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Book cover of Willie McLean and the Civil War Surrender

Willie McLean and the Civil War Surrender

by Candice Ransom, Jeni Reeves

Publisher: Lerner Publishing Group
Pages: 48
ISBN: 9781575056982

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Children's Literature

Carolrhoda's attractively illustrated "On My Own" series recreates momentous historical events in terms accessible to young elementary readers. Although eleven-year-old Willie McLean's family moved twice to escape the Civil War, Willie misses the boom of cannons and soldiers' battle cries. But in April, 1865, he is discouraged to see deserters and exhausted Confederate soldiers trudge past his western Virginia home. Willie watches in disbelief as his hero, General Robert E. Lee, surrenders to General Ulysses S. Grant in Willie's own front parlor. Using a true incident in McLean family history, Ransom personalizes Lee's surrender at Appomattox. More than a bystander to the event, Willie shares in the humiliation of defeat and rages at the affront to his family when Union officers plunder the furniture of the room where the two generals met. One officer even takes sister Lula's doll, which is finally returned to the Appomattox Museum 100 years later. The Afterword expands the narrative beyond Willie's limited perspective with a brief description of the tragic war that took 625,000 lives. A useful tool for the social studies curriculum. 2005, Carolrhoda/Lerner Publications, and Ages 7 to 10.
—Ann Philips

School Library Journal

Gr 2-3-These beginning readers offer basic historical overviews in story format. The first one describes the famous surrender by General Lee to General Grant as told from the imagined point of view of 11-year-old Willie McLean, a real person who might have witnessed the event and the tragic rampage through his family's house by Yankee soldiers following the truce signing. The second title discusses Frances Scott Key's inspiration for the poem he wrote during the War of 1812, explaining how the music was selected and how the song finally came to be accepted as the country's national anthem. Both books have clear, unencumbered texts complemented by serviceable period art in color and an author's note. These books offer perfunctory descriptions and interpretations for readers just becoming interested in history or embarking on a museum visit.-Rita Soltan, Oakland University, Rochester, MI Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

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