The Totally Made-up Civil War Diary of Amanda MacLeish

( 5 )

Overview

Amanda MacLeish might be the only student in Mr. Abrams's fifth-grade class who doesn't mind doing her homework. Now that her father has left home and moved into a motel, the only thing that brings Amanda any joy is writing her fictional diary entries about a young girl named Polly who lives amid the chaos of the Civil War. Polly would understand Amanda. With one brother fighting for the North and one fighting for the South, Polly knows just how it feels to have a family split in half. But if the North and the ...

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The Totally Made-up Civil War Diary of Amanda MacLeish

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Overview

Amanda MacLeish might be the only student in Mr. Abrams's fifth-grade class who doesn't mind doing her homework. Now that her father has left home and moved into a motel, the only thing that brings Amanda any joy is writing her fictional diary entries about a young girl named Polly who lives amid the chaos of the Civil War. Polly would understand Amanda. With one brother fighting for the North and one fighting for the South, Polly knows just how it feels to have a family split in half. But if the North and the South could find a way to reunite despite their differences, can't Amanda's family do the same?

In this touching novel by Claudia Mills, the heroine learns that enduring a split doesn't have to mean losing a family.
The Totally Made-up Civil War Diary of Amanda MacLeish is a 2009 Bank Street - Best Children's Book of the Year.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Addresses many issues of relevance in a straightforward style and provides age-appropriate food for thought." —School Library Journal

"A polished and accessible exploration of a tough situation, sure to resonate with kids." —The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

"Mills wins again, with an eminently likable protagonist, well-integrated subplots, and an emotionally involving story, perfectly aimed at her middle-grade audience." —The Horn Book

"Believable and appealing" —Kirkus Reviews

"This makes a good choice for Mills' many fans, as well as for children in search of a satisfying family story." —Booklist

"Mills deftly connects Amanda's current situation with her diary entries about a fictional character named Polly." —Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

“Claudia Mills’s newest novel sparkles like a glass of ginger ale, peppery and sweet. . . . A splash of American history, a dollop of friendship, a pinch of philosophy, humor, pathos, even a dash of romance.” —Barnes & Noble Review

Children's Literature - Carol Ann Lloyd-Stanger
Amanda MacLeish is studying the Civil War in school, but the war really tearing her apart is the one in her own home. Night after night, her parents fight with each other; Amanda and her sister Steffi are worried about what will happen next. Amanda uses the splintering of her family as the inspiration for the splintering of a family and a nation in her Civil War Diary assignment for school. As her character Polly struggles to understand her two brothers fighting against each other, Amanda struggles to understand her parents' decision to divorce. Amanda is able to craft an ending for her Civil War family that brings the family back together, but is that possible with her own family? What about what is happening in the classroom, where Amanda hears one student bullying another and is not sure what to do? Students confronted with family problems or issues of discrimination will be able to use the text as a fine starting point for discussion. Reviewer: Carol Ann Lloyd-Stanger
School Library Journal

Gr 3-6- Amanda MacLeish begins a history project at school just when things are falling apart at home. The story opens with a tense game of Monopoly at the MacLeish house-who knew that Boardwalk could so effectively reveal marital problems? Soon after, Amanda's parents separate, and she can't bring herself to share the news with her best friend. Instead, she pours her heart into a school assignment, an imagined Civil War diary of 10-year-old "Polly," whose brothers are fighting on opposite sides. The emotional tone of the diary reflects Amanda's adjustment to the permanence of the split. The child's observations and reactions seem spot-on for a fifth grader. She tries diligently to do the right thing, make sense of adult behavior, and come to terms with her new family arrangement. She finds comfort in the rhythm of the school day with a teacher who models kindness. Her parents awkwardly but diligently address the impact of their decision on their children. Although the story seems more workaday than elegant, it addresses many issues of relevance in a straightforward style and provides age-appropriate food for thought.-Pat Leach, Lincoln City Libraries, NE

Kirkus Reviews
Fifth-grader Amanda finds that exercising her writing talent helps her to cope with changes in her family. As in Being Teddy Roosevelt (2007), Mills combines the straightforward, sturdy charm of a school story with insight into family dynamics and the exploration of an intriguing historical topic-in this case, the Civil War. In the process she celebrates creativity, connection and compassion. Upset at the conflict between her parents and reluctant to reveal their separation to her best friend Beth, Amanda uses a school assignment to work out her worries and sadness. Entries in the diary of imaginary ten-year-old Polly Mason appear throughout the book, providing Amanda with the opportunity to ponder family divisions and differing points of view. These entries reflect her concerns perfectly while classroom discussions inform young readers about the many facets of the Civil War. The resolution of other conflicts (Amanda's estrangement from Beth and her discomfort with a classmate's casual racism) helps to soften the impact of the apparently permanent separation of her parents. Believable and appealing. (Fiction. 9-12)
The Barnes & Noble Review
The Totally Made-Up Civil War Diary of Amanda Macleish weaves the contemporary story of fifth grader Amanda MacLeish and the "totally made-up" diary of Amanda's fictional Civil War–era ten-year-old Polly. Like Polly and her war-afflicted family, Amanda's world is falling apart -- her good-natured father has moved out, and Amanda entirely blames her irritable mother. Amanda's best friend, Beth, seems to have found a replacement buddy. And half the kids in her class are clueless about writing or the Civil War:

Patrick finished reading. The class clapped politely.
"What did you like about Patrick's diary entry?" Mr. Abrams asked.
What could anyone possibly say? "I liked the places where you could read your own handwriting." But no one would want to say something mean in Mr. Abrams's class.

Despite its somber themes, Claudia Mills's newest novel sparkles like a glass of ginger ale, peppery and sweet. Spirited Amanda blunders through mistakes that only make us love her more. A splash of American history, a dollop of friendship, a pinch of philosophy, humor, pathos, even a dash of romance -- The Totally Made-Up Civil War Diary of Amanda Macleish has something for every young reader. --Liz Rosenberg

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780374376963
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Publication date: 3/18/2008
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Pages: 208
  • Sales rank: 1,563,211
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: 730L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.84 (w) x 8.49 (h) x 0.87 (d)

Meet the Author

CLAUDIA MILLS has written dozens of books for children, most recently the novel Trading Places and the chapter book Being Teddy Roosevelt, about which both The Horn Book and Publishers Weekly declared, "Bully for Mills." Ms. Mills teaches philosophy at the University of Colorado in Boulder, where she lives with her family.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 5 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(3)

4 Star

(1)

3 Star

(1)

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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 26, 2013

    Amanda Macleish

    Amazing book. Everyone should read this book. Five stars!!!!!!!!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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

    Posted March 4, 2013

    My favorite when i was eleven

    I read this book when i was in fifth or sixth grade, and i was utterly obsessed. I would recommend for preteen who has an interest in history.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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

    Posted October 28, 2012

    Good book

    I loved this book. Couln't put it down. Just to say, though, it is quite serious. For sorta -into -misteries people, i reccomend this book.But if you're not, it's still a great book. Its about a girl whos parents fight alot and Amanda (Thats the main character)
    had to figure out alot to determine if her dad has a wife rather than her mom. I'm not telling you anything else! You'll have to read the book to find out! Four stars

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 26, 2012

    Yay

    I Love it!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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

    Posted December 21, 2012

    Well

    Well in the sampal the book mest up it repeted. I think it sounds okay but could be better. THREE STARS. FYI DO NOT READ FOR SCHOOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews

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