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Children's LiteratureFans of the two previous books in the "My America" series will be pleased to read more of Virginia Dickens's Civil War diary and learn the further fate of the Dickens family. It is July, 1865; the war is over, and eleven-year-old Virginia with her father, brother Jed, and his wife and baby have arrived in the heat of a New York summer to seek their fortunes in the teeming city. Although Jed is already a writer for a city newspaper and Pa hopes for employment in an orchestra, Virginia feels compelled to accept a job as dresser to an actress-manager at the Olympic Theater. Diary entries are short but convey a good deal of information about the times, as Virginia witnesses the first post-war Independence Day parade, observes events in the city, and is introduced to life in the theater. Most exciting is the triumphant return of actor Edwin Booth to the stage as Hamlet after the disgrace of his brother's assassination of President Lincoln. Woven throughout are the personal crises and accomplishments of the family members and Virginia's gradual realization of her true ambitions for the future. A Historical Note adds a bit of background about Reconstruction, New York, and Edwin Booth. Virginia emerges from the entries as an engaging and forthright young lady who looks forward with optimism to her post-war life. Both the diary-sized format and Virginia's increasing pleasure in her writing offer an attractive model for similar efforts by young readers of her journal. 2003, Scholastic, Ages 9 to 12.
— Barbara L. Talcroft