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Friday, April 24, 2009

Bull Run by Paul Fleischman

If your tween has studied or is about to study the Civil War, and you haven’t yet discovered this book, you are in for a treat.

This book colors in the background and bring textbook descriptions of the Civil War to life. Tweens will gain a vivid picture of the Battle of Bull Run, capturing the flavor of the time and place of the first Civil War battle.

Paul Fleischmann tells this story by switching point-of-view amongst 16 different characters. It’s a broad range of perspectives: a negro soldier; Union sympathizers; Confederates; a mother; a slave; a photographer; a young fife player. These quick vignettes all focus on the Battle of Bull Run. He has an amazing author’s gift for capturing different voices. Lots of little details, like Gen. Jackson’s constant sucking of lemons, are woven in and give the story authenticity and interest.

There are descriptions involving the ugly aspects of war: blood, bayonets, and cannon balls, and someone sitting with his intestines in his lap, for example. It is not the focus or too gory in detail. But it’s probably necessary, given the topic.

Teaching Moment: There is a character who describes the Christian soldiers as memorizing Bible verses, hearing sermons, and then picking up their guns and breaking the 5th commandment without a second thought. While pacifism is certainly allowed under Church teaching, this simplification of Christian thought on war might need some fleshing out, especially because there is no other Christian character offering a different perspective. And how Just War theory applies to Civil War is quite a discussion-worthy topic as well. Then, of course, there is the issue of slavery and seccession. I just love historical fiction.

Last: my library had a copy of this in the Listening Library, and hearing 16 different voices read their parts is even more riveting than a silent read.

It's a short book and easier read, but I'm rating it for mid-older tweens because of the war scenes.

See Catechism of the Catholic Church:
Peace: 2306
Avoiding War
: 2308, 2309,2310,2311

Rating: 2 Vatican Flags

Historical Fiction: Civil War; July 21st, 1861.
Also: Battle of Manassas

3 comments:

Anonymous,  June 2, 2010 at 2:26 PM  

im 13 and we just read this book, and i thought it was sort of boring and jumped around too much...but that's just my opinion and about 50 others...also not that into history...so that might add to my disliking of the book. But i did like the length of it... nice and short... only 100 pages...yaayyyy!
:)

Anonymous,  May 8, 2011 at 5:14 PM  

i DIDNT ENJOY IT VERY MUCH BUT WE HAD TO READ IT FOR SOCIAL STUDIES............ SOME CHARACTERS WERE MORE ENJOYABLE/EXCITING THAN OTHERS

Anonymous,  February 20, 2012 at 6:50 PM  

i hated this book. im in 6th grade . it was to spread out

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