Cemetery Keepers of Gettysburg

Overview

It was a hot and buggy afternoon in the summer of 1862, when Peter Thorn, the cemetery tender of Gettysburg, left his pregnant wife and three small sons to join the Union army. In his absence, his family would bear witness to the most ferocious and bloody battle of the Civil War.

On July 1, 1863, a shell exploded in the Thorn's kitchen when the brutal Battle of Gettysburg began. The cannons sounded on Cemetery Hill, as more than 51,000 soldiers were killed, wounded, or captured ...

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Overview

It was a hot and buggy afternoon in the summer of 1862, when Peter Thorn, the cemetery tender of Gettysburg, left his pregnant wife and three small sons to join the Union army. In his absence, his family would bear witness to the most ferocious and bloody battle of the Civil War.

On July 1, 1863, a shell exploded in the Thorn's kitchen when the brutal Battle of Gettysburg began. The cannons sounded on Cemetery Hill, as more than 51,000 soldiers were killed, wounded, or captured during the three day battle. For days after the battle, seven-year-old Fred, his pregnant mother, Elizabeth, and his grandfather worked to honor the dead by digging graves and burying Union and Confederate soldiers.

Neither the Thorn family nor the rest of America would be the same again after witnessing the terrible toll the battle took. Though the Gettysburg Address paid tribute to the soldiers who lost their lives, this is a tribute to the family that so dutifully tended to the soldiers after they had fallen.

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Editorial Reviews

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From Kirkus Reviews

*Starred Review* Readers will be touched and sobered by this deeply felt glimpse of battle, and what follows. Kirkus Reviews

Children's Literature - Phyllis Kennemer
This fictionalized account of an historical event depicts the devotion and hardship of Fred Thorn and his family during the Civil War. When Fred is seven years old, his father leaves to fight with the Union forces. Fred has two younger brothers and his mother is pregnant, so his grandparents come to help with caring for them and working in the cemetery. Several months later rebel soldiers invade their home and property and within a few days, the battle starts. With cannon balls bursting around them, Fred and his family run to a nearby farmhouse and huddle on the floor alongside injured soldiers. After three days they return home to find everything gone and all their windows broken. Fifteen dead horses lay in their yard. But the biggest job is the digging of over a hundred graves accomplished by Fred, his mother, and his grandfather. Fred's father arrives home several months later, about the time his baby sister is born. When President Lincoln gives the Gettysburg Address (which appears in the end pages, along with an author's note) the Thorn family is in attendance. Realistic full-page illustrations contribute to the somber mood. The sparse text appears in bordered boxes within the pictures. A worthwhile addition to Civil War collections.
School Library Journal

Gr 1-5 - Fred Thorn, the seven-year-old son of the caretaker of Gettysburg's Evergreen Cemetery, narrates this fictionalized account of his family's experiences during the 1863 Civil War battle. With Papa away fighting, Fred's pregnant mother was left to tend the cemetery, assisted only by her children and parents. During the battle, they fled to a nearby farmhouse full of wounded soldiers. When the conflict ended, they returned home to dig more than a hundred graves, with little outside help. Papa came back several months later, and the brief saga closes with the family attending Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. The watercolor illustrations add atmosphere to Fred's spare telling. The design is attractive, with one- and two-page paintings, smaller vignettes, and text columns framed on elegant plaques. The interiors and landscapes provide helpful period detail and scope. Clean brown-ink lines keep grittiness at bay, and the battle scenes are dramatic without being gory. The narrative is immediate and intimate, though it has a removed, slightly stiff quality. There is no demonizing of one side over the other and little detail about the war. No sources are cited, though a brief author's note tells a bit more about the Thorns. Endpapers show a map of Gettysburg, with significant landmarks labeled (accurately, for the most part). Unpardonably, east and west have been reversed on the compass rose. Still, this could be an interesting footnote to Civil War studies, especially given its focus on regular folks-and a woman, in particular.-Nancy Palmer, The Little School, Bellevue, WA

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802780942
  • Publisher: Walker & Company
  • Publication date: 4/3/2007
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 798,174
  • Age range: 6 - 11 Years
  • Product dimensions: 10.75 (w) x 9.25 (h) x 0.27 (d)

Meet the Author

Linda Oatman High is the author of sixteen books for children and teens. She received the news that The Cemetery Tenders of Gettysburg would be published mere hours after visiting Elizabeth Thorn's grave for the first time. She says, "Call it coincidence, but it was very eerie timing!" In addition to being an author, Linda is also a journalist and a songwriter. She lives in Narvon, Pennsylvania, with her family and two dogs. Visit her Web site at www.lindaoatmanhigh.com.

Laura Francesca Filippucci attended the Istituto Europeo di Design and later the School of Visual Arts in New York City, where she specialized in children's book illustration. While working on the book, Laura felt a kinship with Elizabeth Thorn as her children were the same ages as Laura's. She has worked for many American and European magazine and book publishers, and lives in Milan with her husband and three children.

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