Red Legs: A Drummer Boy of the Civil War

Overview

The Civil War divided the United States and pitted North against South, brother against brother, and often children against children. On the eve of a fateful battle, Stephen, a drummer boy in the "Red Legs" regiment, thinks of home and the fight ahead. The next morning, he beats ratta-TAT ratta-TAT ratta-TAT TAT TAT The Red Legs and the other Union soldiers fall into rhythm. They meet the Confederate army on thebattlefield. Shots ring out. Cannons boom. The fighting has begun.

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2001 Book Hard Cover First Edition New 2001 First edition hardcover book is brand new in a brand new dustjacket. Gift Quality.

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Overview

The Civil War divided the United States and pitted North against South, brother against brother, and often children against children. On the eve of a fateful battle, Stephen, a drummer boy in the "Red Legs" regiment, thinks of home and the fight ahead. The next morning, he beats ratta-TAT ratta-TAT ratta-TAT TAT TAT The Red Legs and the other Union soldiers fall into rhythm. They meet the Confederate army on thebattlefield. Shots ring out. Cannons boom. The fighting has begun.

Ted Lewin dramatically captures one of many battles waged in the bloodiest war fought on American soil. In this book he pays a moving tribute both to the brave Civil War soldiers and to the dedicated reenactors who preserve their memory.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
Award-winning author/illustrator Ted Lewin has a knack for creating indelible images with both his words and paintings. This book is no exception. Lewin relates the story of Stephen, a drummer boy for the "Red Legs" regiment of the Union army. Though only nine years old, Stephen wants to do his part to preserve the Union. With moving and heartfelt passion, Stephen describes his feelings from the eve of battle right up to its shocking conclusion. Lewin's colorful illustrations, obviously drawn with painstaking care, are nothing short of remarkable. Dozens of weapons, horses and soldiers come to life on each page. This book offers tribute not only to the boys and men—700,000 of them—who lost their lives during the American Civil War, but also to the men and women who keep the memory alive today through reenactments. 2001, HarperCollins, $15.95. Ages 6 to 10. Reviewer: Christopher Moning
School Library Journal
Gr 3-4-On the eve of an unnamed Civil War battle, a drummer boy "composes a letter in his mind" telling his mother that he hopes he will be brave in the upcoming clash. "I may be only nine, but I want to do my part to save the Union." The next morning, soldiers from each camp line up. Amidst the cannon shots, figures are running, muskets are firing, and sabers are wielded. A red spot appears over Stephen's heart as he falls to the ground. Taps plays mournfully. The mood changes suddenly as a hand reaches down to help the boy up and it is revealed that he, his father, and their fellow Union and Confederate soldiers are modern-day reenactors, or "living historians," as they call themselves. An endnote provides background information on these reenactments and the real 19th-century drummer boy Stephen Bartow. Lewin's luminous watercolor paintings are beautiful; his depiction of light coming through trees is stunning. The story, however, seems manipulative. Readers will not be prepared for Stephen's "death." Also, those seeking a sense of the Civil War experience do not gain authentic insight. Those looking for picture-book treatments of the Civil War should consider George Ella Lyon's Cecil's Story (1995) and Tres Seymour's We Played Marbles (1998, both Orchard). Patricia Polacco's Pink and Say (Philomel, 1994) helps readers understand the emotions that war causes. Ann Turner's Drummer Boy (HarperCollins, 1998) offers a poetic but detailed examination of why a boy would join the army and the changes he undergoes as a result of his experience.-Lucinda Snyder Whitehurst, St. Christopher's School, Richmond, VA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
"War is hell," General William T. Sherman is purported to have said, having been through more than one hellish battle himself. But Lewin chooses not to show the hell of war; rather, this mischaracterization, albeit a colorfully illustrated one, tells of youngish Stephen's camping out with his dad and others as they reenact a battle in the US Civil War. Unfortunately, even this never manages to spark much life. The subtitle is misleading, since this doesn't deal with real participants in that bloody event, but is about reenactors—those who derive pleasure in marching, wearing uniforms (clean), and carrying weapons in the present to reenact the past, in particular the Civil War. Lewin's (watercolor or tempera) art is photographically semi-realistic and colorful, thanks in large part to the uniforms of the reenacting Union troops. Nowhere, though, can be found the dirt, blood, and horror of war. Those playing Union soldiers are costumed in full regalia; the Confederates, alas, are shown as country boys not in Confederate gray but in rag-tag homespun butternut. (The reason is never offered.) Unreal soldiers cannot arouse sympathy in an unreal cause, and young readers will therefore learn nothing—except that it's fun to play war. A misguided effort that lacks animation in story and art and never finds a voice. (author's note) (Picture book. 6-8)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780688160241
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 5/1/2001
  • Edition description: 1 ED
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 6 - 10 Years
  • Lexile: 540L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 9.56 (w) x 11.32 (h) x 0.37 (d)

Meet the Author

Ted Lewin grew up in an old frame house in Buffalo, New York, with two brothers, one sister, two parents, a lion, an iguana, a chimpanzee, and an assortment of more conventional pets. The lion was given to his older brother, Don, while he was traveling as a professional wrestler, and he shipped it home. The family kept Sheba in the basement fruit cellar until Don returned and their mother convinced him to give it to the Buffalo zoo.

Ted always knew he wanted to be an illustrator. As a child he copied the work of illustrators and painters he admired, including N. C. Wyeth, Winslow Homer, John Singer Sargent, VelÁzquez, and Goya. When it came time to go to art school (Pratt), he needed to earn money to finance his education. So, following in his brother's footsteps, he took a summer job as a wrestler -- the beginning of a 15-year part-time career that eventually inspired his autobiographical book I Was a Teenage Professional Wrestler. Ted's career as an artist began with illustrations for adventure magazines, and it's only over the last several years that he has devoted his time to writing and illustrating children's books. "I'm having more fun doing this than anything I've ever done before," he says. He is an avid traveler, and many of his books are inspired by trips to such places as the Amazon River, the Sahara Desert, Botswana, Egypt, Lapland, and India. His Market!, published in 1996, showcases markets around the world, from Uganda to Ireland to Ecuador.

Touch and Go is a collection of stories about the adventures Ted had while researching his books. Gorilla Walk is his first collaboration with hiswife, Betsy, and is about their trek to see the mountain gorillas in Uganda. They've just completed their second collaboration, Elephant Quest, set in the Okavango Delta of Botswana. Ted's current project is about a Civil War drummer boy.

Ted and Betsy live in Brooklyn, New York, where they share their home with two cats, Slick and Chopper.

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