Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Billy and the Rebel: Based on the True Civil War Story

Billy and the Rebel: Based on the True Civil War Story

Deborah Hopkinson
Illustrator:  Brian Floca 
Historical Fiction
For ages 6 to 8
Simon and Schuster, 2006   ISBN: 978-0689833960

Billy and his family live on a farm in Pennsylvania. It is a hard time now for the country is in the middle of a civil war and the war is causing much suffering. It is a hot July day when Billy sees a large group of Rebel soldiers coming towards the farm. They camp nearby and soon Billy and his mother can hear the sounds of guns booming. A great battle is taking place near the little town of Gettysburg.

Billy and his mother hope that Billy's father, who went to town, is in hiding and safe. All they can do now is take care of the farm and hope that this terrible fight is going to end soon. Then hungry Rebel soldiers come to the farm and take the family's chickens to eat. All Billy and his mother can do is to let them do what they want; it is too dangerous to do otherwise. Things become even more dangerous when a young rebel deserter turns up on the doorstep one night, begging for help and a place to hide. Billy's mother cannot turn the boy away and "Cousin" joins the household.

This wonderfully written account is based on the true story of a friendship which developed between a Yankee Pennsylvanian farm boy and a Rebel boy soldier from North Carolina. The author captures the sense of danger and fear that Billy and his mother experienced and she also shows the reader how it is possible for supposed enemies to put aside their differences and to become friends working together for a common goal. At the back of the book the author provides further information about Billy and his encounter with the Rebel boy.

This is one of the books in the Ready-To-Read series.