Girl in Blue

Girl in Blue

4.4 50
by Ann Rinaldi

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From acclaimed QUILT TRILOGY author Ann Rinaldi comes another gripping historical adventure. Here, a courageous girl disguises herself as a boy and fights in the Civil War.

The year is 1861. When spirited teenager Sarah Louisa learns that she is to be married off to her despicable neighbor, she runs away from home. Disguising herself as a boy, Sarah boldly joins

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From acclaimed QUILT TRILOGY author Ann Rinaldi comes another gripping historical adventure. Here, a courageous girl disguises herself as a boy and fights in the Civil War.

The year is 1861. When spirited teenager Sarah Louisa learns that she is to be married off to her despicable neighbor, she runs away from home. Disguising herself as a boy, Sarah boldly joins the army--and before long is a soldier in the Civil War. Sarah navigates the joys and hardships of army life, all the while struggling to keep her true identity a secret. But Sarah's real adventure is only just beginning. A chance encounter with a detective soon draws her into a web of mystery, intrigue, and romance--and Sarah's courage will be put to the test as never before.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Rinaldi (Coffin Quilt; Wolf by the Ears) delivers another fast-paced Civil War adventure, this time about a Michigan girl who masquerades as a Union soldier and then becomes a Pinkerton spy. Readers will immediately like 16-year-old Sarah, introduced just as she is planning to shoot at the lecherous widower whom her abusive father intends for her to marry. Before long, Sarah has enlisted in the Second Michigan under the alias Neddy Compton. Rinaldi rather quickly describes Sarah's efforts to conceal her identity (she cuts her hair and avoids the latrine), and more exacting readers may also wonder how she hides menstruation and breasts. On the other hand, the rapid narrative doesn't leave the audience too much time to question Rinaldi's devices. Sarah works for a Union doctor, enters into battle and shoots her first Rebel, then carries out a dying man's poignant last request. When her secret is at last discovered, she is pressed into service as a spy and thrust undercover as a maid for a notorious Confederate socialite and spy. There Sarah craftily deduces how her Mata Hari mistress ferrets messages behind enemy lines, and there, too, Sarah falls in love with the rakish Lieutenant Sheldon, who may or may not be a traitor. The relationships between the characters do not seem as strong as the narrative claims, however; fortunately, Sarah's force of personality is enough to hold readers. Ages 9-14. (Apr.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Sixteen-year-old Sarah Wheelock's father has betrothed her to widower neighbor Ezekiel Kunkle against her will. When she decides to run away, before leaving she demonstrates her skill with a rifle by shooting Ezekiel's hat right off his head. Disguised as a boy, she joins the Union army. When found out, her gift for mimicry earns her a job offer from the Pinkerton detective agency to work as an operative in the home of Confederate spy Rose Greenhow. Disguised as a maid, Sarah helps find Rose's diary and her method of weaving secret messages into her intricate tapestries, and also falls for Lieutenant Sheldon, one of the soldiers in charge of guarding the house. Just before Rose is finally taken to prison, Sarah falls ill and is taken away to recuperate. Although Rose was whiny and complaining, Sarah had formed a bond with her and her daughter, Little Rose. Sarah realizes, despite her agonizing, that she has done the right thing. For the last time, she returns home but in her male disguise. She realizes she is needed but the feeling is claustrophobic, and she cannot tell her unrecognizing mother the truth. Sarah is a determined, independent, gutsy teen made real by her bewilderment over her feelings toward Lieutenant Sheldon. Some readers might be disappointed that her days as a soldier are limited. More attention is given to the drudgery and discomfort of military life than to the battle scenes. Rinaldi again has succeeded in interweaving real and fictional characters into a historically accurate story tapestry. VOYA CODES: 4Q 4P J S (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Broad general YA appeal; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10to 12). 2001, Scholastic, 310p, . Ages 13 to 18. Reviewer: Pam Carlson SOURCE: VOYA, April 2001 (Vol. 24, No.1)
