Black Angels

Black Angels

5.0 2
by Linda Beatrice Brown
     
 

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The compelling story of three young orphans who must survive on their own during the Civil War.

It's near the end of the war, and rumors of emancipation are swirling. Eleven-year-old Luke decides to run away to freedom and join the Union Army. But he doesn't find the Yankee troops he was hoping for. Instead, he finds nine-year-old Daylily, lost in the woods

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Overview

The compelling story of three young orphans who must survive on their own during the Civil War.

It's near the end of the war, and rumors of emancipation are swirling. Eleven-year-old Luke decides to run away to freedom and join the Union Army. But he doesn't find the Yankee troops he was hoping for. Instead, he finds nine-year-old Daylily, lost in the woods after suffering an unspeakable tragedy. Her master set her free, but freedom so far has her scared and alone.

Also lost in the woods is seven-year-old Caswell, the son of a plantation owner. He was only trying to find his Mamadear after the Yankees burned their house with all their fine things. He wanted to be brave. But alone in the woods with two slave children, he quickly loses all his courage, and comes to greatly depend upon his new friends. In the chaos and violence that follows, the three unrelated children discover a bond in each other stronger than family.

A touching, beautifully written narrative, Black Angels is a riveting, special read.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Jody Little
Twelve-year old Luke is a runaway slave determined to join the Union Army. Daylily is a young slave girl, who witnessed the killing of her family members. Seven-year old Caswell is a white boy, lost and alone and unsure of what happened to his mother. The three orphans find one another in the North Carolina woods, in the thick of the Civil War. Together they travel north and keep an eye on one another, fishing in streams, building fires for warmth, and telling stories to help pass the time. Soon they meet Betty Strong Foot, a spy for both the Union and the Rebel Armies. Betty takes the children in, feeds them, and treats them as her own children. But Betty's secret night time business puts the children in danger, and when a soldier with small pox comes to her home, she knows that the children cannot stay with her. They travel to Harper's Ferry, where they meet a free black woman, Iona, and her five children. Daylily and Caswell feel comfortable in Iona's home and they beg Luke to stay. Luke, however, is still determined to join the Union Army and fight for his freedom. He leaves Daylily and Caswell with Iona, making them promise that they will all meet back at Betty Strong Foot's in ten years. The last sixty pages of the novel follow each of the children as they grow older, eventually leading to the promised ten year reunion. Written from an omniscient point of view, and filled with crisp images of the terror of war; this coming-of-age novel touches on many themes: hope, prejudice, the horrors of slavery, and the importance of family. Reviewer: Jody Little
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up—At the end of the Civil War, three children leave their homes and embark on a journey together. Luke, 11, runs away from his master to try and join up with the Union army. Nine-year-old Daylily was hiding in the woods when her older sister and babies were killed by men she assumes are Yankees. Caswell, the youngest and the only white child, was left to fend for himself when his mother died on the plantation. Their paths converge, and these three unlikely compatriots head to where they think they will be safe. The story itself is somewhat contrived, and the violence these children witness is intense. Daylily's sister is graphically butchered like a hog and all of her babies are murdered as well. Scenes like this are sprinkled throughout the novel whether it is a situation they stumble upon or one that takes place in specific battle scenes. Both Luke and Daylily speak in dialect, as one would expect, but the dialect is not noted with any diacritical marks and is very distracting. Struggling readers will have a particularly difficult time negotiating it. The book ends with the three characters rendezvousing 10 years later, which serves to tie the story up in an unrealistically neat package. Carolyn Reeder's Shades of Gray (S & S, 1989) remains a perfect recommendation for showing the impact of the Civil War on children.—Joan Kindig, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA
Kirkus Reviews
Luke, 11, tries to run away from Massa Higsaw's place to join Union soldiers but instead becomes the leader of two children even younger than himself: Daylily, another slave, and Caswell, the white child of a slave owner. The small band manages to avoid danger, taking refuge with a woman of mixed heritage who may be a spy for either side. Eventually, the three make their way to Harper's Ferry, Daylily and Caswell finding a family to take them in while Luke follows his plan to join the Union. They vow to meet again at Betty Strong Foot's cabin in the future. This is an unflinching look at how early childhood ended for children of slavery and the toll the Civil War took on all in its path. The pace of the story conveys the fear and urgency felt by the compelling central characters, and the coarse vernacular of the time contributes an air of authenticity. The transition to the future meeting, ten years hence, is somewhat abrupt, but it serves to provide a satisfying conclusion to the story. (Historical fiction. 12 & up)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780399250309
Publisher:
Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
09/17/2009
Pages:
272
Product dimensions:
5.80(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

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