I want to share with you an Indiana author that I have been reading lately. Margaret McMullen is from southern Indiana, but was born in Mississippi. The two books I just read were set in that state at the time of Civil War. Our book club is going to hear her speak in a this weeks and we wanted to be familiar with her work before that meeting.
I had read one of her books several years ago at the recommendation from a friend. It is a children's book (young adult) and a fast read. I got it back out this weekend and read it again. Also fell in love with it again. It is How I Found the Strong. It takes place in 1861-1865. The Civil War had started and all the men old enough to hold a rifle, were heading off to war. The main character, Frank "Shanks" Russel, could not go...he was too young. Staying home with his mother, grandparents and young slave, Buck, was difficult for him. The book contains the story of what happened while others were fighting in this glorious war. At least that is what he thought. McMullen helps you have a different view point of the war and keeps you wanting to turn the page!
I wasn't satisfied with just reading one of her books. They are short reads, but great for historical fiction. These books would make great mentor texts while teaching this genre to fourth and fifth graders. The other book I read was: When I Crossed No-Bob. This book takes place after the war, when the slaves were free. But were they? Addy O'Donnnell is the 12 year old main character who lives in the patch of woods called No-Bob. Her family (clan) is mean, stinky thieves. Her dad is said to have left for Texas and her mom is mean and cruel, but all she has. Then the mother takes off leaving Addy to go live with a teacher, Frank Russel, and his new wife. (Does the name sound familiar?) Addy has t eventually stand up for what is right even if it means going against her clan.
Both these books were written from the stories of Margaret McMullen's own family. This is a great way to teach children to draw from things they know to write their stories!