Publishers Weekly - Publisher's WeeklyBased on a true story embellished by folklore, this account of a North Carolina mountain girl's courage paints a realistic, stark picture of the Civil War while preserving the flavor and customs of long-ago Appalachia. While her father, brothers and uncle are off fighting opposite sides of the war, 11-year-old Valor, her mother, a young cousin and two faithful servants are left to run the farm. Two vicious raids by Yankee soldiers leave the family ravaged and without livestock. Vowing revenge, Valor sets out to retrieve the animals and murder the red-bearded soldier who was especially villainous. Disguised as a boy and armed with two of her father's guns, Valor undertakes a dangerous journey to the enemy campsite, along the way experiencing a frightening encounter with a grizzly bear. At the campsite, the young heroine nearly accomplishes her mission, drugging the soldiers and rounding up the livestock, but when the opportunity comes to kill her sworn enemy, Valor cannot bring herself to take a life. Houston ( Littlejim ; My Great - Aunt Arizona ), who grew up in the Appalachian mountains, offers a profound definition of bravery in this engrossing adventure story. Her evocative prose expresses the terror, determination and stoicism of women and children left on the home front. Ages 8-up. (May)
Children's Literature - Jan LiebermanValor McAimee, 11, is proud of her name and determined to live up to it regardless of her fears. While her pa is in the Confederate Army, Valor tries to take charge of her home and family. When marauders steal her family's livestock, kill one of the servants, and wound her cousin Jeb, Valor takes action. Houston provides details of daily life in this rural North Carolina setting showing the division of loyalties within families as well as the courage of the women who had to take charge of their lives and homes.
Children's Literature - Mary Sue PreissnerBased on the life of Matilda Houston, this fictional account traverses the Civil War and its impact on the McAimee family of Virginia, most notably, young Valor. She wants to become a "sister of the wind," one who is not bound by her gender. She wants to wear britches, hunt, and ride astride. Various family members have joined both sides, and Rebs and Yanks have plundered the family farm numerous times. Illness, near starvation, and the death of a newborn are the realities of life. Believing that she must right the wrongs endured by her family and make sure they don't starve, Valor sets off to recover the family livestock stolen by renegade soldiers. Valor disguises herself as a boy, tracks the marauders, enters the enemy camp, becomes the cook's helper, drugs the soldiers, and returns home with the cows and horses. Her exploits and courage will inspire readers.
School Library Journal - School Library JournalGr 5-8-Valor, a young girl in the North Carolina Appalachians during the Civil War, struggles to live up to her name as the war drags on and her family's farm is raided by marauders. Unfortunately, the author attempts to pack too much into her story, hammering away at the meaning of courage and the strength of women in spite of their societal limitations. As a result, the plot is stiff and forced, and the characters are never fully developed. Houston has moments of eloquence when describing the beauty of the mountains or the aching pain of separation caused by war. Yet when she focuses back on Valor's story, her writing becomes melodramatic and repetitious. She conveys the girl's anger, fear, and frustration, but fails to provide a continuous flow in the plot for readers to understand the passage of time as the years unfold. In the opening chapters, Valor is 10, but is described as if she were much younger, and 5 years later, she seems unchanged in maturity. When the raiders return near the end of the war, brutalizing the family and taking their livestock, Valor disguises herself as a boy to avenge her family and retrieve their property. This crucial sequence of events falls flat with unbelievable turns. As with Houston's Littlejim (Philomel, 1990), set in the Appalachians of the early 1900s, Mountain Valor is based on a true story from the author's family history. Full of potential, it falls short in execution, lacking the engaging plot and steady tension of the earlier novel.-Sandy Kirkpatrick, Benicia Public Library, CA
Kay WeismanWhile her father, brothers, and uncle are off fighting in the Civil War, 11-year-old Valor McAimee, her mother, and younger cousin Jed tend their North Carolina farm. Family members fighting on both sides, Valor's mother's illness, and the constant threat of either army ransacking the farm for food and supplies place the McAimees in difficult circumstances. Although Valor fears she will not be able to live up to her name, an old mountain woman assures her that "courage is being afraid, but doing a thing anyway--because it must be done." When the farm is robbed by vicious Yankee soldiers, Valor, masquerading as a boy, infiltrates the camp and manages to recapture her family's supplies. Based on the life of the author's relative Matilda Houston, the story is valuable for its perspective--showing a frontier settler whose major goal was survival rather than blind allegiance to either North or South. This will be popular with history buffs and adventure fans and useful for units on the Civil War. To be illustrated with black line drawings.
- Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 5.70(w) x 8.60(h) x 0.98(d)
- Age Range:
- 13 Years
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