February 8, 2017


Debbie Levy and Gilbert Ford's Soldier Song: A True Story of the Civil War tells the true story of the songs soldiers used to sing during the day. Both Union and Confederate soldiers relied on the songs they sang to lift their spirits and remind them what they were fighting for. There came a point after the battle at Fredericksburg when songs were actually hurled as insults back and forth between the two competitors. And, eventually, there also came a point when their songs merged, longing for the same thing.

Levy does a creative job of weaving together narrative text with soldier's letters and journal entries from the war. Combined, these two elements demonstrate just how unifying music can be and important it is for morale during times of war. As for as illustrations go, this book has everything going for it. It's easy for me to state the obvious: I don't often find myself engrossed in nonfiction picture books, and I say that's "obvious" because I don't talk about them here often. But Soldier Song presents a nonfiction story of the Civil War in such an engaging way, and so much of that is a result of Ford's silk screen illustrations. They are rich in color, texture, and layering, which makes each scene feel like it's popping right off the page.

This book is the perfect learning tool for young children and the perfect gift for adults who want to learn about the civil war in an artistic, accurate, and impactful way. Soldier Song: A True Story of the Civil War published yesterday, February 7, from Hyperion, and I suggest you track it down right away.

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