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by Patricia Reilly Giff

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A story of the American Revolution from two-time Newbery Honor–winning author Patricia Reilly Giff.
While staying with her aunt, Elizabeth finds something remarkable: a drawing. It hangs on the wall, a portrait of her ancestor, Eliza, known as Zee. She looks like Elizabeth.
The girls’ lives intertwine as Elizabeth’s present-daySee more details below


A story of the American Revolution from two-time Newbery Honor–winning author Patricia Reilly Giff.
While staying with her aunt, Elizabeth finds something remarkable: a drawing. It hangs on the wall, a portrait of her ancestor, Eliza, known as Zee. She looks like Elizabeth.
The girls’ lives intertwine as Elizabeth’s present-day story alternates with Zee’s, which takes place during the American Revolution. Zee is dreamy, and hopeful for the future—until the Revolution tears apart her family and her community in upstate New York. Left on her own, she struggles to survive and to follow her father and brother into battle.
Zee’s story has been waiting to be rediscovered by the right person. As Elizabeth learns about Zee, and walks where Zee once walked and battles raged, the past becomes as vivid and real as the present.
In this beautifully crafted, affecting novel from beloved author Patricia Reilly Giff, the lives of two girls reflect one another as each finds her own inner strengths.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
Gr 5–7—Giff juxtaposes two stories to highlight a little-known piece of Revolutionary War history. Present-day Elizabeth has been sent to stay with her deceased mother's sister while her father travels to Australia. Resistant at first, she gradually becomes comfortable with her Aunt Libby and is fascinated by a drawing of an ancestor, a girl who lived through the War for Independence. Zee narrates her dramatic story: living on a farm in upstate New York, her Patriot family is pitted against Loyalist neighbors. When her father and brother leave for battle, her house is attacked and burned and her mother is killed. Handicapped by hands burned in the fire, she sets off to find her father and brother and is caught up in what has come to be known as the Battle of Oriskany. While Elizabeth knows nothing of Zee's story, she is helped by her reclusive Uncle Harry, a history buff, to piece together events by visiting the site of the battle and of Zee's home. Another discovery is made in an antiques shop where Harry has found other drawings, presumably of Zee, by the same artist who did Libby's drawing. Through this experience, Elizabeth acknowledges her own storytelling ability, an implied connection between the two girls. Zee's story is compelling, and, by embedding many historical details, including the role of the Iroquois in the conflict, into the vehicle of Elizabeth's trip with her uncle, the novel barely escapes didacticism. The fast-paced narrative, toggling back and forth between the 18th and 21st centuries, will keep readers interested.—Marie Orlando, North Shore Public Library, Shoreham, NY
Publishers Weekly
This novel by two-time Newbery Honor author Giff gracefully bridges two eras and two insightful perspectives. Elizabeth is a contemporary girl who goes to stay with her late mother's sister, Libby, while her father is away. There, she is captivated by a drawing of a young woman who looks remarkably like her: Zee, an ancestor whose patriot father died fighting in the American Revolution and whose mother was killed when their cabin was ambushed. Through thoughtfully crafted narratives that alternate between each heroine--Elizabeth's story is told in the third-person present tense, Zee's interior monologue is written in the past tense--Giff draws parallels between the two. Both are tenacious yet self-deprecating, have lost family, and are uprooted and searching for a sense of belonging. A roughly drawn map on the back of Zee's portrait and the scattered information Libby and a cousin know about their ancestors help Elizabeth assemble the pieces of Zee's life and become the present-day teller of her story. As she brings these characters and history alive, Giff again demonstrates her own gift for storytelling. Ages 8–14. (Sept.)
Children's Literature - Nancy Baumann
Keeping ancestors alive through family stories, horrors of war, and feeling useful are several themes found in this uniquely told story. Elizabeth is furious at being forced to move in with Aunt Libby, her mother's sister, while her father travels to Australia to sell his woodcarvings. After losing her mother when she was a few months old, Elizabeth and Pop have not remained in touch with her mother's family. This makes it worse for Elizabeth; she does not even know Aunt Libby. Now she will have to spend months with her, attend a new school and leave behind her gymnastics and chorus. Elizabeth barely says goodbye to Pop and busies herself exploring Aunt Libby's small house. As she gets ready for bed, Elizabeth notices a portrait of a young girl. The girl's name is Zee and bears a striking resemblance to her and is a relative who lived during the Revolutionary War. Aunt Libby relates as much as she knows about Zee to Elizabeth who finds Zee's life very similar to her own. They look alike; they are both guilty of acting without thinking, and both have lost their mothers. Readers discover Zee's life through alternating chapters with Elizabeth's quest to learn more about the girl who could be her twin. Aunt Libby relates as much as she knows about Zee but admits she has not been good at keeping in touch with family either. To learn more about Zee, Aunt Libby and Elizabeth visit Cousin Harry who gives answers about Zee's life. Historical fiction alternating with contemporary life provides readers a view into the lives of Zee and Elizabeth. The author creates strong female characters who are intelligent, determined, and risk-takers but are not perfect. Reviewer: Nancy Baumann
Kirkus Reviews
When her artist father is invited to Australia, Elizabeth must stay with an aunt she barely knows. There she comes to learn more about her family, which traces its history back to the Revolutionary War in upstate New York, and—even more important—Eliza, nicknamed Zee, an ancestor whose framed drawing graces her aunt's wall and whom Elizabeth uncannily resembles. The novel is narrated in alternate chapters as Elizabeth and Zee, presumably young teens, tell their stories in the 21st and 18th centuries, respectively. Readers will be intrigued by their similarities—klutzy and forgetful, yet strong-willed and resourceful. The more compelling drama is Zee's, whose family is caught up in the conflict of colonists torn between loyalties to crown or American patriotism. History is truly in the small details, and Zee's story, narrated in first person, past tense, is fascinating and adventurous. Elizabeth's voice is an odd choice, however. Her narration, in third person, present tense, is coolly distancing. Still, this is a lovely story about love and loss, a little-known aspect of Revolutionary history and the way the past informs the present, and the ending is gratifying. (author's note) (Fiction. 10-14)

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Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Sold by:
Random House
Sales rank:
HL610L (what's this?)
File size:
2 MB
Age Range:
9 - 12 Years

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