My Brother's Keeper: Virginia's Civil War Diary, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, 1863 (My America Series)

Overview

Mary Pope Osborne's book, part of the relaunch of the My America series, tells the story of Ginny , a young girl who keeps a journal during the Civil War's Battle of Gettysburg.

Virginia Dickens has promised to keep a journal for her older brother Jed. And Ginny finds plenty to write about: Pennsylvania Volunteers arrive in the town square reporting a big battle in Virginia and calling for more men to join their ranks. Rumors fly that the Rebs are headed to Gettysburg, and the ...

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Overview

Mary Pope Osborne's book, part of the relaunch of the My America series, tells the story of Ginny , a young girl who keeps a journal during the Civil War's Battle of Gettysburg.

Virginia Dickens has promised to keep a journal for her older brother Jed. And Ginny finds plenty to write about: Pennsylvania Volunteers arrive in the town square reporting a big battle in Virginia and calling for more men to join their ranks. Rumors fly that the Rebs are headed to Gettysburg, and the Battle of Gettysburg ensues. Suddenly, Ginny's quiet town is filled with the injured.

Ginny's brother Jed has joined the Union army, and they find him wounded in a makeshift hospital. With Ginny's nursing, he recovers, and Ginny is is able to witness the President's Gettysburg Address.

In 1863, as the Civil War approaches her quiet town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, nine-year-old Virginia records in a journal the horrible things she witnesses before, during, and after the Battle of Gettysburg.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
In this fictional dramatization of a momentous event in history, nine-year-old Virginia Dickens keeps a journal for her brother Jeb while he and their father temporarily leave Gettysburg. Little do they realize that Virginia will be an eyewitness to the biggest battle of the Civil War. Virginia takes her journalistic duties very seriously, bravely witnessing all she can and honestly recording everything that occurs from June 20th on. Her opening entries paint a serene picture from the top of Cemetery Hill. But the journal soon records the Rebels arriving in Gettysburg with yells, whistles and drums. The three-day battle begins July 1, during which thousands of people are killed or wounded. From the top of a tree, Virginia witnesses people screaming, horses running wild and a bald soldier with his head covered in blood. The horrors of war told from the child's perspective, mixed in with the story of Virginia's reunion with her brother and father, make this a suspenseful tale for a mature youngster. Among the many things Virginia learns is that she has writing talent. This "Dear America" book has a historical note with photos, plus an attractive cover portrait. A map of Gettysburg would have been helpful. 2000, Scholastic, . Ages 9 to 12. Reviewer: Carol Raker Collins
School Library Journal
Gr 3-5-Resembling the "Dear America" books (Scholastic), these titles are aimed at a slightly younger audience. In the first book, nine-year-old Elizabeth records her experiences as she, her family, and other colonists adjust to the harsh weather conditions, illness, endless hard work, and nascent social strata in the new land. In the course of three months, Elizabeth meets Captain John Smith, Pocahontas, Gabriel Archer, and George Percy. This is a quick, easy read. Hermes has created a sensitive main character and readers will empathize with her fears and emotions as she adjusts to her new life. In My Brother's Keeper, nine-year-old Virginia Dickens is left in the care of Reverend and Mrs. McCully while her father and brother help her uncle hide his horses from the Confederate raiders. Her journal documents the battle at Gettysburg and the horrors of war. After the battle, she and her father find her brother in a makeshift hospital. The novel ends as the town slowly recovers and Virginia hears President Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. Osborne successfully creates individual characters, and she poses difficult questions about war and the waste of human life. There is a lyrical quality to several passages, and the author slowly builds suspense and release. However, this book seems more fitting for older, more experienced readers, and the intended audience may have difficulty digesting some of the material. Fans of "Dear America" will enjoy it.-Shawn Brommer, Southern Tier Library System, Painted Post, NY Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780439369039
  • Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 4/28/2002
  • Series: My America Series , #1
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 112
  • Age range: 7 - 10 Years
  • Product dimensions: 7.68 (w) x 5.38 (h) x 0.24 (d)

Meet the Author

Mary Pope Osborne
Mary Pope Osborne
Mary Pope Osborne has channeled a lifelong love of exploration and travel into one of the most popular children’s book series of the past two decades. With her fantastic Magic Tree House series, Mary Pope Osborne keeps the good times rolling for kids all over the world.

Biography

Ever since 1992, Mary Pope Osborne has been thrilling kids everywhere with her delightfully exciting Magic Tree House series. The globetrotting escapades of time travelers Jack and Annie are brimming with adventure and magic (not to mention some subtly placed lessons on history and geography). With a life like Osborne's, it's only natural that she would be capable of bringing such wondrous stories to life.

Osborne was brought up in a military family, and her parents' work led to a lifestyle marked by constant change. "By the time I was 15," she says on randomhouse.com, "I had lived in Oklahoma, Austria, Florida, and four different army posts in Virginia and North Carolina." While many kids would probably feel disoriented by such constant change, Osborne wouldn't have had it any other way. "Moving was never traumatic for me, but staying in one place was. When my dad finally retired to a small town in North Carolina, I nearly went crazy with boredom. I craved the adventure and changing scenery of our military life."

And adventure is exactly what Osborne got! After college, she embarked on a series of daring treks across the globe that would surely give Jack and Annie a run for their money. "For a while I camped in a cave on the island of Crete," she said. "Then I joined up with a small band of European young people heading to 'The East.' We traveled through 11 Asian countries and nearly lost our lives, first in an earthquake in northern Afghanistan and then in a riot in Kabul."

