Author: Lisa Trimble Actor
Illustrator: Hazel Mitchell
Publisher: Wasteland Press
Publication date: 2/21/2013
Ages: 8 -12
Genre/themes: historical fiction, civil war, ohio, rebels, yankees, horses
Anyone living in Jackson County in 1863 knew, without a doubt, that the top of Cemetery Hill was the surest spot this side of the Ohio River to catch a refreshing breeze………On this particular afternoon, Dill Dunbar stood among eight freshly dug graves wishing for the barest hint of a breeze.
Cordelia (Dill) Dunbar hasn’t quite turned eleven when she attends her first funeral for a family member, her uncle Swinge, shot in the belly by a Minié. At his graveside she also learns that the rebel armies led by John Hunt Morgan are headed straight for their little town of Jackson, and the far off fighting suddenly threatens to impact the family at home. With her pa away at war, her ma in bed with diptheria, and her elder brother off with the other men preparing the town’s defence, the burden of protecting the family farm and especially her brother’s young Buckskin stallion, falls on young Dill. When the 52 enemy soldiers show up at the farm demanding food, Dill shows wisdom and courage beyond her ten years. Confronted with both the harsh reality of war and its human side, she negotiates with the rebel leader, to try and save the farm from the normal pillaging and destruction. But can the enemy keep his word? REBEL RAIDERS is based on a true story passed down through generations of the author’s family.
Why I like this book:
This is a historical novel with page-turning tension and heart – a great read for boys and girls and a terrific snapshot into an important historical event from the eyes of a plucky and compassionate protagonist. You won’t just be cheering for spunky Dill, either. All the characters are well fleshed-out individuals, crafted beautifully into their historical setting with authentic language, location and details. Dill’s best friend, Simon, who is still reeling from losing his own Mom to diphtheria, is a courageous and faithful companion, if a little foolish at times. Levi Long is a rebel by whom, among others, Dill has some of her prejudices exposed. While the horror of war isn’t blanched, the focus of this story is on one family and on the humanity, similarity and dignity of both sides in any conflict.
This is clearly a well-researched novel and the well-crafted language plays a big role in wooing the reader into the time period, context and the rural Ohio location. Speaking of the sound of a telegraph being communicated, Actor writes:
The messages coming across the wire gave the sound of meadow crickets on a summer evening.
The cover art is captivating and professional (not always the case in self-published books), and to me hints at the quality of the interior. The black and white chapter heading illustrations are delightful, adding another dimension of authenticity to the story—giving just the right hint of the content of each chapter. I am so glad we get a glimpse of the one-eyed beagle, Nelie!
I highly recommend this as a great middle grade addition to your shelves of civil war stories.
This book has been provided to me free of charge by the author in exchange for an honest review of the work.