Dear LA Teacher,
When I was a kid and wanted to read a historical novel about the Civil War I read The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane or Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes. Are there any recent books published about life kids experienced during those turbulent times?
Lit for Kids Dad
Dear Lit for Kids Dad,
Though there are a plethora of books on the market about the Civil War, Anni’s Attic, by Anne Loader McGee is one of the best. Written in the first person perspective about life on a Georgia plantation from 1861-1865, it shows the day-to-day experiences of Jennine Parkington and her cousin Annise Bouvoir.
Jenn is an 11-year-old southern belle who recently lost her mother. In October 1861 her dad, Phillip Parkington, a Northern sympathizer, moves Jenn from their New Orleans home to live with his sister near Savannah, Georgia. Phillip then leaves to fight for President Lincoln. Meanwhile, Jenn must live with her “ill-mannered” 12-year-old cousin, Annise Bouvoir, “who could not even speak French like a proper lady.”
When Jenn’s carriage pulled up in front of White Magnolias on that late October 1861 day angry eyes watched her from a secret attic tucked away inside the plantation home. Anni wasn’t very happy about having to play hostess to her know-it-all snobby first cousin.
Anne McGee’s historical novel, Anni’s Attic, provides a heart-wrenching look at the atrocities of the Civil War and its affects on the lives of the people living in the Savannah countryside. The YA book is a marvelous character study of Anni and Jenn. During the course of the war the cousins encounter spies, racial hatred, the Underground Railroad, and Sherman's March to the Sea. In the confines of a secret attic in White Magnolias, the cousins find areas of mutual interest as they mature and learn to love and respect one another.
Anni’s Attic is one novel that all secondary school students must read even before they submit to Crain’s Red Badge of Courage.