Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Last Brother: A Civil War Tale

The Last Brother: A Civil War Tale

Trinka Hakes Noble
Illustrator:  Robert Papp 
Picture Book  Series
For ages 6 to 10
Sleeping Bear Press, 2006   ISBN: 978-1585362530

Gabe and his older brother Davy are the only remaining sons left in their family. Their two elder brothers have already served, and died, for the Union Cause and Abraham Lincoln’s war. Now Gabe and Davy are part of the war serving in the 71st Pennsylvania, Gabe being one of the boys who plays the bugle. His notes help the soldiers know what to do during the heat of battle. So far Gabe has not really experienced a battle but he has a feeling that he will soon, in the fields around Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

Before the battle begins in earnest Gabe takes a walk in the woods for a rest. There he meets another bugler called Orlee, a boy like himself from Mississippi. Somehow the fact that they are on opposite sides of this conflict does not matter and the boys enjoy each other’s company for a little while.

The next day the battle begins and Gabe discovers how truly terrible battle can be. He does his duty blowing his bugle for all it is worth. When the call for “Charge!” is made Gabe hesitates. After all, his brother Davy is in the front lines and on the other side there is Orlee. Is there nothing he can do to protect those he cares about?

In this very moving tale Trina Hakes Noble combines fact with fiction to paint a portrait in words of a very important day during the American Civil War. The tale also serves as a special tribute to the very young soldiers who served on both sides of the conflict. Many of these boys were under fourteen years of age and they played an important role in the many battles of the war by playing the bugles or the drums.