14 yr old Emily's close friends the Suratt's are under suspicion in Lincoln's murder, and her uncle for body snatching for medical research. Emily's b...more14 yr old Emily's close friends the Suratt's are under suspicion in Lincoln's murder, and her uncle for body snatching for medical research. Emily's best friend is Annie Surratt, the daughter of Mary Suratt who was hung for her part in the conspiracy to murder Lincoln (yes it's a spoiler but its history). The book is dark with intrigue and gross medical stuff, so students should love it. While the assignation and arrest of Mary Suratte is the major historical event around which the book is written, it is more about the state of medical science in the US at the end of the war and how it was impacted by the war, than about Lincoln.
For instance, Rinaldi's author's note starts out focused on the history of medical dissections in the united states, and then goes on to describe its history in Europe. She then describes the history of hospitals, medical schools and medicine in the US. She doesn't turn towards the conspiracy to kill Lincoln till later. She includes a darkly humorous description of extents that medical students would go to in order to procure their own bodies to dissect.
It also includes a description of which characters are fictional, and which real... the two little people/grave robbers are apparently real, which I thought they must be as I was reading the book, because that's the kind of detail that has to be true to be believed -- only they were not in DC nor did they live during that time period. Rinaldi makes Emily's uncle one of the three doctors who attended to Lincoln after he was shot, making him the third doctor whose identity has been lost to history. As her notes show, Rinaldi in this book has done a fine job weaving historical truth and fiction together. Another example is that Emily often talks about the day that Johnny Surratt took her to Fords Theater to sit in the President's Box, and in fact he did take two young ladies to that theater and box ... ect.
She even discusses the historical debates about Annie, and other aspects of the true parts of the book and which sources she chose to rely on and why. And of course, Rinaldi being Rinaldi, she includes a full bibliography. The end of the book also include a list of teachers questions to pose to readers.
I am not a huge fan of Rinaldi's work. On one hand, as a history teacher, you got to love her for her attention to historical accuracy. I put this in part to her being 1) someone who does historical reenactments for fun -- and those guys are detail nutty, and 2) a journalist. However, she tends to not be the best writer. Her style is stilted and awkward. Having read a bunch of her books, however, I think this one is up there with some of her best... its so good that at times I forgot I was reading Rinaldi, I just wanted to know what was going to happen on the next page.(less)
1141 AD +Battle of Lincoln; Exciting story of a young page, stunted by the pox, dealing w/ political/castle intrigues during The Anarchy. This is the...more1141 AD +Battle of Lincoln; Exciting story of a young page, stunted by the pox, dealing w/ political/castle intrigues during The Anarchy. This is the period when sons were sent to another man's holding to be trained to be men. This is why both the main character and his brother are at their uncle's home. It becomes clear that the uncle is trying to ensure things like 'hunting accidents' and 'death in battle' so that their father's holdings will pass to him, and hence he can gift them to his younger children (who of course can not inherit his own estate).
The book is short, appropriate for middle schoolers but enjoyable enough for older readers as well.
The book discusses at length Matilda/Maud (Empress Matilda/Matilda of England/Queen Maud), who 'held' the throne during a brief period of a few months (she was never able to consolidate her power), and the battle is between her forces and King Stephan's forces. This time period is less of a 'civil war' than political anarchy as multiple potential rulers vie for power, and as such is often referred to as 'the anarchy.'
There's a little confusion of names toward the end because Stephan's wife is also called Matilda; this is why the author calls her Maude, while never referring to the empress by that name.
In addition to the uncle's evil, there are issues having to do with which lords support which contenders for the throne.
There's an epilogue explaining what happens next, how Henry becomes king and marries Elenore of Aquitaine, and also explains how the story closely follows the Anglo Saxon Chronicle's description of events. The epilogue mentions how the chronicles described the period of the anarchy, when lords randomly attacked one another and did all sorts of treachery, as "when Christ and his saints slept" which is also the title of Sharon Penman's novel about the period. The author also explains the deviations from historical record during the epilogue.
