A Light in the Storm: The Civil War Diary of Amelia Martin, Fenwick Island, Delaware, 1861 (Dear America Series)

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Overview

Newbery Medal winner Karen Hesse's Civil War diary, A LIGHT IN THE STORM, is now back in print with a beautiful new cover!

In 1861, Amelia Martin's father is stripped of his post as a ship's captain when he is caught harboring the leader of a slave rebellion. Now he is an assistant lighthouse keeper on Fenwick Island, off the coast of Delaware -- a state wedged between the North and the South, just as Amelia is wedged between her warring parents. Amelia's mother blames her ...

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Dear America: A Light in the Storm

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Overview

Newbery Medal winner Karen Hesse's Civil War diary, A LIGHT IN THE STORM, is now back in print with a beautiful new cover!

In 1861, Amelia Martin's father is stripped of his post as a ship's captain when he is caught harboring the leader of a slave rebellion. Now he is an assistant lighthouse keeper on Fenwick Island, off the coast of Delaware -- a state wedged between the North and the South, just as Amelia is wedged between her warring parents. Amelia's mother blames her abolitionist husband for their living conditions, which she claims are taking a toll on her health. Amelia observes her mother's hate and her father's admiration for Abraham Lincoln.

But slavery is the deeper issue separating the two sides. As the Civil War rages on, Amelia slowly learns that she cannot stop the fighting, but by keeping watch in the lighthouse each day, lighting the lamps, cleaning the glass, and rescuing victims of Atlantic storms, she can still make a difference.

PRAISE FOR DEAR AMERICA:

"More than a supplement to classroom textbooks, this series is an imaginative, solid entre into American history." --PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

"An impressive series that will challenge students to make connections from prominent historical events to relevant life situations . . . A wonderful asset to the classroom as well as to home libraries." --CHILDREN'S BOOK REVIEW SERVICE

"Engaging, accessible historical fiction." --SLJ

"The Dear America diaries represent the best of historical fiction for any age." --CHICAGO TRIBUNE

