A home without books is like a room without windows.
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10 stars

My Brother Sam is Dead

AR: 4.9
Lexile: 770
RC: 5.8
by James Lincoln Collier, Christopher Collier
Normal-length Picture Book
Genre: Realistic Historical Fiction

Original post — Sunday, August 6, 2006
Newberry Honor Award

Tim really looks up to his brother Sam. They live in a town called Redding Ridge in Connecticut in the 1770's. When Sam joins the Continental army to fight the King's British army, Tim is not sure how to react. He admires Sam for his bravery but he is confused: is his brother right to fight for "American" freedom? Or, his father right, that they are already free and owe their allegiance to the King? When they start seeing the effects of the war first-haand, Tim becomes even more confused and upset. How could all this hunger, anger, and so many deaths be a good thing?

This is a great book! It is one of those books that makes history real! The story is told in the first person, from the point of view of Tim, who is only 11 at the start of the book. It does a great job of showing all the conflicting emotions that come out during war. It's easy to vote one way or the other when the fighting is a hundred miles away and involves strangers. It's a completely different matter when the people doing the fighting and dying are from your own town or family. And it's something else yet again when the fighting rips through your town and you see the terrors of war first-hand. I will warn you, though, that it does not have a happy ending.

This is a powerful, moving book. When I finished it, it felt like getting off an exciting roller-coaster. I was so thrilled in reading it I hadn't stopped to think about it. Then, when I read the authors' note at the end I almost cried. Many of the events described in the book had actually happened. I was grateful to be reminded how fortunate I am to live in the USA. I think this is one of those books that everyone should read at least once. Yes, it "teaches" you something but you will appreciate the lesson!

(Last modified:08/29/2007)

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