Monday, June 12, 2006

Chapter Books - Soldier's Heart

Soldier's Heart: a novel of the Civil War by Gary Paulsen 1998, Delacorte Press

When checking out MotherReader recently, her posting on Booktalks took me back to my booktalk days. I usually could do a "quick" booktalk to younger kids without too much prep. But, back when doing "formal" Booktalks for older kids I would first write down what I would say to help me better organize my thoughts, plus I didn't stumble as much. I think in my mind it was harder for me to "sell" older kids on the idea of reading. Digging through some old papers I found a booktalk that for some reason I still had. It is one I did for the book Soldier's Heart a few years ago. It is a book I would recommend for 6th grade and up or for anyone interested in the Civil War period.

Hi! My name is Charley and I am fifteen years old and the oldest man of my house. Today, June 10, 1861 I told a lie and got away with it. See, I told my mom it was time for me to be a man, but she wasn't sure it was the right time for me to be thinking that way. Even though she too had seen the signs and heard the slogans. Mom had even gone to the parade. But, still she thought I was just a boy. So, I went down to Fort Snelling far enough away from Winona, Minnesota where I am from so that no one would know me. There I met with this colonel of the regiment who took my name and I told him straight to his face I was eighteen. I think since I have been doing a man's work these years in the fields and stand tall like a man, the colonel didn't think twice about whether I was telling the truth or not. He told me that I couldn't desert my post, traffic with the enemy, steal from fellow soldiers, or act immoral and that was that. I am now a soldier. So, you are asking yourself, why is he telling me about this. Well, let me ask you something. Have you ever told a lie and gotten away with it and then later on wished that someone had found you out? Find out what Charley is trying to tell you by reading Soldier's Heart.

The intensity of the battle descriptions and emotions make the story worth checking out, especially for boys. Paulsen's documentation refers to a number of research sources, which I believe help provide the supportive backdrop to the book's subject matter and its ring of authenticity.


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