&w illustrations, not seen) (Fiction. 9-11)