The Storm Before Atlantaby Karen Schwabach
At a time when most people have grown weary of the war between the states, two young children are desperate to find their way to the battlefields. Jeremy DeGroot wants/i>
A perfect Common Core tie-in, Storm Before Atlanta includes backmatter with historical notes on slavery and underage soldiers in the Civil War, as well as a list of selected sources.
At a time when most people have grown weary of the war between the states, two young children are desperate to find their way to the battlefields. Jeremy DeGroot wants nothing more than to join a troop as a drummer boy. For Dulcie, a runaway slave, freedom means she must head directly toward the fighting in the hopes that she'll become "contraband," that is, property of the Union troops. Both Jeremy and Dulcie find a place with the 107th New York Volunteer Regiment and even start to forge a friendship. But all that is threatened when they keep crossing paths with the mysterious Charlie, a young Confederate soldier, who may look like the enemy but feels more like a friend.
Young readers who like their fiction filled with exciting historical details, rich characters, and action-packed adventures will be drawn to The Storm Before Atlanta.
From the Hardcover edition.
"Richly detailed and well paced, the story provides both well-developed characters and plenty of suspense and gore. For those who like to know the facts behind historical fiction, the author provides historical notes and selected sources. An appealing Civil War title for readers with strong stomachs."
School Library Journal
"This is a fair and informative look at the role of young people in the conflict. The depictions of medicine and nursing are grim and believable, and the cruel treatment of slaves is evident, although graphic descriptions are kept to a minimum."
Library Media Connection
"Schwabach has clearly done her research; her details are rich and she includes historical notes and a bibliography. This would be an excellent classroom supplement to Civil War studies. Recommended."
Fantasizing an heroic battlefield death, 11-year-old Jeremy DeGroot leaves Syracuse, N.Y., for the war in the South. As a drummer boy with the 107th New York Infantry, he learns truths about war and slavery as they slog toward Atlanta in 1864. His story is intertwined with that of 11-year-old Dulcie, an escaped slave who works for the regiment's Dr. Flood. Jeremy quickly discovers that war is chaotic and frightening. His messmates make fun of him, he's tired and hungry and he's unsure where the battle lines are. He's grateful for a clandestine friendship with a young Confederate soldier, Charlie, with whom he trades food and conversation—but Charlie has his own secrets. As a surgeon's assistant, Dulcie participates in an endless round of amputations; Jeremy gets to bury arms and legs. Richly detailed and well paced, the story provides both well-developed characters and plenty of suspense and gore. For those who like to know the facts behind historical fiction, the author provides historical notes and selected sources. An appealing Civil War title for readers with strong stomachs. (Historical fiction. 9-14)
Meet the Author
KAREN SCHWABACH grew up in upstate New York and lived for many years in Alaska, where she taught English as a Second Language in the Yup'ik Inuit village of Chefornak. She now lives in New York where she writes full-time.
From the Hardcover edition.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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I have read many Civil War stories and this one is gripping and authentic. I highly recommend it I could not lay the story down. I was there, marching toward the sound of the guns, lost in the trees, looking down into the valley of death, rowing on a river in a leaky row boat, and sitting under a makeshift shelter while it rains and rains. I was deeply involved with the three main characters and cared about them as they dealt with the war. Jeremy is a drummer boy who is determined to be courageous and die bravely. Dulcie frees herself from slavery by running away from her farm and joining the march to Atlanta. She becomes one of the field doctor's assistants. Charlie appears from time to time to talk with Jeremy about the war. Jeremy knows he is the enemy, but he likes him. The question is, who is he, really? The older men of the New York 107th who are Jeremy's mess mates are also interesting and I cared about them, too.
Why would a 10-year-old boy wish to die in battle? Could a life that has not yet truly begun be so easily forsaken? Jeremy DeGroot's circumstances are not ideal. His father is in jail. He is an indentured servant on the run. He is trying to support himself by selling newspapers barefoot through the cold streets of Syracuse, New York. The Civil War headlines he delivers speak of the glory and honor of death on the battlefield. He wishes to make the ultimate sacrifice in order to join their ranks. By becoming a casualty of war, he believes he will finally obtain the respect and dignity lacking in his life. Karen Schwabach demonstrates the persuasive power of propaganda on the youngest members of society in "The Storm Before Atlanta." Upon joining the Federalist forces as a drummer boy, Jeremy befriends Charlie, a young Secesh (Confederate) soldier and Dulcie, a contraband (escaped) slave. The three resemble the dynamic of Mark Twain's memorable trio - Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn and Jim. Schwabach divides the book's focus in order to give the reader a taste of the time period from different viewpoints. Jeremy, an innocent, now has seen the elephant (witnessed the death of others during battle). Charlie, a poor Southerner, is questioning the basis of fighting so that rich plantation owners can retain their labor force. Dulcie, a newly-freed slave, is discovering the world of possibilities open to her as a paid medic for the Union forces. The shifting worldviews of such a pivotal time in American history are shown in the thoughts and actions of Federalist, Confederate and former slave. The educational value for young readers is immeasurable. They are all heading toward the burning of Atlanta so memorably portrayed in "Gone With the Wind." The South is falling, but not without a fight. As Jeremy sets the pace for the marching soldiers, the last remnants of a collapsing society are on display. The uniforms of the Confederacy are taken from the bodies of the Union's dead. Their hospital tents lack the crucial supplies of morphine and anesthesia. Their cooking fires are without the basics of coffee and hardtack. Charlie realizes the devastating odds stacked against his comrades. His decision to protect Jeremy and Dulcie from his fellow rebel soldiers shows just how much he doubts the rationalizations behind the South's cause. Schwabach peppers the narrative with twists and turns. It is discovered that one of the soldiers in Jeremy's regiment is a woman. Another character admits that there is black blood running through his veins. A nod is even given to the historic election of Barack Obama when Jeremy's fellow soldiers ponder the possibility of there one day being an African American president. But above all, the true picture of war shatters "The Drummer Boy of Shiloh" image that lured Jeremy into the fight. Death is not the pretty picture immortalized in the song. It is full of blood and infection, agonized screams and sawed-off limbs. Muddy fields, torrential rain, scorching sun and worm-infested food make up the interim. Jeremy comes to this hard won understanding by the novel's end. The renown of his legacy will not be passed down through generations, and he doesn't mind. His only wish is to survive and experience a long life in a world that is changing before his very eyes. Overall, this young Civil War soldier beats a different tune to "The Drummer Boy of Shiloh."
I am reading it and it isgood is just that why eill a boy try to kill himself that just CRAZY