Sunday, April 07, 2013

Middle Grade Monday-- Gettysburg Books

I Survived #7: I Survived the Battle of Gettysburg, 1863Tarshis, Lauren. I Survived #7: I Survived the Battle of Gettysburg, 1863
1 February 2013, Scholastic
Copy received from Young Adult Books Central and Reviewed there

Thomas and his sister Birdie are slaves on a plantation. After the death of their mother, a cousin, Clem, looked out for the two until he was sold to a cruel master. When Thomas finds out he is about to face the same fate, he and Birdie run off into the woods.  When the two run into a Yankee soldier who is about to be killed by a Rebel one, Thomas throws a nearby skunk at the two, saving Henry's life. Henry is so grateful that he has the two children accompany his troop back to Pennsylvania, where they unfortunately get caught up in the terrible battle of Gettysburg. At one point, Birdie is taken captive, but Henry and Thomas manage to rescue her. Thomas manages to survive, thanks to a book in a metal case that Henry gave him to carry. Although Henry doesn't survive, he has made arrangements for the siblings to be cared for by his family in Vermont.
Strengths: For short, easy-to-read books, this series packs a huge historical wallop. Tarshis mentions in a note the research involved in writing this book, and it shows. I loved the action and adventure, as well as the nice touches like the skunk throwing. These are perfect for elementary students, and certainly would have been something I order through the Scholastic book clubs when my own children were younger. For middle school students, these are fast, easy reads that also teach them a whole lot when they least expect it!
Weaknesses: Sometimes the prose is a bit wooden, but not as often as I would expect for a low level reader.

Tillie Pierce: Teen Eyewitness to the Battle of GettysburgAnderson, Tanya. Tillie Pierce: Teen Eyewitness to the Battle of Gettysburg by Tanya Anderson 
1 April 2012, Twenty First Century Books
E ARC from

Tillie lived in Gettysburg and was in school when soldiers appeared in her town. She rushed home, and when things looked bad, a neighbor asked if Tillie would come with her and her two small daughters to her father's farm three miles out of town. This seemed like a good plan; Tillie would be safe, and the neighbor would have help with her girls. Instead, this journey took them perilously close to the fighting, and Tillie ended up ministering to the wounded who were brought to the farmhouse. This book describes the area around Gettysburg, the military action that led up to this particular battle, and the aftermath with which the people of Gettysburg had to deal. The army didn't clean up all of the dead horses, and you just can't leave those lying about in fields. Well-illustrated and attractively presented, this book is one that I am definitely purchasing. Our 8th grade travels to D.C. in the spring, with a stop at Gettysburg, and this is an excellent introduction.

While I had the E ARC and the actual digital book might be different, I found the digital version to be extremely frustrating. It would not load at all on my Nook, and turning pages on an iPad took anywhere from 12 seconds to 5 minutes and 25 minutes. Yes, I got so bored waiting that I timed it. The pictures came out very nicely on the iPad, but I read the entire newspaper while waiting for the pages to turn. Please note that this refers only to the digital ARC.

It's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday at Ramblings of a Wannabe Scribe and What Are You Reading? day at Teach Mentor Texts. Both sites have lots of links to reviews about books that are great for the 4th through 8th grader. It's also Nonfiction Monday, hosted this week at A Wrung Sponge.


  1. I love the I Survived series. It has captured quite a few of my third graders. Once I shared it with them, the books haven't been on the shelf.

  2. These sound pretty interesting. My grandson is a real history buff, so I will keep these in mind. Thanks for the review.

  3. Hi there Miss Yingling, I always learn something new every time I visit your site. I would not have known about these titles if you didn't share them regularly on Mondays. Will pin these titles so I'd be reminded to look for them soon.

  4. Anonymous12:17 PM EDT

    I have not read any of the I Survived series, but must. Methinks there is some shopping in my future, or some library borrowing.

  5. I can not keep the I Survived series titles on my shelf! Middle grade readers just love them! I just picked up the Gettysburg title...actually I picked up two!

    Happy Reading!

  6. Anonymous8:29 PM EDT

    I need to read these "I Survived The..." books.

  7. I love the different viewpoints on the Battle of Gettysburg. This is a good way to introduce an important historic event. If you haven't been there, it is a beautiful part of the USA.

  8. The Tillie Pierce book looks good- I am interested in that aspect of Gettysburg because it is related to one of my favourite timeslip middle grade novels, The Root Cellar.

  9. Iwas looking at that Tarshis book. Itlookslikea goodone for my boys!

  10. Anonymous9:46 PM EDT

    These both look interesting. I'll have to keep an eye out for the I Survived series.

    Thank you for the reviews!

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