Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Rifles for Watie

Rifles for Watie
Author: Harold Keith
Publisher: New York, Crowell [1957]

Plot Description:
            Jefferson Davis Bussey is ready to go to war and fight for his country.  As the nation divides amongst itself at the beginning of the Civil War, Jeff signs up to fight for the Union, hoping that by doing so he can help keep his family safe from the raids that are taking place in Kansas.  As he sees his first real action he soon realizes that war isn’t what he thought, it’s full of sadness and horrific events.  He watches as his commanding officer becomes a turncoat and goes to fight for the Union.  As Jeff gets promoted, he finds himself a scout behind enemy lines.  And his former commanding officer is there too. And he’s not content to let Jeff escape back to Union territory.

            Rifles for Watie is an excellent book about the realities of war told through a young mans perspective.  It details dangerous situations and fighting without being overly graphic, but still lets the reader really imagine what it must have been like to fight in these battles and witness the aftermath.  There is a love story involved as well, which helps draw female readers to the book, but the main focus is on how Jeff copes with war and gains the courage and wits to survive. 

Genre: Historical Fiction

Reading level: 9th Grade

Similar Books: Johnny Tremain, 5th of March, Hunger Games

Reader’s Advisory:
Personal thoughts- really good read for anyone interested in historical fiction or war
Subjects/themes- Fiction, Historical Fiction, War, Survival
Awards- 1958 Newbery Medal, ALA’s Notable Children's Books of 1957
Character names/descriptions-
            Jefferson Davis Bussey- books protagonist who learns about war
            Lucy- rebel girl he falls in love with who is the daughter of a Confederate commander
            Captain Clardy- Jeff’s commanding officer who turns to the rebels

Annotation: Jeff signed up for the war to get the rebels back in line, but in war the lines between good and bad aren’t as clear as he believed.  

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