difficult read, in part because the story is disjointed and hectic. Rinaldi kept to the historic details, according to her authors note, and this migh...moredifficult read, in part because the story is disjointed and hectic. Rinaldi kept to the historic details, according to her authors note, and this might be why. It is only in the author's not that she places the initiating conflict as originating with ill feelings that lingered from the civil war, that flared initially in the case of the 'stolen' hogs (this is factual) and then in the Romeo/Juliet story where Romeo got Juliet knocked up but his dad still wouldn't let them marry (again, factual). (less)
Continuation of Nightjohn, but in my opinion its much better because it stays closer to the historical reality of life. Somehow it manages to be in Ne...moreContinuation of Nightjohn, but in my opinion its much better because it stays closer to the historical reality of life. Somehow it manages to be in New Orleans during the period of plessy v. ferguson without ever talking about it, or the way that the African American upper class types suddenly had American race norms thrust upon them with the influx of southerners (who were not from New Orleans). In spite of this, its an engrossing story of the slave who Nightjohn taught to read, as she grows to be a woman, lives through the civil war and ends up in New Orleans working as the maid to a very rich and mysterious woman. There are no big events that the book covers, other than the plague in St. Louis, but that is mentioned only in passing, and as I already noted, not even Plessy --- but you'll enjoy the read so much that you won't even notice it. (less)
Well written, factual 'play' leading up to and including the battle, 16 different people, 8 from each side. Written in reader's theater format, this c...moreWell written, factual 'play' leading up to and including the battle, 16 different people, 8 from each side. Written in reader's theater format, this could easily be used in the classroom. Each 'chapter' is at most a typewritten page long (double space, font 12), with each voice having between 3 and 6 parts to read. (less)
A semi-fictional micro study of the civil war, while aimed at middle school readers this book is good enough that I would suggest it to adults. It's o...moreA semi-fictional micro study of the civil war, while aimed at middle school readers this book is good enough that I would suggest it to adults. It's only around 100 pages with large type, and is a real page turner. It's a first hand account of the civil war from the viewpoint of an underage boy from Minnesota who managed to pass for 18, and was a solider. As part of the Minnesota division he experiences the harsh realities (as in very harsh, parents might want to decide if their child should be reading it) of the war in gory detail, only to survive the war suffering from PTSD.
The book only discusses the macro aspects of the war as it might have been discussed among the soldiers themselves.(less)
The book is based on one of the quirks of history, that the civil war started on and ended on the property of a single man... even after he had moved...moreThe book is based on one of the quirks of history, that the civil war started on and ended on the property of a single man... even after he had moved over a hundred miles to get away from the war. While much of the specifics of the central family the book covers is fictional, its all based on historical realities and the book is DENSE with historical details not only of the civil war but of America in general during that period. It mentions pretty much everything, from the expansion of the railroads, the oppression of mill workers in the north, to Jenny Lind the opera singer.
While Rinaldi is not the best writer by a long shot, her books do tend to be rich with historical detail.(less)
Civil war, northern girl passes as union soldier for 4 months, then joins Pinkerton's detective agency as a spy: A farm girl from an abusive Michigan...moreCivil war, northern girl passes as union soldier for 4 months, then joins Pinkerton's detective agency as a spy: A farm girl from an abusive Michigan home, runs-away to join the Union army as a way to avoid being forced into marriage with a disgusting neighbor. She manages to trick the recruiters, and goes through drill camp. Because she is good at writing and organized, she is assigned to help the camp doctor until they are sent out to battle. At this point, the book is very good as she fights along side men and kills a southern officer. From that point on, she fights but is careful to not look where she aims for fear of the guilt. She manages to pass for 4 months, until by accident her 'female form' betrays her. Since her commanders had been intending to promote her until then for being such a good soldier, they offer her the chance to work as a spy for Pinkerton's detective agency. At this point the book becomes much more mundane, as the main character works as a maid while trying to collect sufficient evidence against a politically powerful Washington socialite who has been spying for the south to send her to prison (they know she's spying, they just can't prove it).
Per usual, Rinaldi includes a final chapter explaining where she varied from the historical record and which elements are made up, her bibliography for her research, etc.(less)
**spoiler alert** Like all Rinaldi books, great research, mediocre writing, questionable portrayal of minorities. story of a slave who is recognized b...more**spoiler alert** Like all Rinaldi books, great research, mediocre writing, questionable portrayal of minorities. story of a slave who is recognized by her master as his biological child but not really as his daughter, so that her life is sort of in limbo. He regularly wants her at the dinner table with the rest of the family, yet she is clearly a slave. His first wife abused her as the evidence of her husband's infidelity. His 2nd wife, a northerner, is much more manipulative about the relationship, publicly accepting her when it serves her purposes as a way of proving to other northerners that she is really a secret northerner, and abusing her when it will ingratiate her with the local southern society. After the civil war, after her master has died, the slave (who has been educated by her father) finds work with the northerners, who are digging up the mass graves from the local prisoner of war camp and giving proper burials to each northern soldier. Ultimately she ends up becoming the assistant of Clara Barton (founder of the red cross).(less)