A rich coming-of-age tale that sheds light on an uncommon Civil War perspective.

THE PEACEMAKERS

Amid the Civil War, a Mennonite boy struggles to follow the path of peace in this debut middle-grade historical novel.

Mennonites like 14-year-old Emanuel “Manny” Weaver and his family—farmers and potters—have strong religious principles, including turning the other cheek, acting as peacemakers, and avoiding worldly affairs. Rather than join the militia in their home state of Virginia, the men of the family have been able to pay a fine instead. But when, in 1861, Virginia votes to secede from the Union, the new Confederacy requires all men between 18 and 45 to enlist in the military, allowing no exceptions. Manny’s Uncle Davy is forcibly conscripted but manages to run off in the confusion of battle. Returning home, he asks Manny to help him hide, bring him food, and swear an oath to tell no one, not even the family, where he is. Manny agrees, though taking his promise seriously puts him squarely in a moral dilemma, especially when his father is taken away to serve in Davy’s place. Working harder than he ever has, Manny ponders questions of morality, such as swearing oaths (biblically forbidden), stealing food for Davy, fighting in the war, and supporting slavery. In her novel, Lindsay draws on family history to set the Civil War in a context not usually explored. She does a fine job of presenting several ethical dilemmas. For example, Mennonites don’t do business with slaveholders, but with the men gone, the Weavers must hire enslaved people owned by a neighbor to harvest the crops. Manny’s growth into a man is convincingly portrayed through his backbone, thoughtfulness, and industry. The novel also deftly describes the absorbing details of farming, pottery-making, and community life.

A rich coming-of-age tale that sheds light on an uncommon Civil War perspective.

Pub Date: Nov. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-945049-08-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Shadelandhouse Modern Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2021

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A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish.

THE MECHANICAL MIND OF JOHN COGGIN

The dreary prospect of spending a lifetime making caskets instead of wonderful inventions prompts a young orphan to snatch up his little sister and flee. Where? To the circus, of course.

Fortunately or otherwise, John and 6-year-old Page join up with Boz—sometime human cannonball for the seedy Wandering Wayfarers and a “vertically challenged” trickster with a fantastic gift for sowing chaos. Alas, the budding engineer barely has time to settle in to begin work on an experimental circus wagon powered by chicken poop and dubbed (with questionable forethought) the Autopsy. The hot pursuit of malign and indomitable Great-Aunt Beauregard, the Coggins’ only living relative, forces all three to leave the troupe for further flights and misadventures. Teele spins her adventure around a sturdy protagonist whose love for his little sister is matched only by his fierce desire for something better in life for them both and tucks in an outstanding supporting cast featuring several notably strong-minded, independent women (Page, whose glare “would kill spiders dead,” not least among them). Better yet, in Boz she has created a scene-stealing force of nature, a free spirit who’s never happier than when he’s stirring up mischief. A climactic clutch culminating in a magnificently destructive display of fireworks leaves the Coggin sibs well-positioned for bright futures. (Illustrations not seen.)

A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish. (Adventure. 11-13)

Pub Date: April 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234510-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Walden Pond Press/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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An engaging novel-in-poems that imagines one earnest, impassioned teenage girl’s experience of the Japanese-American...

DUST OF EDEN

Crystal-clear prose poems paint a heart-rending picture of 13-year-old Mina Masako Tagawa’s journey from Seattle to a Japanese-American internment camp during World War II.

This vividly wrought story of displacement, told from Mina’s first-person perspective, begins as it did for so many Japanese-Americans: with the bombs dropping on Pearl Harbor. The backlash of her Seattle community is instantaneous (“Jap, Jap, Jap, the word bounces / around the walls of the hall”), and Mina chronicles its effects on her family with a heavy heart. “I am an American, I scream / in my head, but my mouth is stuffed / with rocks; my body is a stone, like the statue / of a little Buddha Grandpa prays to.” When Roosevelt decrees that West Coast Japanese-Americans are to be imprisoned in inland camps, the Tagawas board up their house, leaving the cat, Grandpa’s roses and Mina’s best friend behind. Following the Tagawas from Washington’s Puyallup Assembly Center to Idaho’s Minidoka Relocation Center (near the titular town of Eden), the narrative continues in poems and letters. In them, injustices such as endless camp lines sit alongside even larger ones, such as the government’s asking interned young men, including Mina’s brother, to fight for America.

An engaging novel-in-poems that imagines one earnest, impassioned teenage girl’s experience of the Japanese-American internment. (historical note) (Verse/historical fiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: March 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8075-1739-0

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: Jan. 29, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2014

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