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by Patricia Beatty, Stephen Marchesi (Illustrator), Patricia B. Uhr

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With the United States on the verge of civil war, Elijah Tully and his father ride out of Kansas as Jayhawkers, guerrilla fighters against slavery. After his father is killed, Lije goes undercover among the proslavery bushwhackers. Swept into a grisly raid, Lije unexpectedly stands face-to-face with his father's killer



With the United States on the verge of civil war, Elijah Tully and his father ride out of Kansas as Jayhawkers, guerrilla fighters against slavery. After his father is killed, Lije goes undercover among the proslavery bushwhackers. Swept into a grisly raid, Lije unexpectedly stands face-to-face with his father's killer — but is vengeance as simple as he once thought?

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Not just another historical fiction about the Civil War, the late Beatty's ( Charley Skedaddle ; Be Ever Hopeful ; Hannalee ) novel follows the adventures of Lije (for Elijah) Tulley. He's a jayhawker--an abolitionist raider--from Kansas caught up in the raids and skirmishes between the jayhawkers and the pro-slavery bushwhackers of Missouri before and during the war. After his father is killed on a raid, Lije works as a spy in Missouri, passing news of bushwhacker plans to an equally daring young woman, with whom he falls in love. The author deftly brings in historical figures--John Brown, Jesse James--and weaves actual events such as the infamous bushwhacker raid on Lawrence, Kans., into her tale. Gruesome accounts of the killing and destruction in this lesser known Civil War theater deepen the impact; neither pro-North nor pro-South, this is instead a dramatic and compelling antiwar narrative. Ages 10-up. (Oct.)
School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-- To 13-year-old Elija ``Lije'' Tulley, the fanatical abolitionist John Brown is a hero in a righteous cause. He eagerly joins the band of men recruited by Brown to be Jayhawkers, Kansans who cross into neighboring Missouri to steal away slaves and help them to freedom. The Jayhawkers and their pro-slavery counterparts, the bushwhackers, clash often in bloody, sometimes murderous shootouts. In one such confrontation, Lije's father is killed, and Lije is recruited to live among a group of pro-slavery activitists as a spy. He learns about the quasi-soldiers led by Charles Quantrill, a cruel and unsavory character, and he meets Frank James and his brother Jesse. The story reaches its climax as Quantrill's forces attack and burn Lawrence, Kansas, where Lije's family lives. The unquestionable star of this story is Lije, a thoroughly believable boy caught up in events beyond his control but wanting to do his part for a cause in which he believes. The historical figures who populate the story are equally well portrayed; they appear as flesh-and-blood characters, not just names out of a history book. Another strength of this novel is that it tells a fast-paced suspenseful story while presenting a clear picture of a crucial period in U. S. history. The violence is not overplayed, nor is the abolitionist side portrayed as totally good. There is one glaring error in the text. Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 did not free all slaves in the United States, as the story says, but only those in states in rebellion against the Union. Other than this, the book is a solid piece of historical fiction that's sure to have strong appeal. --Bruce Anne Shook, Mendenhall Middle School, Greensboro, NC

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.25(w) x 7.62(h) x 0.44(d)
780L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

The Blessing

Elijah Quentin Tulley, isn't it? I hear they call you Lije.

The visitor's wild gray eyes bored deeply into twelve-year-old Lije's, making him shudder with fear and excitement. The tall man's dark hair stood stiffly on end. It looked to the still sleepy boy as if it had been smeared with the ashes his mother used in her soap making.

The man went on in his booming voice as Lije's parents stood mutely behind their son, while his younger sisters, who had also been called down out of the loft at midnight, cowered against the cabin wall. "It would have been better for this boy if you had named him Joshua or David or Gideon — men who were fighters for the Lord. Soldiers are what we need today in Kansas Territory, soldiers for God."

Lije's father, a lanky, long-jawed, fair-haired man, said proudly, "Mr. Brown, that's exactly what we are, soldiers. That's what Lije'll be, too, once he gets his growth. He shows promise of being tall."

John Brown nodded. "It appears to me, Absalom, that he's coming up to that real fast. He's big already and going to be bigger. Tell me, Lije, are you planning on helping the cause of abolition here?" The man's deeply lined face darkened as he looked down at the boy. "Do you know what that sacred word means?"

