46. Hoot by Carl Hiassen (295 pages) Reread for teaching.
47. Dear America: A Picture of Freedom: The Diary of Clotee, a Slave Girl by Patricia C. McKissack (183 pages) Clotee has learned how to read and write by listening in on her Master's son's lessons. This is her hidden diary about life under a cruel master, as a slave on a plantation, with no rights, no freedoms, and being witness to the horrible cruelties of the system. Mr. Harms, a tutor, comes to the plantation. Will he be Clotee's ticket to freedom or will he be her undoing? Tragic, inspiring, powerful, informative young adult novel that portrays the period with great accuracy and humanity. Grade: A
48. Dear America: A Light in the Storm: The Civil War Diary of Amelia Martin by Karen Hesse (167 pages) Amelia lives in the divided border state of Delaware during the beginning days of the Civil War. Her home life is just as stormy as both her country and the sea which surrounds her lighthouse home. Her father is an abolitionist and her mother believes in the institution of slavery. The book is full of beautiful mood and imagery, a lovely painting of the tensions of the period, but it lacks a story or characters to pull it together. Grade: B
49. Dear America: The Journal of James Edmond Pease, A Civil War Union Soldier by Jim Murphy (173 pages) Sixteen year-old James, a private in the Union army, is asked by his commander to keep a journal to record the history of his unit. Having joined for a warm bed and a full belly, orphaned James is thought to be the unlucky jonah of the unit. Regardless, James finds courage on the battlefield and a promotion to sergeant. Though the book is really just a vignette of life for a young Civil War soldier, it is marked by James' powerful, emotional, comedic, and real voice. Grade: A-
50. Dear America: When Will This Cruel War Be Over? The Civil War Diary of Emma Simpson by Barry Deneberg (156 pages) Emma is a southern girl living on a plantation during the ending years of the Civil War. Her family, what there is left, is struggling to survive the collapse of their gentile, aristocratic, and wealthy world as the Yankee soldiers invade. The short novel does a decent job of capturing Emma's world, but never asks any big questions or shows any true depth of emotion. Emma's family are "good" slave owners; her father believes that abolitionists are evil and that white people must take care of blacks. Her love interest, meanwhile, is simply tired of the war. Though an accurate portrayal of the time period, it doesn't provide conflict or resolution. Grade: C