Would you ever run off to join the army, leaving your family behind? That's what nine-year-old John Lincoln Clem does in 1861.
Determined to fight for his country, Johnny sneaks onto a train filled with men from the 3rd Ohio Union Regiment. Taken in by the older soldiers, Johnny becomes a drummer boy, and later, takes up his own musket. As the war rages on, Johnny experiences the brutalities of battle as well as the rampant illness and gnawing hunger in between. But the most dangerous part of Johnny’s journey is yet to come.
Based on a True Story books are exciting historical fiction about real children who lived through extraordinary times in American History.
Publisher's Weekly, November 6, 2015
John Lincoln Clem: Civil War Drummer Boy
E.F. Abbott, illus. by Steve Noble. Feiwel and Friends, $15.99 (192p) ISBN 978-1-250-06837-8
In one of four titles launching the Based on a True Story series, Abbott (a pseudonym for author Kristin O’Donnell Tubb) profiles the youngest known soldier in the American Civil War, John Lincoln Clem, who ran off with a Union regiment when he was nine. Colloquial narration gives a sense of the time (“dadgummed,” “breeches”), but the down-home tone soon gives way to graphic battle scenes: “Some soldiers had fought a terrible struggle with the monster death.... Their hands were often full of the mud and grass they clutched in their last agony.” Twenty short chapters, interwoven with archival photos and Noble’s line drawings, depict the grueling realities of a being a Civil War soldier—including long marches, little food, lice, prison camps—while dashes of hope (a regiment dog, a roasted pork dinner) help keep this war story palatable for younger audiences. An author’s note delineates which parts of the story are real (most) and which are based historical events of the time. Titles about Mary Jemison, Nettie and Nellie Crook, and Sybil Ludington are available simultaneously. Ages 8–12. Author’s agent: Josh Adams, Adams Literary. (Feb.)