Though frightened by the stark appearance of this awe-inspiring visitor, Lije got out, "Yes, sir. It means freeing slaves."

"That isn't all. It means that Kansas will come into the Union as a free state. It's the last days of this year of the Lord 1858. Isay Kansas will enter this Union free by 1861 — to balance out Missouri." Brown's fierce gaze held Lije's fast. "What's wrong over in Missouri, son?"

Lije knew the answer very well. "There are slave owning men over there, Mr. Brown, sir. That's why us Tulleys come to Kansas Territory from Iowa — to live and farm here so Missourians can't bring slaves in and make this a slave state, too."

Brown nodded gravely. "And that's why Southerners flock into Missouri and come here to settle in Kansas Territory. They want to try by any foul means they can to plant the accursed wickedness of slavery on Kansas soil. But this must and shall remain free soil." The great abolitionists deep voice rose to a bellow.

Lije stepped back, feeling the hair bristle at the nape of his neck. Brown was a roaring man.

"Don't you back off from me, boy. Your pa and your ma asked me to bestow my blessing on you and your sisters."

Pushed forward gently by his mother, Lije felt John Brown's big hand come to rest heavily on his dark red hair. The man cried out now, filling the cabin with his voice. "I dedicate this Kansas boy to be a true warrior like those in the Bible, a warrior of his people and a credit to his family forever."

Now he gave Lije a little shove and said, "It's growing late. We want our work over and done with by daylight, friend Absalom. Bring forth your daughters. I'll give them my blessings now."

Timidly, eight-year-old Clarissa and seven-year-old Emmajane Tulley crept forward to have their soft yellow heads covered by John Brown's two big hands as he muttered words over them. Then all at once the man whirled about and stomped out the cabin's only door.

Lije's father got his coat and hat from the nails beside the door. As he put them on, he said, "Alice, see to it that the children go back up to bed. Theyll take ill in just their nightshirts."

"Yes, Absalom." Mrs. Tulley's voice was soft. "I'll have coffee and hot corn bread for all, of you when you get back. Good luck, my dearest."

Suddenly Alice Tulley came forward to embrace her husband. This was something Lije had seldom seen her do before. Her hands clutched at Absalom for a long moment, then swiftly let go. "Take care of yourself, Ab. Oh, God, you be careful! What you do is fearful work."

"The Lords work," he corrected her. "It ain't as if I haven't done it before this night. You pray the way you generally do. If anybody comes asking for me, tell them I've gone to Lawrence overnight to buy a keg of nails."

Now Lije's father took down the shotgun from its rack, nodded to his silent, grave-faced family, went out, and shut the door.

Lije and his mother went to the window and watched as Absalom Tulley walked out into the blustery winter night to join Brown and his two sons, standing beside two wagons with harnessed horses. Quietly the men climbed up into the wagons, and a moment later they were gone.

After bolting the door, Mrs. Tulley ordered, "Go up to the loft children. Say your prayers again and make sure you put Mr. Brown and his sons in them, along with your pa. Pray hard."

Halfway up the ladder behind his sisters, Lije asked, "They're going over into Missouri again, ain't they, Ma? Is there going to be a war over slavery pretty soon?"

The white-skinned, freckly woman who had given her son, Lije, her big bones and dark auburn hair, sighed. 'We think there will be. Mr. Brown desires it.

So do a lot of men. They ain't all abolitionists like him and your pa. Some are slave-owning men."

Lije asked, "Like the Missouri men, Ma?"

"Like all the states in the South. Get up to bed, Lije. Maybe when the men come back, you'll be called down again to help out."

Meet the Author

Patricia Beatty was born in Portland, Oregon, and was a longtime resident of southern California. After graduating from college, she taught high school English and history, and later held various positions as a science and technical librarian and also as a children's librarian. She taught Writing Fiction for Children at several branches of the University of California.

Patricia Beatty is the author of many popular and award-winning children's books, including such NCSS Notable Children's Trade Books in the Field of Social Studies as Eight Mules from Monterey; Behave Yourself, Bethany Brant; Turn Homeward, Hannalee; Be Ever Hopeful, Hannalee; and Jayhawker. Her novel Lupita Mañana is a Jane Addams Children's Book Award honor book, and Charley Skedaddle won the Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction.

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