Rinaldi frequently turns out historical fiction, and her plots move quickly and are gripping and appealing. This novel is based on the life of a Michigan girl who disguised herself as a man to be a soldier in the Civil War (Sarah Emma Edmonds, who described herself as a soldier, nurse, and spy). The fictional Sarah created by Rinaldi also has a life of a soldier, nurse, and spy. The photograph on the cover shows us just how a 16-year-old girl can be a convincing young man. Sarah knows how to hunt and ride from life on a small farm with her family; she is tough because of struggles with her father, a vicious bully, who drives her from home by trying to force her to marry a man she hates. She arrives some weeks later, awestruck, at the army camps in Washington DC, drilling and waiting for the first battle—which is at Bull Run. While she waits she is loaned out to help an army doctor and she becomes a better and better actor as time goes by and she accommodates to her disguise. The action of the battle and her disgust at the killing move her to accept an offer to be a spy, once her identity is revealed. The officers who have seen her as a male soldier are convinced she has the acting ability to be a successful spy, and her dedication to the Union cause, and aversion at the idea of returning home, also help her decide to risk her life as a spy. And so the action moves ahead. YAs will enjoy the story and admire Sarah, endlessly intelligent and tough. KLIATT Codes: JS—Recommended for junior and senior high school students. 2001, Scholastic, 310p, bibliog, $15.95. Ages 13 to 18. Reviewer: Claire Rosser; March 2001 (Vol. 35 No. 2)
School Library Journal
Gr 6-9-Inspired by the war fever of 1861, and tired of her father's mistreatment, 15-year-old Sarah Wheelock determines to run away and join the Union forces to fight the Confederacy. The last straw comes when her father promises her hand in marriage to a man who is twice her age and has the manners of a bear. After she cuts her hair, changes clothes, and lowers her voice, Sarah has few problems passing as a boy: years of hard farm labor have toughened her physically, and she has a natural talent for impersonation. Soon, young Private "Neddy Compton" is on the road to Washington, DC, with the 2nd Michigan Infantry. Despite being a model enlisted "man," Sarah is unmasked, and is transferred into the Secret Service, part of Allan Pinkerton's network of spies. Her acting skills are tested in a new and dangerous disguise, as a servant to notorious Rose Greenhow and other Southern sympathizers who are being held under house arrest. Here, the young woman's patriotism, loyalty, and intelligence will be tested beyond anything she experienced as a soldier. While Sarah and the other characters lack depth, Rinaldi's novel offers an exciting plot based on solid historical research.-Starr E. Smith, Fairfax County Public Library, VA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Loosely based on an actual woman who disguised herself as a soldier during the Civil War, this historical novel tells the story of Michigan farm girl Sarah Wheelock, who becomes first a solider and then a detective for the Pinkerton Agency in Washington. On the verge of being forced to marry a vicious neighbor, Sarah sneaks off from home. Her plan is to visit an aunt in Flint and then join the Union forces disguised as a man. Rinaldi sticks to Sarah's point of view, but oddly fails to mine her materials for all the suspense and thrills inherent in the gender switching. Only once do readers see her evading latrines, and never is there a discussion of how any adjustment of her shape or sensibilities is required. Suspense builds on several occasions, each time dwindling to a fizzle. Sent to spy on Rose Greenlaw, a southern sympathizer, Sarah falls head over heels for a good-looking Lieutenant even though she suspects he may be a traitor. Before readers discover whether his professed love for her is true or if he knowingly aids Rose, Sarah falls ill and the story swerves again. Finally, Sarah returns for a quick visit home dressed in her soldier disguise, and unbelievably her mother fails to recognize her, although her brother does. African-American readers may not agree with Rinaldi's decision to use speech patterns for Negro refugees from the South without concomitant speech patterns for southern drawls or other accents. Rinaldi defends her choices in an author's note at the end, citing her desire for historical accuracy. Accurate or not, this is only one of a series of missteps that will disappoint readers used to Rinaldi's talent. (Historical fiction. 10-14)