In 1860 and 1861, while working in her father's lighthouse on an island off the coast of Delaware, fifteen-year-old Amelia records in her diary how the Civil War is beginning to devastate her divided state.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Nancy Partridge
Deep, literary, and soulful, Ms. Hesse once again holds us in her spell as she reconstructs the past at an intense time in United States history. Amelia Martin is fifteen years old, and she lives with her father and mother on Fenwick Island in Delaware. She works as a teacher and, more importantly, helps her father as assistant Keeper of the Light, Fenwick Island Lighthouse. Her first diary entry is Christmas eve, 1860, and the country is on the brink of civil war. We come to know the many daily rituals of tending the Lighthouse, the attention always on subtle nuances of weather and sky, wave and water. Her parents' relationship is torn apart by the issue of slavery, in the very same manner as the country itself, and so it is that the shadow of divorce mirrors the painful situation of our country at that time. The tapestry of plot and subplot is woven with brilliant craftsmanship--all in the simple language of a young, intelligent girl. There is a historical note at the end, explaining the history of the Civil War. This title is part of the distinguished "Dear America" series.
VOYA
Like other volumes in the Dear America series, this book is a fictionalized diary relating the events of one year in the life of a young woman. Fifteenyearold Amelia Martin lives quietly amid the troubling events of the Civil War. Amelia's diary illustrates how the social and political conflicts of the nation played out in the lives of everyone, even those citizens who never saw a battlefield. As the people in the border state of Delaware choose to align themselves with either the North or the South, friends stop speaking to each other, customers stop patronizing businesses, and, in Amelia's own home, her parents' marriage dissolves. Amelia struggles to understand her feelings about slavery and secession while working as an assistant lighthouse keeper and falls in love. Fans of Hesse will enjoy the convincing tone of the narrator and the rich historical detail of the diary. The songs and books Amelia enjoys help recreate the atmosphere of the 1860s and illustrate the conflicts and concerns of the day. Unfortunately, as is common with this series, little has been done to mark the book as fictional. The epilogue outlining Amelia's adult accomplishments and "death" in 1940, the historical note reviewing events of the Civil War, and the collection of period photographs and documents will lead unsuspecting readers to mistake this novel for a genuine diary. VOYA CODES: 4Q 4P M (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Broad general YA appeal; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8). 1999, Scholastic, Ages 12 to 14, 176p. PLB $10.95. Reviewer: Megan Isaac
ALAN Review
In this new addition to the popular "Dear America" series, 15-year-old Amelia Martin helps to operate the lighthouse at Fenwick Island, Delaware. It is the mid-1800's, just at the outbreak of the Civil War, and Amelia, verging on young adulthood, takes her responsibilities very seriously. She knows that people's lives depend on the diligent performance of her duties, especially during storms. Many types of storms, though, buffet Amelia's teenage years. First, she must convince the Lighthouse Board that a young woman is capable of keeping the light. Second, she must watch helplessly as her country and her community go to war over the issue of slavery. And finally, she tries to make peace between her embittered and battle-frightened parents. Through it all, she vows to "keep the Light, in all weather, under every adversity." As with other books in the series, Amelia's observations of her life and times are presented in diary form. What is special about this volume is that the main character is based on a real woman, Ida Lewis, who saved 22 people in performance of her duties as a lighthouse keeper during the Civil War era. The author's notes on life in 1861 will help young readers understand the turmoil created by the Civil War in the lives of average American citizens. Part of the "Dear America" series. Genre: Historical Fiction/Civil War. 1999, Scholastic, Ages 9 to 12, $10.95. Reviewer: Jennifer Moreland
Library Journal
Gr 4-8-This diary chronicles 15-year-old Amelia Martin's chaotic life during the turbulent first year of the Civil War. Amelia's father is the assistant lighthouse keeper at Fenwick Island off the coast of southern Delaware. Amelia willingly shares in the duties of standing watch and maintaining the equipment. Through her diary, readers learn that her father sides with the Union while her mother favors the Confederacy, and that their marriage is crumbling just as the country threatens to divide. Amelia admits that while at one time she agreed with her mother's views, she now believes in the abolition of slavery and sympathizes with President Lincoln. When a friend drowns in a skating accident, Amelia becomes friendly with his brother, Daniel, and soon develops a romantic relationship that continues to grow after Daniel volunteers for the Union Army. In the style of light keepers' logs, each entry records the date, weather, and wind conditions. An appended historical note offers more information about the Civil War. Sure to please historical fiction fans as well as followers of the series.-Shawn Brommer, Southern Tier Library System, Painted Post, NY Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
In this new addition to the Dear America series, life in 1919 is peaceful and happy for Nellie Lee Love and her family in the little town of Bradford Corners, Tennessee. Not much happens; about the only excitement is the occasional letter from Nellie's Uncle Pace, still a soldier in France. The arrival each month of the NAACP magazine, The Crisis, is the only communication southern blacks have with the larger black community, and Daddy Love faithfully picks it up at his barbershop, reading it cover to cover. Then one day, the town's sheriff confiscates the shop's copies of The Crisis, and warns the men there that anyone belonging to the NAACP is asking for trouble from the Ku Klux Klan. A wire comes announcing that Uncle Pace is coming home. But when he does, he's been badly injured. As the sheriff tells it, he got drunk and fell asleep on the railroad tracks, where he was hit by a train. Everyone knows that Pace did not drink at all. He dies, and Daddy, realizing that this suspicious death has probably been the work of the Klan, decides to protect his family by moving them to Chicago. Here he hopes to set up a new undertaking business. Life in the city is far different for the Love girls from what they thought it would be. They must adapt to crowded apartment living, new neighbors, a tough new school, and making new friends, none of which is easy. But these discomforts are nothing to compare with the race riot that occurs that summer. The Loves get through it unscathed, but with the realization that they did not leave the problems of racism behind when they left Tennessee. It is this knowledge that gives Nellie and the rest of the Loves the impetus to becomeactivelyinvolved in the fight against prejudice and to begin the long march to full equality as Americans. It's an inspiring story, and one that brings to life the great black migration of that era from the south to the cities of the north. This part of American history is too often glossed over in textbooks, but must be understood in the context of modern race relations. (Fiction. 11-14)
From the Publisher

PRAISE FOR DEAR AMERICA:

"More than a supplement to classroom textbooks, this series is an imaginative, solid entre into American history." --PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

"An impressive series that will challenge students to make connections from prominent historical events to relevant life situations . . . A wonderful asset to the classroom as well as to home libraries." --CHILDREN'S BOOK REVIEW SERVICE

"Engaging, accessible historical fiction." --SLJ

"The Dear America diaries represent the best of historical fiction for any age." --CHICAGO TRIBUNE

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780545242455
  • Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 3/1/2011
  • Series: Dear America Series
  • Pages: 208
  • Sales rank: 224,074
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 7.50 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Karen Hesse

Karen Hesse is the award-winning and critically acclaimed author of many books for children. Her titles include WITNESS, THE CATS IN KRASINSKI SQUARE, and the Newbery Medal winner OUT OF THE DUST, among many others. She lives in Vermont with her husband and two teenaged daughters.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 61 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(38)

4 Star

(10)

3 Star

(3)

2 Star

(4)

1 Star

(6)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 61 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 7, 2012

    Not Very Good

    It is very depressing. Her parents always argue and then they divorce.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 8, 2013

    Love books

    I love the dear america books. Though i havent read this one yet i have read a lot of these books i love them. Read them

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 5, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Sally Kruger aka "Readingjunky" for TeensReadToo

