Note about my Reviews

Dear Authors: The reviews in this blog are only personal opinions. I have absolutely no background in literature, writing or reviewing. I am a Librarian (actually a Library Technician for those who care OR know the difference) with a love for a good story. The opinions in the reviews are ONLY my OPINIONS. I am not commenting on the writers ability since well -- I am not a writer and never will be. If you are the author of any of the books reviewed here, my opinion is just that and not a judgment against you!

Friday, September 7, 2012

I Am Canada: A Call to Battle: The War of 1812 by Gillian Chan

A Call to Battle: The War of 1812,  Alexander MacKay Upper Canada, 1812 (I Am Canada Series)
by Gillian Chan
Scholastic Canada Ltd
ISBN: 978-1-4431-0006-9
Suggested Ages: 10+ (mostly for disturbing and realistic scenes - may be tough for sensitive readers)
Buy from Indigo

Description: The War of 1812 comes to life through the eyes of a young Canadian boy.

It's 1812. War has begun, and thirteen-year-old Alexander (Sandy) MacKay is jealous when his older brother Angus goes off with their father to fight the Americans attacking the Niagara region. Too young to know the darker side of battle, he resents being left to shoulder the work on his family's farm.

Itching to get in on the action, he sneaks away from home and heads to Lundy's Lane to join up with the local militia. But battle is imminent, and now there's not much his father can do except try to shield him from the worst of the fighting.

Sandy's idealized notions of what battle will be like are shattered when the man standing before him is killed by a musket ball and Sandy's own brother is severely wounded. At the battle of Lundy's Lane, the united Canadian/British forces turn the tide against the American troops, but Sandy comes to know how chilling war can be.

Just in time for the bicentennial of the War of 1812, A Call to Battle is a sobering look at the realities of war. Author Gillian Chan skillfully depicts the transformation of an impetuous young boy, full of boyish enthusiasm, into a more realistic young man who emerges on the other side of war

The Good Stuff
  • This series is fabulous for bringing history to life in a way that will have meaning to the suggested reading level
  • Story feels so real that you believe this was an actual boy who lived through the War of 1812 
  • Very impressed with the incredible amount of research that went into this &it is very unbiased, especially from a Canadian author, about a war that there is still so much controversy about which side won. (yup I am totally going with the Due South Version - Benton Fraser: ...which makes the border between Canada and the United States the longest undefended border in the world. So that since their formation, our countries have found a peaceful way to coexist. Except for the War of 1812, where your country invaded ours and we sent you packing - but that's hardly worth mentioning)
  • Heartbreaking - I won't lie I cried
  • Good commentary about the horrors of war done in a not so in your face sort of way that ticks of the kids
  • Makes learning history interesting and relevant to the intended reading audience (these kids are in the same age range and living quite a different life than the youth of today)
  • Fabulous for middle school grades to learn about history in a way which is so much more interesting than just having to memorize dates and facts. Canadian history is in fact fascinating - don't let those dull history teachers make you think otherwise
The Not So Good Stuff
  • More jaded kids may notice that they are being taught a history lesson disguised as a book
  • Quite harsh & realistic may upset sensitive younger readers (not a bad thing -- just a heads up that you might want to discuss it with your child)

    Favorite Quotes/Passages

    He looked upward. "Is it always going to be the province of the young to be so foolhardy and brave."

    "Abell was one of our enemies, enemies I hated with my heart. Yet he was just a boy like me. I shuddered when I thought that. I could see so many similarities between us. I sank down again and rested my back against the tree, unsure what to do next."

    "I could not stop the tears that came then. I bawled like a baby, not caring if my howling drew the enemy to me. I cried for Abell and his Abigail.  I cried for myself. I cried for Angus and Father. I cried for shattered dreams of glory and adventure that had ended with a bloody, broken boy in a wood. I cried for oblivion and was granted it, for I fell into the arms of exhaustion and slept."

    Who Should/Shouldn't Read
    • Fabulous for grade school history classes - teachers, this may get your kids interested in learning more
    • Might be a challenge for sensitive younger readers to deal with - it can be harsh reading at times 
    • Passing this on to Jake to read next
    4.25 Dewey's 

    I received this from Scholastic in exchange for an honest review

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