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Product Details

Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
4.22(w) x 6.80(h) x 0.86(d)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

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Girl in Blue 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 50 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this book when I was 12 and I still like it at 14. The beginning brings the reader into Sarah's world and brings them up to date on everything that is happening in her life. It sets a very good historical background, making sure the reader knows that this novel is set during the Civil War. Then Ann Rinaldi takes the reader on a whirlwind journey that takes a turn in the middle of the book that I didn't expect. Finally, she neatly ties up the ending, but also leaves us wanting more. I have read this book about five times and each time I have found something different to enjoy. I would recommend this book to someone who loves history but also people who are thirsting for a bit of adventure, through a teenager's eyes.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book rocks. I don't usuasally like to read, but this book made me think differently. I read the book in three days, books that long usally take me at least a week to read. It is so suspenseful. You don't know whats going to happen until it happens. I am going to tell my teacher about this so the next 8th grade class can read it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This story of family, comradship, and love is one of the best I've ever read! Worth every penny! Ann Rinaldi has done it again, I recommend her to even those who don't usually like history.
carlyt More than 1 year ago
Although the path is usually dark, there is always a light at the end for Sarah. This book has many true historical facts, but has several twists that make it fun to read. I give Girl in Blue four stars, for sixth grade readers and up, because it is an easy but exciting and informing book. Girl in Blue is set during the civil war, when the army was recruiting anyone who would join. When I read a book it needs to catch me in the first or second chapter, and this one did the trick. Sarah Wheelock, a sixteen-year-old girl from Michigan ran away from home to avoid being wed to her disgusting neighbor. She decided to go all out and join the 2nd Michigan army. She cut her hair and disguised herself as a man, only to be discovered as a woman after only a month. "She felt herself collapsing" were the words used to describe Sarah's feelings when she was discovered, but instead of going to jail, she was sent to be a woman spy with a famous detective agency. Even now her adventure had just begun. When thinking of the Civil War, I think of Virginia and Washington D.C. Sarah's house was located in Michigan. This twist makes you realized that the war effected everyone. Along the way, Sarah met several people who were from all different places; not just Virginia and Michigan. The fact that she would risk her life to get away from a man just shows how brutal times were back then. This story is an entertainer as well as an informer, but you'll never know you are learning. The history in this book was organized in such a way that I became part of the story; unlike other books I have read that just throw facts at you. The four stars that I give this book were well earned. Although this book was excellent, it needs suspense. After reading it once I would not go back and read it again because it would spoil the surprises woven into the plot. Off to the army, then to be a spy, then what? Girl in Blue is a great and exciting story for almost anyone.
Ravenrocks More than 1 year ago
This is one of the best books i have ever read. I love how sassy Sarah is. I would defiantly recommend it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
HomeSchoolBookReview More than 1 year ago
It is 1861 and Sarah Louisa Wheelock, age fifteen, lives on a farm near Casey’s Mill, MI, with her father, mother, sister Betsy, and brother Ben. Her older sister Clarice is married. She has learned to hunt and ride better than any boy. Their abusive father, who beats both Sarah and her mother, plans to wed Sarah to their odious neighbor, Ezekiel Kunkle, who is a widower with two children. So she runs away, dresses as a boy named Neddie Compton, and joins the Union Army. As Neddy Sarah is sent to Washington, DC, but after the first Battle of Bull Run she is discovered. However, obviously being good at disguising herself and acting a part, she is recruited by Allan Pinkerton to serve as a maid in the home of the notorious Southern spy Rose Greenhow to help with surveillance and see if she can find out how Rose is sending messages. She begins to fall in love with Lt. Sheldon, head of the surveillance team, but then has reason to believe that he might be a traitor. Will her position be compromised so that she is found out again? And what should she do about Sheldon? How weird is this! I obtain different books from different sources at different times and in different places and then put them in different piles to be read on different occasions. So the books that I am reading at any particular point are the result of happenstance. Back in 2011, I picked up some young people’s Civil War fiction books while visiting in Gettysburg, one of which, No Girls Allowed by Alan Kay, is a completely fictional account of a girl who dresses as a boy to fight in the Union Army. I just recently started reading it, but before I finished it, I began another book entitled A Soldier’s Secret by Marissa Moss which had been sent to me early in 2012 by the publisher for review and is a fictionalized account of the life of Sarah Edmonds who dressed as a boy to fight in the Union Army. Then before I finished that, I began reading Rinaldi’s book which I had actually first seen in a 2006 Scholastic Book catalogue and then bought later in 2012 at Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield Park near Springfield, MO. Rinaldi writes, “While Sarah Wheelock is a character of my own invention, I have based her somewhat on ‘Franklin Thompson,’ the male alias for Sarah Emma Edmonds, one of the most famous male soldier impersonators in the Civil War.” There is enough similarity so that having read A Soldier’s Secret I was immediately able to recognize the resemblances, but Rinaldi’s story is much more fictionalized, with changed names and many plot differences. Girl in Blue is well written and easy to read. It has fewer objectionable elements than Moss’s book, omitting the euphemistic sexual references to male anatomy. However, while it is listed for ages eight and above, the “d” and “h” words are both used occasionally, the terms “God” and “Lord” are sometimes found as interjections, there are several instances of drinking beer, whiskey, and wine, and a few of the fighting scenes are a little intense with some gory detail. Therefore, I would recommend it for ages twelve and above. Rinaldi writes concerning the real Sarah Edmonds, “Her tenure in the army was longer than my Sarah’s, and she never served with the Pinkerton detective agency,” and said, “I have invented all the rest of the characters, with the exception of Abraham Lincoln, General McClellan, Doctor Hammond, Allan Pinkerton and his operatives, and Rose Greenhow and the women spies incarcerated with her at Fort Greenhow.” While a couple of reader reviewers felt that the novel doesn't measure up to other Ann Rinaldi books and is not her best work, they still agreed that it is a suspenseful historical fiction story with a bit of adventure and a dash of romance. Amelia's War is another Civil War historical by Rinaldi.
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clemmy More than 1 year ago
Sarah Wheelock is awesome. Very few people would have the nerve to enter the military, much less become a Union spy after you've been found out. Sarah is spunky and clear-headed. She is very responsible and easily respected. I have read this book multiple times, and it never gets old. For those with a romantic bent, I will save you from yourself; she does not end up with a guy, but the ending is positive, and Sarah is the kind of character you can trust to find a man on her own.
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Beenabug1 More than 1 year ago
Good Historical Read. Has a lot of facts behind it but adds life to the history and the scenes. Never boring and has a few small twists and turns through the story. Is not meant to be a challenging read but is a very good enjoyable one. Rinaldi out did herself with this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
i was so mad when se was falling for sheldon i thought the dockterwas better i was so happpy when he turned out to be the bad guy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was so good! The first time I read it I wasn't really sure because I'm more into the American Revolution but then I just read it again and I was like WOW! It's such an amazing book and you won't want to put it down!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is an amazing book! I have read it like three times and it doesn't get old. The story keeps you on the edge of your seat till the very end. Highly Recomended!!!