    I've never thought much about the life of a lighthouse keeper, and definitely not at all about the fact that there were women lighthouse keepers. Thanks to A LIGHT IN THE STORM, I now know a bit about what that life involved. Amelia Martin tells about life in the lighthouse on Fenwick Island off the coast of Delaware in 1861. Her father came to be assistant keeper there after a controversy that ended with his removal as captain of his own ship. She lives in the lighthouse with her father, mother, and Keeper Dunne, who is in charge of the light. Keeper Dunne has given Amelia her watch beginning at 4:00 each afternoon. Fenwick Light protects ships and other sea vessels from running ashore on a particularly treacherous stretch of coastline. Even with the well-maintained lighthouse, vessels still become victims of the storms that plague the area. Amelia, along with her father and Keeper Dunne, watch the weather, light the lamps, and keep the lighthouse in tip-top shape. This requires continuous hard labor: climbing the spiral staircase to polish the reflectors, cleaning the glass, filling the lamps, and then lighting them whenever darkness or weather dictates. During this year-long account, Amelia describes fog, storms, and wintery conditions that have the three of them risking their own health and, on occasion, their own lives, to rescue crews and passengers. Amelia describes wintertime as especially dangerous, because they must brave freezing temperatures to remove ice from the windows high up around the light. In addition to telling about life as a lighthouse keeper, Amelia recounts the rest of her days as she rows to the mainland each day to help teach at the local school and do chores for her grandmother before returning to her keeper duties each afternoon. Amelia's mother was not happy with the move to Fenwick Island, causing a rift in her relationship with Amelia's father. Her mother suffers from many physical ailments, which she blames on her damp surroundings, but depression is the real result. Amelia must often act as mediator between her parents. Another reason her parents are often at odds involves the impending Civil War. Amelia's mother is a strong supporter of slavery, while her father is not. In fact, helping runaway slaves played a part in the reason Amelia's father was dismissed from his duties as ship captain. Since Delaware is a border state between the North and the South, it becomes a controversial place to live once war officially begins. Author Karen Hesse has written A LIGHT IN THE STORM for the DEAR AMERICA series. Her easy storytelling style makes it a pleasure to read, and the history it reveals is fascinating. After getting to know Amelia, it was interesting to find out in the Epilogue and the historical notes that she remained a lighthouse keeper and was eventually given her own position at a lighthouse off the coast of Maine.

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 21, 2006

    Fantastic Historical Fiction Novel book

    Do you like reading about wars from the 1800's such as the civil war? If so i think you would like this book. It's about the Civil War from the 1800's. It's about a young girl who lived during the civil war when the South wanted to seperate from the North. She keeps a diary and writes about what has been happening almost evreyday of the war. Ever since the war started she had to help her father watch the light. The light shines over the ocean so Amelia and her father can watch the ocean. Now Amelia only has time for school and the light. As the war goes on alot of people are veing sent to fight in the war including her friend Daniel. The author is Karen Hesse, who writes some of the best books to read. If you like one of her books, you would probably like all of them. I recommend this book to anyone who likes to read about wars. I really liked this book. I thought it was the best book to read that's about the war. Even if you don't like reading about wars I still think you would like this book.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 15, 2014

    Blackflame

    He padded in and looked at the leader,"hello i was wonderingnif i may join?"

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 15, 2014

    Firefang

    I know I just thaught I would let you pick.))
    He thinks of a place to go that would be good for Runningpaw

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 12, 2014

    Gingerkit

    She paddedin crying

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 12, 2014

    Please read my poems

    At "humberstone" res 1-2

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 20, 2014

    Whiteshadow

    Heh. I don't RP in JayClan anymore. Miss ya!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 12, 2014

    G

    G

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 11, 2014

    Whisperpaw

    She stood, gawking. "This isn't an orphanidge!" She stalked out.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 11, 2014

    Spottedleaf

    She left

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 30, 2015

    Wingdust to thornfall

    I cnme back &#9837

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 11, 2014

    Hello fellow people

    Hi

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 10, 2014

    Foxfrost

    Hello! May i join? She mews

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 9, 2014

    To Steeil

    'Three' res one

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 16, 2014

    Blue Eyes

    They grab heatherkit and pull her to Frankenstien res one.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 7, 2014

    OwlPaw and co.

    OwlPaw- he went hunting. <br>
    Wolfpaw-went with. <br>
    MoonPaw-watched camp

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 8, 2014

    Patchkit

    She leaped to Runningkit. Look i opened my Eyes!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 4, 2014

    StormingBrook

    StormingBrook padded in, her tail flicking as she looked around. A gash was displayed on her shoulder, gushing with blood; looking as if that didn't matter, she padded to the nearest cat, which happened to be PoppyIce. "Hello, Can I join?" She meowed, straightening her appearance so she didn't look like she walked for moons.

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