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Book Reviews

Louella Bryant, The Black Bonnet

(Shelburne, VT: The New England Press, Inc., 1996). This historical fiction novel is set in the late 1850s during the time of the underground railroad. Two sisters have escaped slavery in Virginia, and on their journey north to the Canadian border -- and freedom -- they stop to rest in Burlington, Vermont.

Reading level: elementary - middle school
Number of copies available: 1

Howard Coffin, Full Duty: Vermonters in the Civil War

(Woodstock, VT: Countryman Press, 1993). Coffin shows the effects of the Civil War in a personal way on Vermonters as well as the enormous effect Vermonters had in the Civil War. He creatively combines historical fact, personal letters and diary excerpts, and detailed descriptions of present-day battle sites to show a personal side to the war.

Reading level: high school- adult
Number of copies available: 1

Thomas Dublin, Farm to Factory: Women's Letters, 1800-1860

(NY: Columbia University Press, 1981). This is a collection of letters written by or received by female mill workers in the nineteenth century. This book is an excellent entry point to the study of the Industrial Revolution as it applies to women's lives in New England during the pre-Civil War period. It focuses on the first wage labor available to nineteenth-century middle class farm girls, and how the availability of such work changed their lives.

Reading level: middle school - adult
Number of copies available: 1

Michael T. Hahn, Alexander Twilight: Vermont's African-American Pioneer

(Shelburne, VT: The New England Press, Inc., 1998). Beginning with his days spent as a farm laborer in Corinth, Vermont, this bioigraphy follows the challenges and obstacles that Alexander Twilight overcame in the nineteenth century to become the first African-American to graduate from an American college. Twilight then went on to become a noted legislator, educator, and minister.

Reading level: fourth - eighth grade
Number of copies available: 1

Katherine Paterson, Jip: His Story

(New York: Puffin Books, 1996). This historical ficition novel about Jip, an abandoned boy raised at a Vermont town's poor farm in the mid-nineteenth century, is full of revelations and surprises. The memorable characters, gripping plot, and historical accuracy make it a fascinating book for students.

Reading level: elementary - middle school
Number of copies available: 29

Katherine Paterson, Lyddie

(New York: Puffin Books, 1991). Lyddie Worthen is a mill girl. Hers is a fictionalized story that parallels the lives of many poor, rural Vermont farm girls in the mid-1800s who were sent to work in the cloth mills in Lowell, Massachusetts. This is a wonderful story of grit, determination, and personal growth.

Reading level: elementary - middle school
Number of copies available: 24

Sarah Rooker, ed., Yours in the Cause of the Slave: Vermont and the Underground Railroad

(Montpelier, VT: Vermont Historical Society, 1997). This packet provides primary and secondary source materials for the study of Vermont's role in the anti-slavery movement. It contains explanatory essays about the Underground Railroad and the activists involved, as well as plenty of student activities. Helpful notes on the documents are also included.

Reading level: elementary - middle school
Number of copies available: 2

Caro Thompson (producer) for Vermont Public Television, along with Flow of History and Vermont Historical Society (teaching guide and outreach partners), Noble Hearts: Civil War Vermont

(2005). This film was produced by Vermont filmmaker Caro Thompson for Vermont Public Television (VPT). It premiered on VPT in December 2005 and is a valuable supplementary tool to a broader study of the Civil War. For classroom use, this film has been bundled with a teacher's guide companion CD. This guide was co-produced by Flow of History, a US Department of Education Teaching American History grant project, and the Vermont Historical Society. These two collaborators have also produced a booklet called Classroom Connections to accompany the film and teacher's guide CD. Noble Hearts presents a vivid picture of some of the most important encounters between the Union Army's Vermont regiments and the Confederate States of America armies though interviews, historic photos, and living history events. Letters written by Vermont soldiers provide personal insights into their daily life. Exceprts from women's diaries provide a glimpse into life at home in Vermont. The teaching supplements include pre-viewing and viewing activities, post-viewing discussions, and related writing and hands-on activities for students. Finally, this package may also be used in conjunction with the Civil War Artifact Lending Kit, available for classroom rental from the Flow of History and the Vermont Historical Society.

Reading level: fourth grade - adult
Number of copies available: 1 DVD, 1 teacher's guide CD, & teaching booklet

G. Clifton Wisler, Mr. Lincoln's Drummer

(NY: Lodestar Books, 1994). This is the story of an eleven-year old drummer boy from Vermont who joined the Union Army during the Civil War and was presented with the Medal of Honor. This book, though fiction, is strongly based on fact and is a great read for children interested in the Civil War.

Reading level: elementary - middle school
Number of copies available: 31