Author’s notes provide added background knowledge for deeper understanding. It often gives more to the story, and so I often will read it first (although its usually placed in the back). Linda Oatman High was intrigued by the history of the Gettysburg Battled and learned of the heroic determination of Elizabeth Thorn.
The Cemetery Keepers of Gettysburg is written in poetic narrative, and it moves me. The story is told through the eyes of the Thorn’s eldest seven-year-old son, Fred. The Battle of Gettysburg was “the most ferocious and bloody battle of the Civil War“, and Linda Oatman High captures the emotion of the wounded soldiers, the fear-gripped children, and the devastation left behind. Although the battle was horrible, Linda’s words are poetic and rich and appropriate for upper elementary-aged children.
Linda Oatman High then tells the rest of the aftermath. Nearly one hundred soldiers lay dead. Elizabeth Thorn (six months pregnant), her father, and Fred dig the graves to honor the men. Astounding! The story ends with President Abraham Lincoln giving the Gettysburg Address and then honoring Elizabeth for her heroism. Wow! I have to read and reread this book and each time I focus on something new. This book is excellent for developing background knowledge for the Civil War and provides good discuss on what families did behind the scenes. Savorings for reading and in writing for The Cemetery Keepers of Gettysburg:
- Point of view – from a child
- Word Choice – “grandfather with wrinkled skin“
- Emotion – “huddling, shuddering together“
- Poetic narrative
- Show don’t Tell – “he said as a tear creeped down his cheek“