Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Book Review- The Winter of Red Snow (Dear America Series)

By Kristiana Gregory
Published by Scholastic Press
Released on September 1st, 2010
Source- Scholastic
Ages 8-12
5 Stars- A Must Have

Eleven-year-old Abigail Jane Stewart's fictionalized diary about her life, family, friends, and neighbors, and the sides they have to choose in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, during the height of the Revolutionary War, renders a vivid portrayal of one of the most memorable and crucial winters in American history.

Abby's life with her family is quickly upended when they are awakened by the unfamiliar sound of drums. General George Washington is leading the Continental soldiers into their winter encampment at Valley Forge, PA.

Hardship is a constant companion for soldiers and citizens alike throughout the winter, and in her diary, Abby pieces together the beauty, pain, and blessings of this long, revolutionary winter (quoted from Goodreads).

Kristina Gregory captures the innocence of childhood and growing up during Amercia's Revolutionary War. America just gained it's independence from England, but the fighting hasn't ceased. The years are 1776-177, and winter is a brutal one. Abigail's story is one that will capture the heart and attention of young readers and adults alike who want to gain an understanding of what it was like to live in Valley Forge, PA during 1777.

Abigail and her family are just trying to get by when General George Washington and his army of battered men come to Valley Forge. Through Abigail's eyes, I got to experience through her story telling just how horrible the conditions were for the men. In the dead of winter the army has little food, some have no coats and no shoes, hence the title Winter of Red Snow. It's through Abigail's story that my admiration for George Washington grew, as Abigail sees him kneel in prayer, the site of his famous Prayer of Valley Forge. A religious man and strong leader, George Washington was kind to Abigail, her family and their neighbors who gave what they had to help sustain General Washington's army.

Abigail grows up quick with the things she witnesses during the army's stay in Valley Forge. Abigail's family has dwelt with heartache before when they lost a baby. Now Abigail has a new baby brother to help take care of, but it's with fear they might lose him again. She also has tasks like tending to her family's daily needs, attending to General Washington's Laundry, helping General Washington's Wife visit the sick and dying soldiers and her family takes in a widowed wife of a solider who's died.

Abigail learns what it means to be true to your country, be faithful in her beliefs and be to proud to be an American. Her story is one that captured my heart and one I highly recommend for teachers for their classrooms, and for those who love to read about history. I know these series are for middle graders, but I find myself completely caught up in the stories. It's like finding my Great-Great Grandmother's journal and sitting down to read it. Once I start to read it, I can't stop.

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I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves. ~ Anna Quindlen

Good children's literature appeals not only to
the child in the adult, but to the adult in the child.
~ Anonymous ~