Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Ghosts of the Civil War

Ghosts of the Civil War

Cheryl Harness
Picture Book
For ages 7 to 10
Simon and Schuster, 2002   ISBN: 978-0689831355

Lindsey and her family are watching a Civil War reenactment and she thinks the whole thing is just “dumb.” She does not understand why Americans would choose to fight other Americans. She then meets Willie, a boy who takes her back in time to the State Capitol in Springfield, Illinois. The year is 1858 and the boy she is with is none other than Willie Lincoln, the son of the man who would soon become the new president of the United States.

As she watches historic events unfold before her eyes, Lindsey learns that there was much discord in the country at that time. People could not agree about the slavery issue. The South felt they needed their slaves to be prosperous and resented being told what to do by people in the North. The North in turn felt that slavery was an “abomination” that should be outlawed. Many Americans at that time felt that states should have control over their own affairs and that the government in Washington had no right to tell them what to do. Lincoln insisted however that a “house divided against itself cannot stand” and he tried to keep the Northern and Southern states together. Unfortunately this was not to be. The Southern states seceded and, in April of 1861 the Civil War began.

Cheryl Harness brings history to life by having her main character witness what happened in the years leading up to, and those during, the Civil War. Lindsey and the reader will meet many of the main characters who played a role in the conflict including Lincoln, Jefferson Davis, the generals from both sides, the soldiers and their families, and others. Through Lindsey we witness some of the terrible battles that occurred and we get a real sense of what it must have been like to live in America during this terrible time.

Wonderfully detailed illustrations packed with maps, annotations, timelines and more, make this a book which young people will be able to look at for hours. At the back of the book the author has included a gallery of the main characters who played important roles during the Civil War years, and a map showing where the main battles of the conflict took place.