Following an illness she contracted in Katmandu, Osborne returned home to the U.S. trying her hand at a vast variety of jobs: window dresser, medical assistant, Russian travel consultant, waitress, bartender, and an assistant editor at a children's magazine. Although Osborne had unconsciously moved closer toward her ultimate career, she says that her first attempts at writing seemed to come without warning. "One day, out of the blue, I began writing a story about an 11-year-old girl in the South," she recalls. "The girl was a lot like me, and many of the incidents in the story were similar to happenings in my childhood...it became a young adult novel called Run, Run Fast as You Can. Finally, I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up."

She sure did! Since then, Osborne has penned a slew of stories, including picture books, chapter books, middle-grade biographies, and young adult novels; but she is indisputably best known for her wonderful Magic Tree House books, a happy hodge-podge of history and mystery with a time travel theme kids find irresistible. No doubt inspired by Osborne's own highly adventurous life, these exiting expeditions have attracted droves of children and pleased educators by combining compulsively readable storytelling with useful facts about geography and history.

As was written of the series in Children's Literature, "Mary Pope Osborne provides nicely paced excitement for young readers, and there's just enough information mixed in so that children will take away some historical fact along with a sense of accomplishment at having completed a chapter book." As much as Osborne has certainly pleased her readers (not to mention their parents and teachers), perhaps no one is quite as pleased as she. "I'm one of those very lucky people who absolutely loves what they do for a living," she explained. "There is no career better suited to my eccentricities, strengths, and passions than that of a children's book author."

Good To Know

A few fascinating outtakes from our interview with Osborne:

"One of the most defining experiences of my life was traveling overland in an old van through the Middle East and Asia in the early 1970's. One day, when a small group of us were camped in a remote part of northern Afghanistan, we saw a woman riding horseback over the sloping plain. Her long brown hair floated on the wind and she wore a bright gypsy-style dress. When she got closer, I realized she was one of my roommates from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill! Though I didn't even know she'd left the U.S.—and she didn't know I was in Afghanistan, we weren't that surprised to come upon each other. That says a lot about the times we were living in then."

"After 26 years of living in New York City, my husband Will and I now spend most of our time in Northwestern Connecticut, living in a house that overlooks a lake. We kayak and hike with our two Norfolk terriers, Joey and Mr. Bezo. Will's learning Italian, and I've been working with a tutor for two years trying to understand Dante's Divine Comedy. One of my biggest hobbies is reading philosophy and theology. We spend lots of time, of course, on our work. After writing three shows for the Morehead Planetarium in North Carolina, Will's writing a musical based on the Magic Tree House series. I'm writing book # 38 in the series. I also spend a lot of time with my sister Natalie Pope Boyce who works on the Magic Tree House Research Guides. Natalie and our nephews and some of our best friends live nearby in the Berkshires Hills of Massachusetts, so we're up there a lot, too. My only complaint is there is not enough time to do all I want to do. For instance, I'd love to take drawing classes and I'd love to paint the lake we're living on. And I'd love to bird watch and become a better cook and learn about classical music. Maybe sometime in the future...."

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    1. Hometown:
      Goshen, Connecticut
    1. Date of Birth:
      May 20, 1949
    2. Place of Birth:
      Fort Sill, Oklahoma
    1. Education:
      B.A., University of North Carolina
    2. Website:

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Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 3, 2007

    A reviewer

    This book was about a little girl and her family. The little girl's mother died in a house fire when she was little. Virginia's dad and brother went to Gettysburg to fight in the war. Virginia had to stay home with her friend while her father and brother were gone. At the end of the book her father comes home but not her brother. They looked every where for her brother,and at the last minute she found him in a hospital. And it helped me a lot.

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

    Posted June 16, 2005

    Fun for Kids!!!!!!!!!

    It was a great book.Virginia is a nine year old girl living in Gettysburg,Virginia.She is smart,funny and interesting to read about.I would recomend this book to any who likes reading historical fiction.I have read this book three times and it becomes more and more fun each time!!!!!!!!!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 15, 2004

    I Love your books there awsome!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I realy enjoyed ' My Brothers Keeper.' It was so awsome that every time i read that book I felt like I was there in the story. P.S. Your books our so awsome!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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

    Posted March 7, 2003

    I loved it

    I first read this book when i was in 6th grade and i loved it so much so i kept reading it and reading it and i think i've read it like 20 times and it's really warn out it's great!

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

    Posted November 30, 2002

    A Promise at Gettysburg. . .

    Virginia Dickens, 9, is sent away from home in the care of Reverend and Mrs. McCully while her father and brother help her uncle hide his horses from the Confederate raiders and fight. She promises to keep a journal for Jed, her brother. this journal tells about the battle at Gettysburg and the horrors of war. After the battle, she and her father find her brother in a makeshift hospital. The book ends as the town slowly recovers and Virginia hears President Lincoln's Gettysburg Address.

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

    Posted October 31, 2001

    My 9 year old daughter is excited about reading!!!

    What a thrill to see my child reading about history and loving it! We bought the book late saturday night and she did not put it down until she had finished reading every page. She is begging for the rest of books from this series for christmas.

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

    Posted June 27, 2001

    Great Book!

    This is an exciting well written book and I recommend it to everyone.

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

    Posted January 12, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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