This is probably the Avi title that I have liked the most. Some of th author's older titles have not aged well (A Place Called Ugly and Emily Upham's Revenge have been gathering dust), but for sheer volume, perserverance and general good quality, this author cannot be beat. Iron Thunder: The Battle Between the Monitor and the Merrimac is a must have for students who have a great interest in the Civil War.
Told from the point of view of Tom, a young boy whose family is struggling after the death of his father, this book weaves in particulars about the manufacture of the Northern armored ship, the Monitor, with details about life at the time. Tom's mother takes in washing, his sister is coughing up blood, and while earning 75 cents a week helping to build the Monitor, earning gold dollar coins for giving information to a Southern Copperhead spy is even more tempting. Still, Tom knows this isn't right, informs on the spies, and ends up sailing on the Monitor and being involved with the battles. There is a lot of good historical information, and the period pictures are wonderful. The book is also well-styled, with illustrations reminiscent of Civil War era news drawings and a pleasing typeface.
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